Drive in through the entrance, up the drive, and turn the corner under a large dark spreading conifer and you will come to the main house looking out over the gentle slope of the front park.
The Jacobean farmhouse, which forms the core of the house, was extensively altered at the end of the 18th century to incorporate the newly fashionable Strawberry Hill Gothic style. An imposing front wing was added with a central entrance hall. The hall was flanked by a spacious drawing room with a fine moulded ceiling and an imposing dining room. The roof was castellated, pointed gothic windows installed and a turret added to give the effect of a small medieval castle. Braziers was considered to be a stylistic triumph and drawings of it were shown at the Royal Academy in 1799.
The gardens are screened to the west side by a tall yew hedge. If you walk under the loggia you will find the front door of the house facing you. Turn left and go through the side door of the loggia and you will come out on a generous, sunny, tiled terrace with green lawns and a line of strangely shaped yew trees climbing up the slope, towards the wood. In front of the yew hedge is the Long Border, planted in hot colours, winding along parallel to the drive right to the end where the woodland walk starts (or finishes), or you can turn and go down the semicircular steps onto the lawn with the young cedar of Lebanon on your left (planted for Nonny's 80th in 2002)
Alternatively you can walk along the terrace and up the stone steps , through the three little terrace gardens planted with species native to this country or introduced before 1800, in the second of which is a sundial in the form of an armillary sphere. At the top of the steps is an Edwardian summerhouse and to your right is the North Garden planted with choice shrubs and perennials in contrasting strong and muted shades of colour. There is also a small rock garden, these gardens have been managed by Nonny until recently.
If you walk through the North Garden branching off from the main path to your right past a small shed, you will come out at the woodshed on your right, and a drying green with clotheslines to your left, behind which are the salad beds, and a small greenhouse. In front of the drying green is the herb garden, handy for the kitchen which is close by.
Continue in the same direction until you reach the wall of the outbuilding on your left, turn up the small flagged path and then right where you will reach The Granary and The Barn where you may find someone working on an art project, pressing apples or fixing the tractor.
If you prefer you could walk around the woodshed, to the east side of the house, past a small courtyard, and through to the front of Braziers, with the loggia on your right. There you will find the Water Garden with its long narrow pool leading to a statue at the end, its inhabited by newts, frogs, dragonflies and the usual pond life and is an ongoing renovation project. There is an old shrub border to the left of the pool and another more recently planted shrub-backed border, planted in shades of blue, white and yellow to enclose the water garden from the drive.
There is a larger pond at the top left corner of the front park, hidden from view, which also needs some work.
The walled vegetable garden also contains many flowers grown for medicinal or culinary purposes and also as helpful companions to some of the fruit and vegetables or to provide seeds for the hens.
The outbuildings add much to the charm of Braziers. Close to the main house lie Courtyard Cottage and the laundry. Slightly further away are a traditional raised granary, a coach house, with horse stalls and adjoining garage, the Bothy, dog kennels, the egg house and a magnificent wooden barn.
At the end of the gardens leading from the terrace on the west side of the main house lies the summer house, and buried deep in the woodland close to Braziers Lane is a wooden building which was originally built as a community hall, and subsequently converted to a squash court and tiny theatre. Next to it another wooden building, formerly kennels, has been used as an applestore.
Towards the kitchen garden there is a traditional greenhouse, Garden Cottage and the remains of piggeries. Beyond the walled kitchen garden and orchard stand the hay barn and the dairy. Numerous stores and sheds also exist.
Some of the present outbuildings were known to exist in the middle of the 19th century, specifically the granary, the barn, the Bothy and Garden Cottage. By the end of that century, other outbuildings had been added, including the egghouse, which was originally a dairy, the commmunity hall, and stalls for animals. Also from that time, now hidden in the woods, is a badger baiting pit. The Flemings added stables, kennels and a garage.
The outbuildings have had various uses. Today, the Bothy, Courtyard Cottage and Garden Cottage are used as living spaces by the resident community. The granary is used for art exhibitions on a regular basis. The wooden barn is being renovated to provide both exhibition and performance space. The former squash court has been used as an art studio, but is now in need of major repairs. Other buildings are used for storage and as the studio of Braziers' Artist-in-Residence.
Hard copy of the map of the Park will be available on the day & on Tuesday evenings at Centre 70.
Tea and coffee will be available but bring your own lunch or if you prefer there is a pub just up the road that does lunches/snacks.
Tuesday 16th May 2017 at 7:30pm
Visitor's fee £3, free to WADAC members
Brazier's Park, Ipsden, Wallingford, OX10 6AN