DiCamillo Companion
England

Basildon Park

  • Built / Designed For: Sir Francis Sykes

    House & Family History: Basildon Park was begun in 1772 to the designs of John Carr of York, one of the leading architects in northern England. His work was initially influenced by the English Palladians—the Earl of Burlington and William Kent—and later by the Neoclassicism of Robert Adam. At Basildon, Carr's most southerly commission, all these architectural influences were beautifully and successfully incorporated. It's been speculated that the principal facade, the West Facade, was inspired by Palladio's Villa Emo (see photo in "Images" section). The interior is notable for its original delicate plasterwork and elegant staircase, as well as the unusual Octagon Room. The House was saved from dereliction in the mid-20th century by Lord and Lady Iliffe. By the time the Iliffes acquired Basildon some of the interiors had been sold to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, where they remain today in the form of the Basildon Room. In 1978 the Iliffes gave the house, together with its park and a large endowment, to the National Trust. The entrance hall features ceilings with stunning Palladian style plasterwork. The dining room sports a fabulous ceiling, gilded and painted in the Neoclassical style with scenes from Dante's "Inferno," which is complemented by late 20th century Neoclassical wall paintings by Alec Cobbe. Another fascinating room is the Bamboo Bedroom; in this Asian-themed room are a pair of unusual 19th century Chinese medicine dolls. These dolls were used by Chinese nobility when they visited a doctor. Because their status meant they would never undress before a doctor, they would simply point to afflicted areas on the dolls to show the doctor where they hurt! (We are very grateful to Britain Express for much of this history of Basildon.)

    Collections: Basildon contains a pair of pier tables (see "Images" section), made circa 1773 by an unknown English craftsman, that are probably the earliest known English works of art to reproduce the four caryatid figures from the portico of the Erechtheum on the Acropolis in Athens. The tables were acquired at the Brockenhurst Park sale in 1959 by Lord and Lady Iliffe. Basildon also contains the finest collection in Britain of religious paintings by Pompeo Batoni – a set of eight pictures depicting seven of the Apostles and God the Father. The Iliffes were friends with artist Graham Sutherland, who created the "Christ in Glory" tapestry at Coventry Cathedral. An entire room at Basildon is filled with Sutherland's drawings for the tapestry. A long porcelain cabinet that is today in the collection at Buxted Place, Sussex, originally came from Basildon. Urns today in the Dining Room at Basildon came from Ham House, London. The curtains in the Octagon Room were originally installed at Blenheim Palace.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Oxford Lodges (see "Images" section), designed by Carr in the 18th century and modified by J.B. Papworth in 1842, are modeled on the Tower of the Winds in Athens, one of the most frequently copied ancient buildings during the Neoclassical period.

  • Architect: John Carr

    Date: 1776-83
    Designed: House for Sir Francis Sykes

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  • Vitruvius Britannicus: C. New, I, pls. 12-14, 1802.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. II, 1825.

    Country Life: CLXI. 1158, 1227, 1298, 1977.

  • Title: Buildings of England: Sussex, The
    Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus; Nairn, Ian
    Year Published: 1973
    Reference: pg. 466
    Publisher: London: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0140710280
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Basildon Park Guidebook
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 35
    Publisher: London: The National Trust
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Light Softback

    Title: Treasure Houses of Britain, The - SOFTBACK
    Author: Jackson-Stops, Gervase (Editor)
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pgs. 342-343
    Publisher: Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press)
    ISBN: 0300035530
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "A History of Britain" (2000 - TV documentary series). "Pride and Prejudice" (2005 - as Netherfield). "Marie Antoinette" (2006). "Dorian Gray" (2009 - dining room for the ballroom scene, staircase hall for the drug-smoking scene, green drawing room for the tea party and death of Aunt Agatha, crimson bedroom for a sex scene). "Downton Abbey" (2013-14 - TV series, as the interiors of Grantham House, Lord Grantham's London house; the grounds were also used for the Hyde Park picnic scene; both in the episode "The London Season"; the interiors were used again as Grantham House interiors in Episode 8 of Season 5). "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2016 - exteriors of Netherfield Park). "Belgravia" (2020 - TV series, as the dining room of the Trenchards' London house).
  • Past Seat of: Sir Francis Sykes, 18th century. James Morrison, 18th century. Langton Iliffe, 2nd Baron Iliffe, 20th century.

    Current Ownership Type: The National Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01189-843-040

    Fax: 01189-767-370

    Email: basildonpark@nationaltrust.org.uk

    Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No