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© Mrs A H Jacobs

IoE Number: 248315
Location: NUNEHAM PARK,
  NUNEHAM COURTENAY, SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE, OXFORDSHIRE
Photographer: Mrs A H Jacobs
Date Photographed: 16 September 2002
Date listed: 18 July 1963
Date of last amendment: 19 August 1986
Grade II*

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NUNEHAM COURTENAYNUNEHAN PARKSU549812/78Nuneham House18/07/63(Formerly listed as NunehamPark)

NUNEHAM COURTENAY NUNEHAN PARK SU5498 12/78 Nuneham House 18/07/63 (Formerly listed as Nuneham Park) 6V II* Country house, now conference centre. 1757 by Stiff Leadbetter for the 1st Earl Harcourt, interior by James Stuart; altered 1781 by Lancelot Brown and Henry Holland for the 2nd Earl; extended 1832 by Sir Robert Smirke for Archbishop Harcourt. Limestone ashlar; Welsh-slate roofs with ashlar stacks. Double-depth main block with quadrant links to pavilions; south pavilion enlarged. 3 storeys plus attic and 3-storey pavilions. Symmetrical 7-window front breaks forward in the middle 3 bays below a triangular pediment enclosing an oculus, now flanked by a balustraded parapet of 1904. Original cornice survives. Second-floor windows have moulded architraves and are probably enlarged. Lower-floor openings were destroyed by a 2-storey projecting extension of 1904 built above Smirke's rusticated 3-bay entrance arcade. Hipped roof has added dormers at sides. 2-storey quadrant links have an arcaded ground floor. Pavilions, of 3 by 3 bays, have, at first floor, a plain storey band, a moulded sill band and moulded architraves; the upper floor and cornice was added by Brown and the plain parapets by Smirke. The left pavilion is extended. 5-window return wall to right of the main block has 2 floors of architraved sashes over a projecting arcaded ground floor added by Brown. 3-window left return wall has a similar terrace above which a Venetian window is flanked by arched sashes, originally shown as square-headed. The garden front has a projecting middle section with sashes in its canted sides but with 3 Venetian windows in the central and flanking bays. These have arches breaking through the frieze and cornice in the manner of Hadrian's Aqueduct at Athens and have Greek-Ionic columns - "the first direct quote from Ancient Greece in English architecture" (Worsley) and the first use of that order. The 9-window garden front of the extended south pavilion breaks forward twice in a 4:1:3:1 arrangement, with a triangular pediment above the 3-bay section which also has cornices on its first floor architraves. Interior: Holland's oval 3-storey staircase has a cantilevered stone stair with a wrought-iron balustrade, and has plaster panelled walls with fruit-and-flower drops. The ceiling has large festoons in the cove and an oval domelight. It was built to give access to the piano nobile after the removal of Leadbetter's external double staircase. Stuart's Great Drawing Room has a compartmented ceiling, modelled on the Banqueting House, and the windows have fluted Ionic columns and pilasters. The marble fireplace, traditionally ascribed to the artist Paul Sandby, has a frieze of medallions and festoons, matching that of the room, and has recently been attributed to Stuart. The Octagonal Salon, with its high coved ceiling, also has rich decoration by Stuart, later embellished by Holland. The C18 fireplace is a recent addition. The Dining Room, as re-modelled and enlarged by Holland, retains Stuart's fine marble fireplace which has an eared egg-and-dart architrave, a large dentil cornice supported on lion-mask consoles, and a deep frieze containing medallions and crossed torches. The compartmented ceiling has lost Holland's festoons from the cove. The extension to the room is marked by 2 scagliola Composite columns in antis. Many other rooms, including Smirke's extension, have fine doorcases, fireplaces and coved ceilings. Leadbetter's design was illustrated in Vitrivius Brittanicus. The house, conceived as a villa in a Classical setting, became the focus of one of Brown's first landscapes. (Nunehan Park is included in the HBMC County Register of Gardens at Grade I; V.C.H.: Oxfordshire, Vol.V, p.234; Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, pp.726-8; G. Worsley, "Nuneham Park Revisited I"; Country Life: Vol.177, 1985, pp.16-19; M. Batey: Nuneham Courtenay, 1970).

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