Vespasian’s Camp and the extent of its eighteenth century landscaping

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Vespasian’s Camp: A new timeline for understanding the extent of the Queensberry family’s landscaping of Vespasian’s Camp 1725-1778

17251726: The Duke and Duchess of Queensberry inherit the Amesbury Abbey Estate. This contained a holding of five acres on nearby Vespasian’s Camp, then known as ‘The Walls’.

The Flitcroft Survey of 1726 provides information on field ownership and usage around Amesbury (Fig.1). It shows that the majority of field strips within the ramparts of Vespasian’s Camp (‘The Walls Field’) were owned by other landowners. The land south-west and north of them wasn’t owned by the Queensberrys.


Fig.1: Part of the 1726 Flitcroft Survey: Vespasian’s Camp, then known as ‘The Walls’, is shown in the top right corner. The majority of the field strips across the centre and north end of the Camp were not owned by the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry at thist time.

1735-1742: The ‘Walls Field’ area of the Camp becomes part of the Queensberry Estate, field by field, over this seven year period. As late as 1741, twenty-five acres of it were still being leased out, so the Queensberrys would not have been able to fully landscape the area then. The 1742 Queensberry Estate Survey  500 Internal Server Error

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1738Charles Bridgeman’s landscaping designs 502 Bad Gateway


1748: The Chinese Summer House is built in the north-eastern / eastern area of the Camp on Abbey mansion grounds over the spring line. This is missing from Bridgeman’s plan and is suggestive of the family’s landscaping tastes changing.

1750: The Estate imparks 360 acres of farmland to the north and west of Amesbury for hunting. There is no evidence for landscape garden design in this area at this time.

1760: 35 years after taking over the Estate, the Queensberrys finally purchase Countess Court Manor, which becomes the north-east boundary of the broader Estate area at this time. The manor contained a working farm ‘Countess Farm’, and Blick Mead. There is no evidence of landscaping here.

1771-1789: The Crow Survey of 1771