The Clock Tower, Mount Felix

The Clock Tower, Mount Felix. Charles Barry, later Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860). Estate remodelled, 1837-40; main building demolished, 1967. Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. Photograph and text 2011 by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print one.]

Mount Felix was the residence of the Earl of Tankerville; the 5th Earl commissioned Charles Barry to improve the estate in 1837. Influenced by his travels in Italy, Barry redesigned the existing Georgian house to incorporate "a low pitched Roman tiled roof and a covered porch surmounted by a square tower about seventy feet high of three storeys, and a long entrance corridor" (Stonebanks 9). Leading off the corridor was an elegant stone staircase with an ornate ironwork balustrade. Iron was also used in the construction itself: the ceiling spans of the generously proportioned rooms were supported by great cast-iron beams.

Later occupants of Mount Felix included Herbert Ingram, founder of the Illustrated London News; an American banker, Russell Sturgis, who was visited here by Thackeray, Browning and others; and John Cook, whose father Thomas founded the famous travel company. Early in the next century it did service as an army hospital and as residential accommodation before disrepair and finally fire led to its demolition in 1967. "[A] building of such importance ought never to have been allowed to reach such a state," complained the Victorian Society in 1966 (qtd. in Stamp 176).

The clock tower, originally a bakehouse and brewery, then a coach house, is all that remains of Barry's work now. Situated to the east of where the main building once stood, it was remodelled to conform to it (see Storebanks 10), and gives us some idea of how impressive it must have been. This structure, complete with its eighteenth-century clock, has been handsomely restored for use as offices.

References

Stamp, Gavin. Lost Victorian Britain: How the Twentieth Century Destroyed the Nineteenth Century's Architectural Masterpieces. London: Aurum, 2010.

Stonebanks, John Archer. Mount Felix, Walton-on-Thames. Walton and Weybridge Local History Society, Paper no. 17, 1978.


Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts Victorian Architecture next

Last modified 3 April 2011