Sezincote House and Gardens
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
A little bit of the Far East in the Cotswold countryside, Sezincote is a unique house built in the style of a Rajasthan palace.
Charles Cockerell served with the East India Company in Bombay. In 1798 he inherited the Sezincote estate from his brother John. Charles, later Sir Charles, employed his own brother, Samuel Pepys Cockerell, as architect to construct a new house and garden at Sezincote, using as a blueprint the elaborate oriental palaces of Rajasthan. SP Cockerelll had already been employed creating the nearby estate of Daylesford, but here he was encouraged to create an extravagant house in the Mogul style, with a central dome and minaret, set off in a formal arrangement of a curving orangery and canal garden. Sezincote was used by architect John Nash as a model for the extravagant Brighton Pavilion.
There are two gardens at Sezincote, the formal canal garden beside the house, and a more informal stream garden near the entrance to the grounds. The most immediately recognizable aspect of the formal garden are two large statues of elephants which act as a focal point for a formal canal leading from the house to a nearby hill. The curving orangery opens into the garden, and when the weather is fine the orangery doors are open, creating a space that is both indoors and outdoors at once.
The informal garden was created with the aid of Thomas Daniell and Humphrey Repton. It is approached over an Indian Bridge, which gives way to winding paths along a stream, where bog-loving plants flourish. At the top of the property is a fountain pool punctuated at one end by a small temple to a Hindu sun god.
Stepping stones lead across the stream and under the bridge, where stone benches let visitors sit out of the sun and enjoy the view down the garden slope. The gardens offer plenty of summer interest, and in the Autumn the colours are superb.
Sezincote is a bit off the normal Cotswold tourist map, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, for you are unlikely to be crowded by a crush of visitors, a curse because it can be a bit hard to find if you're not sure of your way. The house is accessed via a minor road off the A44 at the northern boundary of Bourton on the Hill. The signposting is a bit haphazard, so you'll have to keep your eyes open for the turnoff into a small graveled parking area. Able-bodied visitors will have to park and walk downhill a few hundred yards to the garden entrance to the grounds. Visitors with mobility problems are allowed to drive right to the gates for access. The main drive to the house is level, but the informal garden area is on a slope.
We lived in the area of Sezincote for almost two years before making time for a visit. I wish we hadn't waited. The gardens are simply a delight in summer. Though small by comparison to many larger and more famous gardens, the effect is one of peace and tranquility, with a wonderful variety of colour and species. The gently meandering stream, the oriental fountain pool and bridges, make for an extremely enjoyable amble. Closer to the house, the formal garden area is attractive, though perhaps not so enticing. The orangery provides a lovely space to sit and enjoy the view over the canal. Sezincote is one of our favourite gardens.
Though there is space for children to wander through the gardens, Sezincote is not really set up to appeal to family groups. The house is off-limits to younger children, which is a shame. Our children enjoyed the elephant statues at the head of the formal garden, and also enjoyed sitting on the benches under the bridge, but that was about the extent of the attraction for the younger generation.
The house and gardens have limited opening hours, so please check with the official website (below) before planning a trip.
Address: Bourton on the Hill, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England, GL56 9AW
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: On a minor road off the A44 on the outskirts of Bourton on the Hill. Seasonal opening. Children are not generally admitted to the house
Historic Houses Association
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Bourton House Garden - 0.8 miles (Garden)
Longborough, St James - 1 miles (Historic Church)
Batsford Arboretum - 1.9 miles (Garden)
Mill Dene Garden - 2.3 miles (Garden)
Broadway Tower - 4.8 miles (Historic Building)
Chastleton House - 4.9 miles (Historic House)
Snowshill, St Barnabas Church - 5 miles (Historic Church)
Snowshill Manor - 5 miles (Historic House)
Nearest Accommodation to Sezincote:
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Cotswold District Council Offices
Tel: 01608 650 881
Fax: 01608 651 542