Plans For Wardour Castle Are Centrepiece Of Family Archive

By Corinne Field | 02 January 2004
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Shows a black and white drawing of a plan for new Wardour Castle.

Photo: Plan of new Wardour Castle. Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, Trowbridge.

It was a marathon task that has taken ten years of painstaking cataloguing, conserving and preserving by staff at Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office in Trowbridge. But now the Arundell family archives are complete.

The centrepiece of what is a major archive, is a set of sumptuous designs for the new Wardour Castle, built in the popular Palladian style during the 1770s.

The plans provide a fascinating insight into European architectural styles of the period.

Shows a black and white drawing of an ornate altar.

Photo: A plan of the altar in the chapel. Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, Trowbridge.

Steve Hobbs, archivist at Wiltshire County Council, says, "The plans for the new Wardour Castle are incredibly detailed."

"They contribute to our understanding of European architecture and design during the 18th century, as they include a wide range of ideas and schemes from which the actual plans were selected."

Shows a photo of a man wearing a green apron conserving one of the Wardour Castle plans.

Photo: Mervyn Grist, the conservator, working on the plans. Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, Trowbridge.

The archive contains over 500 drawings and designs for the castle, its fittings and furniture and include the plans for the spectacular chapel designed by Russian architect, Giacomo Quarenghi.

Preservation work involved removing the drawings from acidic backing paper and placing them in polyester film. Steve Hobbs explained that the acid was in danger of destroying the paper designs so it had to be removed. Now the plans are stored on acetates.

Several large estate maps, including one of Wardour Park from 1753, were also conserved and are available for the public to inspect.

Shows a black and white drawing of one of the plans for new Wardour Castle.

Photo: One of the plans for new Wardour Castle. Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, Trowbridge.

The Arundells, a wealthy, aristocratic, Wiltshire family, bought old Wardour Castle, now a picturesque ruin, in 1547.

They were supporters of the Royalists and, despite a valiant fight under siege during the Civil War, where Lady Blanche and only 25 armed men held out against the enemy for five days, the castle was seized by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War.

The Royalists and the family reclaimed the castle some months later but only at the cost of its destruction. Old Wardour Castle was abandoned and the Arundells moved into a house nearby before the new Wardour Castle was built in the 1770s.

Shows a photograph of new Wardour Castle as it is today, a grand building in magnificent grounds.

Photo: New Wardour Castle was built in the 1770s. Courtesy of Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, Trowbridge.

New Wardour Castle remained in the family until the death of the last Lord Arundell, John Francis, in World War II during which it was sold. It then became Cranbourne Chase, a girls' private school, until the 1990s when it was sold again, this time to developers who have turned it into luxury apartments.

The catalogue for the Arundell archive is available on the internet at www.a2a.pro.gov.uk.

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