Dunster Castle, Dunster, Somerset


Dunster Castle
1940s
Publishers: Dearden & Wade, Bournemouth

Google Street View (approximate).

Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle, now a country house, in the village of Dunster, Somerset, England. The castle lies on the top of a steep hill called the Tor, and has been fortified since the late Anglo-Saxon period. After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century, William de Mohun constructed a timber castle on the site as part of the pacification of Somerset. A stone shell keep was built on the motte by the start of the 12th century, and the castle survived a siege during the early years of the Anarchy. At the end of the 14th century the de Mohuns sold the castle to the Luttrell family, who continued to occupy the property until the late 20th century.

The castle was expanded several times by the Luttrell family during the 17th and 18th centuries; they built a large manor house within the Lower Ward of the castle in 1617, and this was extensively modernised, first during the 1680s and then during the 1760s. The medieval castle walls were mostly destroyed following the siege of Dunster Castle at the end of the English Civil War, when Parliament ordered the defences to be slighted to prevent their further use. In the 1860s and 1870s, the architect Anthony Salvin was employed to remodel the castle to fit Victorian tastes; this work extensively changed the appearance of Dunster to make it appear more Gothic and Picturesque.
Wikipedia.

Abottsford, Melrose, Roxburghshire


The Library, Abbotsford
c.1920
Publisher: W. Ritchie & Sons (“Reliable series”), 1902-28

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Abbotsford is a historic country house in the Scottish Borders, near Galashiels, on the south bank of the River Tweed. Now open to the public, it was built as the residence of historical novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott between 1817 and 1825. . . . The estate and its neo-Medieval features nod towards Scott’s desire for a historical feel, but the writer ensured that the house would provide all the comforts of modern living. As a result, Scott used the space as a proving-ground for new technologies. The house was outfitted with early gas lighting and pneumatic bells connecting residents with servants elsewhere in the house.
Wikipedia.

The library at Abbotsford is entirely the creation of Scott: it begins with the chapbooks he collected as a child and continues through the small volumes of poetry he annotated as a schoolboy.
Abbotsford: the home of Sir Walter Scott

From this you pass into the largest of all the apartments, the library, which I really must say, is really a noble room. It is an oblong of some fifty feet, by thirty, with a projection in the centre, opposite the fireplace, terminating in a grand bow window, fitted up with books also, and, in fact, constituting a sort of chapel to the church. The roof is of carved oak again a very rich pattern I believe chiefly a la Roslin; and the bookcases, which are also of richly carved oak, reach high up the walls all round. The collection amounts, in this room, to some fifteen or twenty thousand volumes, arranged according to their subjects : British history and antiquities, filling the whole of the chief wall ; English poetry and drama, classics and miscellanies, one end : foreign literature, chiefly French and German, the other. The cases on the side opposite the fire are wired and locked, as containing articles very precious and very portable. One consists entirely of Books and MSS. relating to the insurrections of 1715 and 1745; another (within the recess of the bow window), of treatises de re magice, both of these being (I am told, and can well believe) in their several ways, collections of the rarest curiosity. My cicerone pointed out, in one corner, a magnificent set of Mountfaucon, ten volumes folio, bound in the richest manner in scarlet, and stamped with the royal arms, the gift of his present Majesty.

There are few living authors of whose works presentation copies are not to be found here. My friend showed me inscriptions of that sort in, I believe, every European dialect extant. The books are all in prime condition, and bindings that would satisfy Mr. Dibdin. The only picture is Sir Walter’s eldest son, in hussar uniform, and holding his horse, by Allan of Edinburgh, a noble portrait, over the fireplace ; and the only bust is that of Shakespeare, from the Avon monument, in a small niche, in the centre of the east side. On a rich stand of porphyry, in one corner, reposes a tall silver urn, filled with bones from the Piraeus, and bearing the inscription, “Given by George Gordon, Lord Byron, to Sir Walter Scott, Bart.” It contained the letter which accompanied the gift, till lately — it has disappeared, no one guesses who look it ; but, whoever he was, as my guide observed, he must have been a thief for thieving’s sake truly, as he durst no more exhibit his autograph, than tip himself a bare bodkin ! Sad, infamous tourist, indeed ! Although I saw abundance of comfortable looking desks and arm chairs, yet this room seemed rather too large and fine for work and I found accordingly, after passing a double pair of doors, that there was a sanctum within and beyond this library. And here you may believe, was not to me the least interesting, though by no means the most splendid, part of the suit.
Sydney Gazette, 16 May 1829


The Study, Abbotsford

The Study was designed as Scott’s private sanctum and was the last room to be completed at Abbotsford in 1824.
Abbotsford: the home of Sir Walter Scott

ABBOTSFORD
AND SIR WALTER SCOTT’S STUDY.

