Thomas Wright’s Menagerie & Gervase Jackson-Stops

Posted in anniversaries, catalogues, exhibitions, on site by Editor on September 12, 2009

Thomas Wright, The Menagerie, Horton Park, Northamptonshire, 1750s (Photo: Bruno de Hamel, "Architectural Digest: Chateaux and Villas," 1982)

Earlier in the week, An Aesthete’s Lament included a posting on The Menagerie, the Grade II listed building acquired by Gervase Jackson-Stops (1947-95) in the 1970s. After a three-year studentship at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Jackson-Stops joined the National Trust, first as a research assistant and then (starting in 1975) as an architectural advisor. It’s difficult to overstate his importance for the organization. As noted in numerous obituaries — including those from the Society of Antiquaries of London, The Independent, and Architectural History (available through JStor) — he played important roles in the Trust’s acquisition of Canons Ashby House, Kedleston Hall, and Fountains Abbey. His commitments to restoration were evinced not only at Stowe but also at his personal labor of love, The Menagerie.


Horton Hall, destroyed 1936

This mid-eighteenth-century banqueting house, by Thomas Wright (1711-86), at Horton Park, Northamptonshire is actually just one of just thirteen listed buildings attached to the property (the main house, Horton Hall, was destroyed in the 1930s). The Horton Park Conservation Group (HPCG) was founded in 2008 to campaign for the ongoing conservation of the park and these structures. The park is likely to receive increased attention over the next two years as Wright’s three-hundredth birthday approaches.

The Menagerie appears in Paige Rense, Architectural Digest: Chateaux and Villas (Knapp, 1982); Timothy Mowl and Claire Hickman, Historic Gardens of England: Northamptonshire (History Press, 2008), and Chippy Irvine, The English Room (Bullfinch Press, 2001). For details regarding visits, see The Menagerie website.

6e5b328167d010e5932793056514141414c3441Finally, no evocation of Jackson-Stops is complete without mention of his role in organizing the seminal Treasure Houses of Britain exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington (1985-86). For his work on the show, he received the Presidential Award for Design in 1986 and was made an Officer of the British Empire (O.B.E.) — all before turning 40! A full list of publications, including dozens of contributions for Country Life, can be found at the end of the obituary compiled by Oliver Garnett and Tim Knox for Architectural History 39 (1996): 222-35.

[The photograph of The Menagerie comes from An Aesthete’s Lament; the print of Horton Hall comes from the website of the Horton Park Conservation Group. Thanks to both.]

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