Gunton Park (now Gunton Hall) had been built by Sir William after 1742, to designs by Matthew Brettingham (1699-1769), and had replaced the seventeenth-century house which had been acquired by his ancestor John Harbord in 1676. The village no longer exists, but in 1766 Sir William was granted a licence by the Bishop of Norwich to rebuild the small and ruinous medieval parish church. The architect commissioned to make designs for this work was Robert Adam. Knox has suggested that Adam was consulted by Harbord Harbord rather than his father, Sir William, despite his not having yet inherited the estate. Owing to Harbord Harbord's political career necessitating time in London, he would have been familiar with Adam's fashionable reputation. 'Thus, although Sir William was officially the patron of the new church, it was his son who seems to have commissioned Adam'; indeed these drawings are inscribed as such with the name 'Harbord Harbord'.
St Andrew's Church was designed by Adam in 1767-68, and completed in 1769. It stands 183 metres from the front door of Gunton Park. It is relatively simple in its design, bearing no external religious iconography, and appears rather more like a garden temple than a church. Robert Adam did very little church building, and this is the only example that he built in its entirety. His other church work was at Mistley, where he rebuilt, and at Croome, where he added an interior to Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's (1716-83) fabric. Further churches were designed by James Adam. St Andrew's Church, Gunton was declared redundant in 1976, and was vested in The Churches Conservation Trust, who have undertaken a programme of restoration.
Following his work on St Andrew's, Adam them proposed alterations to the house itself, providing designs which echoed the executed church exterior. Adam's designs for the house were not executed, but in 1772 he did make alterations to Sir Harbord's townhouse on Albermarle Street (for which no drawings survive). Sir Harbord did execute alterations and enlargements to Gunton Park in 1785, but this was done to designs by James Wyatt (1746-1813). Later, various nineteenth-century alterations were made, including a northern extension, probably to designs by William Wilkins the younger (1778-1839). The house was gutted by fire in 1882, and not reconstructed until 1981, and remains partially ruinous. The estate remained in the ownership of the Harbord family until 1980, when it was sold, and is now divided into 20 private residences.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 15, 74; G. Beard, The work of Robert Adam, 1978, pp. 9, 48; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 68-69, Volume II, pp. 58, 126; T. Knox, The Churches Conservation Trust, St Andrew’s Church, Gunton, 2005, pp. 1-16; J. Musson, 'The genius of Gunton Park', Country Life, 14 June 2007, pp. 122-24; History of Parliament online: 'Harbord, Harbord (1734-1810), of Gunton Hall and Suffield, Norf.'
Frances Sands, 2013
Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Gunton Park, Suffield, Norfolk: executed designs for St Andrew's Church, and unexecuted designs for the house for Sir William and Sir Harbord Harbord, 1767-72 (10)
- Designs for St Andrew's church, 1767-68, executed with alterations (5)
- Designs for alterations to the house, c1768-72, unexecuted (5)