Restoration of James Wyatt’s Darnley Mausoleum Recognized

Posted in on site, the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 19, 2009

Now in the hands of the UK’s National Trust, the Darnley Mausoleum at Cobham Park is the recipient of this year’s Country House of the Year Award from from Country Life (2 December 2009). From the magazine’s website:

Country House of the Year — The Darnley Mausoleum, Cobham, Kent

James Wyatt, Darnley Mausoleum at Cobham Park 1786 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Built on the instructions of the 3rd Earl of Darnley in 1786, this mausoleum is one of the great masterpieces of the architect James Wyatt. The story of its recent restoration as part of an £8 million project to revive the whole park at Cobham is one of the most heartening of recent years. It has been effected through a remarkably complex partnership of bodies, including Gravesham Borough Council, Cobham Hall, English Heritage, Union Railways, Natural England, Kent County Council, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust. Following the break-up of the Cobham estate in 1957, the mausoleum became neglected, and the construction of the M2 motorway in 1963 made it a magnet for joyriders and vandals. The nadir of its fortunes came on Guy Fawkes Night in 1980, when the crypt was packed with petrol cans and tyres and ignited. The subsequent explosion reduced the interior to ruin. Stimulus for the project came from compensation money paid out when the Channel Tunnel Railway Link cut through the northern edge of Cobham Park. A trust was set up to drive forward the restoration as part of a more ambitious park project. The architect for the restoration was Purcell Miller Tritton, the main contractor was Paye, and Worthington Stone Carving has been responsible for the admirable masonry repairs and replacements to the mausoleum. The architectural work was underpinned by historical research by Roger Bowdler of English Heritage. Having been awarded Heritage Lottery funding in 2003, the restored mausoleum was handed over to the National Trust this year and is open to the public.

Vanbrugh’s Seaton Delaval Hall Saved

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 18, 2009

As reported by Martin Bailey in The Art Newspaper, 17 December 2009:

John Vanbrugh, Seaton Delaval Hall, finished in 1731, engraving from Colen Campbell, "Vitruvius Britannicus," vol. 3, 1725 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Seaton Delaval Hall, near Blyth in Northumberland, has been acquired by the National Trust, along with its contents. Completed in 1731, it was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and is Britain’s most important baroque country house. The central block suffered a devastating fire in 1822, and it was not until 1980 that there was a major restoration, undertaken by the 22nd Baron Hastings (Edward Delaval Henry Astley) .

The 22nd Baron and his wife both died in 2007, and the hall and land (worth approximately £3.5m) have now been accepted in lieu of £1.7m of inheritance tax and the contents in lieu of a further £3.2m of tax. This is the first acceptance in lieu (Ail) deal for a historic house since 1984, when Calke Abbey was saved.

Photo from "The Seaton Delaval Journal"

The National Trust has put in £6.9m to create an endowment fund to care for the estate in perpetuity (its largest ever initial contribution for a country house). A further £3m has been raised from outside sources to cover the immediate costs of opening the property to visitors. Of this, £1m came from One North East, the regional development agency.

The Ail deal has led to the acquisition of 199 items, including a portrait of Admiral George Delaval by Sir Godfrey Kneller, a Queen Anne suite of seat furniture and two lead life-size sculptures after Giambologna by the John Cheere workshop. The Art Fund is giving £100,000 for the Fairfax Jewel (which has three painted enamel roundels) and a marble bust of Charles II by Sir John Bushnell. . .

For the full article, click here»

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Additional coverage can be found at the National Trust, Apollo Magazine, Artdaily.org, the Guardian, and the Seaton Delaval Journal.

%d bloggers like this: