Other improvements to the park included a cascade, and a 'surpentine in the back
brook', which may refer to where the Stour divides over a short distance in the park
near Preston. There was also a Chinese bench in a wooded area by the south road round
the park. and trees of many different varieties were planted, some sent from Hampton
Court and some from the Duke of Argyll, who was well known for his interest in trees,
particularly the new introductions from abroad. No doubt some of these were planted
in the newly designed wilderness area.
James West's main building projects
Alscot is best known for its beautifully preserved rococo-gothic House, which was
extended in 1750-52 and again in 1762-6 when West retired to live at Alscot. In the
first phase, the new north wing was built around the old house and designed with
battlements and projecting bays with pointed gothic windows. John Phillips and George
Shakespear, two London master builders, did the designs, and the Woodwards, local
masons from Chipping Campden, carried out the work. The stables and the conservatory
were also put up at about this time, and the kitchen garden walls were built.
In 1758 a new single span stone bridge was built over the Stour by Preston, and later
a smaller one was erected over the 'back brook'. Between 1750 and 1760 the church
at Preston was rebuilt in the gothic style by the Woodwards. The monuments to the
West family inside, ranged along the walls, are contained within delightful raised
and decorated gothic arches of plasterwork, while many of the interior fittings are
by Phillips and Shakespear.
In 1762-6 the larger south wing of the House was built, with Palladian proportions
but a gothic exterior to match the north wing. The same craftsmen were employed.
On the south front there are two semi-octagonal bay windows carried up as lanterns
beyond the parapet. Lanterns are a device used by Miller on some of his designs,
and the larger projecting gothic bay windows are also reminiscent of Miller's work
both at Arbury and Radway. The interior of the south wing in particular is richly
decorated in gothic plasterwork. Some of the work rivals that at Arbury in its magnificence,
and is thought to be by the same craftsman, Robert Moore.
Alscot was obviously becoming well known for its beautiful landscaped grounds by
1767, when Richard Jago, writing in his narrative poem 'Edgehill' in that year, describes
the Stour by Alscot as:
'Boasting as he flows of growing fame, And wondrous beauties on his banks display'd
-Of Alscot's swelling lawns, and fretted spires, Of fairest model, Gothic or Chinese.'
In 1767 a single entry in the memorandum book notes that 'Mr. Brown was here.' There
is no further mention of Mr. Brown, nor any details of his visit, so it is not known
whether this refers to Capability Brown or not. James West however had not many more
years to live, for he died in 1772. The great sale of his collections and books took
place in 1773 and lasted for 55 days.