The house bought by Bland in 1757 was a small brick villa with a single large stair-hall, built for Moses Hart c1718 and possibly by James Gibbs. By January 1758 Adam was making designs to rearrange the house and build a south wing. The plan shows that he divided off Hart's stair-hall by a screen of columns from what he now labels an antichamber. The new drawing room, really a 'great room', was Adam's earliest executed interior following his Grand Tour. The extension was executed in accordance with Adam’s designs, but the first-floor windows have lost their original surrounds. The drawing room remains in situ though the original doors and doorcases are missing. Adam also designed and built a greenhouse, and offered two variant unexecuted designs for a garden temple.
Bland died without issue and the house was sold by his widow in 1816. It was extensively altered from 1868 for the 2nd Earl of Kilmorey, served as a public access college during the twentieth century, and is current under renovation to return it to a private residence.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index p. 18; D. Stillman, The decorative work of Robert Adam, 1966, pp. 62, 96; B. Cherry and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 3: north west, 1991, pp. 431-433; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001,Volume I, p. 183, Volume II, pp. 184, 226; J.A. Houldin, 'Bland, Humphrey' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online
I am very grateful to John Harris for his generous help in writing this catalogue entry for Gordon House.
Frances Sands, 2011
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.
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Contents of Thistleworth (now Gordon) House, Isleworth, Middlesex: executed designs for an extension; a greenhouse; and two variant unexecuted designs for a temple for Lieutenant General Humphrey Bland, 1758-63 (12)
- Finished drawings for an extension to the south end of the house, 1758, as executed(4)
- Finished drawing for the drawing room, 1758-59, as executed (1)
- Alternative preliminary designs for the ceiling of the drawing room, 1758-59 (2)
- Finished drawing for a greenhouse, c1758-63, as executed (1)
- Preliminary designs and finished drawings for designs for garden temples, c1758-63, unexecuted (4)