DiCamillo Companion
England

Ditchley Park (Ditchley House) (Dytchley House)

  • Earlier Houses: There was an earlier house on the site of the current house. It was this house that Queen Elizabeth I visited in 1592, and it was at this house that John Wilmot, the brilliant poet and infamous libertine 2nd Earl of Rochester, was born on April 1, 1647 (his father, Henry, 2nd Viscount Wilmot, was created 1st Earl of Rochester in 1652 for his military service to Charles II during the king's exile after the English Civil War).

    Built / Designed For: 2nd Earl of Litchfield

    House & Family History: Ditchley was the famous home of Ronald Tree and Nancy Peabody Tree in the 1930s. Ronald Tree purchased the Estate from Viscount Dillon for £30,000 when he was married to interior decorator and trend-setter Nancy Lancaster. Churchill spent his weekends at Ditchley throughout World War II because it was considered safer than his official residence at Chequers, which was an easier target for German bombers.

    Collections: A circa 1740 oval mirror, formerly in the collection at Ditchley, was at Clarence House as part of the collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. A table, designed for Ditchley by Henry Flitcroft, is today in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The famous "Ditchley Portrait" of Queen Elizabeth I by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (see "Images" section) is today in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London. The full-length portrait of the queen was commissioned by Sir Henry Lee in 1592 to commemorate her visit to Ditchley Park.

    Comments: Ditchley is generally considered James Gibbs's most important surviving country house.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Lee Place, originally part of the Ditchley Estate, was the dower house for Ditchley Park. It's a 17th century house that was remodeled and refronted in the 1720s at the same time that Ditchley itself was being rebuilt by Francis Smith and James Gibbs. Though no records for Lee Place survive, it is probable that the 1720s work on the House was supervised by Francis Smith. The Lee Place Stables are extant and feature a central wooden hexagonal cupola/clock tower of 1725 that is very similar in design to the turrets on the side wings at Ditchley Park.

  • Architect: Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe

    Date: 1933
    Designed: Parterre for Ronald and Nancy Tree

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    Architect: Francis Smith

    Date: 1720-42
    Designed: Built House to designs of James Gibbs; Stableblock to his own design; all for 2nd Earl of Litchfield.

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    Architect: William Kent

    Date: 1725-27
    Designed: Interiors for 2nd Earl of Litchfield

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    Architect: James Gibbs

    Date: 1720-42
    Designed: Rebuilt House for 2nd Earl of Lichfield

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    Architect: Henry Flitcroft

    Date: 1736-41
    Designed: Interiors for 2nd Earl of Litchfield

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    Architect: John Claudius Loudon

    Date: 19th century
    Designed: Garden

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  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. I, p. 84, 1854.

    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. III, 1820.

    Country Life: XVI, 594, 1904. LXXIII, 490 [Paintings], 515 [Furniture], 1933. LXXV, 590, 622, 1934.

  • Title: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at Clarence House
    Author: Cornforth, John
    Year Published: 1996
    Reference: pg. 32
    Publisher: London: Michael Joseph Ltd.
    ISBN: 0718141911
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: This Other Eden: Paintings From the Yale Center for British Art
    Author: Warner, Malcolm; Alexander, Julia Marciari
    Year Published: 1998
    Reference: pg. 24
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300074980
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: English Gardens in the Twentieth Century From the Archives of Country Life
    Author: Richardson, Tim
    Year Published: 2005
    Reference: pg. 104
    Publisher: London: Aurum Press
    ISBN: 1845130715
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 887-888
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, The
    Author: Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus
    Year Published: 1974
    Reference: pg. 528
    Publisher: London: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0140710450
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Blenheim Revisited: The Spencer-Churchills and their Palace
    Author: Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pg. 205
    Publisher: New York: Beaufort Books
    ISBN: 0825302978
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "Black Beauty" (1994 - as the home of Lord Wexmire). "Vanity Fair" (2004 - as the home of Sir Pitt Crawley). "In the Footsteps of Churchill" (2005 - BBC TV documentary series). "Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon" (BBC TV documentary). "The Young Victoria" (2009 - as interiors and exteriors of Windsor Castle). "Downton Abbey" (2015 - TV series, as Mallerton, the site of the country house auction). "Father Brown" (2015 – TV series, in the episode "The Man in the Shadows"). "Father Brown" (2018 – TV series, as Lady Rose's house in "The Dance of Death").
  • Past Seat of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Sir Henry Lee, 16th century. Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester and 2nd Viscount Wilmot, 17th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: George Lee, 2nd Earl of Lichfield, 19th century. Eric FitzGerald Dillon, 19th Viscount Dillon, 20th century. Ronald Tree & Nancy Peabody Tree, 1930s. Nancy Lancaster, 20th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Conference Center

    Ownership Details: Owned by the Ditchley Foundation

  • House Open to Public: By Appointment

    Phone: 01608-677-346

    Fax: 01608-677-399

    Email: bursar@ditchley.co.uk

    Website: http://www.ditchley.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No