Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 39020 21190


SPELSBURY DITCHLEY PARK SP3821-3921 18/165 Ditchley House including 27/08/57 flanking pavilions (Formerly listed as Ditchley Park Mansion)


Country house. 1722 by James Gibbs and built by Francis Smith for the 2nd Earl of Litchfield; interiors by William Kent, Henry Flitcroft, Vassali, Artari and Serena. Limestone ashlar; Welsh-slate roofs with ashlar stacks. Double-circuit plan with quadrant links to rectangular pavilions. 2 principal storeys plus attic storey and semi-basement; 2-storey pavilions. 11-window front of main range, with rusticated quoins rising from a basement plinth through 2 storeys to a heavy modillion cornice, breaks forward in the middle 3 bays, but the outer pairs of bays project to form short wings with windows in the inner return walls. Principal windows have 18-pane sashes with moulded eared architraves, projecting double-stepped keyblocks, and sills carried on consoles; central doorway, with a triangular-pedimented Gibbsian doorcase and large 8-panel double doors, is approached by a wide flight of steps with urns on the balustrade. Basement has plainer openings with moulded arrises; attic storey has 9-pane windows, with moulded architraves and single keyblocks, and it rises to a secondary cornice. Garden front is similar except that the doors are glazed. 7-window return fronts have similar details but break forward only in the middle 3 bays: left side has a further Gibbsian doorway approached by a bridge-stair with wrought-iron balustrade; right side, facing the Lion Court, has a full basement on which the entrance is concealed by a C20 wooden porch with paired rusticated Tuscan columns. Parapet has a variety of large stone urns marking angles and projections, except the front central section which has 2 lead figures (Loyalty and Fame) by Carpentier. Lower 7 x 5-bay pavilions have hipped roofs and tall cupolas. Windows have small-pane sashes and moulded architraves with projecting keyblocks, at first floor the keyblocks rising to a moulded cornice and plain parapet; central doorways have eared architraves and triangular pediments, the left doorway now altered to a window. Middle 3 bays at rear of pavilions are recessed. 5-bay single-storey quadrants have large sashes and Doric pilasters supporting a triglyph entablature. Left quadrant has a glazed colonnade to rear; 2-storey rear of right quadrant has a blind arcade with large sashes and Doric pilasters supporting a triglyph entablature. Left quadrant has a glazed colonnade to rear; 2-storey rear of right quadrant has a blind arcade with large projecting keyblocks. Lead rainwater heads are inscribed or "1722". Interior: 2-storey Hall, probably by Kent, on the theme "Learning", has a marble chimneypiece carved by Edward Stanton and Christopher Horsnaile below a triangular-pedimented overmantel on which recline personifications of Arts and Sciences; further figures appear on the pediments of a large niche opposite, flanked by Coriithian columns, and the related doorway to the Saloon. Chimneypiece and niche are flanked by lesser pedimented doorways and by lanterns apparently suspended by chains from lion masks. Above the lesser doors and the large pictures by Kent which flank the Saloon doors are busts on festooned brackets, and all around the upper part of the room are Classical reliefs. Coved and coffered ceiling has an oval painting by Kent. The settees and marble-topped side table are in the heavy style of Kent but may be by Henry Flitcroft. The Saloon, decorated by the Italian stuccatori, has paired ionic pilasters, a deep entablature, and a fine ceiling incorporting a central relief and portrait medallions. Flanking the Hall door are reliefs of Minerva and Diana, and an elaborate shell-headed niche, now containing a marble dolphin buffet, faces the chimneypiece. To left, the Green and White Drawing Rooms are by Flitcroft with fireplaces by Peter Scheemakers and Henry Cheere: the former retains its original ceiling and pedimented Corinthian overmantel; the latter, larger and more sumptuous, has a later Adam-style ceiling, but is otherwise intact with gilded cornice, scroll-pedimented overmantel, and elaborate plaster frames to portraits by Lely and Kneller. The Velvet Room, originally the state bedroom, has a fireplace by Cheere with pedimented overmantel, and is hung with Genoese velvet of c.1730. The Small Dining Room, formerly the Tapestry room, retains its original marble fireplace, and has a chinoiserie frieze to the ceiling cornice. The circuit to right of the Saloon passes through the Library, with 2 similar fireplaces by Horsnaile and Stanton, both with black Corinthian columns and formerly serving separate rooms, and then into plainer rooms, which, like the bedrooms, are complete with contemporary panelling and fireplaces. Principal staircases, enclosed by the 2 circuits, have 3 turned and fluted balusters to each tread; the 4 corner projections of the house each have a service stair. Ditchley is Gibbs's most important surviving country house, and remains one of the finest and most complete early-Georgian houses. (Country Life: October 22th 1904, p594, and June 9th and June 16th 1934, p590 and 620; Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: pp572-6)

Listing NGR: SP3907121196


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Sherwood, J , The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, (1974), 572-6
'Country Life' in 9 June, (1934), 590
'Country Life' in 16 June, (1934), 620
'Country Life' in 22 October, (1904), 594
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 34 Oxfordshire


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 25 Sep 2002
Reference: IOE01/08956/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Chris Tresise. Source Historic England Archive
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