Standlynch Park was built in 1733 by John James of Greenwhich for Sir Peter Vandeput, the North and South Wings were added in 1766 by John Wood of Bath with additions by Nicholas Revett, notably the Portico, for Henry Dawkins.
In 1813 the estate was acquired by Act of Parliament as a gift to Admiral Lord Nelson’s brother and heirs to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar victory of 1805 and the estate renamed Trafalgar Park.
The Nelson family sold Trafalgar Park in 1948; it has remained in private ownership and, since 1995, by City businessman Michael Wade.
A social and architectural history of Trafalgar Park:
Trafalgar Park was originally known as Standlynch Park when built for Sir Peter Vandeput in 1733 to designs by John James of Greenwich as a villa overlooking the River Avon.
Domesday - Tudor – Elizabethan – Stuart periods:
Standlynch is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Standlynch Manor which was situated beside Standlynch Church and the River Avon. During the Tudor period the Standlynch estate was owned by the Beachamp family followed by the Greene family through the Elizabethan reign; by the 17th Century the Bucklands . The Church, still part of the estate today, was itself founded in 1146 and rebuilt in 1677 by Maurice Buckland’s wife, Joan, in memory of her father, Col. John Penruddock.
Maurice Bockland had married Joanne, the 3rd daughter of Col John Penruddock ( of Compton Chamberlayne ); in the midst of the Civil War Col Penrodock (sic) was ‘executed in the King’s Cause having been captured by Cromwell’s forces and taken to Exeter in 1655 – he had lead the uprising against Cromwell in Salisbury as a prominent member of the secret Sealed Knot society seeking a return of the Stuart monarchy.
So Standlynch Manor was close to the heart of the Royalists during the Civil War and probably a frightening place to live during the period known as the Interregnum by them – but as the Protectorate Parliament by the Cromwell Roundheads. They would have been much relieved by the Restoration ( of the Stuart monarchy ) in 1660.
In 1726 Sir Peter Vandeput, who had received his baronetcy in 1723, purchased the Standlynch estate probably due to the close proximity to Longford Castle, just three miles away, which had been acquired by the Bouverie family in 1717 – both were Huguenot families and had fled the Duke of Alva’s religious persecution in France and the Low Countries. The Bouveries and the Vandeputs had been successful merchants in the City and had moved to Twickenham.
Sir Peter must have intended to re-model Standlynch Manor as he commissioned Charles Bridgeman to create a new garden layout with walkways, formal grounds and a ‘Roman’ amphitheatre – which commenced but was abandoned in favour of building a new much grander ‘villa’ on the crest of the hill. So it is probable that Sir Peter wanted a country villa as a place at which to entertain and visit rather than run as a country estate. The manor and village were demolished to ensure proper views for the new house down to the River and the hills beyond – with only the Church and Mill surviving.
John James of Greenwich had gained great respect as an architect by designing St. George’s Church in Hanover Square and the re-building of Twickenham Church – which is most likely how he met Sir Peter whose sister had married the architect, Roger Morris. James was inspired by the works of Inigo Jones which is why he commissioned the marble bust of Jones to be placed above the principal fireplace in the Baroque Hall at Standlynch. He followed the design of the Queen’s House, Greenwich with a substantial 30-foot cube plastered Hall to impress the visitor upon arrival.
In 1748 Sir Peter died, leaving Standlynch Park to his son George who also inherited the baronetcy; however, Sir George Vandeput had ambitions to enter Parliament, and, in an expensive bid to oust the sitting MP for Westminster, was left financially stretched – which resulted in his selling the estate to Sir William Young in 1752; a number of important baroque plasterwork ceilings where added by him. Upon his appointment as President of the Commission for the Sale of Lands in the Ceded Islands ( in the West Indies ) he sold Standlynch to Henry Dawkins in about 1764.
Sir William Young and his family
Henry Dawkins and his brother James were born on their father’s sugar plantation on Jamaica; Henry had completed his Grand Tour in 1750. James Dawkins had travelled extensively with Robert Wood discovering the ruins of Palmyra and visiting the ruins of Balbec; they also sponsored James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and Nicholas Revett on their trip to Athens and Delos.
