A 1782 engraving of the House before its rebuilding by Holland from "Watts' Seats of the Nobility and Gentry"
Earlier Houses: The core of the current house is an earlier 18th century Palladian house built for George Byng. For years it was assumed that Byng's architect was Isaac Ware, though this has recently been disproved by dating the house to 1726, before Ware began practicing. Byng's house itself may have been preceded by an even earlier house, which was very likely demolished by Byng.
House & Family History: George Byng purchased the old Southill in 1693 (in 1721 he was created 1st Viscount Torrington in reward for his success as an admiral). By the end of the 18th century the Byngs had fallen on hard times; in 1795 the Southill Estate was sold by them for £93,000 (approximately £117 million in 2016 inflation-adjusted values using the labour value commodity index) to Samuel Whitbread I, founder of the famous brewery. Mr. Whitbread hired Henry Holland to rebuild and remodel the House, but Whitbread died a year later, never seeing the final product that his noted architect produced. Holland rebuilt the exterior in Totternhoe limestone, erected a new service wing to the east, and redecorated the interiors of the House in his trademark elegant French Neoclassical style (much of his decoration still exists today). Southill has been the subject of two 20th century books: "Southill: A Regency House" in 1951, and the 1995 "Southill and the Whitbreads, 1795-1995."
Comments: Southill is considered one of the finest Regency houses in England.
Vitruvius Britannicus: C. IVth. pls. 84, 85, 1739.
J.P. Neal: 2.S. Vol. V, 1829.
Country Life: LXVI, 665 [Furniture], 841 [Furniture], 1929. LXVIII, 42, 63 [Pictures], 80 plan, 108, 595 [Furniture], 1930. July 19, 1930. Nov. 8, 1930.
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 1995
Reference: pgs. 505, 592
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Softback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Seat of: Whitbread family
Past Seat of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Samuel Whitbread, late 18th-early 19th centuries.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
House Open to Public: No
Historic Houses Member: No