The small mansion at Tintinhull was originally an unassuming Somerset farmhouse dating from about 1600.
In 1722 the west front was added and this gave the house its architectural distinction. The elegant facade, constructed from mellow dressed Ham stone and with mullioned and transcomed windows, remains substantially unaltered.
Four pilasters line the west front, two of them supporting a central pediment.
A porch with Tuscan columns gives further emphasis to the centre of the composition. The building is set off by a grassy, walled forecourt of the same date which incorporates piers surmounted by stone eagles.
The main attraction of Tintinhull however is the formal, 20th century garden which is perfectly in scale with the proportions of the house. The garden was first developed by Dr Price, a distinguished botanist, who acquired the property in 1900.
It was then enlarged by Captain and Mrs F.E. Reiss after they purchased Tintinhull in 1933. Mrs Reiss, who gave the property to the National Trust in 1954, was largely responsible for layout and planting seen today.
As at Hidcote Manor, the garden at Tintinhull is divided into a series of outdoor rooms.
The architectural framework is defined by yew and box hedges and linked by steps and a sunken area which give the impression that the garden is on different levels.
Mrs Reiss was an inspired plantswoman and used flowers and foliage, colour and texture to create pictorial compositions. None of the schemes and patterns are ever repeated. Mrs Reiss alternated sunlight with shade and used blue to light dark areas. Most of the borders are mixed, planted with small trees, shrubs, flowering and foliage plants, bulbs and grasses.
On the north side of the house a great sweep of lawn is shaded by an enormous cedar. The stone walls of the forecourt on the west side are covered by clematis and roses.
The central path of the forecourt is lined with huge domes of box and from here a box- and yew-fringed path, with shallow flights of stone steps, descends gently down past a semi-circular lawn overshadowed by a vast Quercus ilex and through a collection of azaleas to the fountain pond. To the right of the fountain pond, an opening in the hedge provides a view of a peaceful pool surrounded by smooth grass.
The tranquil waters are overlooked at the far end by a classical loggia and the terracotta pots marking the corners of the pool add to the Mediterranean atmosphere. The lawns and flower borders on either side of the pool, however, are typically English. One of the long flower beds is planted with deep bright yellows, reds and oranges whilst the other is a subtle blend of softer, paler shades with grey foliage.
Tintinhull is interesting throughout the year but one of the best times to visit the garden is in July when the Regale lilies are in bloom and the air is full of their delicious scent.