Cambridgeshire – five visits in

Laura Mayer and I have now done five visits and found precious few gardens. Lots of moated sites though, which may have had designed elements. So this is going to be a short book. There are the usual suburban gardens in the college courts – even though David Loggan’s seventeenth-century engravings show several important formal layouts that have gone. It’s just like Oxford. No college ever thinks it’s worth restoring historic features. There are lots of plantsmens’ and womens’ contemporary gardens, but nothing earth shattering. However, we have made a major discovery about Capability Brown at Fenstanton – wait for the book – and, despite the frostiness of the owner, we found Dowcra’s Manor at Shepreth overwhelmingly beautiful. It’s going to be a volume about people, horses and relics. But then, that’s the nature of the whole series – every county is different and each has its own character. Best garden so far? The American Military Cemetery at Madingley. Most curious? The Crossing House at Shepreth. Most gracious owner? Toss up between Christopher Vane Percy at Island Hall at Godmanchester and Eustace Crawley at Chippenham Park – scrumptious Victoria sponge.



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