The Cotswolds are as English as can be, but nestled in the hillside is a distinctly un-English gem: the Sezincote estate.
Set within the 4,500-acre grounds is a majestic mansion designed in Mughalai style, complete with a turquoise onion dome. The estate of fascinating contrasts came about in 1805, when Charles Cockerell, a merchant who had made his fortune trading in India, began renovating the Jacobean manor he had inherited from his brother. Keeping it all in the family, the architect who designed the lavish mansion in the mold of Rajasthani palaces was Samuel Pepys Cockerell, another of the brothers. He worked with Thomas Daniell, an artist who had spent several years sketching Indian landscapes and architecture, to conceive of and execute an Indian estate in the heart of England.
The crowning glory is the onion dome, which is surrounded by four smaller domes which are situated on the corners of the main building. It has the structure of an English villa but the sandstone facade is decorated with Indian motifs, like the peacock’s tail pattern that can be seen above the windows and the latticed railings. The curved orangery on the grounds is similarly patterned.
While the exteriors are so clearly Indian, the interiors are in the Greek revival style, yet another contrast at Sezincote. The pools and gardens are a fusion of Indian symbols and English horticulture. A temple pool features a small shrine to the sun god and a serpent fountain. Brahmin bulls and lotus buds adorn one of the bridges on the estate.
Like many other estates around, the lavish property saw a decline during World War II, and after the battle was over, the estate passed into the hands of the Kleinwort family, who worked to restore the grounds to its former glory with the help of the famous botanist Graham Stuart Thomas. For over three decades, Thomas kept a close eye on the gardens of Sezincote, making sure not a hedge was out of place and that it remained a beautiful complement to a distinct estate.
Know Before You Go
Admission is cash only, no debit or credit cards accepted.