The lion’s own den proper, then, is a room of about five-and-twenty feet square by twenty feet high, containing of what is called furniture nothing but a small writing-table in the centre, a plain arm chair covered with black leather–a very comfortable one though, for I tried it.–and a single chair besides, plain symptoms that this is no place for company. On either side of the fire-place their are shelves filled with duodecimos and books of reference, chiefly, of course, folios ; but except these there are no books save the contents of a light gallery which runs round three sides of the room, and is reached by a hanging stair of carved oak in one corner. You have been both at the Elisée Bourbon and Mulmaison, and remember the library at one or other of those places, I forget which ; this gallery is much in the same style. There are only two portraits, an original of the beautiful and melancholy head of Claverhouse, and a small full length of Rob Roy. Various little antique cabinets stand round about, each having a bust on it : Stothard’s Canterbury Pilgrims are on the mantlepiece; and in one corner, I saw a collection of really useful weapons, those of the forest craft, to wit–axes and bills and so forth of every calibre. There is only one window pierced in a very thick wall, so that the place is rather sombre ; the light tracery work of the gallery over-head, harmonizes with the books well. It is a very comfortable looking room, and very unlike any other I was in. I should not forget some Highland clamorers, cluttered round a target over the Canterbury people, nor a writing-box of carved wood, lined with crimson velvet, and furnished with silver plate of right venerable aspect, which looked as if it might be the implement of old Chaucer himself, but which from the arms on the lid must have belonged to some Indian Prince of the day of Leo the magnificent at the furthest.
Sydney Gazette, 16 May 1829


Ground Plan of House (from Wikimedia Commons.)

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, England


On back:
Blenheim Palace, and Gardens
c.1910
Publisher: Taunt & Co

Google Maps.
Website.

Virtual tour

Blenheim Palace, near Oxford, stands in a romantic park created by the famous landscape gardener ‘Capability’ Brown. It was presented by the English nation to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory in 1704 over French and Bavarian troops. Built between 1705 and 1722 and characterized by an eclectic style and a return to national roots, it is a perfect example of an 18th-century princely dwelling.
UNESCO World Heritage listing

Blenheim Palace is a country house in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough and the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and 1722, and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The palace is named after the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, and thus ultimately after Blindheim (also known as Blenheim) in Bavaria. It was originally intended to be a reward to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough for his military triumphs against the French and Bavarians in the War of the Spanish Succession, culminating in the Battle of Blenheim. The land was given as a gift, and construction began in 1705, with some financial support from Queen Anne.
Wikipedia.

In the winter of 1704-5 John Churchill, duke of Marlborough engaged Sir John Vanbrugh to build a house in Woodstock Park, and together they chose a site overlooking the Glyme valley opposite the old royal palace. From the first, in accordance with the queen’s wishes, the house was called Blenheim. The foundation stone was laid on 18 June 1705 on a site prepared by the royal gardener Henry Wise. Building continued at the Crown’s expense until 1712, when, after the Marlboroughs had lost favour, the Treasury ceased to provide funds. On the queen’s death in 1714 the Marlboroughs returned from voluntary exile, but little was done until debts to Blenheim workmen were partially settled in 1716. Building then continued at the Marlboroughs’ expense, and the family took up residence in 1719. After the duke’s death in 1722 Sarah, duchess of Marlborough, completed the chief features of Vanbrugh’s house plan, together with outworks such as the Grand Bridge, the Triumphal Arch, and the Column of Victory. Her work was substantially complete by the early 1730s
A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock (includes a floor plan)


