An 1821 print of the House from "Neale's Views of Seats"
Earlier Houses: Joshua Smith, MP for Devizes, replaced the existing Elizabeth manor house between 1780 and 1813 with a grand new country house.
House & Family History: The new Erlestoke House built by Smith was sited higher up the hill than the earlier house (and to the east of the village). Smith moved the village houses to their current location on the High Street of Erlestoke and added picturesque estate cottages that incorporated architectural fragments and sculpture from the old manor house. Erlestoke House was seriously damaged by a fire in 1950. It is today part of HM Prison Erlestoke, the only prison in Wiltshire, with a capacity of 410 men.
Collections: In the early 19th century George Watson Taylor formed an important collection at Erlestoke of pictures, porcelain, and French furniture, including a commode and secretarie by Kiesener made for Marie Antoinette. William Beckford considered Erlestoke's collection better than his own at Fonthill. Taylor was declared bankrupt in 1832, with debts of £450,000 (approximately £38 million in inflation-adjusted 2016 values using the retail price commodity index), and a sale of the collection of Erlestoke (sold in 3,572 lots) took place the same year. The Kiesener commode and secretarie were purchased by the 10th Duke of Hamilton for Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire. During the sale of the contents of Hamilton Palace in 1882 the commode and secretarie were purchased by Mrs. William Vanderbilt; they passed by bequest to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, were they remain today.
Garden & Outbuildings: Joshua Smith laid out the Park in the late 18th century. Extant in the Park today are vermiculated gatepiers topped with urns near the Church, a lodge in the classical style, and another lodge with a portico of tree-trunks.
Vitruvius Britannicus: C. New, I, pls. 36-38, 1802.
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: Vol. II, p. 234, 1853.
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. V, 1822.
House Listed: Not Listed
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Joshua Smith, late 18th-early 19th centuries. George Watson Taylor, early 19th century.
Current Ownership Type: Government
Primary Current Ownership Use: Other
Ownership Details: Today part of HM Prison Erlestoke
House Open to Public: No
Historic Houses Member: No