The Old Dutch House, Bristol

The Old Dutch House, Bristol.

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The Dutch House was a large timber-framed building situated at Nos 1 and 2, High Street Bristol, England. It was a well-known local landmark until its destruction in 1940. The Dutch House (often given the prefix ‘Old’) was built or rebuilt as a private residence in 1676, and dominated the medieval crossroads of High St, Wine Street, Broad Street and Corn Street in the heart of ancient Bristol. Sitting on top of medieval vaulted stone cellars, which also ran out under Wine Street, the more prominent part of the structure was No. 1 High St. This was of rectangular plan, two bays by one, and originally five stories tall; an attic storey was added later. This building had facades on both Wine St and High St. The Wine St façade was two bays wide and consisted of a square bay window to the full height of the original building (except the ground floor), with a flat façade to its right. The High St façade consisted of a bay window, narrower than that on the Wine St façade and with splayed sides, but similar in all other respects. Both facades were ornately carved.

The adjoining house at No.2 High St was incorporated into the premises at some point before 1860. This four-storey gabled house was considerably less ornate than No.1 and may have hinted at the design of No.1 before 1676. It consisted of full-width square bays to the first and second storeys, and a smaller square bay offset to the left on the third storey. The third storey bay was rebuilt at some point between 1847 and 1866 to make it symmetrical, and the façade of this building was changed by exposing and embellishing its frame to unify it with the rest of the building. In 1810 the Dutch House became the Castle Bank, and subsequently had a succession of retail and office uses. By 1866, under the auspices of hatter Mr T.W.Tilly, it had gained fake battlements with cannon, a weather vane, a flagpole and a Grenadier Guardsman sign (now in the care of the City Museum).[2] It seems likely that Mr Tilly was also responsible for altering the façade of No.2. A watercolour drawing of The Dutch House by Bristol-born artist Blanche Baker (painter) was exhibited at Bristol in 1885. The battlements, incongruous on a timber-framed building, had been removed by 1917. . . . On Sunday, 24 November 1940 the Dutch House was almost completely consumed by the fire from incendiary bombs which fell in the 5-hour air raid of over 135 German bombers, part of the Bristol Blitz which destroyed much of Bristol’s pre-war shopping area.

View of Dutch House after bombing

This our third walk shall be down High street towards the south. The singular building upon our left, known as the Old Dutch. House, is one of two structures that, having been framed in Holland, were taken down, shipped, and re-erected in Bristol. The site of these premises (supposed to be that of a church) and the house upon it belonged to Alderman Whitson, the founder of the Red Maids’ school. The existing structure is the most ancient banking building in Bristol, John Vaughan, a goldsmith and banker, having lived there in 1718. This John Vaughan swore both in private and before the magistrates that his family were so terrified at the prospect of the old High Cross falling upon these premises in stormy weather, that he ultimately prevailed upon the Corporation to have it removed. For many years the premises were known as “The Castle Bank,” and were afterwards occupied for a considerable period by Stuckey’s Banking Company
“How to See Bristol: A Complete, Up-to-date, and Profusely Illustrated Guide to Bristol, Clifton and neighbourhood”, James Williams Arrowsmith, 1906

There is a danger of this interesting and well-known house being destroyed, for the purposes of street widening, which, the Committee considers, could be effected without its removal. The following resolution was forwarded to the Town Council:
“The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings having long watched with interest and admiration the Old Dutch House at Bristol, and understanding that its fate is shortly to be decided, begs respectfully to urge the Corporation to let no consideration stand in the way of its preservation.”
The question of the preservation of the house was referred to a Committee of the Town Council for consideration, and a report upon the whole matter is shortly expected.
“The Society for the Protection Of Ancient Buildings. The General Meeting of the Society; Twenty-Ninth Annual Report Of The Committee”, June 1906, p.10

In the last report it was stated that there was a danger of this interesting and well-known. house being destroyed for the purposes of street widening, and that the Society had petitioned the Town Council in favour of its preservation. _ It is with much satisfaction that the Committee is able to report that the Town Council have decided to preserve the house. The ground floor will be set back to a new line of street, and the upper floors, which will not be interfered with, will be allowed to project over the pavement and be carried on columns. The Committee considers this to be a practical way of dealing with the building, for not only will the street widening be possible, and modern requirements thus met, but no old work will be destroyed, for the ground floor is at present filled with a modern shop front.
“The Society for the Protection Of Ancient Buildings. Thirtieth Annual Report Of The Committee”, June 1907, p. 15

