Friday, 14 April 2017

Hartwell House

Whilst looking at a map of the Aylesbury area I noticed what appeared to be a country estate to the west of the town.  There were a number of rural footpaths going in that directions so I planned a circular route on the laptop and uploaded it to the gps. It can’t have been very far as my feet weren’t sore on my return.

aylesbury walk

There was nothing of particular interest until I reached the Bugle Horn pub at the halfway point.


The pub looked interesting, although I subsequently noted a number of people on Trip Advisor rated it the worst pub in Aylesbury!

Almost opposite is Hartwell House Park, my destination.  The first thing  I noticed whilst walking down the lane to the main entrance were the high parapets on the hump back bridge over an unnamed creek.


On approaching the entrance I realised public access wasn’t available and backtracked taking another lane which followed the stone perimeter fence.


This led me to a church cemetery which had a public footpath running through it.  I followed the footpath noticing a Gothic Tower.  It was constructed around 1730 and is Grade II listed.


I followed the wide footpath passing what appeared to be an octagonal church on my left


There was a faded sign beside the high wooden gates in the wall which stated it was The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Quite a mouthful!  It was built around 1756 replacing an earlier medieval church.  Apparently the building was quite beautiful inside but shortly after WW2 all the lead was stolen off the roof which resulted in a rapid deterioration.

The path led me to more substantial buildings which eventually resulted in me realising I’d walked in a circle and had reached the main buildings of Hartwell House


Having geographically embarrassed myself I then had to consult the gps to get back onto my route.  This took me down another country lane running beside the park wall and that’s when I came upon this next structure on the opposite side of the road.


It had what appeared to be ancient Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphics.


I thought it might either be a folly or a bus stop.  Probably the former!  The answer was in wikipedia.

“Hartwell's Egyptian Spring is a folly built in 1850 by Joseph Bonomi the Younger, an Egyptologist. It is an alcove seat on the western side of Lower Hartwell opposite a small spring. The stone pylon bears the Greek inscription "ΑΡΙΣΤοΝ ΜΕΝ ΥΔΩΡ", translated as "Water is Best", attributed to Thales.” 

My return route took me along the northern boundary of the park where there were glimpses of the main building and grounds

P1030906P1030908Some interesting facts about the history of Hartwell House.  King Louis XVIII rented the estate and lived there with his family and court for five years after fleeing Napoleon.  After Napoleon’s defeat the King signed the document accepting the crown of France in the library of Hartwell House.

During WW2 it was a billet for British and American troops. 

The original gardens were designed and laid out in the formal style of the day by James Gibbs.  However in the middle of the 18th Century Lancelot (Capability) Brown completely redesigned the grounds obliterating most of the original gardens.

The house and grounds are leased to The National Trust.  It’s used as a hotel and conference centre.      


Mike Griffin said...

Hartwell House is a stunning house, shame you did not venture inside, although posh the management are not 'stuffy', had my wedding reception there and the meal deals make it excellent value when dining.

It will be devastated by the HS2 line which will run close to the front of the house.


Tom and Jan said...

Interesting. I got the impression it was very upmarket and unlikely to let a scruffy boater beyond the front gate.