Ancient Monuments

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Water gardens, avenue and an associated earthwork, east of Court Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Tackley, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8806 / 51°52'50"N

Longitude: -1.3034 / 1°18'12"W

OS Eastings: 448044.789191

OS Northings: 220456.157031

OS Grid: SP480204

Mapcode National: GBR 7W6.192

Mapcode Global: VHCX1.CZ9Q

Entry Name: Water gardens, avenue and an associated earthwork, east of Court Farm

Scheduled Date: 4 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007716

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21703

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Tackley

Built-Up Area: Tackley

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Tackley

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument is situated on the estate of Court Farm, Tackley, east of the
village green. The site survives as the well preserved earthworks of a 17th
century pleasure garden, centred on a series of ornamental but functional
fishponds. The three central ponds, two of which are triangular and one of
which is square, and a reservoir pond to the east, are water filled; the
remainder are dry but survive as distinct earthworks. The ponds are laid out
on a regular pattern and are separated by walkways, varying in width from 6m
to 10m. These allow access to islands in the ponds via a series of causeways,
originally incorporating wooden bridges across the sluices. The triangular
ponds are c.37m by c.60m on their longest side. The other central pond is
almost a square, measuring c.55m by 55m, with a central island c.25m square.
The waterfilled ponds are all c.2m deep. The gardens are at the north-eastern
end of an avenue running to the south-west which can be traced into Tackley
Park c.200m from the most southerly fishpond. This avenue is c.12m wide and is
bounded by drains on both sides. At a point c.75m south-west of the first
fishponds a 3m high wall, incorporating a gateway, both listed Grade II, runs
across the avenue.
On the south-east side of the ponds and avenue there is a linear ditch visible
as a low earthwork in an arable field. This earthwork is about 10m wide and
runs roughly 8m from the eastern boundary of the fishponds complex. The
earthwork clearly follows the line of the garden lay-out and predates the more
recent alterations to the drainage features on the site.
The monument was built between 1612 and 1620 by John Harbourne and was part of
an extensive rebuilding and landscaping scheme in Tackley. Plans of the
original design survive and the site is remarkably well preserved despite the
land to the north and north-east having been developed for housing.
The Avenue has been cut off at its south-western end by the wall of Tackley
Park and the track running alongside and to the north of the wall. Excluded
from the scheduling are the concrete sluices and sluice gates which are
essential to the management of the monument, although the ground around and
below the sluices is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The water garden and associated earthworks at Tackley represent the rare
survival of a form of landscape garden designed and constructed on a
relatively small scale and associated either with Court Farm to the west or
Tackley Park to the south. The intention would have been to provide a visually
impressive feature, including ponds, avenues and walkways, to combine with the
functional aspects of the fishponds, the role of which would have been both to
supply fish as an economic resource and to act as a focus of attention for
visitors to the garden.
All the ponds are linked by a system of supply channels, sluices and dams
which create an elaborate water management system, possibly supplemented by
the earthwork feature which now survives as a slight earthwork in the field to
the south-east.
The monument represents a rare if not unique example of 17th century water
gardens associated with a country house. The original plans also survive,
providing an opportunity to study both the archaeological and the historical

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
RCHME, , Tackley, Oxfordshire, (1991)
MS in Tackley Estate Offices, Anon, The History of the Harbournes,
Peake, A.C., Discussion with Owner, (1992)
PRN 3848, CAO, Early 17th Century Walks, Pleasure Gardens and Fishponds, (1970)

Source: Historic England

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