Chevening House , often just shortened to Chevening , is a country castle in the English county of Kent . The middle main house was built in the first half of the 17th century, its facade and the flanking side buildings in the 18th century. Possibly the main house was a work by Inigo Jones . The building is now the official residence of the British Foreign Secretary .
The building complex is located in a rural area in western Kent about five kilometers northwest of the city center of Sevenoaks , but still within the London ring road on the M25 and M26 to the east, which are tangent to the south . It is surrounded by 1,400 hectares large Chevening Park with some, partly baroque gardens and grounds. In the park is the so-called Chatham Vase , an urn-shaped memorial for William Pitt the Younger .
History and building history
The main house was built on the walls of a previous Elizabethan building for Richard Lennard, 13th Baron Dacre , who died in 1630. There are strong indications that the building came from Inigo Jones, so Colen Campbell expressly mentions the building in his Vitruvius Britannicus published in 1717 as originating from him. Also due to another, very similar building, completed in 1633, in the vicinity one can deduce the time and architectural form of Jones. If that were true, the building would be one of the first in English Palladianism . It is rather unpalladian in appearance, but this does not speak against a possible attribution to Jones: on the one hand, the facades were subsequently changed and on the other, Jones himself also worked more conventionally, for example when building the Newmarkt Palace . James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope bought the building and lands in 1715 and began adding the two side buildings and building the concave connecting elements from 1717. Its executive architect was Thomas Fort. James Wyatt changed the facade of the central building between around 1786 and 1796 on behalf of Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl Stanhope . James Richard Stanhope, 13th Earl of Chesterfield and 7th Earl Stanhope left the house with all its furnishings to the United Kingdom. A UK law, the Chevening Estate Act , regulates who can reside in the house. It would almost have served the current heir to the throne, Charles Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince of Wales as a residence if his temporary marriage with Amanda Knatchbull had come about, as is well known, he ultimately decided in favor of Lady Diana Spencer . After all, he visited the house a few times.
The exterior of the main house is eye-catching. Like the entire building complex, it is made of unplastered brickwork and has three floors, following the interior of the building. The three middle axes are additionally emphasized on the two upper floors by pilasters made of stucco according to the Ionic order , which gives the effect of a central projection in the actually flat facade . Nonetheless, the executed facade is considered "not very worth seeing". In the basement, the portal and the flanking windows are covered by round arches with keystones , this part of the facade is additionally decorated with what appears to be stone masonry; in fact, the upholstered blocks are made of ceramic tiles . The central axes are additionally emphasized by the simple triangular gable with round window . The roof was raised by a little over three meters around 1776/77. The facade edges are designed with corner blocks. The facades of the side buildings have arcade arches in the basement towards the courtyard , with the central projections actually being built. The forecourt is bordered by a more modern lattice arch with quite remarkable gates.
The building complex has a total of 115 rooms, the interior furnishings mostly come from the first half of the 18th century. First of all, the basement of the main house is worth mentioning. The load-bearing wall of the middle basement was once the facade of the Elizabethan house. On both sides of this room there are two almost square side rooms, here too the central pillars with the ribbed vaults are undoubtedly late Gothic . The staircase on the ground floor is remarkable, a work by Nicholas Dubois from 1721. The spiral staircase leads in two full turns over two floors, it is flanked on the walls by columns according to composite order. The paneling in the hall and the dining room are of an older date. In the dining room , which extends over the entire south side of the main house, the paneling is structured by pilasters in the Corinthian order . The drawing room to the west of it is a late 19th century work by William Young. The Tapestry Room is on the first floor . It contains tapestries from Beauvais , some of the finest of their kind, made in the early 17th century by the time of the first Earl Stanhope.
- John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner , Judy Nairn: The Buildings of England - West Kent and The Weald. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex 1969.
- John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Judy Nairn: The Buildings of England - West Kent and the Weald. P. 203.
- John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Judy Nairn: The Buildings of England - West Kent and the Weald. P. 203, note 2.
- John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Judy Nairn: The Buildings of England - West Kent and the Weald. P. 202.
- John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Judy Nairn: The Buildings of England - West Kent and the Weald. P. 204.
- John Newman, Nikolaus Pevsner, Judy Nairn: The Buildings of England - West Kent and the Weald. P. 205.