As my ancestry calls me….I am a Buckingham by birth, and seem to be drawn to all things English with an amazing regularity. I have been told that to design a castle might be my dream job (who would not call that a dream job?!). But without a doubt I can recall early images of my Irish mother announcing that all things “English” were dreamily elegant and ultimately oozed glamour and style. This leads me to West Wycombe Park located in Buckinghamshire, UK….
The house- a sumptuous Palladian Villa- is a part of the National Trust, although it remains firmly in the hands- and is the family home of Sir Edward Dashwood and his family…all 5,000 acres of it. This Blue Drawing Room embraces all things English with examples of statuary, furniture and fine paintings.
The Music Temple- on an island in the lake and reachable only by boat- is another family favourite: “We use it for drinks parties and picnics.” Oh so English sounding…I just had to use their spelling of the word favorite. It DOES sound more elegant, doesn’t it?
Film-makers also find West Wycombe irrestible. ”Little Dorrit”, “Daniel Deronda”, “Cranford” and “The Duchess”- have all been made here. ”Colin Firth and Rupert Everett must have been here many times” says Edward Dashford. With its yellow-stone exteriors and pale blue doors, this is a house without an obvious front or back; although the west portico- the Dashwoods (pictured above in almost their entirety) front door- built by Nicholas Revett in 1771 is stunning, the earlier south-facing double colonnade, by architect John Donowell, is grander. In the summer, the family eats outside under the pillars, overlooked by a row of busts and the prostrate sculpture of a naked woman. I knew that I loved all things English. I am still in the market for designing the spaces within a castle…..
All images courtesy of House & Garden Magazine October issue.