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Garden front plans for Wotton

It’s about architecture, this time, albeit the ‘garden front’. I’ve decided to add another (and last) item from George Grenville’s correspondence with his sister Hester Pitt, Countess of Chatham, that I picked up at the National Archives. Not because it is vitally important to my own research, but because it shows us that even shortly before his death, George Grenville was very much interested in building developments at both Stowe (his brother’s estate) and at Wotton (his own).

Stowe North Front

Stowe, the 1770 North Front and Colonnade, in recently restored version.Photo by Building Panos.

George is writing in September 1770, exactly two months before his death. 1)National Archives (UK, Kew), PRO 30/8/34/1, letter from George Grenville to his sister Hester Pitt, starting “Wotton Septr ye 11th 1770″; finishes “Stowe Septr ye 13th 1770″ He had been ill, but was recovering with a therapy called “Dr Huxham’s Decoction of the Bark” -although John Huxham (1692-1768) was famous for his ‘tincture of the bark’, which may have been part of the decoction Grenville took. 2)The method was advised to him by a certain sir William (Wm) Duncan. It was a combination of much horse back riding and exposure to fresh air, together with the use of the decoction, drawn from the bark of the south american Cinchona tree. The DNB says: “The compound tincture of cinchona bark in the British Pharmacopoeia, which also contains bitter orange peel, serpentary root, saffron, and cochineal mixed in spirit, was devised by him, and was for some time called ‘Huxham’s tincture.'”
His letter starts on the 11th of September 1770, at Wotton, and he finishes it on the 13th, then writing from Stowe. The main subject is his own disease, that of his wife, his sister’s and his sister-in-laws’; but from a garden perspective: building developments at Stowe as inspiration for Wotton’s ‘garden front’.
He writes:

Lord Temple is return’d in perfect [sic] & extremely pleased with the Colonnade in the North Front which is now almost finishd on one side except the stuccoing It is indeed very pleasing & very magnificent. (…) The success of the North Front has given fresh Life & Encouragement to the Plans for the Garden Front which at present ingross most of our Time & Conversation but no one ventures to decide upon any Thing without consulting Mr Pitt with whom there is a frequent Correspondence for that Purpose.

George Grenville died two months after writing this, and the garden front was never altered. I’m not sure a Stowe like garden front would have fitted at Wotton, it is probably a good thing that ‘no one ventured to decide upon any Thing’…

Wotton House, the Garden Front, untouched by ‘Stowe-like’ plans. Photo by Damien Dyer (Air Frame Photography).

 

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. National Archives (UK, Kew), PRO 30/8/34/1, letter from George Grenville to his sister Hester Pitt, starting “Wotton Septr ye 11th 1770″; finishes “Stowe Septr ye 13th 1770″
2. The method was advised to him by a certain sir William (Wm) Duncan. It was a combination of much horse back riding and exposure to fresh air, together with the use of the decoction, drawn from the bark of the south american Cinchona tree. The DNB says: “The compound tincture of cinchona bark in the British Pharmacopoeia, which also contains bitter orange peel, serpentary root, saffron, and cochineal mixed in spirit, was devised by him, and was for some time called ‘Huxham’s tincture.'”
Summary

Up till two months before his death, George Grenville kept looking at developments at Stowe (his elder brother’s estate) as inspiration for his own Wotton House.

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