Batsford - Travel Guide
A tiny little estate village located 1.5 miles North West from Moreton in Marsh. Like many Cotswolds villages, Batsford estate has a large manor house, this one is more recent, dating back to 1888. The neo-Tudor mansion was designed by Sir Ernest George, the collection of properties in the village are estate workers cottages & even in present day, the Batsford estate owns over 60 cottages in & around the Moreton in Marsh area. The little church predates the house, but only slightly. It dates back to the early 1860s, an ambitious neo-Norman building you would be forgiven for thinking it is much older. Contained within it's walls are numerous memorials to the Mitford family.
Batsford Arboretum has over 1,300 different trees & specimen shrubs, with carpets of flowers in spring & gorgeous autumn colours. all year round the arboretum is a wonderful place to relax & unwind, with stunning far reaching views across the Evenlode valley. The original gardens at Batsford were the brainchild of Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford in 1886, who using his experience of working in the foreign office in Japan & China, along with working at the botanical gardens in Kew (West London) created this very impressive foundation for the later arboretum to be planted by Anthony Hamilton Wills, who inherited the estate in 1956. You can wander passed a 600 meter watercourse, hermits cave, thatched cottage, Japanese Rest House, spot rooftop dragons, Buddha's & the Foo Dog, a mythical beast similar to a lion. The house was passed to David Mitford on Algernon's death, who was the father of the notorious "Mitford Sisters", celebrated at the time as aristocratic scandalous celebrities The Times journalist Ben Macintyre described them as "Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur"
Nancy who was born in 1904 & died in 1973 wrote many novels, including the semi-autobiographical The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. Pamela, loved the countryside she died in 1994 having divorced her millionaire husband, she settled for a quiet life with her companion Giuditta Tommasi, an Italian horsewoman. Unity, a friend of Adolf Hitler, shot herself in the head, days after Germany declared war on Europe. She did not die from her injuries at the time, but almost a decade later of pneumococcal meningitis in Oban. Jessica, spent most of her adult life in America, she was a member of the American Communist Party & worked for the US government
Dianna, a devotee of fascism and Adolf Hitler who spent most of the second world war in Holloway (Women's) prison. Dianna divorced her first husband & married Sir Oswald Mosley the British Fascist Leader. Deborah, married Andrew Cavendish & became Duchess of Devonshire, they lived at Chatsworth House, now one of the most successful stately homes in he United Kingdom. Let's not forget Tom Mitford, who died during the second world war, it was said he supported British fascism and was posted to Burma after refusing to fight in Europe. So if you ever feel that parenting is challenging, then just put yourself in David Mitford's shoes!
Visitors are often confused, if you wish to visit the Arboretum then there is no direct access from the village & you would need to take the road from Moreton in Marsh to Bourton on the Hill or the public footpath west out of Moreton in Marsh to reach the arboretum & garden centre.
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