Rousham House is a Jacobean country house at Rousham in West Oxfordshire on the River Cherwell.
The house has been in the ownership of the Dormer family since it was built. In the 1630s Sir Robert Dormer bought the manor of Rousham and began construction of the present house but work was halted by the start of the English Civil War. The Dormers were a Royalist family and the house was attacked by Parliamentary soldiers who stripped the lead from the newly completed roofs. In 1649 the estate was inherited by Robert Dormer's son, also Robert. He left the house much as his father had created it, only repairing the damage of the Civil War. However, he did more to restore the family fortunes by marrying twice, each time to an heiress.
His second wife was the daughter of Sir Charles Cottrell, a high-ranking courtier of Charles II. Colonel Robert Dormer-Cottrell, the grandson of the house's builder, inherited Rousham in 1719 and began the huge transformation of the gardens to its current appearance. Initially he employed Charles Bridgeman to lay out the gardens in the new and more natural style that was becoming popular. Bridgeman's layout of the garden was completed circa 1737. Rousham was then inherited by the Colonel's brother, General James Dormer-Cottrell. He called in William Kent to further enhance and develop the garden that Bridgeman created. This Kent did with considerable success over the next four years.
These gardens have been given lavish praise indeed by the likes of Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don. Monty Don was inpired enough to include it in his 'Around the World in 80 Gardens' series, where he described it as the "First English Landscape Garden".
Don’t miss the walled garden with its herbacious borders, small parterre, pigeon house and espalier apple trees. A fine herd of rare Long-Horn cattle are to be seen in the park.
Rousham House is still the home of the Cottrell-Dormer family, who keep the garden and estate so uncommercialised that no book exists to guide the unwitting tourist, and no shop sells postcards or souvenirs. A visit to Rousham today is very similar to one enjoyed by a visitor in the 18th century. The gardens and buildings are superbly maintained but not manicured. However, dogs are allowed in the gardens.