Blenheim Palace, Italian Gardens
c.1910
Publisher: Taunt & Co


Blenheim Park Lake and Bridge
c.1910
Publisher: Taunt & Co

Blenheim sits in the centre of a large undulating park, a classic example of the English landscape garden movement and style. When Vanbrugh first cast his eyes over it in 1704 he immediately conceived a typically grandiose plan: through the park trickled the small River Glyme, and Vanbrugh envisaged this marshy brook traversed by the “finest bridge in Europe”. Thus, ignoring the second opinion offered by Sir Christopher Wren, the marsh was channelled into three small canal-like streams and across it rose a bridge of huge proportions, so huge it was reported to contain some 30-odd rooms . . . the park remained relatively unchanged until the arrival of Capability Brown in 1764. The 4th Duke employed Brown who immediately began an English landscape garden scheme to naturalise and enhance the landscape, with tree planting, and man-made undulations. However, the feature with which he is forever associated is the lake, a huge stretch of water created by damming the River Glyme and ornamented by a series of cascades where the river flows in and out. The lake was narrowed at the point of Vanbrugh’s grand bridge, but the three small canal-like streams trickling underneath it were completely absorbed by one river-like stretch. Brown’s great achievement at this point was to actually flood and submerge beneath the water level the lower stories and rooms of the bridge itself, thus reducing its incongruous height and achieving what is regarded by many as the epitome of an English landscape.
Wikipedia.

Kirknewton House, Kirknewton, Scotland


Kirknewton House, Kirknewton
1900s

Google Maps.

In slightly more recent times, Kirknewton House, which lies just to the south of the village, had its origins (as Meadowbank House) in the 17th century. The current house is a reworking of the original by the architect William Playfair for Alexander Maconochie, Lord Meadowbank in 1835. Kirknewton House is screened by trees from nearby roads and from the village itself. The most obvious evidence of its existence is the entrance lodge beside the start of the drive to the house at the south end of the village.
Wikipedia.

Kirknewton House, from 17th century
T-plan mansion, incorporating the surviving wing of a tall Georgian house. Stripped down to rubble with Scots baronial additions, c.1835, by Playfair for Lord Meadowbank (when he was creating Bonaly Tower for Lord Cockburn, and baronialising Craigcrook for Lord Jeffrey). Good balustraded screen wall to offices to the north. The lodge (now Huntingtower Inn), probably also by Playfair, takes the form of a square tower with square ashlar turrets, tall dormer-windowed gallery-wing adjacent.

Canmore

Haddon Hall, Bakewell, Derbyshire


Haddon Hall
Postmarked 1908
Pubisher: Francis Frith

This delightful house was begun by Peveril, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror (see Peveril Castle). Of that early fortress, almost nothing remains beyond some parts of the Eagle Tower and the Chapel. Peveril and his descendants held Haddon for a century before the property passed to the Vernon family, and later to the Manners, Dukes of Rutland. The house is constructed on a wooded crag above the River Wye. The entrance is through a gatehouse of weathered grey stone defended by an imposing tower. Once past the gatehouse, the visitor sees a cobbled courtyard flanked by ranges presenting a jumble of Tudor and medieval styles with Jacobean embellishments.
Britain Express

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Google Street VIew (approximate)

Plan of Haddon Hall, 1909 (from Wikimedia Commons

Haddon Hall, the private residence of Lord and Lady Edward Manners, is set in the Peak District in the valley of the River Wye. With nine hundred years of history, it is one of the oldest houses in the country and moreover one of the only houses in England to have remained in one family’s ownership for its entire existence. Haddon is unique as it remained empty for nearly two hundred years. This extraordinary period, when time stood still in the Hall, allowed it to remain unaltered during the modernising period of the Georgians and Victorians. So venturing into Haddon is like stepping back in time, since from the 1700s the family preferred to live at their main seat, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.

The Medieval Banqueting Hall remains furnished with its original Dais table, behind which hangs a tapestry gifted to the family by visiting Henry VIII.
Haddon Hall 


Haddon Hall, Banqueting Hall
Dated on back: 12 July 1920
Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate

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Castle Howard, North Yorkshire


Castle Howard from East
1900s
Publisher: Valentine

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The 3rd Earl of Carlisle enlisted the help of his friend, dramatist John Vanbrugh. Vanbrugh, having never built anything before, recruited Nicholas Hawksmoor to assist him in the practical side of design and construction and between 1699 and 1702 the design evolved. Built from east to west, the house took shape in just under ten years. By 1725, when an engraving of the house appeared in Vitruvius Britannicus (The British Architect), most of the exterior structure was complete and its interiors opulently finished. However, at the time of Vanbrugh’s death in 1726 the house was incomplete; it lacked a west wing as attention had turned to landscaping the gardens. It was still incomplete when the 3rd Earl died in 1738. . . . The construction of Castle Howard was finally completed in 1801-11 with the decoration of the Long Gallery by Tatham. Further alterations were to be made when the attic pavilions at either end of the West Wing were removed during the refurbishment of the Chapel between 1870-1875, as part of a plan to bring both wings into greater harmony. Thus today the final appearance of the House bears only a partial resemblance to the idealised view in Vitruvius Britannicus (see illustration): instead of two identical wings the House boasts two wings that do not match: it has a spectacularly asymmetrical appearance as Vanbrugh’s Baroque vision is challenged by Palladian afterthought.
Castle Howard

