The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex

THE BUILDER - 16 Dec 1871

BAYHAM ABBEY, SUSSEX.

The new mansion, shown by the accompanying illustrations, is erected on the estate of the Marquis Camden, near Tunbridge Wells, on the north side of the valley, at the bottom of which runs the stream called the Tun, having on its southern margin the remarkably interesting ruins of the abbey said to have been built by the Praemonstratensian canons, in the reign of Richard I.

The small modern house by the side of the ruins has no architectural merits, and will probably be taken down at no distant period.

The foundations for the new building were commenced in 1869, and the first stone of the plinth was laid by the Marchioness Camden, on the 13th day of January, 1870.

The materials used in its construction are as follow :- The walls are built of bricks made upon the estate, faced with Kentish ragstone from the Maidstone quarries, as a general facing, with Combs Down Bath stone quoins, window and door dressings, cornices, &c., and the roofs are covered with green slates from the quarries in North Wales. The ceilings of the principal suite of rooms are subdivided into panels, with moulded ribs, pendants, and enrichments, and the mantelpieces, designed in corresponding style, are composed of coloured marble, Derbyshire spars, and alabaster, executed by Mr. Earp, of Kennington-road.

The character of the architecture and general arrangement of the plan resemble the examples of manorial houses existing in this country, of the latter part of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century, but adapted to the convenience of modern requirements.

The principal approach is on the north side, by a new road from near the station at Frant, recently constructed, leading to a porte cochère, entrance-hall, and corridors, from which the reception-rooms, billiard-room, and library diverge on either side.

The dimensions of these rooms stand thus: The entrance-hall, 24 ft. by 24 ft.; saloon, 51 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft.; dining-room, 34 ft. by 22 ft.; library, 33 ft. by 22 ft. 6 in.; drawing-room, 33 ft. by 22 ft.; billiard-room, 26 ft. 6 in. by 22 ft.; Lord Camden's room, 26 ft. by 18 ft.; Lady Camden's room, 26 ft. by 18 ft. The principal staircase is 23 ft. by 23 ft., and 34 ft. high, each flight of steps being 6 ft. wide, and inclosed with oak pierced work in panels.

The arrangement and dimensions of the offices may be sufficiently gathered from an examination of the plan.

The height of the ground-floor story of the main building is 16 ft. 6 in.; and that of the first and second floors is 11 ft. 6 in. and 10 ft. respectively. The offices being about 12 ft. high, except the kitchen, which is 21 ft. 6 in. high.

On the first floor there are eight bedrooms, and six dressing-rooms, day and night nurseries, bath-room, work-room, &c.; and on the second floor are eight bedrooms, and two dressing-rooms, and nine female servants' rooms, linen and store closets.

In the basement story are a muniment-room; wine, beer and coal cellars; a room for the heating apparatus, supplied by Messrs. Haden & Son, of Trowbridge; clothes-cleaning room; and other offices.

Leading off the back staircase on each landing is a housemaid's room, supplied with hot and cold water; and an opening into a lift, constructed to raise 1½ cwt., which communicates from the basement to the second floor, supplied by Messrs. Bunnett & Co.

The men-servants' bedrooms are arranged over a part of the kitchen offices, on the west side of the courtyard.

On the south and west sides, following the fall of the hill, are a succession of terraces and slopes, which add much to the picturesque effect of the building, especially as seen from a distance; and command fine views of the nave, choir, and other remains of the old abbey, the church, the well-wooded park, the stream, and surrounding scenery.

The parapets on the terraces are executed in stone, and terra-cotta supplied by Mr. Blanchard.

In the rear of the offices, on the north, are being erected the stabling, coach-houses, gamekeeper's room, gasworks, and so on.

The stream before alluded to, which here separates the counties of Kent and Sussex, supplies, by means of a water-wheel, a large reservoir, constructed upon the rising ground, above the levels of the roofs of the house, from which pipes communicate through filtering-beds, with the several cisterns, and with hydrants for protection against fire. These works have been executed by Messrs. Easton, Anderson, & Co.

The contracts for the mansion and stables were taken by Messrs. Trollope & Sons, of Parliament-street, by whom they have been nearly completed, Mr. French being the clerk of the works.

According to Shoberl's "Beauties of England and Wales," in the reign of Henry VIII. Cardinal Wolsey obtained a grant of Bayham as one of the smaller monasteries. On the disgrace of the cardinal, the manor, with the site of the abbey, reverted to the king, and seems to have remained in the possession of the Crown until Queen Elizabeth granted the estate to Anthony Brown, Viscount Montague. About 1714 it was purchased by Mr. John Pratt, afterwards Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, and from him descended to the Marquis Camden, who derives from it the title of Viscount Bayham.

The late second Marquis Camden had in contemplation the erection of a mansion upon a site not far removed from the one now selected, but nothing was done at that time beyond the preparation of drawings.

The present buildings have been executed from the designs of Mr. David Brandon, and carried out under his superintendence.

In addition to the foregoing works, a church has been built in the park between the mansion and the Abbey ruins, to accommodate 140 persons, by Messrs. Willicombe & Oakley, of Tunbridge Wells, a description of which has already appeared in the Builder.

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