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Alscot Park Estate A Brief History

At some period the river was widened in front of the house, although the exact date is uncertain. The penstock would ensure that there was sufficient water at all times to give the river an attractive lake like appearance. On the 1885 6 inch OS. map a private ferry is marked across the river from the House, and it is very likely that boating was also a pastime.

James West and Sanderson Miller

At Honington Hall, a few miles away upstream, the Stour had been similarly widened and the grounds landscaped in about 1744 with the advice of Sanderson Miller. Miller gave West a design in 1750, so it is possible that he may also have given advice on the management of water in the park. In 1749 West wrote to Miller concerning an invitation to Radway, then in April 1750 Miller visited Alscot. Together with George Lyttleton, who was also visiting the family, Miller and West walked about the park, then looked at West's painted (ie.stained) glass. Miller drew 'a plan' for his host that evening, although unfortunately the subject is not known. He and Lyttleton stayed overnight, and the following morning the men walked in the park again, no doubt discussing the 'improvements', for George Lyttleton and Miller were both designing the new parkscape at Hagley, George Lyttleton's seat, at this time. Miller and West had many interests in common besides their liking for gothic architecture and landscaping. Miller was interested in antiquarian pursuits, he also had an extensive library, and both men had studied the ancient Saxon heptarchy and the struggle against the might of Rome, so different from the decadence of the parliamentary system in their own age. Buildings put up in the park around 1750 included a rotunda, a Chinese house and an obelisk; all sited on the rising ground by the village of Preston, and readily seen from the House. The rotunda had an octagonal tower with a domed roof, alternate sides contained either open or closed arches, and the second storey windows were round headed. The floor was marble, and in 1896 the oldest inhabitant of Preston could remember that the floor echoed when danced upon.

Probably the family took the boat across the river and walked to church through this area, at least in fine summer weather. On the hillside a terrace was created. From here the views were far reaching, and West lists them in his memorandum book. Also in the book is a small sketch plan, with dimensions, of William Holbech's terrace at Farnborough, which West visited in 1760. Miller had been involved at Farnborough since before 1742.

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