Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Eaton Hall, Cheshire — the Seat of the Marquis of Westminster (1803), designed by W. Porden. Drawing from Eastlake, facing p. 77. Image scan and text by George P. Landow. [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.]

Commentary by Charles L. Eastlake (1872)

One of the most important attempts at Pointed architecture of this date is Eaton Hall, Cheshire, the seat of the Marquis of Westminster. In design it is a mixture of Early and Late Gothic. It was built on the site of an old mansion, erected by Sir Thomas Grosvenor in the reign of King William. The later structure was designed by Mr. Porden, an architect whose name has been long forgotten, but who, no doubt, had considerable practice in his day. It was probably finished quite early in this century, for a full account of it is given in the "Monthly Magazine" for September 1814.

The South-east view presents a large quadrangular block of buildings irregularly divided into bays by buttresses and turrets. It is three storeys in height, with a battlemented parapet running round the main walls. The windows were filled with tracery, but the latter was executed in cast iron, moulded on both sides, and grooved to receive the glass. The walls, balustrades, battlements, and pinnacles, are of a light-coloured stone. The principal entrance to the house is in the middle of the west front, under a vaulted portico, which admits a carriage to the steps leading to the hall, a spacious and lofty apartment occupying the height of two storeys, and roofed by a vaulted ceiling. The pavement is of coloured marble arranged in geometrical patterns. At the end of the hall a screen of five arches supports a gallery that connects the bed-chambers on the north side of the house with those on the south. Under this gallery two open arches to the right and left conduct to the grand staircase, and opposite to the door of the hall is the entrance to the saloon. The grand staircase itself is enriched with canopied niches, and with groining under the landings and skylight. The second staircase was constructed of cast iron, after a design which no doubt was then considered very appropriate. The saloon forms a square on plan about thirty feet each way. Fan tracery, executed in plaster (but now removed), sprang from attached columns at the angles and sides of the room to receive the vault, which in plan was nearly octagonal. On the right and left are little vestibules which must be passed to reach the drawing-room and dining-room. The windows of these rooms are tracerled and filled with painted glass. The dining-room at the north extremity of the east front is about fifty feet long. The ceiling was panelled, and a central pendant was constructed to carry a chandelier. The drawing-room occupies the south extremity of the east front, and is of the same form and general dimensions as the dining-room, with the addition of a large window (now blocked up) which had a southern aspect. The library is in the centre of the south front; its ceiling and large bow window being decorated in character with the other features above mentioned. It is fitted up with oak. In the principal facades, the windows are pointed, and many have ogival hood-mouldings. The middle window of the saloon opens on a vaulted cloister, occupying the space between the dining-room and drawing-room, and from the cloister a flight of steps leads to a spacious terrace. The size of this building alone would make it imposing, but the distribution of parts, as in many efforts of that day, is more suited to the outline of an Italian composition than that of a Gothic design, while the character of the details is of a pseudo-ecclesiastical kind. Indeed, here as in many other contemporary examples of the Revival, it is evident that the architect sought his inspiration in the churches rather than in the domestic architecture of the Middle Ages. The noble mansions of old England had still to be studied. [77-78; emphasis added|


Eastlake, Charles L. A History of the Gothic Revival. London: Longmans, Green; N.Y. Scribner, Welford, 1972. [Copy in Brown University's Rockefeller Library]

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Last modified 7 February 2008