Restoration Period

As the county settled back into normal life again after the turbulence of civil war, the Mound was incorporated into a formal garden layout during the late 17th century and early 18th century, with the eventual construction of a summerhouse on the top and a grotto at the base.

On 9th June 1654, John Evelyn’s Diary records:

At one end of the town we saw my Lord Seymor’s house, but nothing observable [noteworthy] save the Mount, to which we ascend winding for near half a mile. It seems to have been cast up by hand.

It is therefore thought that a spiral pathway was constructed, and the Mound consequently recast as a garden feature, some time between the construction of the house in the 1630s and Evelyn’s visit in 1654. The new formal pleasure grounds utilised the old Castle motte as a snail mound. Snail mounds were popular features of gardens throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century, offering elevated views of the surrounding formal gardens, house and the landscape beyond. The Seymours were no strangers to mounts; Edward Seymour, the 1st Earl of Hertford, had previously constructed one as part of a celebrated water display at Elvetham Hall in Hampshire, in honour of Elizabeth I.

In 1663, the house and gardens were grand enough to entertain royalty once more. Charles II lodged with the 2nd Lord Seymour of Trowbridge at Marlborough. By 1664, Sir Robert Moray’s detailed description provides reliable evidence that the Mound was part of Lord Seymour’s pleasure grounds:

“…In the lord Seamors Garden at Marleborough there is an ancient round Mount which may be reasonably supposed to have been a Auncient Tumulus such as there are divers in that country being in figure lyke a frust(um) of a cone whose diameter at the base is guessed to be about 160 foot, at the top 70 and its hight 200. The way up to it is a spiral of 4 entire turns and about a quarter making a very insensible ascent of some 700 yards in all, the walk being some 6 foot broad handsomely gravelled a fine quickset hedge on the outside with fruit trees of severall kindes set in it and at orderly and convenient distance on all sides of bankes of the sloping hill in spiral footpaths, thereof being green everywhere. About the end of the third turn there is a pretty arbour or resting place of hewn stone covered and at the top a pretty green compased with the quickset hedge and fruit trees as the rest of the spiral walk, and in the Middle a very fair and handsom Octagonall arbour or room so(me) 24 foot wide with a pair of stairs of one side, rising some 15 or 16 foot to a platform leaded, with a fair cistern in the middle of some 18 foot over, and 4 foot high into which there is water forced up by a water mill and force pump in lead pipes of some ¾ inch bore and between 3 and 400 yards long the Mill set upon a brook…”

Successive members of the Seymour family lived in a series of houses which the family built close to the site of the Mound.  At the end of the 17th Century, the 6th Duke of Somerset moved to Petworth in Sussex with his wife and, in due course, demolished the old Seymour house at Marlborough in which he had grown up. By 1711, the Duke had built a new house beside the Mound which he gave to his son, Algernon, Earl of Hertford. Lord Hertford moved into it in 1718, shortly after his marriage to Frances Thynne of Longleat in 1715.

By 1723, William Stukeley’s drawings show clearly the layout of an ambitious and extensive formal garden based around the Mound. In 1724, Daniel Defoe wrote of the Mound site:

“… in Marlborough, stands the Duke of Somerset’s garden, and is, by that means, kept up to its due height. There is a winding way cut out of the mount, that goes several times round it ‘till insensibly it brings you to the top, where there is a seat, and a small pleasant green, from whence you look over [a] great part of the town…”