“Corbels in the Cellar of ‘Dutch House,’ Bristol, 1908”, “Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society”, 1908

It was thought advisable by those determined to save the property to issue a strong appeal to the members, and a letter, as follows, bearing autograph signatures was posted to every councillor the night prior to the meeting : —

“We feel bound to draw your attention to the importance of the vote at to-morrow’s Meeting of the City Council, when the absolute fate of this interesting property is to be decided. With deference, we should like again to point out that the Old House is a typical specimen of the Ancient domestic architecture of Bristol, and by virtue of its prominent position– standing as it does in the very heart of the City, at the junction of the four cross streets–it possesses a distinctive value to the community, which it is impossible to over estimate ; far too many examples have already been needlessly swept away. This Structure forms an historic link with an in- teresting and dignified past such as is possessed by few cities, and which will be an even more valuable asset in generations to come.

We make a personal appeal to you, to assist by your vote, to retain this building, which we would point out can be preserved without conflicting with the interests of sanitation or public improvement, and without interfering with the proposed street widening. Besides, by the scheme placed before the Council, preservation in this case would be a considerable financial gain! The Old Dutch House when once gone, will be gone for ever! It is hoped that nothing will prevent your remaining until the end of the Meeting in order to support this, movement.
. . .
The final vote was taken on March 10th, in one of the fullest Council meetings on record, and the old house was then saved by one vote! This is not the only instance of the fabric being in danger, for it was apparently doomed about fifty years ago, 1 when Stuckey’s Bank removed from that corner of High Street to its present site. The work of reparation was put in hand immediately, and this has been continued as rapidly as possible.

As to the building itself, the exterior is well known to everyone, but few have any idea of its interesting cellars. The roof of the larger one still retains traces of the groining, and two of the quadrangular corbels from which it springs– which can be seen at the east and west angles on the south side– and one of the centre bosses of the roof, carved in leaf design, which was found built into one of the walls, have been carefully preserved.
It was this compartment which apparently led the Rev. John Evans, 2 author of one of the minor histories of Bristol, into the conjecture that a church, which he called St. Andrew’s, once stood on this spot — a myth long since dispelled.
. . .
The views of the corbels and moulded ribs are from photographs kindly taken by our member, Mr. Moline, in May last, just after the flooring of the shop had been removed, when light first poured into the cellar.
“Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society”, 1908, p.293

Argyle Lodging, Stirling

Courtyard, Argyle House, Stirling
Dated 1908
Publisher: Valentine

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Argyll’s Lodging is the most complete surviving example of a seventeenth century town house in Scotland. It can be found in the upper part of Stirling, just below Stirling Castle’s Esplanade. The house sits behind a screen wall and comprises a collection of buildings built in two phases and in three ranges around an enclosed courtyard. Conversion and extension of an existing sixteenth century tower house began in the 1630s for Sir William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling, who had previously resided at Menstrie Castle. Further enlargement was undertaken in the 1670s for the 9th Earl of Argyll. Argyll’s Lodging shows considerable French influence. The turrets sited at each corner of the house overlooking the courtyard have conical roofs typical of French provincial townhouses. Visitors enter the complex through an archway from the road into the courtyard. This is much as it would have been in the 1670s.
Undiscovered Scotland

Argyll’s Lodging — View from the street, “The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth century”, David MacGibbon, 1887

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Chatsworth House, England

The Painted Hall, Chatsworth House.
Publisher: A.P. Co (Artistic Publishing Co?), 9 Bury Court, Mary Axe, London

Chatsworth House is a stately home in Derbyshire, England, in the Derbyshire Dales, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of Bakewell and 9 miles (14 km) west of Chesterfield. The seat of the Duke of Devonshire, it has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549, standing on the east bank of the River Derwent, across from low hills between the Derwent and Wye valleys. The house is set in expansive parkland backed by wooded, rocky hills that rise to heather moorland.

The 4th Earl of Devonshire, who would become the 1st Duke in 1694 for helping to put William of Orange on the English throne, was an advanced Whig and forced to retire to Chatsworth during the reign of King James II. This called for a rebuilding of the house, which began in 1687. Cavendish aimed initially to reconstruct only the south wing with the State Apartments and so decided to retain the Elizabethan courtyard plan, although its layout was becoming increasingly unfashionable. He enjoyed building and reconstructed the East Front, which included the Painted Hall and Long Gallery, followed by the West Front from 1699 to 1702. The North Front was completed in 1707 just before he died.


