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Home > New Search > Bulstrode Park

Bulstrode Park  England 
Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England

Started 1861
Completed 1870

Status: Fully Extant

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

Location
Country
England
District Today
Buckinghamshire
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village
Gerrards Cross
 Latitude
51.58676
 Longitude
-0.57966

Date
Start Date
1861
Completion Date
1870
Circa Date
Images

The West Façade of the House

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

The West Façade of the House
The Keep and Sunken Garden
The Portland Vase in the British Museum
Architects

Designed   Formal gardens
Date   early 18th century
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Designed   Formal gardens
Date   early 18th century
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Designed   Remodeled interiors in a Neo-Georgian style
Date   circa 1900

Designed   Altered house for 2nd Duke of Portland
Date   1740s

Designed   Grotto for 2nd Duke and Duchess of Portland
Date  

Designed   House for 12th Duke of Somerset
Date   1861-70

Designed   Landscaped Park for 3rd Duke of Portland
Date   circa 1793

Designed   Pigeon House of 1805 (extant). Remodeled and designed additions to House, including castellated West Wing (circa 1806-09), for 3rd Duke of Portland (demolished)
Date   circa 1805-09

Designed   Chapel decoration for 2nd Earl, later 1st Duke of Portland
Date   after 1709

Designed   Formal gardens
Date   1706-07
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Designed   Rebuilding for William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland
Date   from 1706
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Extant / Listed / References

Extant
Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

Listed
House Listed As 
Grade II*
Gardens Listed As  
Grade II*
Country House:  Yes

References
Vitruvius Britannicus
C. IVth. pls. 40-44, 1739.
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Country Life
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Access
Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Limited Access
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
01753-884-631
Fax Number
Email
Website
Awards

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Private Non-Profit
Primary Current Ownership Use
Mixed Use
Current Ownership Use / Details
Owned today by WEC International, a Christian evangelical missionary, who use the House for offices, conferences, and retreats. The House is open to the public every Bank Holiday Monday in early May.

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem, 17th century. Hans William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, early 18th century. Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland, 18th century. Duke of Portland and Marquess of Titchfield, Cavendish-Bentinck family. Edward Adolphus Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset, 19th century. Lady Helen Guendolen Ramsden, 19th century. Sir John Frecheville Ramsden, 20th century.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

History
Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
A house of 1676-85, built for Judge Jeffreys, was demolished in 1860 to make way for the current house.
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem (May 15, 1645–Apr 18, 1689), Lord Chief Justice in 1682, also known as "The Hanging Judge,” built a house here circa 1676-85. Judge Jeffreys presided at the trial of Titus Oates and is chiefly notorious for his brutality, and as the judge of the “Bloody Assizes.” He was arrested in 1688 and died in the Tower of London in 1689, after petitioning for a pardon. After Judge Jeffreys’s death Bulstrode was sold to Hans William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, who made it one of his principal seats (he died at Bulstrode in 1709). Stiff Leadbetter altered the House significantly in the 1740s for the 2nd Duke of Portland, followed, circa 1806-09, by remodeling and additions, including the castellated West Wing, to the designs of James Wyatt for the 3rd Duke. Bulstrode was famously used by Margaret Bentinck, wife of the 2nd Duke, to house her natural history and antiquities collection. Her son, the 3rd Duke, was a noted collector of art; he loaned the now-famous Portland Vase to Joshua Wedgwood, an act which insured, through many reproductions, that the Vase would become one of the most famous objects of antiquity (see “Collection” section for more information on the Portland Vase). When the 4th Duke of Portland inherited the title in 1809 he sold Bulstrode (in 1810) to the 11th Duke of Somerset. The 12th Duke of Somerset, Edward Adolphus Seymour, demolished the old House in 1860 and commissioned, in 1861, the present House to designs of Benjamin Ferrey. The current red brick and stone House was completed in 1870 in the High Victorian Gothick style. The House alternates between two and three stories and features a large square tower on the north. Circa 1900 many of the interiors were remodeled by Frederick Eden in a Neo-Georgian style. After death of the 12th Duke, Bulstrode was inherited by his daughter, Lady Helen Guendolen Ramsden, and subsequently by her son, Sir John Frecheville Ramsden. In 1932 the outlying Estate was sold, while the House and Park remained in the ownership of Sir John. During World War II Bulstrode House was used for training by the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). After Sir John’s death in 1958 the Park surrounding the House was sold to a farmer and the House and its grounds were purchased by the Bruderhof Society of Brothers. In 1966 the Bruderhof Brothers moved to the United States, and in 1967 the property was purchased by the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, now WEC International, a Christian evangelical missionary agency, who is restoring the House and grounds.
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