Henry Dawkins married Lady Juliana Colyear ( daughter of the Earl of Portmore ), became the Member of Parliament for Southampton, and acquired Standlynch Park. In 1766 he transformed the ‘villa’ into the ‘country house’ that we enjoy today by commissioning John Wood the Younger ( of Bath ) to add a pair of substantial pavilions to the North and South. Further, he engaged Nicholas Revett to embellish the house, including the new Portico, Library and internal plasterwork. Revett took the design for the Portico directly from the Temple of Apollo on Delos and introduced a classical ‘monumental’ corridor into the North Wing – thereby bringing some of the first examples of the Greek Revivalist period in England. The highly fashionable Giovanni Battista Cipriani was commissioned to paint the Music Room in which he depicted the Arts, Venus and Shakespeare. Also within the painting is a sketch of the Music Temple which Revett went on to build at West Wycombe Park together with the substantial West Portico for Sir Francis Dashwood in 1770 – a fellow member of the Society of Dilettante.
Henry Dawkins ( left ) and Nicholas Revett ( right )
Henry Dawkins had eight sons and three daughters. This might leave one to surmise that he used and enjoyed Standlynch to the full, embracing his family, Jacobite politics and the Dilettante. By the time of his death, in 1814, Dawkins also owned estates in Wales and Oxfordshire and under the terms of his Will commanded the Standlynch estate to be sold. The estate was then purchased by the Nation and given to the heirs of Nelson that same year.
The pinnacle and final act of Admiral Viscount Nelson was encapsulated at the Battle of Trafalgar off the Spanish Coast in 1805. His death and great victory had captured the imagination of the British people who wanted to honour him. Horatio Nelson’s colourful personal life left behind his widow but no children by the marriage; the Admiral’s famous relationship with Lady Hamilton left illegitimate issue in the form of Horatia. The closest male relative was Horatio’s elder brother, the Rev. William Nelson who, by all accounts, was a somewhat pushy and ungenerous character. Nevertheless, he was created Earl Nelson in 1806 and assumed Horatio’s other titles including the Duke of Bronte in Sicily.
But what was an Earl to do without an estate ? This was a point consistently made by the new Earl Nelson until Parliament eventually, by special Act, agreed to fund the purchase of a suitable estate in 1813 to be a lasting tribute to Admiral Nelson and the heirs of his family. In 1814, the Standlynch estate became identified as the appropriate gift which Parliament had required the name of ‘Trafalgar’ to be instated. Thereafter, the name of Trafalgar House or Trafalgar Park appeared on all subsequent maps and the Earl was installed into a life to which he became comfortably accustomed.
Bust of Admiral Lord Nelson on the Staircase Hall
The pronunciation of ‘Trafalgar’ must also be understood – for it takes the Spanish form of ‘Traf – al – gaar’ which is how Nelson would have recognised it. In turn, the Spanish took the word from the Arabic description of the Bay to the West of Cadiz – literally, ‘the peninsula of the furthest point’ that is ‘ Al Taraf al alghar’ ( Taraf means peninsula in Arabic).
Victorian - Edwardian
Earl Nelson’s male heir had died in 1808; despite a second marriage to Hilare there remained no male heir, and so, upon his death in 1835, the estate was passed to Thomas Bolton, the son of the Nelsons’ sister, Susannah, who changed his family name to Nelson and inherited the Earldom. He had already married Frances Eyre who owned to adjoining estate - but he died later that same year and so his son, Horatio, the 3rd Earl at the age of 12 inherited Trafalgar Park. The 3rd Earl played a long and active role in his local community, commissioned William Butterworth to remodel Standlynch Church and lay out a new garden plan for the house as seen now. He married Lady Mary Jane Diana, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Normanton, of Somerley. He died at the age of 90 in 1913 – and the obelisk erected in his memory- by which time two of his sons had predeceased him without issue. ( The first Earl Nelson’s daughter, Charlotte, married Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bridport – and it was she that succeeded the Dukedom of Bronte upon his death in 1835 and thence by decent with the Bridport viscountcy ).
Thomas, the third son became 4th Earl was a Roman Catholic, through his mother, Mary, and so had Standlynch Church rededicated to Mary Queen of Angels and St. Michael and All the Angels in 1914, served by a resident priest. In 1929 he purchased the panelling of the Captain’s Cabin of the HMS Ganges, built in 1821, which was being broken up. He installed the panelling in the principal top floor room at Trafalgar. During the Second World War the North and South Wings were occupied by tenants with the Nelson brothers in the main house. Following the death of Thomas in 1947, his brother, Edward, the 5th Earl, inherited the estate. A combination of Death Duties and the cancellation of the annual Government Nelson Pension, granted in 1806, by the incoming post-War Labour Administration caused the estate was put up for sale.
