Wilton House,  Wilton,  Wiltshire
16-19th Century

Click on photos to enlarge
Notes in italics from Wiltshire by Nikolaus Pevsner Revised by Bridget Cherry (1975)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London

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South and east front.

The first earl of Pembroke was granted the nunnery estate in 1544. Of his house, which was built round a courtyard, the general shape remains ...

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... a good deal of the masonry must belong to it, and also at least the outline on the most imposing side, that facing E. We have a drawing dated 1566 which shows this side as it then was, and this has the same tall central frontispiece with archway and tall oriel window and lantern as it has today, the same lower connecting links, and the same higher corner pavilions. Only every detail is changed. ... The present frontispiece has a different archway and different fenestration, adjustments made by James Wyatt when he worked at Wilton. ... Wyatt was called in by the eleventh earl in 1801. He did much to the house. ...

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Wyatt also rebuilt the N front, which originally contained the Great Hall, and made it the main entrance. To do so he raised the level of the forecourt and gave it its embattled walls. The details of the N front are a mixture of the Wyatt Elizabethan and the C20 Classical. The arms of Henry VIII, however, may well be the original work of c. 1544.

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The forecourt is closed to the town by a splendid archway with coupled Corinthian pilasters framing a tunnel-vaulted arch on Tuscan columns to the N and S. On the entrance side there are columns instead of pilasters. In the spandrels paterae with garlands hanging oddly, as if they were going to slide down any moment. On top on a stepped base the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. This arch was designed by Sir William Chambers just before 1759 and erected on top of the hill to the S of the house. Wyatt brought it down to close the forecourt and create a worthy overture to the house. He added the two cubic lodges l. and r. ...

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The only front of the house not interfered with by Wyatt is the south front. This range has traditionally been ascribed to Inigo Jones, but the date and architect of its present form are problematic. The S front was built for Philip, the fourth Earl, who had succeeded his brother in 1630. ... Work was in progress on the gardens in 1632-3, and it has recently been discovered that the rebuilding of the house began in 1636. The man responsible for both was Isaac de Caus, but Aubrey mentions that he had the 'advice and approbation' of Inigo Jones. But the S range was burnt in 1647-8 and rebuilt, according to Aubrey, again with the advice of Jones (who was then very old), by John Webb. So the problems are: is the present S range a work of 1648 by Webb, or one of 1636 by de Caus, and to what extent was Inigo Jones involved? ... The S front is nine bays wide, of Chilmark stone, the bays very generously spaced, ... It is an extremely restrained front which does not prepare for the luxuriance inside. ... The windows in the C17 can, needless to say, not have been sashed, and one must assume stone crosses of mullion and transom.

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Palladian Bridge. 1737. Designed on the pattern of a Palladian drawing ...The Design was done by the ninth Earl of Pembroke and his architect Roger Morris. The bridge is covered and consists of end pavilions with arches, attached columns and pediments, and a middle piece with a straight entablature on four Ionic columns.  

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