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Home > Archive > Russell Page Archive: Badminton Estate

Russell Page Archive: Badminton Estate

The Badminton Estate, in the Gloucestershire countryside, has been home to the Dukes of Beaufort since the late 17th century. Here, at the Cottage, Page helped to create a series of elegant yet relaxed garden rooms. His work there spanned two decades, and the final designs were among his last.

  • Badminton, Garden Arch

    RP/1/1/2/20

    June 1965

    54 x 71 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil drawing on tracing paper dated June 1965, marked 'Sketch for a garden arch for David Somerset Esq, scale 1" to 1 foot'. Although the dimensions are included, there is a note by Page that suggests they (or another aspect of the design) might be altered: ‘Note this will have to be redrawn I fear before execution'.

  • Badminton, Drawing of an Arch

    RP/1/1/2/3

    Undated

    66 x 54 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Scope and Content: An ink and pencil drawing on paper of a stone archway (scale '1 inch to 1 foot). There is a sketch of a figure within the arch, presumably to give an indication of the scale. Undated, it is likely to be a preliminary drawing for RP/1/1/2/20.

  • Badminton, Drawing of an Arch

    RP/1/1/2/4

    Undated

    67 x 54 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An ink and pencil drawing on paper of a stone archway. Some of the dimensions are included. Undated, it is likely to be a preliminary drawing for RP/1/1/2/20.

  • Badminton Paths and Trellis

    RP/1/1/2/12

    June 1965

    40.5 x 76 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil and ink design on tracing paper dated June 1965 (scale 10ft = 1 inch). It shows a plan for the kitchen garden (referred to as a potager on the drawing) with details about the location and width of pathways, recommendations for hedges and fruit trees, and the location of a trellis arbour (see RP/1/1/2/15).

  • The Cottage, Badminton

    RP/1/1/2/7

    1966

    48.5 x 67 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    Scope and Content: A pencil design on tracing paper dated 1966, marked ‘Preliminary sketch plan for a walled garden at the Cottage Badminton, scale 1/8" = 1 foot’. The plan shows the walled flower garden which leads off the kitchen garden. Suggestions for planting and colour schemes are included: mainly pink and white with no blue flowers. Roses, peonies, hollyhocks and tulips are among the flowers mentioned. Page also notes that the paths will not be symmetrical due to the positioning of the central axis.

  • The Cottage, Badminton

    RP/1/1/2/6

    July 1967

    59 x 77 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline design dated July 1967, marked ‘The Cottage Badminton, suggestions only'. Several elements of the garden design are shown: a pool, an obelisk and a circle of trees (planted as lime trees).

  • The Cottage, Badminton

    RP/1/1/2/2a

    July 1967

    54 x 76 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline design with added pencil dated July 1967, marked ‘The Cottage Badminton, suggestions only'. This is the same drawing as RP/1/1/2/6 but with an additional pencil sketch of the walled and kitchen gardens.

  • The Cottage, Badminton, Arbour

    RP/1/1/2/15

    February 1969

    76.5 x 56 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated February 1969, marked ‘The Cottage Badminton, First sketch for arbour at the crossing of kitchen garden paths, scale 1" = 1 foot, total height 12ft, width about 9ft 4".’ The wooden arbour was designed for the centre of the kitchen garden (see RP/1/1/2/12). The drawing shows an elevation of one side of the octagonal structure, and a plan of the roof.

  • The Cottage, Badminton, Herb Garden

    RP/1/1/2/17

    May 1972

    58 x 76.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 30 May 1972, marked ‘The Cottage Badminton, Suggested lay out for herb garden, scale 1/2 inch = 1 foot'. The plan shows the layout of the paths and flowerbeds (with dimensions) in the herb garden. A low hedge of sweet briar is indicated. There are also cross sections of walls shown.

  • Badminton, Flower Beds and Paths

    RP/1/1/2/5

    Undated

    38 x 53 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper of the herb garden. Undated it was presumably drawn up around the same time as RP/1/1/2/17, which is identified as being a design for the herb garden and dated 30 May 1972. The flower beds and pathways are marked (with dimensions).

  • Badminton, Dovecote

    RP/1/1/2/11a

    September 1979

    51.5 x 81.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline design dated September 1979, showing elevations and plan of a dovecote. Information about its dimensions and siting within the garden are given. Page’s handwritten notes on the drawing relate to practicalities, such as where the structure is to be positioned and how big it should be. There are also references to it being built on or around an existing retaining wall.

  • The Cottage, Badminton

    RP/1/1/2/13

    September 1979

    58.5 x 68.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An ink and pencil design on tracing paper dated September 1979, marked ‘The Cottage Badminton, Plan for ground work of proposed new garden; scale 1/4 inch = 1 foot’. The plan shows the built elements of the new garden, with details about the location and construction of walls, steps and paving.

  • The Cottage, Badminton

    RP/1/1/2/14

    September 1979

    62 x 77 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An ink and pencil design on tracing paper dated September 1979, marked ‘The Cottage Badminton, Revised sketch plan, scale 1/4 inch = 1 foot'. The plan shows the new garden at the Cottage, and relates closely to RP/1/12/13. A fountain pool, Caisse de Versailles and some plants are shown.

  • Badminton, Sketch of Garden

    RP/1/1/2/22 (15 of 15)

    Undated

    47.5 x 29.7 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil and coloured pencil design on paper. Undated, there are no annotations identifying to which the part of the garden it relates. The shape of the site, however, suggests that it is a drawing for the new garden Page designed at the Cottage (see RP/1/1/2/13 and RP/1/1/2/14) and might be a preliminary sketch plan.

  • Badminton, Masterplan for the Cottage Garden

    RP/1/1/2/22 (2 of 15)

    Undated

    21.4 x 27.4 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An ink design on paper, marked on the verso ‘Masterplan for the cottage garden’. Undated, it may well have been a preliminary drawing as the paper appears to be from a sketchbook.

  • Badminton Garden Sketch

    RP/1/1/2/21

    Undated

    37.5 x 43 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated ink and brown pencil sketch of the garden titled, 'Badminton'. The drawing appears to show the Cottage garden, as in the Masterplan (RP/1/1/2/22) but with a different layout.

  • Badminton, Sketch for Pool

    RP/1/1/2/22 (12 of 15)

    Undated

    23.8 x 32.4 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An ink and coloured pencil drawing on paper of a circular pool surrounded by trees. Undated, this appears to be on paper from a sketchbook and may well have been an early design.

  • Badminton, Garden Sketch

    RP/1/1/2/22 (13 of 15)

    Undated

    47.5 x 29.7 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil and coloured pencil design on tracing paper. Undated, it appears to show Badminton House’s East Front garden. If it is an early drawing for this section of the gardens, it was likely to have been executed in 1984.

  • Badminton, East Front

    RP/1/1/2/10

    February 1984

    40 x 52 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pen and coloured ink design dated February 1984, marked ‘East Front Badminton, Preliminary sketch plan, not to scale'. The plan shows a suggested layout for the East Front garden, with formal flowerbeds and trees included.

  • Badminton, East Front

    RP/1/1/2/16

    March 1984

    42 x 60 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline design dated 6 March 1984, marked ‘East front variation, Badminton’. The plan shows an alternative, simplified layout for the East Front garden (see RP/1/1/2/10) with three rectangular lawns and one large, oval lawn.

  • Badminton, East front

    RP/1/1/2/9c

    March 1984

    60 x 42.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline design dated March 1984, marked ‘Badminton, East Front, Sketch No.2, approx scale 1/16" = 1 foot'. The plan shows a variation on the East Front design with rectangular sections.

  • Badminton, East front

    RP/1/1/2/9

    May 1984

    42 x 39 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A pencil design on tracing paper dated 18 May 1984, marked ‘Badminton, 1/16 = 1".’ The plan shows another suggested layout for the East Front garden.

  • Badminton, South front

    RP/1/1/2/8

    March 1984

    42 x 60 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline design with additions in red pencil dated 10 March 1984, marked ‘Badminton South Front, Scale 1/ 16" = 1', Sketch No.1’. The plan shows a suggested layout for the South Front; trees and a rose field are indicated.

  • Badminton House, Ground Floor Plan

    RP/1/1/2/18

    Undated

    55.5 x 59 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    An undated dyeline plan of the ground floor of Badminton House showing the individual rooms and the location of the church (scale 16ft to 1 inch). A rough sketch of a tree has been drawn in the area where the south garden would be.

  • Badminton House, First Floor Plan

    RP/1/1/2/19

    April 1984

    60 x 84.5 cm

    ©Estate of Russell Page

    A dyeline plan drawn up by architect Philip Jebb, dated 17 April 1984: ‘Badminton House, 536/12, First floor, Draft layout of services, scale 1/8" = 1'-0" approx’. A rough pencil sketch of a section of garden has been added (yew and box hedges are indicated).

