DiCamillo Companion

Taplow Court

  • Earlier Houses: Until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, there had been a 10th century manor house here owned by the monks of Merton Priory.

    House & Family History: The manor house of Taplow was rebuilt, post 1616, by Sir Henry Guildford. Circa 1700 the 1st Earl of Orkney acquired the estate (together with neighboring Cliveden) and carried out many alterations to the house. Anne O'Brien, 2nd Countess of Orkney in her own right, leased neighboring Cliveden to Frederick, Prince of Wales, for £600 per year; she and her husband then made their seat at Taplow Court. In the late 18th century Murrough O'Brien, 5th Earl of Inchiquin and father of the 3rd Countess of Orkney, married Mary Palmer (neice and heriess of Sir Joushua Reynolds) and they made their home at Taplow Court, entertaining leaders of aristocratic and artistic society (the Prince of Wales visited in 1806 and Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1804). C.P. Grenfell engaged William Burn to reface the house and add the fourth story and tower between 1855 and 1860. William Waldorf Astor rented Taplow Court before he purchased nearby Cliveden. In the early 20th century Taplow was the home of Lady Desborough, the smart Edwardian hostess who hosted "The Souls" at the house. Lady Desborough's husband, William Henry Grenfell, 1st Baron Desborough, was one of the men who made sure the 1908 Olympic Games were held in London. After World War II Taplow Court was owned by British Telecommunications Research and Plessey Electronics, who used the house as offices and research labs. Taplow was meticulously restored, 1988-90, by the Buddhist group SGI-UK for use as a conference center and the group's headquarters. Though he didn’t actually found the organization, Rodman Wanamaker, son of famous Philadelphia department store founder John Wanamaker, was instrumental in the formation of the PGA of America. Through his Taplow Court business group (named after the house, which Wanamaker had rented in 1913), Rodman organized the January 17, 1916 meeting (35 prominent golfers and leading industry representatives) that led to the founding of the Professional Golfers' Association of America. Wanamaker hosted the first PGA Championship, a 36-hole elimination match-play tournament, held October 10-14, 1916 at the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York. Wanamaker paid the players’ travel expenses and donated the medals and the trophy. Famous today because of its numerous appearances on television, the sterling silver PGA Rodman Wanamaker Trophy (see photo in “Images” section) is still presented to the winner each year of the PGA Championship. The trophy weighs 27 pounds, is 28 inches high, and 10.5 inches in diameter. Wanamaker, a brilliant but shy marketer, very likely facilitated the founding of the PGA to help the sales of golfing equipment in his stores. Soon “Taplow” was stamped on golf clubs and golf balls sold by Wanamaker’s as their exclusive line of golfing equipment (see photo of a 1940s Taplow 7 iron in the “Images” section).

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The 30 acres of grounds contain a formal garden, a 7th century Anglo-Saxon burial mound, a Coade Stone statue of George III as a Roman emperor (1804), a half-timbered dairy of circa 1853 by N.J. Cottingham, and the memorial (1920) to Julian and Billy Grenfell (whose mother was Lady Desborough), who were killed at Flanders in 1915 during the Great War. The Anglo-Saxon burial mound, called the Taplow Mound, was excavated in the 19th century and focused on the belongings (today at the British Museum) of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, sometimes called the "Taplow Prince."

  • Architect: William Burn

    Date: 1855-60
    Designed: Refaced House, added 4th story and Tower for C.P. Grenfell

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    Architect: N. J. Cottingham

    Date: Circa 1853
    Designed: Half-timbered Dairy

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  • 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. V, 1829.

  • Title: Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, The
    Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus; Williamson, Elizabeth
    Year Published: 1994
    Reference: pgs. 690-691
    Publisher: London: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0140710620
    Book Type: Hardback

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

    Title: Cliveden: The Place and the People
    Author: Crathorne, James
    Year Published: 1995
    Publisher: London: Collins & Brown Limited
    ISBN: 1855852233
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Hampson family, 17th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir Henry Guildford, early 17th century. George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney, early 18th century. Murrough O'Brien, 5th Earl of Inchiquin and 1st Marquess of Thomond, 18th century. Thomas John Hamilton Fitzmaurice, Viscount Kirkwall, early 19th century. Pascoe Grenfell, 19th century. Willam Waldorf Astor, late 19th century. William Grenfell, 1st Baron Desborough, early 20th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Other

    Ownership Details: Since 1988 Taplow Court Grand Culture Centre, owned by SGI-UK (Soka Gakkai International), a Buddhist lay group, who also use the house as their headquarters.

  • House Open to Public: Limited Access

    Phone: 01628-773-163

    Fax: 01628-773-055

    Website: https://sgi-uk.org/Local-Community/SGI-Centres/Taplow-Court

    Historic Houses Member: Yes