Wotton House
Wotton House, or Wotton, the manor house in Wotton Underwood (Buckinghamshire, UK), was rebuilt from the ground up between 1704 and 1714, to a design very similar to that of the contemporary version of Buckingham House, as it is known from engravings. The architect is unknown, but John Fitch has been suggested. Since the twelfth century the manor house had been the principal seat of the Grenville family, a notable member of whom was George Grenville, the politician who served as Prime Minister between 1763 and 1765. Later radically altered, the house is nevertheless considered a fine example of English Baroque. A fire destroyed the content of the house in 1820. The only remaining Queen Anne buildings, after the main house had been gutted, were what used to be the stable and the kitchen wings. John Soane was employed to restore the main block in 1821-22. He reduced its height, giving an impression of increased width, and made inventive use of the existing rooms, in particular creating a two-storey, top-lit entrance hall. Sir Richard Grenville inherited in 1726 the estate at Wotton that yielded rental income of over £3000 per annum. At Wotton Capability Brown received his earliest employment in the south of England, 1739, in the kitchen garden of Sir Richard, who passed him, with high recommendation, to his son-in-law, Lord Cobham of Stowe, Bucks., where Brown first gained his fame. A bridge was designed for George Grenville by the gentleman architect Sanderson Miller in 1758; Miller's correspondence shows that he also designed an Octagon Seat and advised on other improvements, including the grotto. With its Soane interiors Wotton had a succession of Grenville occupiers until 1889, when the last direct male heir died, and thenceforward down through the Second World War (when it was not requisitioned), but it was put up for sale shortly thereafter. After the war much of the grounds were sold in small parcels and in the early 1950s the building was used by a boys' boarding school, which suddenly closed in 1953. Mrs Elaine Brunner thereupon bought it, and supervised extensive restoration work on the house through the rest of the 1950s; work on the remaining grounds followed. Work on restoring the house to Soane's original design continued, room after room being tackled since 1998. After the south pavilion of Wotton was sold off, the historian Arthur Bryant, and, later, the actor John Gielgud lived in it for many years; Gielgud died there. In 2008 it was bought by Tony and Cherie Blair for £4m. Mrs. Elaine Brunner purchased and restored only the main house and the substantial grounds to the front and rear. The Queen Anne stable wing (later re-christened the South Pavilion) and the walled formal garden were purchased by Tristram Gilbert and Andre DuGuay shortly before Elaine Brunner purchased the main house (which was to have been destroyed since it had no Queen Anne features). Weeds and brambles had so overtaken the walled garden that it was invisible.The South Pavilion was in an equally neglected state. Tristram Gilbert and Andre DuGuay restored both from about 1957 and lived there until about 1965. The walled garden was opened to the public.Because of their beauty and amazing acoustics,there were plans to use them for outdoor opera. They were then sold to Sir Arthur Bryant, the historian, then to Sir John Gielgud who, photographs show,further restored the South Pavilion from something of great beauty to something even greater. Of interest also are the several cottages that belonged to the Wotton Estate (the Gate Keeper's Cottage, the Laundry Cottages etc.). The renovation of the South Pavilion, inspired purchasers, who restored them, from the world of the arts including Sylvia Fisher the opera singer and her husband Ubaldo Gardini the violinist and opera language coach, Gus Sacher, the opera singing coach and his wife Mila and Winnie Bowman, an American lady. What had been a derelict estate came alive again. It is understood that it had been abandoned by Michael Beaumont, the last owner of the whole estate, because of the building by the then government of an underground rocket testing station in the fields to the front of Wotton House, the intermittent roaring noise from which could still be heard in the '60s, possibly even today.

Wotton House, Surrey
A second Wotton House (or Wotton Estate) exists outside of Dorking, Surrey; it was the family home of John Evelyn (1620”“1706), a diarist, landscape designer, and collector. That Wotton House in Surrey is currently owned by Principal Hayley Group. The gardens laid out by John Evelyn in the seventeenth century have been greatly altered.

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