In 1712 George Parker bought the estate with its fourteenth-century house (enlarged in the 16th century to four storeys), but he continued to live at the estate of Boringdon to the north. On his death in 1743 his son and daughter-in-law, John and Catherine, made it their chief seat and attempted to adapt it to current taste with symmetrical facades and Rococo interiors. John Parker died in April 1768 and was succeeded by his eldest son John.
John Parker the younger (c1735-88) was MP for Bodmin in 1761-62, and Devon in 1762-84, after which he was created Baron Boringdon in 1784. These positions were acquired through the influence of the Earl of Shelburne whom Parker had met at Oxford, and he married Shelburne's cousin, Frances, in 1764 (she died the same year). Shelburne must also have brought Parker into contact with his political ally Thomas Robinson, 2nd Baron Grantham. Grantham's sister Theresa was married to Parker in 1769, he was a guardian during their son's eventual minority, and was in regular correspondence with the Parkers about aesthetic matters, even designing an unexecuted tower for the estate (illustrated by Cornforth). Theresa, named after her godmother Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, was almost certainly the driving force of the improvements, Parker himself being generally described as the lowest stereotype of country squire.
Shelburne and Grantham must have been responsible for putting Parker into contact with Robert Adam, initially for the redecoration of a drawing room and library, which was begun the year of Parker's succession. In September 1769 Thomas Robinson described 'two new Rooms' as 'very forward, they are highly finished'. There was sporadic subsequent work by Adam up until 1782, including furniture, an unexecuted extension of the house, contributions for conversion of the library into a dining room, unexecuted farm buildings, a gateway and an ornamental triumphal arch.
Later owners were less prolific than John and Theresa Parker. A Doric porch and library were added by John Foulston (1772-1841) for the 1st Earl of Morley in 1818. By the late nineteenth century the family were forced to let the house and sell many of the paintings. Saltram suffered in the bombing of Plymouth, and was given to the treasury in lieu of death-duties in 1951. Since 1957 the National Trust has been restoring the house and garden buildings, as well as planting to screen the house from the bypass which now passes through the estate.
Only two drawings survive for Adam's work further to those in the Soane Museum: a complete version of an alternative design for the drawing room ceiling, and laid out wall elevations for the same room, both of which are on display at Saltram.
See also: Sackville Street, number 29
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, pp. 157-162, Index p. 27; D. Stillman, The Decorative Work of Robert Adam, 1966, p. 80-1; J. Cornforth, 'Saltram, Devon I, II and III' and 'The Making of the Saltram Landscape', Country Life, 27 April, 4 May, 11 May and 14 September 1967, pp. 998-1001, 1064-8, 1160-4 and 594-7; G. Beard, The Work of Robert Adam, 1978, p. 13; B. Cherry, and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Devon, 1989, pp. 710-714; National Trust, Saltram, 1998, pp. 4-5, 40-64; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp.248, 353, Volume II, pp.252, 259
Max Bryant, 2012
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 Saltram Park, Devon: designs for the house and estate, for John Parker, 1768-82 (31)
- Design for the interior decoration of the great drawing room, 1768, as executed with alterations (1)
- Alternative finished drawing and record drawings for a ceiling for the great drawing room, 1768 (3)
- Finished drawings for the chimneypiece in the great drawing room, 1768, unexecuted (2)
- Rough preliminary design and record drawing of a carpet for the great drawing room, 1769, drawing 8 as executed (2)
- Record drawing of the mirror in the great drawing room, 1769, as executed with alterations (1)
- Record drawings for friezes for the great drawing room, n.d. (2)
- Finished drawing for the interior decoration of the library, c1768, probably as executed with alterations (1)
- Preliminary design and record drawing for a ceiling for the library, 1768, as executed (2)
- Finished drawing and record drawing for the chimneypiece in the library, 1768, as executed (2)
- Record drawing of pier glass and table for the first drawing room, 1771, as executed (1)
- Preliminary design and designs for gateway to Saltram Park, c1773, as executed with alterations (3)
- Design for alterations to the existing house, 1779, unexecuted (1)
- Alternative record drawings for a mirror in the dining room, 1780-1 (2)
- Design and finished drawing for urn and pedestal in the dining room, 1780, as executed (2)
- Designs for farm offices at Merryfield, c1769-82, unexecuted (3)
- Record drawing for a cottage for Saltram Park, 1782, probably unexecuted (1)
- Preliminary design and record drawing for an ornamental triumphal arch and lodge in Saltram Park, 1782, as executed with alterations (2)