Pevsner and the Buildings of Stoke-on-Trent
 

Trentham Park

"It is the principle of The Buildings of England not to describe buildings which have been demolished. Trentham Park must make an exception, not only because it was a house which was spectacular and had a spectacular following, but even more because its remains are extensive enough for any visitor to ask at once after their context."

Trentham Hall in 1686
Trentham Hall in 1686

The house, whose bulk was demolished in 1910-12, was initially built where an Augustinian priory had been founded c.1150 and been dissolved probably in 1537. The property was bought by James Leveson in 1540. The house with which the following description is to deal was built in 1833-42 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament, and it was in its own way architecturally as important as the Houses of Parliament.

The client was the second Duke of Sutherland, of the Leveson-Gower family. How the Levesons got together with the Cowers, how titles (including Marquess of Stafford) were accumulated, is too complicated to be explained here. It is sufficient to say that the second Marquess of Stafford married the greatest of British heiresses, the Countess of Sutherland, and was himself created Duke of Sutherland. The second Duke was his son. He inherited in 1833 and at once began to make plans for a conversion and vast enlargement of the house existing on the site.

This was designed by Francis Smith and built in the early C18 'after the model of the Queen's Palace in St James's Park', i.e. Buckingham House (as The Beauties of England and Wales rightly states). It was enlarged from nine to fifteen bays by Capability Brown and Holland in 1768-78.


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It faced a large lake proposed by Capability Brown in 1759. That lake, altered when the mansion was built, was of impressive size and fortunately still exists. It sets the scale not only of the house but also of the vast parterre by W. A. Nesfield connecting house and lake. The pattern of the parterre was originally more complex than it is now.

Aerial View of Trentham Gardens
Aerial View of Trentham Gardens
1955 - 1965 (c.)

 

Trentham Lake
Trentham Lake
An employee marshals the rowing boats at closing time on Trentham Lake. The mile-long lake, designed by Capability Brown, forms the heart of Trentham Gardens.

photo: Stephen McKay  Sept 2006

 

Trentham Gardens lake - with the Italian Gardens at the top
Trentham Gardens lake - with the Italian Gardens at the top

photo: MS live search

 

 


the vast parterre

Beautiful Italian Gardens (parterre) at Trentham
Beautiful Italian Gardens (parterre) at Trentham

photo:   Kevin Rushton  Sept 2005

 

Postcard of the Italian gardens to the front of the hall
Postcard of the Italian gardens to the front of the hall

picture: c.1900-1910



The house was in the Italianate style, sub-species Italian Villa, though its scale was palatial and not at all villaesque. However, villa as against palazzo was the term to indicate a house of informal composition with an asymmetrically placed tower.
The type was created on a small scale by Nash at Cronkhill about 1802. Wyatville raised it to the grandest scale in the n wing of Chatsworth. This was started in 1820. Trentham came next, and Trentham formed the pattern for Prince Albert's Osborne, and on the strength of that august fane for other mansions in Britain and even in Germany.

Trentham Hall in Staffordshire,
Trentham Hall in Staffordshire,
..... in the 1820s, before the 19th century expansion.
from Jones's Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen (1829)

Trentham Hall in 1880
Trentham Hall in 1880

from Morris's Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen. The front entrance is at the left, leading into the three storey main house. The two storey family wing is at the right, beyond the campanile.

 


The grand entrance was from the w, a semicircle between two five-bay wings and a porte-cochere in front of the centre of the semicircle. All this still stands. The porte-cochere is more ornate than anything of the rest. It has complex columns alternately blocked and a heavy attic similarly treated and with thickly carved coats of arms. The semicircle and the wings are one-storeyed with arched openings and un-fluted Ionic columns. This motif Barry took over from Charles Heathcote Tatham's Orangery built c.i8o8. This is in fact the r. wing of the two just referred to.
 


Trentham Hall - the Grand Entrance
Trentham Hall - the Grand Entrance
 

 

 


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