DiCamillo Companion

Witham Park (Witham House)

  • Earlier Houses: There were at least two houses on the site of the 1760s house, both of them incorporating elements of ruined monastic buildings. The second house (circa 1717; demolished circa 1764) may have been designed by William Talman or James Gibbs (drawings by both architects are extant, though Howard Colvin believed that it was the work of Gibbs). Also surviving are early 18th century proposals by Sir James Thornhill and George Clarke, though it's unlikely either of these architects' designs were executed.

    House & Family History: What Alderman William Beckford purchased in 1762 was a mostly ruinated house of 1717 that contained sections of the first Carthusian monastery in England, founded in 1178 by Henry II as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. Likely based on the recommendation of his architect, Robert Adam, the Alderman decided to demolish most of the old house in 1764 (sections of it were kept as a romantic ruin/folly) when Adam's new Neoclassical style house began construction. The new house was never finished; construction stopped after the Alderman's death in 1770 and Witham Park was left to molder. By 1790 Adam's house had been demolished. Eileen Harris, one of the foremost Adam scholars, has stated that she believes that Adam designed a saloon at Witham that was very similar to Adam's famous library at Kenwood, including the apsidal ends and the columnar screens.

  • Architect: James Gibbs

    Date: Circa 1717
    Designed: Remodeled earlier house (demolished circa 1764) for Sir William Wyndham

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    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: Circa 1762
    Designed: New house for Alderman Beckford (never completed)

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  • Vitruvius Britannicus: V, pls. 38-42, 1771. C. II, pls. 91, 92, 1717.

  • Title: Genius of Robert Adam: His Interiors, The
    Author: Harris, Eileen
    Year Published: 2001
    Reference: pg. 186
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
    ISBN: 0300081294
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 424
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: William Beckford: Composing for Mozart
    Author: Mowl, Timothy
    Year Published: 1998
    Publisher: London: John Murray
    ISBN: 0719558298
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 58, 952
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Demolished

    Park Listed: Destroyed

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Ralph Hopton, 16th century. Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt., early 18th century; Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, 18th century; Wyndham family here from the 17th century until 1761. Alderman William Beckford, 1762-64. SEATED AT 1760s HOUSE: Alderman William Beckford, 1764-70.

    Current Ownership Type: Demolished

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Demolished

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No


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