In 1948 the 10th Duke of Leeds acquired Trafalgar Park largely as a tax mitigation arrangement. His son in law, Oliver Lyttleton, became the Duke’s tenant and pursued a political career in the House of Commons before being elevated to the Lords as Viscount Chandos. However, in 1953, the estate had been sold to the neighbouring Longford Castle estate of Viscount Folkestone ( later the 8th Earl of Radnor ) leaving its sitting tenant in the house on rather favourable terms – which led to the house being sold to Oliver Lyttleton slightly acrimoniously with just 10 acres of land.
Viscount Chandos sold Trafalgar House in 1971 to City financier, Jeremy Pinckney, who lived there with his family until 1977 when he sold it to Tertius Murray-Threipland. The Stable Block was converted into offices for Mr. Murray-Threipland’s business and he married Claire, Countess of Pembroke, who moved into Trafalgar with their children by previous respective marriages including her son, William, the current Earl of Pembroke of Wilton House. In 1992 the house was sold to Mr. Gunnar Bengtsson – a Swedish entrepreneur with a passion for Nelson who owned such hotels as the Victory and Lady Hamilton in Stockholm. His plans to convert the house and stable block fell victim to the economic recession – and so the house was again put on the market.
In 1995 Michael Wade, another City merchant - from the Lloyd’s insurance market – acquired the house but after three years unoccupied was now in a poor state of repair. The North Wing had been dis-used since 1948 and was deteriorating rapidly; the South Wing largely abandoned and the centre block, electricity disconnected, in need of refurbishment and restoration.
Michael Wade is a descendent of a long line of shipbuilders – who ships included building the HMS Ganges – and whose Coat of Arms opposite includes the HMS Asia launched in 1824. He married Dr Caroline Dashwood, the daughter of Sir Francis Dashwood Bt of West Wycombe in 1997 and so their son, Alexander, already has some interesting associations with Trafalgar Park emanating from both sides of his family.
Michael Wade and his son, Alexander, demonstrating the latter had overtaken his father in height during 2013 !
A helpful relationship was struck with the Longford Estate which enabled vital parkland to be transferred back to the estate in 1996 together with Standlynch Church under a single ownership by the new Trafalgar Park Trust; in turn this enabled a new driveway to be constructed in 1998 from the East across the repatriated park and the parkland opened up adjacent to the house – and the estate reviving its name of Trafalgar Park.
Recent & current works…
Mains water was installed in 1998 and all key roofing repairs executed; this has been followed by the restoration of the Cipriani Room and Saloon. The 1950’s kitchen and breakfast room were removed in 2003 from the South Wing corridor link thereby restoring the walkway through to the C18th Dining Room – and a family kitchen created in the South Wing also giving the house a practical secondary entrance. The collapsed South Wing ground-works have been rebuilt with an 18th Century balustrade in a design taken from Croome Court.
Permission to construct a pair of lodges at the new driveway has been granted and the south Stable Block has been refurbished as offices. There are plans to restore the Standlynch Church windows and building for occasional use. One day it might be possible to bring in more of the parkland and replant to a coherent tree plan for future generations – so an unfolding vision is developing.
Since 1995 a range of activities have taken place at Trafalgar Park; films such as Sense & Sensibility, Emma and 28 Days Later and others have been made, numerous charitable events have been hosted for local organisations involving thousands of visitors, occasional musical events, conferences and weddings also take place. Visiting groups are welcomed by prior arrangement. Trafalgar Park is now evolving a new role within its community whilst also generating income to sustain it.
…and to the future
As with many of Britain’s great private houses it is necessary for them to adapt the architecture for successor generations to enable the buildings, rather than the land, to earn funds both to improve and maintain them.
In the case of Trafalgar Park, perhaps the main conundrum relates to its North Wing. Practically derelict for over 50 years, the most useful facility would be to remodel the interior to create a ballroom – which could be used for concerts, dinners, conferences and other income generating events appropriate for the house. Some heritage experts seek restoration of the suite of rooms to the C18th plan. The unresolved debate rumbles on.
