The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

The Grange House

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The main body of the house is in the Doric style, with a portico at one end, and a loggia with square columns on each side, by Wilkins; with a secondary mass, and a conservatory in the Ionic style, by R. C. Cockerell. An elevation has been already given (I. fig. 11. p. 106.); but it is on so small a scale, that it gives no adequate idea of the simplicity, grandeur, and beauty of this mansion. Scarcely any picture, indeed, can do justice to it: its templelike magnificence must be seen to be felt; and, indeed, it will repay any one who has a taste for architecture, to travel a hundred miles out of his way to see it. We shall never forget the first impression made on us by the Doric portico, when we saw it from the road to the kitchen-garden, on the bank forming the opposite side of the valley. The Ionic conservatory is the finest thing of the kind in England; and, in our opinion, far surpasses those of Syon and of Alton Towers. Its characteristics are simplicity and grandeur. We do not know that we can find a fault with the house, unless it were that the chimney-shafts of the main body are not architectural enough; and that those of the addition by Mr. Cockerell are altogether concealed. This part contains the kitchens; and the roof being unseen as well as the chimney-shafts, the smoke appeared to us as if ascending from ruins, or from a fallen-in roof. This bad effect is, in our opinion, a sufficient argument why chimney-shafts should, in all cases, be shown; but if they are to be concealed in one part of a house, they ought to be concealed in every part of it, for the sake of unity of system. (See Arch. Mag., II. 33.) There is also a petty little wooden excrescence to the entrance loggia, which conveys the idea of a porch to a London banker's counting-house, rather than the portico of a villa. There ought here, as in every large country villa, to have been a projecting portico to drive under, as at Bear Wood, and at Eastwell Park by Bonomi. Notwithstanding these trifling faults, and the alleged unsuitableness of the severity of the Doric order for a villa, we cannot help admiring the Grange as one of the noblest of British villas. The approach to the entrance front is through an avenue of lime trees, 100 ft. wide, and twice as many years old; having, as we are informed, been planted in the time of Inigo Jones, who built the first house, nearly on the present site, for Lord Chancellor Hyde. The road has the great fault of descending to the house; but, as the fall is not above 3 ft., it might easily be remedied by lowering the surface. An avenue, to maintain a character of art, should not only be in a straight direction, or in a direction composed of geometrical lines; but it should be over a surface of geometrical forms: that is, the surface should either be level, of an even slope, or, as far as practicable, of regular swells and declivities. It should never assume a direction, or pass over a surface, which could be supposed to be natural or accidental. If the conducting of an avenue over such a surface, and in such a direction, is found, in any case, to be altogether unavoidable, then, to maintain the character of art, recourse must be had to foreign trees, most studiously arranged. Our readers will observe, that these remarks on the subject of avenues have reference to our principle of the Recognition of Art; a principle which we find to be of the utmost value, both in landscape-gardening and in architecture. By this principle, we are enabled to determine many points which were before involved in uncertainty, chiefly from the difficulty of deciding what was meant by the imitation of nature. The result will be, when the principle is properly understood, a greater unanimity of judgment on matters of taste than has ever heretofore been displayed.