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The exceptionally famous Portland Vase, named after the Dukes of Portland, is today (2008) in the collection of The British Museum, London. Most scholars believe the Roman Vase was made about the time of the birth of Christ, during the reign of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD). The Vase is considered the most beautiful cameo glass vessel surviving from antiquity. It is made of dark blue-purple glass surrounded with a single continuous white glass cameo depicting seven figures, the cutting of which was very likely performed by a skilled gem cutter. Modern scholars estimate it took no less than two years to produce the Vase. Though the circumstances of its modern discovery cannot be proved, it appears that the Vase was discovered circa 1582 by Fabrizio Lazzaro in the sepulchre of the Emperor Alexander Severus at Monte del Grano, near Rome. The first written reference to the Vase occurs in a 1601 letter from the French scholar Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc to Peter Paul Rubens, in which it is recorded as being in the collection of Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte in Italy. It later entered the collection of the acquisitive Barberini family (the Barberini Vase, as it was then known, was the prized possession of Maffeo Barberini, later Pope Urban VIII [1623-44]) and remained with them until sold in the late 18th century. James Byres (1733-1817), a Scottish art dealer known as “the Pope’s antiquary,” (Byres settled in Rome in 1758 and conducted business from his house in Via Paolina) acquired the Vase after it was sold by Donna Cornelia Barberini-Colonna, Princess of Palestrina. Byres sold the Vase in 1778 to Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), British ambassador in Naples, who brought it to England on his next leave (after the death of his first wife, Catherine). With the assistance of his niece, Mary, Hamilton arranged a private sale (for approximately £2,000) to Margaret Cavendish Holles-Harley (1715-85), widow of William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland. The Vase was but one of many pieces of art and curiosities in the collection of the Duchess of Portland, whose collection was collectively called "The Duchess of Portland's Museum." The collection was enormously rich in natural history, but also included books, pictures, busts, coins, medals, miniatures, jewels, and china. After her death in 1785 the Duchess's collection was auctioned on Apr 24, 1786 by Skinner and Co. The auction was a huge event, no less because of the inclusion in it of the famous Vase, but it was more than the Vase that brought notoriety to the collection and the auction. W.S. (Lefty) Lewis, founder of the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, said of the Duchess: "Few men have equaled Margaret Cavendish Holles Harley, Duchess of Portland, in the mania of collecting, and perhaps no woman. In an age of great collectors she rivaled the greatest. She is best known as having supplanted with her own name the famous Barberini-Hamilton vase…"). Her son, the 3rd Duke (1738-1809), purchased the Vase at auction for £1,029 and placed it on loan to the British Museum (it was at this point that the Vase acquired its current name). In 1810 the 4th Duke (1768-1854) placed the Vase on permanent loan with the British Museum. The 3rd Duke also lent the Vase to Josiah Wedgwood, who devoted considerable time in duplicating it in Jasperware with applied white reliefs (he did not achieve an acceptable replica until 1790 and considered the reproduction of the Portland Vase the culmination of his career). Wedgwood’s success in replicating the Vase led to an enormous increase in the Vase’s notoriety, taking it for the first time out of the realm of the well-informed cognoscenti and into the upper middle classes. Ironically, today early versions of Wedgwood’s Portland Vase are quite valuable and found in the collections of many museums around the world. In 1791 the naturalist Erasmus Darwin (he and Wedgwood were good friends and both were grandfathers of Charles Darwin) published an epic poem entitled “The Botanic Garden” that contains a section inspired by scenes on the Portland Vase. The Vase has been on view in the British Museum since 1810, apart from three years (1929-32) when William Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland, attempted to sale it. The Vase was put up for auction at Christie's in 1929; however, it failed to reach its reserve of 29,000 guineas (£30,450) and remained in the ownership of the Dukes of Portland until purchased from William Cavendish-Bentinck, 7th Duke of Portland, in 1945 for £5,000. The Portland Vase makes an appearance in fiction, being mentioned as having been rescued by time travelers from the future just before the destruction of the earth in Arthur C. Clarke's 1951 science fiction short story, "All the Time in the World."
Comments

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
There are visible remains of a late 17th century formal garden, very likely designed by Henry Wise, Claude Desgots, or George London. Circa 1793 the grounds were laid out by Humphry Repton for the 3rd Duke of Portland. The there is a fine two-story brick Pigeon House of 1805 designed by James Wyatt that features open arches, battlements, and polygonal corner towers. The Shell Museum, the Menagerie, “the Turkish pavilion,” and the Grotto (the latter to the designs of Mrs. Delany, a friend of the Duchess) were added for the 2nd Duke and Duchess.
Chapel & Church
The Venetian artist Sebastiano Ricci decorated the Bulstrode Chapel (destroyed) for the 1st Duke of Portland. In 1981 the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acquired “The Baptism of Christ,” a Ricci oil sketch for one of the walls of the Chapel (the facing wall showed the Last Supper, and on the ceiling was the Ascension). The Met’s oil sketch is the finest of three oil sketches for the decoration of the Chapel.

Movies
Location for Movies / TV
Bibliography

Author   Harris, John
Year Published   1998
Reference  


Author   Colvin, Howard
Year Published   1995
Reference   pg. 953


Author   Pevsner, Nikolaus; Williamson, Elizabeth
Year Published   1994
Reference   pgs. 203-204


Author   Walpole, Horace; Lewis, W.S. (Introduction)
Year Published   1936
Reference   pgs. vi, 5-6


Author   Walker, Susan
Year Published   2004
Reference   pgs. 7, 21-24, 27



There are no documents associated with this house.


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