DiCamillo Companion

Crichel House (Critchill House) (More Crichel)

  • Earlier Houses: The manor house of More Crichel, built circa 1615 Sir Nathaniel Napier, burned in 1742 and was replaced by the current house.

    Built / Designed For: Sir William Napier, 4th Bt.

    House & Family History: In 1742 the original Jacobean house of the Napier family was largely destroyed by fire. Crichel was rebuilt for Sir William Napier between 1744 and 1746 by John Bastard of Blandford and Francis Cartwright and extensively remodeled in the 1770s by Humphrey Sturt, who inherited the estate in 1765. Sturt engaged James Wyatt to redesign the interiors; Wyatt employed Biagio Rebecca for painted décor, John Linnell and Ince and Mayhew for furniture, and John Devall for the chimneypieces. The result is a glorious success, particularly the riot of magnificent polychrome ceilings. George IV, while Prince Regent, stayed at Crichel. Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, George IV's only legitimate child, made Crichel House her home for a time under the care of Lady Rosslyn. Edward VII visited Crichel House in 1905. The 3rd (and last) Baron Alington, who features prominently in the 2022 book "The Crichel Boys: Scenes from England's Last Literary Salon," is possibly most famous for having dated Tallulah Bankhead in the 1920s (interestingly, both were bisexual). Lord Alington, who worked as a banker in New York City in the early 20th century for the Guaranty Trust Company (later Morgan Guaranty Trust Company), was also a friend of the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, who dedicated his 1922 "Songs of an infatuated Muezzin Op. 42, to him. Between 1946 and 1951 Crichel was the home of Cranborne Chase School, an independent boarding school for girls (the school moved to New Wardour Castle in 1951). The Crichel Estate is notable for the Crichel Down Affair, where the owners, Toby and Mary Anna Marten, took on the government and won the right to buy back land purchased by compulsory purchase. Crichel was sold in 2013 for £34 million to American hedge fund billionaire Richard L. Chilton.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Crichel today sits in a park of 400 acres and features a crescent-shaped lake that covers 50 acres. The estate today comprises 1,500 acres; in 2012, before the sale of the house and the break-up of the Crichel Estate, the estate spanned 10,000 acres.

    Chapel & Church: The Grade II*-listed Church of St. Mary, which sits very close to the house, was built in 1850 for Henry Charles Sturt and replaced an earlier Medieval parish church. The church, now redundant, is attributed to George Alexander and is noted for its spectacular vaulted chancel.

  • Architect:

    Date: 1850
    Designed: Church of St. Mary for Henry Charles Sturt
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: Thomas Hopper

    Date: 1831
    Designed: Alterations to Entrance for H.S. Sturt

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    Architect: William Burn

    Date: 1869
    Designed: Additions for H.G. Sturt

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    Architect: Harold Ainsworth Peto

    Date: 1905
    Designed: Italian Garden

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    Architect: John Bastard

    Date: 1744-46
    Designed: Rebuilt House after fire, together with Francis Cartwright, for Sir William Napier, Bt.

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    Architect: Francis Cartwright

    Date: 1744-46
    Designed: Rebuilt House after fire, together with John Bastard, for Sir William Napier, Bt.

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    Architect: James Wyatt

    Date: 1772-80
    Designed: Interiors of principal rooms for Humphrey Sturt

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  • 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: Vol. I, 1818.

    Country Life: LVII, 766 plan, 814, 874, 1925.

  • Title: Merchant Ivory's English Landscape: Rooms, Views, and Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
    Author: Pym, John
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 60
    Publisher: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0810942755
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 109, 192, 231, 515, 1114
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "Barry Lyndon" (1975). "Maurice" (1987 - the Crichel boathouse was the boathouse were Maurice and Scudder meet). "Emma" (1996 - as the exterior of Donwell Abbey, Mr. Knightley's home).
  • Current Seat / Home of: Richard L. Chilton; here since 2013.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Sir Nathaniel Napier, 17th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir William Napier, 4th Bt., 18th century; Henry Charles Sturt, 1812-66; Henry Gerard Sturt, 1st Baron Alington, 1866-1904; Humphrey Napier Sturt, 2nd Baron Alington, 1904-19; Captain Napier George Henry Sturt, 3rd Baron Alington, 1919-40; Mary Anna Sibell Elizabeth Marten, 1940-2010; Alington-Sturt-Marten family here for over 300 years.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No


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