Boughton House shows today approximately five stages of its development. The hunting-star in the north of the estate outside the walled park, with the facilities for the forest ranger in the centre, could be an element from the mid 16th century. The straight avenue from the south of the estate that runs towards the house and, outside of the park boundaries today, up to the north to the hunting-star could also have its origins in the first half of the 17th century. It goes back to the improvements by the first Baron Montagu. The north-south avenue at Hatfield House shows the same layout. Another sign that the avenue had existed before is that the walled gardens on the south side of the house, which were built later but still exist today, cut this line and connection. The new creations between 1685 and 1709 changed the direction and orientation of the gardens according to the landform on the west side. The map of this time shows clearly a high Baroque layout in all details with a grand canal by a Dutch engineer. Afterwards the 2nd Duke of Montagu, Charles Bridgeman, was consulted. The map of 1746 shows a bigger pond, a large lawn without any decoration, straighter lines and avenues in the southern part of the park. A wall, bastions points and the tree plantations in the southern area are examples of the Forest Style or Late English Baroque Style. A clear contrast thus existed to the former design which in turn mirrored a life style contrasting the luxuriant courtly life which was not fashionable anymore. Shortly after, the place was abandoned for around 150 years, and this is the reason for the existing design from the first half of the 18th century.
Current condition and management
The estate is still in private ownership and owned by the same family. In the 1970s the long term restorations were started. For the designed landscape the year 2004 was important, because a new management plan was developed. In 2006 the restoration project in the grand canal began and will continue until 2028 with a number of projects in the park area carried out mostly in the winter time. The aim of this work is the restoration towards the layout of 1749. In this way the style of that time becomes kind of ‘frozen’, which is – especially for such an outstanding example – not a bad idea. In contrary, it provides an opportunity to present a complex concept and a dimension that is for most people today difficult to imagine. However with sensitive actions there is space for contemporary additions. The Orpheus project, which ended in 2009 and was designed by landscape architect Kim Wilkie, is such an example. The element reflects a typical Post Modern Style with a fresh way of transforming the Mont into a hole with water at the bottom that reminds the beholder of a mirror. The square pattern of the hole corresponds with an organic sign made of sandstone and a high-grade steel cube.
The management style can be described as privately and efficiently organized and connected to the surrounding farm and agriculture business. The area which needs formal maintenance amounts to around 50 hectares with four gardeners working on it. During the summer time they are assisted by one or two students. This proportion is not unusual for a Forest style garden including a small-size flower and kitchen garden. There are number of tasks – for intance lawn feeding – that have been outsourced.