Lord Burlington and the leaning stacks of Coleshill House

Karen Elizabeth Fielder

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Coleshill House in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) was completed around 1652 and demolished in January 1953 following a devastating fire. The country house estate at Coleshill is now owned by the National Trust. Until the 1920s the house was widely believed to be the work of the celebrated English architect Inigo Jones, after which it was acknowledged that Sir Roger Pratt had at least some role in its execution. In established histories of the house Lord Burlington, ‘the architect Earl’, is said to have been instrumental in its restoration in the 1740s, when the house was under the ownership of Sir Mark Stuart Pleydell. The association with Lord Burlington offers validation of the status of Coleshill House as an architectural icon, a masterpiece of English classicism. This paper draws upon documentary archive research to investigate Lord Burlington’s involvement in works to the house in the 18th century. This shows that whilst extensive repairs were indeed undertaken at this time, they owed relatively little to Burlington, and rather more to a lesser known architect, Richard Kittermaster as well as other artisans and advisors. The archives also indicate that Pleydell promoted Burlington as an admirer of Coleshill as well as Jones’s authorship of the house at a time when Jones and Burlington were key figures in the architectural canon. It demonstrates the construction of a mythography of Coleshill which passed unchallenged into subsequent narratives of the house.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationNational Trust Historic Houses and Collections Annual
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Coleshill House


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