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Home > New Search > Cirencester Park (Cirencester House) (Oakley Grove)

Cirencester Park (Cirencester House) (Oakley Grove)  England 
SY-ren-SES-tur or SIS-es-tur
Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England

Circa Date: 1714-18 rebuild around Jacobethan core

Status: Fully Extant

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name
SY-ren-SES-tur or SIS-es-tur

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date
1714-18 rebuild around Jacobethan core

The Entrance Façade

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

The Entrance Façade
The Garden Façade from a 19th century engraving
The Gates from the town road
The Garden Façade from a circa 1910 postcard

Designed   Demolished West Porch and added North Wing
Date   1810-11

Designed   Rebuilt East Front of House
Date   1830

Designed   Probably rebuilt House for himself
Date   Circa 1715-18
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Grade II*
Gardens Listed As  
Grade I
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Country Life
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use
Private Home
Current Ownership Use / Details

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
Earl Bathurst, Lord Apsley; Bathurst family here since 17th century.
A Past Seat(s) of
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
The current 18th century house was built on the site of an earlier Elizabethan house of the Danvers family, which was very likely built upon the site of the 12th century Cirencester Castle.
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
The first Cirencester Park was a late Elizabethan-early Jacobean house built for the Danvers family and purchased by Sir Benjamin Bathurst in 1695. At Sir Benjamin’s death in 1704 his son, Allen Bathurst, inherited the Cirencester Estate. Bathurst was a Tory MP for Cirencester and a leading supporter of the Tory government of 1710-14. In 1712 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Bathurst as part of an attempt to pack the House of Lords to ensure the passage of the Treaty of Utrecht (he was created 1st Earl Bathurst in 1772, two years before his death in 1774 at the age of 91). Bathurst was a patron of literature and art (one of James Lees-Milne's "Earls of Creation"), befriending many of the noted authors of his day, including Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, both of whom stayed frequently at Cirencester. However, his sublime creation was one of the greatest parks of the 18th century: the finest forest landscape in England. Beginning in 1715, Lord Bathurst began to rebuild the Tudor-Jacobean house of the Danvers family (formerly known as Oakley Grove) and to layout the Park. The House was finished by 1718 (very likely his own designs) and was situated upon the site of Cirencester Castle (built circa 1107 and destroyed by King Stephen in 1142). Lord Bathurst demolished the wings of the Jacobean house and added new facades to the main fronts, leaving a severely plain classical style house. In 1810-11 the 3rd Earl Bathurst engaged Robert Smirke to demolish the West Porch and to add the North Wing. In 1830 Smirke was back at Cirencester, where he rebuilt the East Front; the House has remained virtually unaltered since Smirke’s work of 1830. The 6th and 7th Earls were patrons of the Arts and Crafts movement. Ernest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers, Ernest and Sidney, settled at Pinbury Park on the Cirencester Estate in 1894, with Norman Jewson joining them in 1907. Together they formed an Arts and Crafts oasis in Gloucestershire; Jewson described his life as a student of Gimson in his classic memoir, "By Chance I Did Rove" (1952). Apsley House, at Hyde Park in London (also known as the Wellington Museum), was built for Lord Apsley, later 3rd Earl Bathurst. In 1807 the House was purchased by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, who, in 1817, experiencing financial difficulties, sold it to his famous brother, the 1st Duke of Wellington, for £42,000 (approximately £2.5 million in 2008 inflation-adjusted values using the retail price index). The Iron Duke presented a portrait of himself to the 3rd Earl Bathurst, which remains today in the collection at Cirencester. The Australian regional town of Bathurst, New South Wales, is named after the 3rd Earl. Bathurst Street in Toronto was also named in his honor and he was portrayed by Christopher Lee in the South African television series "Shaka Zulu."
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.
Cirencester contains a fine collection of portraits, including works by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Lawrence, Romney, Hoppner, Lely, and Kneller. There is also a set of giant ancient Roman marble columns carrying busts purchased in Italy in 1814 by Lord Apsley, son of the 3rd Earl, while he was attending the Congress of Vienna.

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
Alexander Pope, a fellow Tory and leading figure in London gardening and architectural circles, was a good friend of the 1st Earl and a frequent visitor to Cirencester. Bathurst and Pope became collaborators and together they planned the pinnacle of Bathurst’s life’s work – the creation of a sublime landscaped park (Pope also designed the folly known as Pope’s Seat). In 1716 Lord Bathurst purchased the Oakley and Sapperton estates from the Atkyns family. These estates, west of Cirencester, were linked together by a series of parks joined by one enormous, long avenue, designed jointly by Bathurst and Pope. Lord Bathurst was a great believer in seasonal color, something that is standard in gardening design today, but rare and expensive to achieve in the 18th century. Lord Bathurst was an early proponent of the Gothick Revival style, something that took physical evidence when he built a small folly called Alfred’s Hall on the Cirencester Estate in 1721. This folly was enhanced by the demolition of Sapperton Manor in 1730, when Lord Bathurst installed doorways, windows, battlements, and sculpture from Sapperton and recast Alfred’s Hall with a Gothick flavor (believed to be the earliest Gothick style garden building in England). This was just one of the grottoes, ruins, and follies installed by the Earl throughout the Cirencester Estate. The House, unusually for a country house, is almost in the village of Cirencester and is screened from the town only by an enormous yew hedge. The Cirencester Estate is also home to the oldest polo club in Britain, founded in 1894. In the summer of 2003 there was a famous altercation between the current Lord Bathurst (the 8th Earl) and Prince William. From the Wikipedia entry on the 8th Earl: “According to noted sources Lord Bathurst was driving a Land Rover jeep, when Prince William, after playing polo at Cirencester Park, overtook Lord Bathurst in a Volkswagen Golf. Lord Bathurst, unaware of the driver's identity, was infuriated by what he saw as a reckless disregard for the driving rules that guide the cooperation between his estate and the polo club. In his attempt to keep up with the Prince, Lord Bathurst engaged in off-road manoeuvres, finally being stopped by the Prince's security team. As Lord Bathurst told the BBC, ‘There are rules in the polo club about driving on [the Bathurst family] estate, and people have to stick to them.’ Ultimately, no harm was done, as there were no resulting injuries and Clarence House issued a formal apology to Lord Bathurst.”
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV

Author   Strong, Roy; Binney, Marcus; Harris, John
Year Published   1974
Reference   pg. 14

Author   Kingsley, Nicholas
Year Published   1992
Reference   pgs. 100-102

There are no documents associated with this house.

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