In a further letter Mrs.West recounts how she had been riding round the estate, and
'the Park tho small is finely planted, and the River runs through it ... Besides
the River there is two fine pieces of Water in the Park stored with fish. The gardens
consist of a bowling green, Flower garden, wood walks, and a very good Kitchen Garden.
The first thing your Brother intends to do is to enlarge the Park, and cut down some
willows that grow by the River and to lay the banks free.' Her husband thought that
Alscot was all 'peace and complacency', and even the parson he found ‘neither stupid
Improvements in the park
Following his purchase James West immediately set about realising the capabilities
for improvement which he had first seen in the estate. He took meticulous measurements
of the bowling green and the grounds, writing them all down in his memorandum book.
Between 1747 and March 1748 he was dealing particularly with the river and the fishponds.
Letters from Mr. Coombs, in charge of the estate at Alscot, to West at the Treasury
in London discuss de-silting the pond, laying the silt on the park and clearing the
far bank of trees (as Mrs. West had mentioned in her letter) - 'which makes that
part prodigiously pleasant'. New stairs were made down to the river from the House,
a new 'Ise House' was built, and the pigeon house was repaired. There were already
two, or perhaps three fish ponds running down from near the Stratford road towards
the river. From West's own memorandum book it appears that either a new pond was
constructed, or an old one enlarged - presumably where the third pool is today nearest
to the river. West mentions on September 2, 1747 that 1000 loads of earth (not silt)
had been taken out of the pond in the park. Mr. Coombes, reporting to London on October
11, was hoping to finish it soon: ... it will be a very fine pond with a walk on
both sides 12 foot wide on the outside of Each walk I purpose to plant a row of Scotch
firs which will look very pretty...'. In November West put 70 brace of carp and 60
brace of perch into the new pond. There were problems with the deer escaping from
the park. New paling was ordered, also deer were to be sent from Lord Coventry's
estate at Croome, in Worcestershire to improve the stock. A further important project
was the making of a 'penstock' on the river. The 'penstock' was a floodgate for retaining
and regulating the water in the Stour as it flowed past the house.