A journey through the Cotswolds and beyond
This spring, we’re celebrating some of the Oxfordshire countryside’s best-loved local treasures with a series of twelve illustrations showcasing the county’s finest estates and gardens – each of which makes the perfect addition to an open-air shopping experience here at Bicester Village. Illustrator Olympia Olympitis brings these local gems to life, exclusively for Bicester Village, in this collection of commissioned art.
When it comes to her inspiration, she says:
“The spring lockdown of 2020 was a very inspiring moment for me. I felt connected to nature and, sentimentally, to my childhood home. I spent my childhood playing in my grandmother’s magical garden – the Old Rectory features in the collection for Bicester Village – it is one of the most peaceful and captivating places”
A visit to Blenheim Palace offers an unforgettable experience, with its rolling hillsides, ornate bridges and well-kept lakes. With over 2,000 acres of parkland to explore, you’ll find plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy with your family this spring. From Woodstock Gate, regarded as one of the most striking views in England, to the banks of the Queen Pool lake, no matter which spot you choose for your afternoon picnic, you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit online: https://www.blenheimpalace.com
The historic Broughton Castle is a moated and fortified manor house built from rich local Hornton ironstone; set amongst scenic parkland it was recently transformed into a botanical wonderland. The ruined walls of the medieval castle’s former kitchens provide shelter for the beautiful Ladies Garden, made up of fleur-de-lys box hedges, different rose varieties and an assortment of lush climbers. Outside of the walled garden, the planting features vibrant borders filled with fragrant lavenders, foxgloves, delphiniums and more.
Visit online: https://www.broughtoncastle.com
Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park
With 120 acres of beautiful parkland and an award-winning art gallery, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Compton Verney. Take a delightful walk through the historic ‘Capability’ Brown landscape and discover dramatic views over the mansion house, lake and surrounding countryside. Find undiscovered parts of the park as you explore unique outdoor art exhibitions.
Visit online: https://www.comptonverney.org.uk
Kingston Bagpuize House
Miss Raphael shaped the beautiful gardens at Kingston Bagpuize House in 1938. Influenced by her travels to China, Japan, Canada and South Africa, you'll discover rare and eye-catching plants, including the wispy pink Persian silk tree and the evergreen Virginia willow. The gardens and parkland continue to honour her legacy today with inspiring collections of mature trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Downton Abbey fans may recognise the idyllic countryside location as the home of Lord Merton.
Visit online: https://kbhevents.uk
Rousham House & Gardens
Designed by William Kent, the eighteenth-century landscaped gardens at Rousham House remain virtually unspoilt. Evergreen trees frame views of the winding River Cherwell, whilst a series of ornamental features, including the seven-arched Praeneste and sham ruin known as the ‘Eyecatcher’, take centre stage. Don't miss the walled garden with its deep herbaceous flower beds, box parterres and espalier apple trees. Pack a picnic, wear comfortable shoes, and it’s yours to enjoy for the day.
Visit online: http://rousham.org
Experience the natural wonder of Stonor Park, set deep within the Chiltern Hills. From the seventeenth-century Italianate Pleasure Garden to the Ladies Walk – where you'll discover young nut trees, ornamental cherries, primroses and more – it's a truly majestic setting come spring. No visit would be complete without a wander along the footpath located opposite the house to take in the magnificent views of the parkland and ancient herd of fallow deer who call this place home.
Visit online: https://www.stonor.com
The Old Rectory, Farnborough
It’s no surprise that the Old Rectory in Farnborough was voted the most beautiful parsonage in England by Country Life. The house sits in the centre looking over the downs, surrounded by a series of immaculately tended garden rooms. From the herbaceous borders and arboretum to the secret garden, you’ll find a beautiful explosion of colour and texture at every turn. With stunning views across the countryside, it’s the perfect setting to embrace the new season.
Upton House and Gardens
Upton House and Gardens is the beautiful countryside retreat where Lord and Lady Bearsted went to relax in the 1930s. Upton’s gardens remain an idyllic place to reconnect with nature. Immerse yourself in the spectacular surroundings and walk through the grounds to discover cascading terraces, elegant stone staircases, a variety of herbaceous borders and more. Not forgetting the beautiful orchard, a peaceful place to sit where you can see, hear and enjoy the sounds of nature without any distractions.
Visit online: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/upton-house-and-gardens
The late nineteenth-century gardens at Waddesdon Manor were the vision of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Renowned for its beauty and hidden treasures, there’s still plenty to discover when you visit today, from the winding trails bursting with greenery to the flourishing wildflowers and hidden sculptures. Plus, don't forget to take a look at the beautifully restored cast-iron aviary filled with exotic birds and surrounded by intricate raised-ribbon bedding.
Visit online: https://waddesdon.org.uk
The ornamental gardens at Waterperry have been delighting visitors for years, with eight acres of landscaped grounds nestled in the countryside. There’s plenty to explore, including the rose and formal knot gardens, a water-lily canal and one of the finest herbaceous borders in the country, which flowers continually from May to October. For garden enthusiasts, there’s a well-stocked nursery on site. Plus, year-round events are held in the open-air amphitheatre, from expert talks to theatre, music and more.
Visit online: https://www.waterperrygardens.co.uk
Worton Kitchen Garden
Five miles north-west of Oxford, discover the magical Worton Kitchen Garden, a seven-acre market garden on the Worton Park Estate. Since 2005 the gardens have steadily evolved to produce a diverse range of beautiful flowers, fresh herbs, seasonal vegetables and fruit. This secluded piece of paradise is open year-round, and features a farm shop selling local produce and a café restaurant.
Visit online: https://wortonkitchengarden.com
Want to see more?
Visit the Village to see the full collection of beautiful garden illustrations by 24-year-old London-based illustrator, Olympia Olympitis.
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