MSO11455 - Great Park; post-medieval deer park southwest of Nettlecombe Court (Monument)


A deer park created by Sir John Trevelyan (d. 1755) and extended to cover c.185 acres. It was partly landscaped by John Veitch in 1792.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

"Deer park" marked on Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 6 inch map. [1] Park created by Sir John Trevelyan (d.1755) probably because the old park (MSO7698) was low lying and more suited to meadow than pasture. It was extended by his successors to cover c.185 acres. Part of the park was landscaped by John Veitch in 1792. [2] Parks and Gardens Register includes the following: A late C18 park, incorporating extensive C16/C17 deer parks and wood pasture, around a country house. HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT… Although deer parks are known to have existed at Nettlecombe since the late C16, the first conclusive evidence of a designed landscape appears in an engraving, published in 1787, by W Angus which shows a view from the southeast depicting mature parkland clumps. The park was enlarged with the addition of the Great Park in 1755 and South Park in 1792, in which year Thomas Veitch of Exeter provided estimates for landscaping and the stable block was erected by John Trevelyan. These changes are shown on an estate plan of 1796 which also shows the new parsonage, Combe, built following the removal of the village of Nettlecombe from the valley and enclosed by the church's glebe land, separating it from the parkland. Further improvements to the estate were made by Sir John Trevelyan from c 1828. The influential garden writer, John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), visited Nettlecombe in September 1842 and commented on the exploitation of the natural beauty of Nettlecombe in favourable terms. The park and woodlands of Nettlecombe Court shown on the 1st Edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map of 1887 [3] remain largely the same today, although many of the parkland trees have been lost... PARK The park extends from the house in all directions on rising ground… West and southwest of the house is Great Park, an area of ancient wood pasture imparked in 1755, which contains magnificent ancient maiden and pollard oaks. Also in Great Park, 300 metres southwest of the house, is the Flagstaff or Jenny's Grove, a small enclosure of mixed exotic trees formerly containing a flagpole [ST 0549 3748]. Great Park is divided longitudinally by the narrow valley of a spring which rises 50 metres south of Chidgley Pond which is ornamented with a waterfall, 1.2 kilometres south-south-west of the house. Some 750 metres southwest of the house is Park Wood, mostly replanted in the 19th or 20th Centuries, and Kingswood, the latter outside the area here registered but providing the setting of the landscape. A programme of replanting is replacing the large numbers of trees lost from Great Park during the second half of the 20th Century. Loudon wrote in 1842 of the estate parkland and wood-pasture: we were astonished and delighted with the view from the windows of the house, looking up the steep sides of the rounded hills that rose on every side, and which were mostly crowned with old oak woods Rounded hills covered with grass to the top, with winding valleys having sloping sides; the valleys more or less wide, and the sides of hills differing in degrees to steepness; occasionally with water in the bottom in the form of a small stream or brook ... Nettlecombe Court is a seat of great extent, and, though we took an extensive drive every day while we remained there, we did not see all the farm. The drives are exceedingly varied and beautiful, and exhibit fine combinations of parkland and woodland, comfortable cottages, and most substantial farm-houses and farmeries. [3,4] A 1524 lease refers to Kingsdown Close (adjacent to Park Wood) being Park Gate. This suggests that part of the area known as Great Park in 1755 had previously been emparked, although this may refer to the separate enclosure of Chidgley Park or enclosure from the pasture woodland. In 1633, Thomas Gerard described the Trevelyan home:…adjoyninge to which (the Court) for their pleasure they have a faire parke. This probably relates to the full extent of the original North Park, although it may also refer to the Great Park. Sir John Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet, obtained permission in 1734 to enclose part of a highway to Nettlecombe church and provide an alternative route. This may be related to the creation or extension of the Great Park. It seems highly likely that a park had already been established to the south before 1744 when it was mentioned in a survey. Chidgley Close is the field adjacent to Chidgley Pond and Park Wood, while the other areas are described on the 1619 survey as being on Beacon Hill, now called Sticklepath. By 1755, the year that Sir John Trevelyan died leaving Nettlecombe, heavily protected by Trustees, to his untrustworthy son, Sir George Trevelyan, 3rd Baronet (1707-1768), it was confirmed that a second park had been created. Great Park lay to the south of the Court and contained Park Wood and the adjoining land. The area of what became the Great Park was not accounted for in the 1619 survey, suggesting that it did not produce income for the estate, and may have already been parkland or, alternatively, been managed as common wood pasture by the villagers then living between the Court and Combe. A few of the largest pollard oaks and sweet chestnuts date back to this time, and support relict lichen communities indicating a long continuity of pasture woodland before their decline. Numerous pieces of evidence all indicate that there existed a large block of ancient wood pasture significantly prior to creation of the Great Park circa 1734. The rationale for this new park is not entirely clear. By the 1740s, the landscape movement started to sweep away the formality of the 17th Century, and to design more open and flowing parkland landscapes. Certainly the value of the medieval deer park as a status symbol may have declined, but the above evidence for a much extended designed landscape at this early date is accumulating. A fine planted Turkey Oak in a group of trees near to the Court may have dated to this period soon after the species was introduced in 1735. The earlier hedge, usefully marked by a line of pollards in the Great Park and South Park, may have been removed. The first map evidence for the ‘new’ Great Park was the survey by Day and Masters in 1782. Parks were not depicted on this plan although the Court, and the Church are shown in a valley with few trees. The cottages of Nettlecombe village to the south of the Court, removed by further landscaping at the end of the 18th Century, were then still shown. In 1792, John Veitch of Exeter supplied estimates for landscaping the Great Park and South Park,work which was to be implemented that year. The changes at Nettlecombe highlight a transition between the historic and social functions of the parkland, to rear stock, produce venison, and provide timber for construction, and the landscape park, designed for aesthetic reasons to provide a setting for a country house. A coloured estate plan of 1796 records parkland on every side of the Courth, with a small structure to its southwest, possibly a seat. A ride curved gently to the south west corner of the park through the trees of Park Wood, to the upper pond with its cascade. The extent of the pre 1796 deer park, thought to be the c. 1740 Great Park, has been mapped using the information provided in Figure 3 of the 2016 Parkland Plan. [7,8] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [9]

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1962. 6" ST03NE.
  • <2> Serial: Dunning, R. W. (editor). 1985. A History of the County of Somerset. Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research. 5. 112.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1887.
  • <4> Index: 2004. English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
  • <5> Report: Nicholas Pearson Associates. 1992. Nettlecombe Park and Pleasure Grounds: Historic survey and restoration plan.
  • <6> Report: Nicholas Pearson Associates. 2003. Nettlecombe Park and Pleasure Grounds: Historic survey and restoration plan.
  • <7> Report: Unknown. 2016. Nettlecombe Parkland Plan. Nicholas Pearson Partnership LLP. 16, 21-6.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 18 April 2017.
  • <9> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 975229, Extant 28 May 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7717
  • Local List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: ST 03 NE37
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 975229
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33829



Grid reference Centred ST 0540 3747 (937m by 1200m)
Map sheet ST03NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

May 28 2022 9:50PM


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