Probably the strangest remnant of a Regency house is Stratton Park in Hampshire. The estate was once a monastery, dissolved and reduced to rubble by that advisor to the Tudors, Wriothesley (easy to pronounce, hard to spell). A Palladian house was built upon the site and later sold by the Duke of Bedford to Sir Francis Baring in 1801.
Sir Francis was a powerful banker to the Whigs and a great friend of Lord Shelburne, whose Lansdowne House has been featured several times in this blog. He remodeled Stratton Park into a neo-classical Regency house, relying on the expert services of Dance the Younger, who had a hand in the design of aforementioned Regency centre of London.
Elizabeth Coade, whose stoneworks made her into a wealthy Regency-era business woman, was applied to for a supply of marble to make up the neo-Greek entrance hall and staircase installed behind a magnificent Doric portico. These elements were fashioned by Coade’s craftsman and later famous sculptor, John de Vaere.
Henry Repton was engaged to create a magnificent park from some of the finest oak-tree plantings in the country which the Hampshire woods were famous for, making the region a favorite site for country houses.
Indeed, just up the road from Stratton Park is Northington Grange, pictured below. Surviving today, it unfortunately lost its trove of Old Master paintings, destroyed when sent away from the estate for safekeeping during the war. Apparently the warehouse storing these priceless treasures was obliterated by a Luftwaffe bomb.
The Grange was in a state of deterioration, its owner unable to cope with the extraordinary burden of repair and upkeep, when author and country-house snooper John Harris saw it. He planned to see nearby Stratton Park afterwards, for it was scheduled to be demolished. Presumably it, too, would be like the Grange, and many other country-houses that had survived the war in a state of collapse.
Upon inspection, Stratton Park appeared to be in surprisingly good repair despite war misuse. Its fabulous French interiors were still intact, along with the exquisite marble fittings. It seemed the house’s only fault was that it didn’t suit modern taste and therefore was destined for the wrecking ball.
“Even today one wonders, ‘how could they?’ ”
— No Voice from the Hall, by John Harris (1998)
Only the Doric portico was saved.