The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: From London to Sheffield in the Spring of 1839

Drayton Manor

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Drayton Manor, the Seat of Sir Robert Peel, Bart., M. P., is an extensive place; the surface be flat, but the house in an elevated commanding situation. The gouse is by Sir Robert Smirke, in a style somewhat between Italian and Elizabethan; but, as it struck us, without the boldness and freedom in the turrets and chimney tops requisite for such a style. We refer, however, to the masterly observations on the architecture of this house by Mr. Humphreys, in the Architectural Magazine, vol. v. p. 687. to 691. We shall only notice one fault in the house, and also in the walls of one of the entrance lodges, respecting which there can be no dispute. Such faults are in architecture, what faults in grammar are in literary composition, they cannot be denied; while faults in style admit of difference of opinion. The fault to which we allude may be called the want of architectural connexion between the parts of a building. For example, the brick walls of the gate and lodge are in contact with the stone piers, but they are not united with them by the projection of part of the pier into the brickwork, or of the brickwork into the pier. The same fault is committed in the entrance porch, where a pierced parapet is joined into a panel of the corner turrets. This is as bad as placing the knocker of a door on the panel, instead of on one of the styles. There are various faults of this kind; among others that of the walls of the offices in some places rising out of the ground without a plinth or a base, while the upper parts of the same walls display stone facings to the windows, a stone cornice, and stone parapet over. These are trifles, we admit, but why should they not be attended to ? The general masses of trees and shrubs in the pleasure-grounds are well arranged, with reference to the distant scenery; but, being composed of the commonest trees and shrubs, they appear behind the age in a botanical point of view. Can this have been done on purpose to suit the style of the house ? If so, it has been badly done; because, though there is little variety, yet there are several species which were totally unknown in this country in the time of Elizabeth. Some standard stems of crab and almond terminate in young shoots of mistletoe of extraordinary luxuriance; which shows that that parasite can thrive, at least for a time, without a leading branch above it, of the tree on which it grows. The flower-garden is in the kitchen-garden, which, in a large place, always argues something defective in the arrangement; but, probably, it may be intended to form the lower platform into a flower-garden. Both the flower beds and the kitchen-garden appear to be well managed by the gardener, Mr. Watts. [Wikipedia states that: 'Drayton Manor is a British stately home at Drayton Bassett, near Tamworth, Staffordshire, England. It was formerly the home of Robert Peel, built by his father in 1790. In 1843 Drayton Manor received a royal visit from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Only the clock towers now remains and currently it is now the site of Drayton Manor Theme Park'.]