DiCamillo Companion

Mells Park (Park House) (Mells Park House)

  • Built / Designed For: Thomas Strangeways Horner

    House & Family History: In 1724 Thomas Strangeways Horner (died 1741) built Park House (today Mells Park) in the recently enclosed Mells Park. Thomas's daughter, Elizabeth, inspired Thomas Hardy's short story, "The First Countess of Wessex," which appeared in his book "A Group of Noble Dames." In the story the Horners appear as the Dornell family and Mells Park is Falls Park. The House was altered for Thomas Horner in 1763 by Daniel Hague, who added East and West Wings and canted bays, with much of the stone coming from the demolition of the North Wing of Mells Manor House. A new wing was added to the House circa 1794. Colonel Thomas Strangeways Horner (died 1840) employed James Spiller to design additions to Mells Park; however, after a disagreement between client and architect, Spiller gave up the commission and was replaced by John Soane, who completed the work to Horner's designs in 1824. In 1917 the House burned and was rebuilt 1922-25 on a more modest scale by Edwin Lutyens for Reginald McKenna, chairman of Midland Bank. Today's ashlar house is two stories and seven by four bays, with giant Doric pilasters and a hipped roof. Mells Park was sold to the Trotter family in 1939 and became the property of Amey Roadstone Corporation in 1977. In 2001 the House returned to private ownership.

    Comments: In 1900 Mells Park was described by Raymond Asquith as "a typically comfortable English country house in an Elizabethan park full of magnificent trees."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The principal entrance to the Park is guarded by an early 19th century one-story Gate Lodge. The Grade II-listed Duckery of 1775 is extant, as is the stone cottage orné (built on the site of Wraggs Mill and formerly linked to the Park by a Chinese bridge). Tor Rock is a natural outcrop that was made into a feature of the northern gardens in 1787 by the addition of a Gothick archway built onto it, with steps leading down to an artificial cave. Also in the Park are the Grade II-listed Gothick-style Lilybatch Lodge of 1784 and the Finger Lodge, also in the Gothick style (designed by George Underwood in 1824). There are also the remains of the 1750s Keeper's Lodge. William Gilpin designed a major enlargement of the pleasure grounds between 1825 and 1832. The Stables and Coach House (both 1761 and probably designed by John Wood the Younger) replaced earlier stables erected north of the old house prior to 1741.

  • Architect: Nathaniel Ireson

    Date: 1724
    Designed: House for Thomas Strangeways Horner

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    Architect: Edwin Landseer Lutyens

    Date: 1922-25
    Designed: Rebuilt House for Reginald McKenna after 1917 fire. Designed gardens with Gertrude Jekyll.

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    Architect: William Sawrey Gilpin

    Date: 1825-32
    Designed: Enlargement of pleasure grounds for Colonel Thomas Strangways

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    Architect: Gertrude Jekyll

    Date: 1920s
    Designed: Gardens, together with Edwin Lutyens.

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    Architect: George Allen Underwood

    Date: 1824
    Designed: Gothick style Finger Lodge

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    Architect: John Wood, Jr.

    Date: 1761
    Designed: Stables and Coach House
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: Daniel Hague

    Date: 1763
    Designed: Altered House for Thomas Horner, including addition of East and West Wings and canted bays.

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    Architect: John Soane

    Date: 1807-24
    Designed: Alterations, incluidng entrance and Library, for Thomas Horner.

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    Architect: James Spiller

    Date: 1810-24
    Designed: Began additions for Thomas Horner (work finished by Soane to Horner's designs)

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  • Country Life: XCIII, 748, 1943.

  • Title: Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, The
    Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus
    Year Published: 1958
    Reference: pg. 226
    Publisher: London: Penguine Books
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 910
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Past Seat / Home of: Thomas Strangeways Horner, 18th century; Col. Thomas Horner, 18th century; Horner family here until 1927. Reginald McKenna, early 20th century. Trotter family, 1939-?.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

    Ownership Details: Available for pheasant drives and shoots

  • House Open to Public: By Appointment

    Phone: 07834-489-343

    Email: natasha@mellspark.com

    Website: https://www.phoinesestates.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No