Friars Court - Beauty in rural Oxforshire
Maltese Cross


Friars Court is an unusual house in the fact that it is a moated property. The moat is thought to be at least 500 years old and the remaining arms encompass the house and 3 acres of gardens. It was not created as a means of defensive but was for keeping livestock out of the grounds, which were originally used for growing vegetables, as well as for breeding silver carp for food.

The gardens within the moat were re-landscaped in the late 1960s by John Willmer who added specimen trees - ornamental cherry, Silver Pear, Liquidambar and a fine Tulip Tree – to existing features such as the arched moat bridge and the monumental yew arch which stands beside it. The grounds are now quietly evolving again within this original framework. Rather like ‘garden rooms’, the grounds divide naturally into smaller areas each with a subtly distinct ‘feel’ so, in one part of the grounds the romantically-planted Winterhalter Rose Garden lies opposite a more formal garden and beside the wilder Courtyard Garden. Adjacent is the Privy Garden with a path laid between raised beds which leads down to a wooden Victorian-styled greenhouse where cuttings and seedlings from the garden are grown.

Beyond the expanse of lawn to the front of the house are the former restored water-lily-filled mediaeval carp ponds edged with native wild marginal plants and a 50 foot living willow tunnel. The original ponds were filled in about 1850, although a restoration project in 1999 has returned them to their original position.

Away from the gardens are two short woodland walks, reached by crossing the arched Moat Bridge by the twin Yew trees. The four acre 200 year old Copse has paths through sunlit glades whilst a ‘Stream Walk’ goes past a 200 year old cobbled Sheepwash and down into ‘Horsefield Copse’, planted in 1980.

For gentle walking a level path leads from the Back Garden, down the South Walk and round to the Moat Ponds - an ideal route for wheelchair users.

From the Moats Ponds it is possible to see two of the three solar arrays (the third is mounted on the roof of a large cow yard) which in total generate nearly 45 kilowatts of power which contributes towards the electrical requirements of the house and farm.

The gardens can be visited by arrangement for a private tour and there are also public open days. For more information please look at the 'Visiting Friars Court' option on the menu bar above.

Click on the Great British Gardens guide link to find other great gardens in the area to visit.

Great British Gardens

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