Even without the land sold to build Rhodes House in the 1920s, Wadham Gardens remain relatively large when compared with those of other Oxford colleges.
Originally a series of orchards and market-gardens carved out from the property of the Augustinian priory, their appearance and configuration have been significantly modified over the course of the last four hundred years in order to reflect their constantly-changing functional and aesthetic purpose.
The land was shaped, in particular, by two major periods of planning.
Gardens were first created under Warden Wilkins (1648-59) as a series of formal rectangles laid out around a (then fashionable) mound which was, in turn, surmounted by a figure of Atlas.
These gardens were notable not least for their collection of mechanical contrivances (including a talking statue and a rainbow-maker), a number of obelisks and a Doric temple.
Under Warden Wills (1783-1806), the terrain was then radically remodelled and landscaped (by Shipley) and became notable for a distinguished collection of trees.