The creation of Castle Howard began in 1699, with the start of design work by John Vanbrugh for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle. Construction began in 1701, and it took over 100 years to complete. The site was that of the ruined Henderskelfe Castle, which had come into the Howard family after the marriage of the 4th Duke of Norfolk to Elizabeth Leyburne, widow of the 4th Baron Dacre.
. . .
The 3rd Earl of Carlisle first spoke to William Talman, a leading architect, but commissioned Vanbrugh, a fellow member of the Kit-Cat Club, to design the building. Castle Howard was that gentleman-dilettante’s first foray into architecture, but he was assisted by Nicholas Hawksmoor. Vanbrugh’s design evolved into a Baroque structure with two symmetrical wings projecting to either side of a north-south axis. The crowning central dome was added to the design at a late stage, after building had begun. Construction began at the east end, with the East Wing constructed from 1701–03, the east end of the Garden Front from 1701–06, the Central Block (including dome) from 1703–06, and the west end of the Garden Front from 1707–09. All are exuberantly decorated in Baroque style, with coronets, cherubs, urns and cyphers, with Roman Doric pilasters on the north front and Corinthian on the south. Many interiors were decorated by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini. . . . The house remained incomplete on the death of the 3rd Earl in 1738, but the remaining construction finally started at the direction of the 4th Earl. However, Vanbrugh’s design was not completed: the West Wing was built in a contrasting Palladian style to a design by the 3rd Earl’s son-in-law, Sir Thomas Robinson. The new wing remained incomplete, with no first floor or roof, at the death of the 4th Earl in 1758; although a roof had been added, the interior remained undecorated by the death of Robinson in 1777. Rooms were completed stage by stage over the following decades, but the whole was not completed until 1811 under Charles Heathcote Tatham.
Wikipedia.

The General Plan of Castle Howard
Plan of the Principal Plan of Castle Howard

Plans from “Vitruvius Britannicus Or the British Architect, Containing the Plans, Elevations, and Sections of the Regular Buildings Both Publick and Private, in Great Britain”, Colen Campbell, 1717

The Noble Seat of the Right Honourable the Earl of Carlisle, in Yorkshire: The Plans, Elevations, and Sections, are all drawn from the Originals of the Architect. Sir John Vanbrugh and by him carefully revised. The first Plate is the general Plan, making a Line of 660 Foot, wherein all the Offices are express’d. The second is the Plan of the principal Floor, the Portico, Great Hall, and Salon, are extream Magnificent, richly adorn’d with Sculpture; the Painting by Signor Pilligrini in the Dome is express’d the Fall of Phaeton. The Apartments of State are very Noble, fronting the Gardens, with a Line of 300 Foot ; the rest is suited to Conveniency.
“Vitruvius Britannicus Or the British Architect, Containing the Plans, Elevations, and Sections of the Regular Buildings Both Publick and Private, in Great Britain”, Colen Campbell, 1717

Henderskelfe Castle

Henderskelfe Castle was built during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) but was in ruins by 1359. It was rebuilt in 1683 but wrecked by fire 10 years later. The castle was described as quadrangular (four-sided with a courtyard in the centre) with four towers. The remains of the castle and the small village were demolished in 1699 to make way for Castle Howard, Yorkshire’s most famous stately home.
Yorkshire Live

Nothing remains of the mediaeval castle of Henderskelfe which the barons of Greystock held by a yearly rent of a garland of roses. It was in ruins in 1359, but must have been rebuilt, for Leland described it as ‘a fine quadrant of stone having a 4-toures buildid castelle like,’ though ‘no ample thing’; it is mentioned in 1565. It was burnt down early in the 18th century, but is known to have stood in what is now the formal garden of Castle Howard.
“A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 2”, 1923 (British History Online)

Eridge Castle, Eridge Park, East Sussex


Eridge Castle near Royal Tunbride Wells
c.1910
Publisher: Valentine

Google Maps.