In 1549, at the behest of his wife, Bess of Hardwick, Sir William Cavendish bought the land from the Leche family (relations of Bess’s) for £600. Recent
work for the Chatsworth Master Plan (2005-2018) has uncovered possible traces of this earlier Tudor house in the Baroque building’s northern cellars. William and Bess started construction of their house in 1552, but William did not live to see its completion, as he died in 1557. Although Bess of Hardwick completed the building work, the house was entailed to the eldest son from her marriage to William Cavendish, “my bad son Henry” and she made Hardwick her primary residence in 1590. Henry sold the house to his younger brother William (who became the 1st Earl of Devonshire in 1618). The Elizabethan house was successively rebuilt by the 1st, 4th and 6th Dukes, obtaining its current form with the 6th Duke’s major additions and alterations as designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville, which were implemented c.1820-1841.

Timeline of the Cavendish amily and some of their major properties” (PDF)

Chatsworth House–Great Hall
Publisher: Thomas Taylor & Son
“From Photographs taken by special permission of His Grace the Duke of Devonshire.”

First impressions count. When guests are welcomed to Chatsworth, this is one of the first rooms they see. William, 1st Duke of Devonshire built the Painted Hall between 1689 and 1694, the only original feature is the painted decoration on the walls and ceiling. Whilst still Earl of Devonshire he chose to flatter the monarch by decorating the hall with scenes from the life of Julius Caesar, he was elevated to Duke in the year the room was completed.
Chatsworth House: room cards (PDF)

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Well House Donkeys, Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

The donkey in the wheel, Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
c. 1910
Publisher: T. Piper, Carisbrooke.

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Carisbrooke Castle postcards

British Pathe: Carisbrooke Castle Donkeys, film 1963

English Heritage: Plan of castle

The well house at Carisbrooke was once the main supply of water for the castle. Built in the 1580s, a huge oak wheel would be turned to draw a bucket down to the water and back up again. For one bucket, the wheel must be turned 255m, a job that is thought to have originally been performed by prisoners. Since at least 1696 however, it is known that this role was performed by a team of donkeys,
English Heritage: Meet the Carisbrooke Donkeys

The Well House, Carisbrooke Castle
Publisher: Frederick Hartmann (1902-1909)

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, England

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

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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.

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
Publisher: Taunt & Co

Blenheim Park Lake and Bridge
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.

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.

“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

Hampton Court Palace, England

Hampton Court Palace,  West Front
Postmarked & dated 1905.

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The original Tudor Hampton Court Palace was begun by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, but it soon attracted the attention of Henry VIII, who brought all his six wives here. Surrounded by gorgeous gardens and famous features such as the Maze and the Great Vine, the palace has been the setting for many nationally important events. When William III and Mary II (1689-1702) took the throne in 1689, they commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to build an elegant new baroque palace. Later, Georgian kings and princes occupied the splendid interiors. When the royals left in 1737, impoverished ‘grace and favour’ aristocrats moved in.
Historic Royal Palaces

Building of the palace began in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the cardinal gave the palace to the king to check his disgrace. The palace went on to become one of Henry’s most favoured residences; soon after acquiring the property, he arranged for it to be enlarged so that it might more easily accommodate his sizeable retinue of courtiers. Along with St James’ Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many the king owned. The palace is currently in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II and the Crown. In the following century, King William III’s massive rebuilding and expansion work, which was intended to rival the Palace of Versailles, destroyed much of the Tudor palace. His work ceased in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque

Hampton Court Palace
The Great Gatehouse and the Bridge (Early 16th century), showing the King’s Beasts.
Postmarked 1953
Publisher: Ministry of Works, London

In 1796, the Great Hall was restored and in 1838, during the reign of Queen Victoria, the restoration was completed and the palace opened to the public. The heavy-handed restoration plan at this time reduced the Great Gatehouse, the palace’s principal entrance, by two storeys and removed the lead cupolas adorning its four towers.

There are ten statues of heraldic animals, called the King’s Beasts, that stand on the bridge over the moat leading to the great gatehouse. Unlike the Queen’s Beasts in Kew Gardens, these statues represent the ancestry of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. The animals are: the lion of England, the Seymour lion, the Royal dragon, the black bull of Clarence, the yale of Beaufort, the white lion of Mortimer, the White Greyhound of Richmond, the Tudor dragon, the Seymour panther, and the Seymour unicorn. The set of Queens Beasts at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II replaced the three Seymour items and one of the dragons by the griffin of Edward III, the horse of Hanover, the falcon of the Plantagenets, and the unicorn of Scotland.

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