A history of Standlynch Church – owned by Trafalgar Park Trust:
Roman & Doomsday period settlements:
There is evidence of a Roman settlement at Standlynch and in the Great Doomsday Book of 1086 there are several references to people resident at Standlynch; William de Falaise and Alweard. Also Alwig, son of Thorbiorn.
Standlynch Church founded in 1147:
The Church was founded in approximately 1147 as a dependency of Downton Church – in turn, the See of Winchester. Within the present building the nave and chancel probably date from c 14 origins and was of a Romanesque plan.
Standlynch Church would have been at the centre of this hamlet life through the Middle Ages with the Manor located beside it and the village along the plateau overlooking the River Avon. The Beachamp and Greene families are recorded as owners of Standlynch Manor; then by the c17 the Bockland family.
In 1677 Standlynch Church was re-modelled by Joane Bockland – no doubt with the support of her husband Maurice – in memory of her father, Col Penruddock – following the Restoration in 1660. She was to die of ‘the Collic’ in 1688 ironically the same year that the Stuarts were once again deposed.
The c14th Perpendicular chancel arch has two orders of shafts with a hollow flanked by two tabernacle niche enclosing small lierne vaults. This was all was retained and a new flint and stone structure embraced the Bockland Coat of Arms and the date – 1677 – in arabic numerals on the West wall. Lower there is a stone in roman numerals of MDCLXXVII. There was a central doorway on the South wall.
Monument to Joane Bockland & Col John Penruddock
The Memorial Plaque to Joane is beautifully carved in marble with heartfelt message signed as “MB” her widower had inscribed and reads: To the memory of his beloved Wife Joane the 3rd Daughter of Coll. John Penrodock of Compton Esq ( who was beheaded for the Ks. Cause ) who brought forth 3 Sons & 6 Daughters and one Son abortive of wch & the Collic she dyed the 10th of Jan 1688/9 in a deep sense of her Virtue, & Pious zeal for Rebuilding this little Church. Founded in the year 1147 wth a gratefull but sad hart. This Monument was Erected by her Ever Loving M.B.
In 1725 the Standlynch Estate was sold to Sir Peter Vandeput; although initial plans were drawn up to refurbish the Manor and extensive new gardens; however, the favoured plan was to build a new ‘villa’ sited on the crest of the hill above Standlynch. So in 1733 the new Standlynch House was built, the Manor demolished together with the entire village as otherwise this would interfere with Sir Peter’s view ! The only surviving buildings were the Church and Standlynch Mill built by Maurice Bockland in 1698. The villagers were sent across the River Avon to settle in Charlton.
At this time the role of Standlynch Church changed; the new owner was more of a summer visitor to his new Villa. He died in 1748 and was succeeded by his son George but who was fighting both political and financial disaster – his creditors selling to Sir William Young. It was not until 1766 that Henry Dawkins acquired the estate and added the wings to the Villa to enable it to become a family country house and known thereafter as Standlynch Park – and with the Church enjoying more frequent use.
In 1813 the Standlynch estate was acquired by Act of Parliament, following the death of Henry Dawkins the previous year, for Rev William Nelson the brother of Admiral Viscount Nelson. Having been made Earl Nelson in 1806, after the Battle of Trafalgar, he had campaigned to have the family recognised further by seeking an appropriate country estate. The Law required the estate to be named ‘Trafalgar’ and hence the house & park have been known as Trafalgar Park ever since. The church, however, retained its description as Standlynch Church.
Monument to William, 1st Earl Nelson
The 1st Earl Nelson died in 1835 and is buried in St Paul’s with Sarah, his first wife – and beside his illustrious brother, Horatio, Viscount Nelson; above the entrance at Standlynch Church there is a marble Memorial to this effect.
By 1846 the 3rd Earl Nelson had begun to restore, and re-model, Standlynch Church installing the gothic windows and later in 1859 under the direction of William Butterfield moving the entrance to the West with a porch entrance ( within which there are Memorials to Charles Welbore Ellis Agar and to Edward Foyle Nelson ). Wood panelling was fitted below window levels.
Meanwhile, in 1851 a new church was funded by the 3rd Earl Nelson for Charlton – which became Charlton-all-Saints; by this kind gesture the villagers no longer needed to walk across to Standlynch via footbridges over the River Avon. The consequence for Standlynch Church was that it was, once again, almost a private chapel for Trafalgar Park.
