The park was developed in 1745-85 by Sir Charles Kemys Tynte, 5th Baronet (1710-85), who was the third son of Sir John Tynte, 2nd Baronet, and Jane Kemys, the daughter and heir of Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Baronet of Cefn Mably. Sir Charles took his mother's name, Kemys, in 1735, and succeeded his brother as 5th Baronet in 1740. He served as MP (Tory) for Monmouthshire in 1745-47, and Somerset in 1747-74.
In c1765 Sir Charles commissioned Thomas Prowse (c1708-67) to build the Temple of Harmony within the park. At a cost of £400, this was a miniature version of the first-century BC so-called Temple of Fortuna Virilis in Rome. Two years later Robert Adam was commissioned to design an interior decorative scheme for the temple. By 1990 the temple was in a ruinous state, but enough survived to show that Adam's designs were executed with alterations, including plasterwork by the Bristol plasterer Thomas Stocking, and a sculpture-filled niche flanked by Spalatro order columns. This has all been restored. The original sculpture from this scheme was a Terpsichore holding a psaltery, which has been attributed to John Walsh (fl 1757-77), and is now in the Somerset County Museum, Taunton. There is now a replica statue inside the temple.
In 2004 the Halsewell estate was developed as a wedding venue, but this venture failed, and the house was recently repossessed by the mortgagee, Citi Private Banking. The park is open to the public on Sundays during the summer months.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 58, 90; G. Jackson-Stops, 'Arcadia under the plough: the garden at Halsewell, Somerset', Country Life, 9 February 1989, pp. 82-87; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, p. 336; History of Parliament online: 'Kemys Tynte, Sir Charles, 5th Bt. (1710-85), of Halswell, nr. Bridgewater, Som. And Cefn Mably, Glam.'
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 Halsewell Park, Bridgwater, Somerset: executed design for the interior decoration of the Temple of Harmony for Sir Charles Kemys Tynte, 5th Baronet, 1767 (3)
- Preliminary design, finished drawing and record drawing for the interior of a garden temple, 1767, executed with alterations (3)