Eridge Place (as it was then known) was part of an estate that claims to have the oldest enclosed deer park in England, mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The original house was probably a small manor house built when the Nevill family inherited the estate in 1448. . . . The 16th Baron, in 1724, abandoned the house for his new seat at Kidbrooke Park and Eridge was allowed to deteriorate until Henry Nevill, now the 2nd Earl of Abergavenny, decided to make Eridge the main family seat and began rebuilding the house in 1787. The 2nd Earl embraced the fashionable ‘Gothic-Revival’ style exemplified by Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. He employed the architect James Wyatt who, with John Nash, was one of the leaders of the Gothic Revival movement. At Eridge he seized the opportunity to build in this grand style and produced a house built around a quadrangle proudly sporting various towers, battlements and pinnacles. This exerburant theme was carried through into the interior with a wealth of fine detail which some thought looked rather ecclesiastical. The work continued out into the parkland with new vistas, walks and carriage ways. . . Eridge Castle was demolished in 1937 by the Nevill family and replaced by a modern house.
Lost Heritage: England’s lost country houses

During the C17 and up to the late C18 the principal seat of the Abergavenny family was at Kidbrook, West Sussex (qv). It was not until 1792, when the second Earl of Abergavenny (1755-1843) decided to make Eridge the family seat, that a designed landscape park was laid out. He intended Eridge to be a model village and estate and rebuilt the cottages in a distinctive estate style. The park was further enlarged during his lifetime (by 1822 the park extended to 2000 acres (c 810ha)) and an extensive picturesque landscape with follies and plantations was laid out. By 1827, ‘the extent of plantations which has been made, combined with a happy diversity of ground, now decorates a wide extent of country’ (Ackerman 1827). The second Earl is said to have been advised on his improvement scheme by his father-in-law John Robinson, a keen planter.
Historic England

Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent


Knole Park
Publisher: “This is No. 21 of a series of 30 cards issued with the larger packets of the brands manufactured by Godfrey Phillips Ltd., and Associated Companies”

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Knole is a country house and former archbishop’s palace owned by the National Trust. It is situated within Knole Park, a 1,000-acre (400-hectare) park located immediately to the south-east of Sevenoaks in west Kent. The house ranks in the top five of England’s largest houses, under any measure used, occupying a total of four acres. The current house dates back to the mid-15th century, with major additions in the 16th and, particularly, the early 17th centuries. Its grade I listing reflects its mix of late-medieval to Stuart structures and particularly its central façade and state rooms.
Wikipedia.


“Knole from Jan Kip and Leonard Knyff’s ‘Britannia Illustrata'”, 1709 (from Wikimedia Commons).

What we see today is a remarkably preserved and complete early Jacobean remodelling of a medieval archiepiscopal palace. From an even older manor house, it was built and extended by the Archbishops of Canterbury after 1456. It then became a royal possession during the Tudor dynasty when Henry VIII hunted here and found the place a useful residence for his daughter – later to become Mary I – during his divorce from her mother, Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth I is also said to have visited. From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles. Knole’s showrooms were designed to impress visitors and to display the Sackville family’s wealth and status. Over more than 400 years, his descendants rebuilt and then furnished Knole in three further bursts of activity.
. . .
The Sackvilles gradually withdrew into the heart of the house, leaving many rooms unused and treasures covered. This helps to explain the relative lack of modernisation at Knole and the preservation of its collections. The significance of the collections at Knole was recognised early on, and the beds, tapestries and furniture were established in the showrooms as early as 1730, where they have remained ever since. Country-house visiting became increasingly fashionable in the 18th century and there was already a significant number of visitors to Knole at this point, creating a divide between the showrooms and the rest of the house.
National Trust

Colwick Hall, Nottingham, England


Colwick Hall, Nottingham
Postmarked 1907

Google Street View.

Colwick Hall Hotel.

Colwick Hall was an English country house in Colwick, Nottinghamshire. It is now a hotel. The building is Grade II* listed. Colwick Hall is constructed of red brick, with ashlar dressings and hipped slate roofs with a 2-storey central block and single-storey wings. The frontage has four Ionic pillars surmounted by a pediment. . . . John Musters replaced all of the older buildings with the present Hall in 1775–1776. The new house was built by local builder, Samuel Stretton, from designs of John Carr of York. It was enclosed with a moat, crossed by drawbridge on the north side. . . . In 1896 the Hall was sold to the Nottingham Racecourse Company – the racecourse opened in 1892, the Hall became a public house and the rest of the buildings were used to accommodate grooms and jockeys.
Wikipedia.