wansteadhouse.com

Architecture

 

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Wanstead House was 260 foot long by 70 foot wide (80m by 20m) and was the first building in England making full use of the neo-classical Palladian style which used themes recalling the glories of ancient Greece and Rome. With England starting to dominate the seas and unlimited treasures pouring in from newly discovered lands in the East, a sense of Empire, rooted in the modern world, was starting to emerge.

 

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The architect was Colen Campbell. In 1715 he wrote 'Vitruvius Britannicus' which contains several illustrations and plans of Wanstead House. The building was completed over a seven year period from 1715 to 1722. Campbell was later responsible for Mereworth House and his ideas had a major influence on other architects of the day.

 

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There were two main storeys running the length of the building plus a basement. The middle section of three storeys contained a mezzanine floor and featured a huge portico of six Corinthian columns topped by a 60 foot wide triangular pediment.

 

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A large central cupola shown in the plans does not appear to have been built in the end. Other parts of the original plan were also dropped before completion. This was probably for financial reasons, the South Sea Bubble of 1720 is said by Daniel Defoe to have 'wounded' Sir Richard Child though clearly not mortally. He later entertained in grand style and concentrated on improving the gardens where vast sums were also eventually spent.

 

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Interior ceilings were painted in classic mythological themes. Woodwork was gilded or painted green.

 

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There are many contemporary drawings and paintings which show the exterior of the house usually viewed face-on from a distance. At least two paintings show parts of the interior: Assembly at Wanstead House (Hogarth 1732) which is set in the ballroom and Lord and Lady Tilney at Wanstead House (J.F.Nollekens 1740).

 

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Wanstead House was completely dismantled during 1823/4. There is no remnant of the main house at the site.

 

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Other structures within the grounds have included:

The Grotto (built c.1762, destroyed by fire 1884)

The Temple (built c.1760)

The Stable House (now incorporated into Wanstead Golf Club House)

The Fortifications

The Orangery (demolished 1799)

St.Mary's Church (demolished 1790, nave still visible in graveyard)

St.Mary's Church (built 1787-90)