Perched high in the Cotswolds, Sezincote is a 19th century, red sandstone, grand country house that pays homage to the 'Days of the Raj', being built by a British army Colonel who had made a fortune from the East India Company.
Like Brighton Pavilion, (and the SCG) it sports a weathered copper onion dome along with other architectural elements that amplify the echoes of India.
Especially striking is the curved Orangery, a mix of Hindu and Muslim stylistic influences, incorporating highly intricate full length windows that open up on a warm day to make an enchanting location for tea and scones.
Quirky as the house is though, it is the renaissance-style gardens that are the most impressive, which were originally designed by Humphry Repton and later restored in the 1960s with assistance from famed rosarian and plantsman, Graham Stuart Thomas.
Although covering only 7 acres in total, these gardens are an absolute delight and seem to be much larger thanks to the clever landscaping that reveals new glimpses and vistas at every turn.
Entering from a long curving avenue of stately oaks the gardens feature a very wide range of carefully selected trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals to provide plenty of interest over most of the year.
The colonial themes continue into the gardens with a collection of bridges, pavilions, grottos, fountains and statues scattered throughout, mainly associating with the plentiful spring water that cascades down from various pools to the lower levels of he Island Pool and on into the River Evenlode.
Water garden plants are here in abundance, many rare and exotics amongst them, all benefiting from the shade offered by the many magnificent and mature trees, many of which are deciduous and provide spectacular colour in autumn.
Close to the house on the southern side is a lovely formal area of Mughal canals, borders and lawns lined with Irish yews. This draws strongly on the traditional "Paradise Garden" often used by Babur (the first Mogul Emperor). The canals or paths dividing the garden into four equal parts are said to represent the four rivers of life and their crossing being a symbol of the meeting of humanity and God.
Today the theosophical themes are a little diluted with the recent addition of two elephant statues with trunks held aloft in traditional Asian style to represent good luck. Its a charming, if not slightly kitsch addition but with such an indulgently ornate backdrop, seems completely at one with the surroundings.
Sezincote attracts the curious but should also be a magnet for plant lovers and those who appreciate good garden design. For those who visit the superb Bourton House gardens only a few kilometres away, its worth planning your trip to coincide with a Sezincote open day.
Author: Bob Saunders.
The Orangery: Light lunches, teas and refreshments in stunning curved conservatory building.
Disabled Visitors: Not all areas of house and garden are accessible for wheelchairs, though there is enough to make a visit worthwhile.
By Road: From Moreton in the Marsh take the A44 towards Evesham. Sezincote is only 3.1 miles journey with free parking followed by a medium distance walk downhill to the estate entrance.