The Cottage, East and South gardens, Badminton Estate, Badminton, Gloucestershire, England

1965 to 1984

Archive of Garden Design Ref: RP/1/1/2

The Cottage at Badminton (sometimes referred to as the Dower House) features a series of garden rooms, in which formal structures of yew and box hedging, flagstone and brick pathswere combined with an abundance of flowering plants – old fashioned rosespeonies and clematis among them – to create a quintessentially English garden. Although situated at some distance from Badminton House itself, the character of the garden perfectly suited the estate’s parkland, which had been laid out from the 17th century onwards by landscape architects such as William Kent and Thomas Wright. 

The Lady Caroline Somerset and her husband David, the future Duke of Beaufort, first asked Page to work on the gardens in the mid-1960s. Page already knew the Somersets well. Lady Caroline (née Thynne) was the daughter of the 6th Marquess of Bath, with whom Page had first started working at Longleat in Wiltshire in the 1930s, while David Somerset, chairman of Marlborough Fine Art, was a good friend of the Italian industrialist and Fiat heir Gianni Agnelli, one of Page’s clients since the 1950s. 

Shortly after their wedding in 1950, David and Caroline Somerset had been invited to live at Badminton House by the 10th Duke; he and the Duchess were childless and, although he was only a distant cousin, it was highly likely that David would one day succeed to the family titles and estates. It was only as the Somersets’ family expanded (their first child was born in 1952, their fourth and final in 1964) that the arrangement changed, and in 1963 they moved to the Cottage (on the estate). They soon set about transforming the garden at their new home. Although covered in bindweed and ground elder, it had, according to Lady Caroline, ‘bones’: yew hedges, an orchard and walls more than one hundred and fifty years old (Somerset 125)She was aware that she wanted the garden to be laid out as rooms, and spent a couple of years establishing the groundwork before enlisting Page’s help (the earliest date on the surviving plans is June 1965 but the reference numbers suggest he may have begun to draw up designs the previous year)The plans suggest that he continued to work on the gardens at the Cottage until 1979. 

The first space on which Page worked was the kitchen garden, described by Fred Whitsey in 1977 as ‘surely the prettiest in the realm’ (484). There is a separate detailed drawing of the wooden arbour which Page designed for the centre of this space. Although the Somersets were enthusiastic gardeners themselves, the plans include designs for a stone archway, a walled flower gardenherb garden, an obelisk and dovecotesuggesting that Page’s involvement in the evolution of the garden was significant.  

In 1984 David Somerset became the Duke of Beaufort, and Lady Caroline set about remodelling the gardens closer to the main house. When Steven Desmond visited Badminton in the early 1990s, he was informed by David Somerset that Page’s involvement in the design of these gardens was minimal:

‘The Duke knew Page quite well, and recalls him as a rather lonely man, confident in his own ability. On the back of an envelope, he sketched out the lines of the proposed Badminton garden on the east front of the house, but it got no further than that as mortality intervened soon afterwards.’ (116)

Although Page may have died before he could implement them, between February and May 1984 he did in fact draw up a plan for the South Front garden and series of suggested designs for the East Front garden (see RP/1/1/2/10, RP/1/1/2/16, RP/1/1/2/9). These, it would seem, were used as a starting point by designer Francois Goffinet, who took over the project at Badminton (he also continued Page’s work at PepsiCo’s headquarters in America).

Page chose to be buried at Badminton in a simple unmarked grave.

Literature

Desmond, Steven. “Gloucestershire’s Secret Garden.” Country Life, vol. 207, no. 18, 2013, 114-118.

Somerset, Caroline. “The Dower House, Badminton, Avon.” The Englishwoman’s Garden, edited by Alvilde Lees-Milne and Rosemary Verey. Chatto & Windus, 1980, pp. 125-130.

van Zuylen, Gabrielle and Marina Schinz. The Gardens of Russell Page. London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2008.

Whitsey, Fred. “Russell Page’s English gardens.” The Garden: Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society. Vol. 102, part 12, December 1977, pp. 481-487.

Worthland, Cristopher. “The Cottage at Badminton.” The Art of the Room, 4 Sept. 2014, http://theartoftheroom.com/2014/09/the-cottage-at-badminton/.

Related material in the Archive of Garden Design

LAW/G550/1-16 (Temporary Ref.): 29  35mm colour slides (undated) taken by Andrew Lawson of the gardens at Badminton House, mostly of the parterre.

Related material elsewhere

There are 35mm colour transparencies of the garden at Badminton in the RHS Lindley Library reference collection (PAG/2/3/8 and PAG/2/3/26).