21 December 2010

Get Inspired: Dogmersfield Park

The garden house at Dogmersfield Park, a great Hampshire estate. John Fowler's country house, The Hunting Lodge, was one of several follies on the property. Image originally published in Country Life, 27 April 1901.

A few recent emails about John Fowler's famous country house, The Hunting Lodge, led me to pick up the spade of research and go a-digging. One hears so much about the iconic British decorator's longtime Hampshire hideaway but almost nothing about the estate it once graced, Dogmersfield Park.

Fowler's immensely charming second home, for many years now a residence of interior decorator Nicholas Haslam, was built around 1740 or around 1770, depending on which scholar, book or historical document one prefers to believe. What is unquestionable is that it was constructed as one of several follies decorating the landscape around the Palladian mansion at the heart of Dogmersfield Park, not far from the village of Odiham. At least one source states that The Hunting Lodge, an eye-catcher of eccentric loveliness, was nothing more than a fancy-fronted cottage for a gamekeeper, which is good enough for me until the issue can be further clarified. And as for the main house?

Dogmersfield Park, Odiham, Hampshire, England. Image from Country Life, 27 April 1901.

Seat of the Mildmay baronets and constructed in 1728, Dogmersfield Park — gutted by fire in the early 1980s and now renovated as a Four Seasons Hotel —was the subject of a deep, admiring profile in Country Life on 27 April 1901. Among the enticing photographs is one depicting a handsome pedimented stone garden house. Located behind the mansion at the end of a broad gravel path known as the Long Walk and flanked by ivy-clad, red-brick walls, it is a dream of a structure, apparently erected in the nineteenth century by Major Sir Henry Paulet St John Mildmay, 6th baronet (1853 — 1916). Or so the Country Life article infers. Crowning the two spacious arches that form the entrance is a curvaceous broken pediment ornamented with blocky obelisks capped with spheres. The interior of the garden house looks most inviting; a built-in painted-wood settee fills the three solid sides, with a large rectangular table parked at the center. The walls appear to be lined with encaustic tiles, and accenting the entrance, here and there, are glazed-ceramic Chinese garden stools.

I'd build garden house of Dogmersfield Park if I had the money. Though entirely out of painted wood, which would give it an American twist, don't you think?

The handsomely weathered garden house at Dogmersfield Park today, showing that its nineteenth-century tiles and painted settee remain in place. Photograph © Allan Soedring of Astoft.co.uk and used with permission.


P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

It wood be wonderful and especially the "blocky" obelisks.Perhaps an online AAL project foundation is needed about now- sign me up. We can get this done. pgt

home before dark said...

I love follies...inside and out. I think this would be quite the charmer. It could be the facade for your husband's outdoor shower (he has not paid me for that comment).

John J. Tackett said...

A non-masonry version could be charming, especially if you thought it a better match for your house. But if it is to be painted, I suggest substituting a cementious product instead of wood as possible. There is no difference in appearance after painting, but it will never rot, a great consideration when vegetation is associated. __ The Devoted Classicist

The Down East Dilettante said...

Every year I think I'll cobble together a little eyecatcher from some architectural salvage---a littel something that one can sit in, like this. Every year I don't.

God, that's wonderful

Colette said...

now a tragically outfitted Four Seasons...unbelievably overlit. Nevermind...it WAS wonderful indeed.

Tanya Boracay said...

What a beautiful garden house, i think the inside of this wall is full of gardening. I can't wait to see the next happen.

Just like to share with you a quote...

"Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk." - J.C. Penney

You can get more quotes at http://www.quotelandia.com

Penelope Bianchi said...

I would pick to live in the "fancy -fronted cottage of the gamekeeper"!!

If someone gave me my choice all the castles ........I would pick.........John Fowler's and the fab decorator of today! Tony Haslam.

both had such confidence! Who needs all that room?

Mc Mansions are so out in every way, shape and form!

Bravo for another post.......you are amazing....and don't think I will miss one!!


the designers muse said...

This looks like a beautiful estate. I don't think I've ever heard of it before. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

My husband & I were speaking about 'follies' on Sunday. I am fascinated by them and would love to read more about how they began. There are many scattered about Scotland that I hope to visit once we get moved.
I never tire of reading about the history of these great estates.

Thank you ~ Deb