Monuments within the new Porch:
Charles Welbroke Ellis Agar was the son of the 2nd Earl of Normanton ( of Somerley House near Ringwood ); he had died from his wounds on 18th June 1855 received in Action at Sebastopol and was buried in the Crimea. ( He was the brother of Lady Mary Jane Diana Agar who had married the 3rd Earl Nelson ).
Rev Edward Foyle Nelson was the 4th son of the 2nd Earl Nelson ( and brother of 3rd Earl ); he died on 8th September 1859 of “…a fever and from over exertion in discharge of his duties as Curate of Wantage, Berks”
Monument to Thomas, 2nd Earl Nelson and the Nelson family:
On the north wall there is an important gothic Monument to the Nelson family by Osmond; whilst dedicated to the 2nd Earl who had succeeded his Uncle by special arrangement via Horatio and William’s sister, Susannah, it refers back to their father, the Rev Edmund Nelson of Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk. Susannah’s husband, Thomas Bolton, had changed his name to Nelson – and it was their son who was then to inherit and succeed to the Nelson titles ( with the exception of the Dukedom of Bronte which passed through the female line from the 1st Earl’s daughter who had married Viscount Bridport ).
The Monument, therefore, respects Nelson’s father, brother and sister – and their subsequent decedents. It reads: In the Vault of this Chapel are buried the Remains of The Right Honourable Thomas Nelson, Earl Nelson, of Trafalgar, and of Merton, in the County of Surrey; Viscount Merton, Baron Nelson of the Nile,& of Hilborough, in the county of Norfolk; A Magistrate & Deputy Lieutenant of this county, and M.A. in the University of Cambridge. He was born July 7th 1786, the eldest & subsequently the only surviving son of Thomas Bolton, of Burnham, Esquire, by Susannah, his Wife, the eldest daughter of the Rev’d. Edmund Nelson, M.A., Rector of Hilborough, and of Burnham Thorpe, in the county of Norfolk. He married Febry. 21st. 1821, Frances Elizabeth, the only daughter & heiress of John Maurice Eyre, of Landford, in this county, Esquire, and (by the marriage of her great grandfather, of the same name, with Jane, the daughter of Maurice Bocland, of Standlynch, Esqre.,) the lineal descendant of the ancient Lords of this Manor. In the year 1834 he served the office of High Sheriff for the county of Wilts, and on the death of his maternal uncle William Earl Nelson, without issue male, he succeeded to the Peerage, and to this Estate, which was purchased by the King & Parliament, to commemorate the services of his uncle, Vice Admiral Horatio Viscount Nelson, K.B.. In fulfilling the duties of his life and station, he invariably preserved & fostered the attachment of his family, and obtained the regard and confidence of those with whom he acted. His conduct towards his dependants was considerate & indulgent, towards his neighbours and associates honourable & consistent, towards his Wife, his children, and his relations, peculiarly kind and affectionate; and in sustaining during a lingering illness the slow but certain approaches of death, he exemplified in an eminent degree to those around him piety, patience, and fortitude of a Christian. He died leaving five sons and two daughters, Novr. 1st. 1835, in the 50th. Year of his Age.
The burial vault has been used over many centuries – although not since the 1930s; it is covered by a polychrome inlaid stone - possibly designed by Butterfield. We know that Bocklands, Vandeputs and Nelsons have all, with their families, been set to rest within the Vault.
Many will have been buried within the Churchyard over the centuries although there is only evidence of the Nelson family with a set of relatively contemporary memorial stones for the 3rd Earl and his family.
The gothic windows were added as a part of the re-modelling of the building in 1846 and then further under Butterfield in 1859.
Dedication 20th June 1914
The 4th Earl Nelson had converted to Roman Catholicism; upon inheritance he rededicated Standlynch Church to Mary Queen of Heaven and St Michael and All Angles in memory of his mother Mary Jane Diana ( daughter of the 2nd Earl of Normanton ). A marble black and while floor was installed together with alterations to the north vestry.
Since the departure of the Nelson family in 1947 the Church became disused and fell into a state of disrepair as it was separated in ownership from the House in 1953;
It is difficult to know what future role this wonderful little building might play; conversion to a cottage has often been suggested although this seems to be such a denial of its historic centre of Standlynch. Perhaps it should remain a monument to the past with the occasional concert or dinner – or an artists studio – or some gentle on-going use. In any case, it remains a very welcome reunion to Trafalgar Park again in the 1990s