DiCamillo Companion

Cornbury Park (Cornbury House) (Blandford House)

  • Earlier Houses: There was a hunting lodge (probably 14th century) on the site, elements of which may have been incorporated into the current house.

    House & Family History: Cornbury was originally situated in the Royal Forest of Wychwood and has a long history as a hunting lodge. It was described as "built of stone and timber" in 1337; the earliest part of the current house is 16th century. Traditionally the rangership of Cornbury Park was granted to court favorites. In 1617 Henry Danvers, 1st Earl of Danby, was granted the rangership and began to remodel the house in 1631. His new additions, completed in 1633, included a south-facing seven-bay wing that was one of the earliest examples in England of a classically-fronted country house. Cornbury is an interesting amalgam of many stylistic influences, including Serlio, Wren, and The Mauritshuis in The Hague (see photo in "Images" section). In 1661 the Cornbury Estate was granted to Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, notable today as the author of the most influential contemporary history of the English Civil War, "The History of the Rebellion." Clarendon was lord chancellor and virtual prime minister of Britain after the restoration of Charles II in 1660. Clarendon's daughter, Anne, married the king's brother, the Duke of York (later James II), without permission, which caused a great scandal; Clarendon survived this and remained in power until 1667, when he was forced into exile. The popular 1998 book "An Instance of the Fingerpost" by Iain Pears has focused considerable attention on the Earl of Clarendon (1609-74), who figures prominently in the book, which weaves fact and fiction. The interiors of the house were drastically remodeled circa 1850; around this same time a porte-cochère was added to the east façade and an Italianate tower erected, both by an unknown architect (both of these additions were removed by John Belcher, 1901-06). The east façade is an impressive eleven bays with a pedimented Corinthian centerpiece. The Watney family, owners of Cornbury for much of the 20th century, made their fortune in brewing. It was at Cornbury, on his way to Buxton to take the baths, that Elizabeth I's favorite, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, died on September 4, 1588. In 2016 the 3rd Lord Rotherwick sold a 10-year lease on the house for £3.6 million to David Howden.

    Collections: Van Dyck's "Catherine Howard, Lady d’Aubigny" was in the collection of the 3rd Earl of Clarendon (1661-1723, first creation) at Cornbury. The painting (see "Images" section) was sold by the 5th Earl of Clarendon (second creation, 1846–1914) in 1909, when it entered the Widener Collection. The remaining contents of Cornbury were sold in a sale in 1967. Humphrey Whitbread purchased a bronze bust of Oliver Cromwell by Michael Rysbrack for £1,200 at the 1967 sale. This same bust was sold at Christie's on April 5, 2001, with an estimate of £50,000-80,000.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Cornbury Estate spans 6,500 acres of the most ancient forest in Britain and is today a protected environment for native wildlife. The stables by May (his first known work) are so grand, with 14 bays and a pedimented centerpiece, that they look like a country house in their own right. There are two square Queen Anne style Lodges, built by John Belcher between 1901 and 1906. In 1664 John Evelyn helped the 2nd Earl of Clarendon layout the grounds of Cornbury.

    Chapel & Church: The chapel projects from the back of the south wing of the house and is generally considered the best late 17th century interior in the county (outside of Oxford). The chapel, noted for its coved plasterwork ceiling, is of national importance.

  • Architect: Nicholas Stone

    Date: 1632-33
    Designed: Partly rebuilt House for 1st Earl of Danby

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    Architect: William Talman

    Date: 1689
    Designed: Together with George London, added wall between East Wing and Stables, forming an Entrance Court.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: George London

    Date: 1689
    Designed: Together with William Talman, added wall between East Wing and Stables, forming an Entrance Court.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: John Belcher

    Date: 1901-06
    Designed: Remodeled interiors; removed Italinate tower and porte-cochère on East front, added 2 Queen Anne style Lodges.

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    Architect: Hugh May

    Date: 1663-68
    Designed: Remodeled house, rebuilt West Front, added Stables (the architect's first known work) for Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon.

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  • Country Life: CVIII, 922, 1950.

  • Title: Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1990
    Author: Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David (Editors)
    Year Published: 1990
    Reference: pg. P 1056
    Publisher: London: Debrett's Peerage Limited (New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc.)
    ISBN: 0312046405
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: An Instance of the Fingerpost
    Author: Pears, Iain
    Year Published: 2000
    Reference: pg. 688
    Publisher: New York: Riverhead Books
    ISBN: 1573227951
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Blenheim Revisited: The Spencer-Churchills and their Palace
    Author: Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pg. 92
    Publisher: New York: Beaufort Books
    ISBN: 0825302978
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, The
    Author: Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus
    Year Published: 1974
    Publisher: London: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0140710450
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II*

  • "Blakes 7" (1980 - TV series, aka "Blake's 7," episode 3.8, "Rumours of Death," as Residence One, Servalan's palace on Earth). "Inspector Morse" (1991 - TV series, episode 5.4, "Greeks Bearing Gifts," as the home of the shipping millionaire restaurant owner). "Trees and Me" (2006 - TV documentary by Michael Heseltine, aka "Heseltine on Trees," with a brief interview of Lord Rotherwick). "Father Brown" (2014 – TV series, as the Gerard family home in the episode "The Prize of Colonel Gerard"). "Father Brown" (2016 – TV series, as Lady Felicia's country house in the episode "The Star of Jacob").
  • Current Seat / Home of: David Howden (since 2016, as tenant of Lord Rotherwick)

    Past Seat / Home of: Robin Cayzer, 3rd Baron Rotherwick, until 2016.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Limited Access to Grounds Only

    Phone: 01608-811-276

    Fax: 01608-811-252

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.cornburypark.co.uk/

    Historic Houses Member: No