The House from a 1788 engraving
The House from a circa 1911 postcard
Earlier Houses: A medieval manor house stood on the site of the current house.
Built / Designed For: Sir Thomas Gorges
House & Family History: During the reign of Elizabeth I Sir Thomas Gorges acquired the medieval manor house that stood on the site of the current house. In 1584 Sir Thomas married Helena, widow of the 1st Marquess of Northampton and a lady-in-waiting to the queen. Circa 1590 Sir Thomas began a rebuilding of the House in an unusual triangular form with a tower at each corner, similar to those in Sweden, the native land of Sir Thomas's bride. However, in the middle of the work, Sir Thomas's money ran out. In one of those strange twists of history, one of Sir Thomas's posts was governor of Hurst Castle on the Hampshire coast; during the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada, one of the Spanish ships was driven aground at Hurst Castle. Lady Gorges asked the queen if she could have the wreck of the Spanish ship, and the request was granted; what the queen did not know was that the ship was one of the Spanish treasure ships laden with silver; this money allowed the rebuilding of Longford to continue to its completion. Sir Thomas had a cousin, Sir Ferdinand Gorges, who achieved distinction as an explorer of America and was the first governor of Maine in 1622. In 1637 a court decision forced King Charles I to hand over the colony of Massachusetts to Sir Ferdinand, who also was one of the founders of the Council of New England. Edward, the son of Sir William Bouverie, a former governor of the Bank of England, purchased Longford in the 17th century. The Bouveries were Huguenot refugees who left France for Amsterdam before the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of August 1572. The family emigrated to England, and, using their Continental links, became successful businessmen in London. Longford was the model for the "Castle of Amphialeus" in Sir Philip Sidney's "The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia," 1580 (published 1590).
Collections: Longford contains a fine collection of 18th century furniture and an important collection of paintings. A side table with a mask of Diana, made in London (possibly by Benjamin Goodison), circa 1740 for Sir Jacob Bouverie of Longford, is today in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. One of the former stars of the Longford collection was "The Ambassadors," the great 1533 Holbein the Younger oil on oak painting that the 2nd Earl of Radnor purchased for £1,000 in 1808 or 1809 from the dealer William Buchanan. The 5th Earl sold three paintings from the collection, including "The Ambassadors," to the National Gallery in 1890 to raise money to pay death duties and to fund Salvin's work on the Castle. The other two paintings sold were a portrait of Don Adrián Pulido Pareja, then attributed to Velázquez and today thought to be by Velázquez's son-in-law, Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo; and an unidentified portrait of a man by Giovanni Battista Moroni, once believed to have been by Titian.
Vitruvius Britannicus: C. V, pls. 94-98, 1771.
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. IV, 1828.
Country Life: LXX, 648, 679 [Furniture], 696 plan, 715 [Furniture], 724 plan, 1931.
Title: V&A Guide to Period Styles: 400 Years of British Art and Design, The
Author: Jackson, Anna; Hinton, Morna
Year Published: 2002
Reference: pg. 45
Publisher: London: V&A Publications
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Georgian: The Magazine of the Georgian Group, The
Year Published: NA
Reference: Jan 2002, pg. 13
Publisher: London: The Georgian Group
Book Type: Magazine
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 1995
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Softback
Title: Historic Houses (magazine)
Year Published: NA
Reference: Spring 1999, pg. 51
Publisher: London: Historic Houses Association
Book Type: Magazine
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II*
Seat of: William Pleydell-Bouverie, 9th Earl of Radnor.
Past Seat of: Sir Thomas Gorges, 16th century. Henry Hare, 2nd Baron Coleraine, 17th century. Edward Bouverie, 17th century; Jacob Bouverie, 1st Viscount Folkestone, 18th century; Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 2nd Earl of Radnor, late 18th century; Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 4th Earl of Radnor, 19th century.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
Ownership Details: Tickets to tour the castle can only be purchased via the National Gallery's website.
House Open to Public: Limited Access
Historic Houses Member: No