A colourful family history, beautiful gardens and an 18th century house filled with a stunning collection of paintings, furniture and ceramics are three very good reasons to visit Buscot Park in Oxfordshire.
Owned by the National Trust, the estate is leased back to and run by the current Lord Faringdon, who’s great grandfather bought the property in 1889. It was this Lord who enlarged the original house and bought many works of art including Rembrandt’s Pieter Six and the famous Burne-Jones series, The Legend of the Briar Rose.
However it was Gavin Henderson, the second Lord Faringdon and uncle of the current incumbent, who really grew the collection and also hosted what sounded like the sort of house parties where I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall.
Despite being educated at Eton and Oxford and becoming a member of the ‘Bright Young Things’ set in the 1920s, Gavin developed an interest in politics and joined the Labour Party. Buscot soon became a regular venue for socialist conferences and Lord Faringdon’s weekend house parties included an eclectic mix of politicians, artists and friends.
The house guests certainly had plenty to admire during their visits. The entrance hall alone is a stunning mix of waxed stone flags, trompe l’oeil trophies, Regency furniture and a gilt chandelier.
From there each of the rooms holds a different theme and a range of pieces from the Faringdon Collection. For me the most captivating is The Saloon where the Burne-Jones series covers three of the four walls. The paintings took 20 years to paint and beautifully illustrate the story of Sleeping Beauty.
Outside, the grounds are referred to as the pleasure gardens and there’s definitely plenty of pleasure to be had from wandering through them. The walled Four Seasons garden offers something to see all through the year, while a walk through the woodland takes you to a gorgeous Italian inspired water garden. There’s also a lake, tree-lined avenues, a hump backed bridge and a circular garden with a series of swinging garden seats.
The grounds are perfect for a picnic if the weather is nice and the tea room does a nice line in cakes and scones, but if it’s lunch your after I’d recommend a stop in the nearby town of Faringdon. From the outside Sadlers in Market Place looks more like a shop than a cafe, but inside it’s a wonderfully quirky venue spread over numerous floors and stuffed with all sorts of antiques and knick knacks which are all for sale.
The grade II listed building dates back to 1645, but the food on offer is entirely contemporary with meat and cheese deli boards, baguettes, salads, paninis and soup. The breakfast options looked good too, but it’s not open in the evenings due to the owners’ unsurprisingly successful catering business.
Click on an image below or scroll through the gallery. Photography isn’t allowed inside the house so you’ll need to visit for yourself to enjoy those treasures.