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This aerial view of Rycote Park was produced by Johannes Kip and Leonard Knyff in the early eighteenth century. It was later published in the first edition of their Britannia Illustrata in 1707.

Rycote ChapelThe Chaplains’ rooms and officesThe moatEntrance doorwayThe south-west towerThe south-east towerThe great hallThe stable blocksThe bakeryThe East India Deer ParkFormal gardensColonnade and terracesThe Lake

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1: Rycote Chapel

The Chapel was consecrated by Richard and Sibyl Quatremains in 1449. Built in the perpendicular style it has retained many of its original fifteenth-century features. It is also notable for its elaborate seventeenth-century fittings which include two enclosed pews, one erected for the Norris family and another said to have been installed for the visit of Charles I in 1625.

2: The Chaplains’ rooms and offices

According to the nineteenth-century writer Frederick George Lee, this square castellated building, which is seemingly annexed to the Tudor mansion, contained rooms for the two chaplains or chantry-priests serving Rycote Chapel.

3: The moat

In this view the moat runs along the western wing of the mansion, the facade and is incorporated into the formal gardens to the east. It appears from this plan that the moat completes the circuit of the building. Archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of the moat at the rear of the mansion.

4: Entrance doorway

The entrance to the mansion was approached by a bridge spanning the moat. The arms of John, Baron Williams of Thame, appeared above the doorway, a possible indication that the mansion may have been built for him.

5: The south-west tower

In June 1807 the 5th Earl of Abingdon ordered the demolition of the Tudor mansion. Over the course of three days the very fabric of the building was auctioned and sold off in lots. The only part of the mansion to survive, presumably because it failed to attract a buyer, was a fragment of this tower. It is constructed of a red and black diaper-patterned brickwork.

6: The south-east tower

Thomas Delafield, writing in the eighteenth century, claimed that Charles I stayed in a chamber in this section of the mansion during his 1625 visit.

7: The great hall

The hall is depicted in this view as a two storeys high structure on the northern wing of the quadrangle. Channel 4’s Time Team excavations located an entrance to the great hall on the eastern wing. They also uncovered the remains of an orange and green chequerboard tiled floor dating from the second quarter of the seventeenth century.

8: The stable blocks

Following the demolition of the Tudor mansion in 1807, the stable blocks were converted to form the present Rycote House. During the Second World War the house was used as an Oxford childrens’ hospital. The house has undergone extensive renovation and refurbishment in the last one hundred years.

9: The bakery

Substantial parts of the bread ovens, fireplace and a bent chimney flue have survived in the house which now stands here. Cecil Michaelis employed the architect H.S. Goodhart-Rendel to adapt the building as a dwelling and servants’ quarters in the 1930s.

10: The East India Deer Park

During the rebellions of the summer of 1549 Rycote was attacked by rioters who tore down the park boundaries and killed all of the deer.

11: Formal gardens

Sir Roy Strong, in his study of The Renaissance Garden in England, has identified the formal gardens as being in the style of Inigo Jones and has dated them to the 1630s.

12: Colonnade and terraces

According to the journal of John Loveday, the colonnade and terraces were designed by Inigo Jones to "secure the house from a mischievous wind." "The mount", as it was known in the family, was topped by a "light open kind of Alcove."

13: The Lake

In the 1770s the 4th Earl of Abingdon commissioned the garden designer Lancelot "Capability" Brown to re-landscape the park. The formal gardens shown here were obliterated by Brown. One of the new features he introduced was a thirteen acre lake.

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