The entrance facade from an 1803 hand-colored copper engraved print from "The Beauties of England and Wales"
The house from a circa 1910 postcard
Boulle cabinet-on-stand, circa 1680, originally at Wrotham, today in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Earlier Houses: There was at least one earlier house on, or near, the site of the current house.
Built / Designed For: Admiral John Byng
House & Family History: Wrotham is a Palladian house designed by Isaac Ware in 1754 to replace an earlier house, Strangeways, which itself was part of an Medieval estate named Pinchbank. The new house was built for Admiral John Byng (fourth son of Admiral Sir George Byng), who was famously executed in 1757 after the failure of his inadequately equipped expedition to relieve Minorca from the French. He was tried by his own government for cowardice and negligence of duty, for which there was a mandatory death sentence (he was executed by firing squad). This act of judicial murder prompted Voltaire's famous phrase "In this country it pays well, from time to time, to kill an Admiral to encourage the others." The house suffered a serious fire in 1883 that gutted the interiors and was rebuilt exactly as it had been before the fire. Wrotham today remains owned by the Byng family and is the largest privately-owned house in the Home Counties. The house is used frequently for the filming of movies and television programs. In the autumn of 2009 Simon Cowell held his 50th birthday party at Wrotham, with entertainment by Earth, Wind & Fire and nearly 400 guests, including Kate Moss, Ryan Seacrest, and Randy Jackson.
Collections: Pieter de Hooch's "Courtyard of a House in Delft" was sold at Christie's on December 11, 1992 for £4.4 million. A Boulle cabinet-on-stand, made in Paris circa 1680, and once in the collection at Wrotham, is today in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (see "Images" section). The giltwood cabinet features Egyptian style monopodia supports that were added circa 1795 and is an example of the highest level of furniture produced by Andre-Charles Boulle for the court of Louis XIV.
Garden & Outbuildings: Wrotham is set in an estate of 2,500 acres.
Vitruvius Britannicus: C. V, pls. 45, 46, 1771.
Country Life: XLIV, 404, 458, 462 [Pictures], 1918.
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 1995
Reference: pg. 1023
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Softback
Title: Vogue (American magazine)
Year Published: NA
Reference: Aug 2003, pg. 270
Publisher: New York: The Conde Nast Publications
Book Type: Magazine
Title: Movie Locations: A Guide to Britain & Ireland
Author: Adams, Mark
Year Published: 2000
Publisher: London: Boxtree
Book Type: Softback
Title: No Voice From the Hall: Early Memories of a Country House Snooper
Author: Harris, John
Year Published: 1998
Publisher: London: John Murray
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
Author: Sayer, Michael
Year Published: 1993
Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: Grade II
Current Seat / Home of: Robert Byng
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Howkins family, 17th century. Thomas Reynolds, 18th century; Francis Reynolds, 18th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Admiral John Byng, 1754-57; George Byng, 1757-89; George Byng, 1789-1847; Field Marshal John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford, 1847-60; George Stevens Byng, 2nd Earl of Strafford, 1860-86; George Henry Charles Byng, 3rd Earl of Strafford, 1886-98; Henry William John Byng, 4th Earl of Strafford, 1898-99; The Rev. Francis Edmund Cecil Byng, 5th Earl of Strafford, 1899-1918; Edmund Henry Byng, 6th Earl of Strafford, 1918-51.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
Ownership Details: Available for functions and movie location filming.