Buscot House together with the surrounding park land became the home of Lord Faringdon. It is part of the Buscot and Coleshill Estate, which totals some 7,500 acres comprising of 11 farms, 290 acres of in hand woodland, 550 acres of woodland let to the Forestry Commission, and includes the villages of Buscot, Coleshill, and Eaton Hastings. It is now almost entirely owned by the National Trust (only 4 houses are in private ownership), a total of 151 cottages. Buscot Park and House are on the opposite (south) side of the A417 before reaching the village of Buscot. They are open to the public on set days during the summer months.
The Loveden family2 owned the manor in Buscot from 1557 for 300 years. Edward Loveden Townsend (1740s–1822) purchased more land and built the house and park during 1780-83. He was heavily involved in the development of the Thames for navigation and trade, and made much money from tolls on Buscot Lock. On his death the land passed consecutively to his son, then grandson, then great grandson who in 1859 put the now run-down estate up for sale.
The new owner was Robert Tertius Campbell(1811-1887)3, an Australian tycoon who having made his fortune in the Australian gold rush as a gold trader, came to England in 1859, purchased the whole semi-derelict Buscot and Eaton Hastings estate for £125,000 and spent his entire fortune on turning it into a model agricultural wonder. He was a popular and extremely innovative man for his time. He created a railway network connecting his farms to the wharfs and factories that he built on the River Thames. He also developed an irrigation system involving giant water wheels and ditches to feed water from the river. He died bankrupt in 1887. More details on these riverside developments can be found on the page about the village of Buscot.
c.1920. Buscot Park House, from the north east showing the rose beds. This is the house in the time of Alexander Henderson (1850-1934), the first Lord Faringdon, before the later alterations. He purchased the house and estate in 1889 after Robert Campbell’s death6 with money made from his investments in the railways. The house was then much improved and enlarged with a new west wing added.
His grandson, Gavin Henderson (1902-1977)5, the second Lord Faringdon and a Labour peer in the House of Lords, inherited the estate in 1934. He altered the house drastically by demolishing the wings and many of the servants’ quarters, which made the house much smaller. He also built a swimming pool and a theatre, the latter which is often put to use by the local community today. His life is depicted in the frescoes/murals which are on the walls outside. In the 1940s, he started arrangements for the whole Buscot Park estate to be put into the hands of the National Trust by 1956, though with provision for the Hendersons to remain in residence.
During the Second World War, Gavin Henderson served as a Column Officer in the National Fire Service, working in Fire Force 15, which covered Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire (photo). The firemen at Faringdon called him ‘Lordy’. He distinguished himself when attending the Bristol blitz. He created ‘The Lord Faringdon Cup’, which was awarded to the winners of the large trailer pump competition. In 1942, the cup was won by the crew from Sonning, near Reading. On his death in 1977, he was succeeded by his nephew Charles Henderson (born 1937) as the third and current Lord Faringdon, who then moved in with his wife and they continue to live there today. More about the Hendersons (pdf)…
Buscot Park Theatre is set in the East Pavilion to the side of the House. This little theatre seats just 62 people. Constructed in 1936 for the 2nd Lord Faringdon to a design by his friend, Paul Geddes-Hyslop, the theatre has recently been restored and the facilities and equipment considerably upgraded.
The theatre is available for hire, and is occasionally used for public performances – musical recitals, small operas or plays, and one person shows. Productions are advertised locally and on their website. https://buscot-park.com/grounds/the-theatre
1906. Wedding at Buscot Park Lodge. The Argent family at the wedding of Bessie Argent to George Grine. Left to right: Tom Argent, head forester for Lord Faringdon at Buscot Park; seated next is his wife who is holding Charlie Argent, the youngest of the family; seated in the front is Cyril Argent who, on the death of his father, became head forester for the estate.
1931 Buscot Park outing to Bournemouth, taken at Bournemouth. Left to right: Bert Dancy, the estate carpenter; Tommy Clare in the white coat, proprietor of Eagle Coaches; Gladys Davis; Mrs Ruth Argent, the wife of the head forester; Margaret Dancy, Bert’s wife; Rev. Erward, Vicar of Buscot; a boy Edwards in front; Freddie Harris; behind him Mr Cyril Argent, the head forester; Mr Harry Sharps; in front of him Ernie Savory; Chum Hammond in a flat cap; Jeff Dancy, son of Bert and also a carpenter on the estate; Stan Sharps; Sid Rouse, carpenter; Rowland Dancy, son of Bert.
Furniture and Paintings7,8 Lord Faringdon’s home contains some of the finest furniture and paintings to be seen in the neighbourhood. There are works by Rembrandt, van Dyke, Rubens, Murillo and Reynolds in the drawing-room and in the salon a set of paintings by Burne-Jones, including the ‘Briar Rose’. There is also a side table reputed to have been given to the house by George II, and a Venetian chandelier which was shown in the Great Exhibition, at the Crystal Palace, 1851. The dining-room, which commands a magnificent view over the grounds – 55 acres in extent – is equally impressive, with two glass chandeliers, a Sheraton table in ‘freak’ mahogany banded with rosewood, and Sheraton chairs brought from Clumber, the home of the Duke of Newcastle. A tour of the house shows a fascinating array of artistic treasurers.
2020s & 1920s. Buscot Park stable yard. The photographs show the entrance to the various coach houses with estate workers’ flats above. The clock tower strikes the hours and only has a single hand. The entrance to the gardens is through the central doorway. The man standing by the bicycle in the older photo is Thomas Argent, head forester.
The Gardens at Buscot Park8
The gardens at Buscot Park are extensive. From the mellow red-brick walls of the original kitchen garden to the woodland walks leading to one of Britain’s finest water gardens. The latter was laid out in 1904 for the 1st Lord Faringdon and described as ‘an unusual marriage of Italianate formality with an English parkland landscape’. Fishing is also available in one of the three lakes on the estate.
1990 Buscot Park ‘Little’ Lake. The road bridge over the lake showing mud not water. A drought after two dry winters and two hot summers left the lake almost empty. The bridge is on the main entrance road to Buscot House, off the A417 Lechlade Road. In a normal year, it is a popular fishing lake supplying coarse angling via season ticket.
- Most photos and text were taken from The Changing Faces of Faringdon and Surrounding Villages – Book 1 p97-99 by Rosemary Church, Jim Brown, Millie Bryan and Beryl Newman. Robert Boyd Publications 1999 – now out of print. Most of the photos were scanned directly from the book and some from the original photos, where available.
- Owners of the Buscot Park Estate – https://buscot-park.com/history/owners-of-buscot-estate
- The Buscot Robert Campbell – http://www.selwoodstory.com/the-buscot-robert-campbell/
- British History Online – Buscot – https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/berks/vol4/pp512-517
- Document written by Felicity Cormack entitled ‘Notable People of Buscot Park – The Second Lord Faringdon ‘. Download PDF
- Document written by Felicity Cormack entitled ‘Notable People of Buscot Park – Arturo Barea’. Download PDF
- Faringdon Advertiser, 17th August 1962.
- Buscot Park & The Faringdon Collection – https://buscot-park.com/
Researched and compiled by Ian Lee, November 2021.