The Most Enjoyable Place I Know

“The most enjoyable place I know.” Thus spoke King George III in 1786, in appreciation of the Nuneham House and Park. The extract below is suggestive of the seed of a thought that led to the creation of Nuneham.

‘The crisp morning dew and the scent of pines rested his soul, as Sir Simon Harcourt lolled across the knoll overlooking the Thames. Reflecting more deeply, he sighed, mentally noting ‘… a perfect home for an English gentleman.’

Glorious views across gentle hills took him further inside to silent memories of peace, almost perfection. His heart was soothed here, his eyes cooled and thoughts eased. The recent pressures of London life pushed his mind and body further than he cared to be wearied. Sir Simons Walk

The 1st Earl Harcourt (1714-1777), English Diplomat and General, was a simple man at heart, who enjoyed life’s poetry and prose whether in nature or on paper. The Earl knew he had been right to consult a poet William Whitehead rather than an architect to select this site for his new home, alongside the Thames.

As a significant landowner, he could rearrange the locality to accommodate his aesthetic desires and, with swift action, transform this hill into his home base. Local sentiment was against him for some time, (he had after all, displaced the whole village to its present site) but he persevered in the face of this opposition as the romantic in him urged him to claim this area for kings and courtiers.

This unsettled beginning gradually merged with history as Earl Harcourt’s connections brought to bear an elegance and poetry that has given England a lasting legacy, a Grade 1 Heritage Park and garden.’

About the Author


who has a background in Agricultural Research has been based at the Global Retreat Centre since its inception in 1993. As well as managing the 55 acrres of garden he also plays a key role in building management. Alongside this, Doug runs Values Development, Positive Thinking and Enlightened Leadership seminars for professional and community groups around the UK and abroad. Since 1996 he has, in particular, been involved in the university’s outreach work in prisons, running courses for prisoners and contributing to seminars and educational programmes for Prison Service personnel.

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