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Ham (later Dorchester) House, Weybridge, Surrey, unexecuted designs for a garden temple for the 2nd Earl of Portmore, c1760-61 (6)

c1760-61
Charles Colyear, 2nd Earl of Portmore (1700-85), known for his flamboyant dress, was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital, he was MP for Wycombe in 1726, and MP for Andover in 1727-30, when he succeeded to his father’s earldom. His elder daughter Caroline (b 1733) married Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Baron Scarsdale, Adam’s patron at Kedleston, and it may have been through this connection that Adam was commissioned to make designs for an unexecuted garden temple for Portmore. These designs are undated. They certainly predate Portmore's bankruptcy in 1781. Garden historian Michael Symes has suggested a date of c1760-61 on account of the fact that Portmore ceased works on the gardens in the early 1760s on account of his financial difficulties. Moreover, Portmore's connection with Kedleston - for which Adam made designs from 1759 - supports the idea of a near contemporary project.

Ham (later Dorchester) House was built by William Winde (d1722) for the 6th Duke of Norfolk (1628-84) in c1677-78. Shortly after the Duke’s death in 1684 the house was sold to Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester (1657-1717), the former mistress of King James II. In 1696 Sedley married Sir David Colyear (created 1st Earl of Portmore in 1703), who commissioned alterations to the house from William Talman (1650-1719) in c1700. The house remained in the ownership of the Colyear family until its demolition in c1830, but the grounds are still known as Portmore Park. The Portmore earldom became extinct in 1835.

Literature:
H.E. Malden (ed.). A history of the county of Surrey, 1911, Volume 3, pp. 475-480; A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 31; H. Colvin, and J. Harris, The country seat, 1970, pp. 72-74; I. Nairn, and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Surrey, 1971, pp. 517-518; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 224

I am grateful to Michael Symes for his assistance with dating these drawings.

Frances Sands, 2012
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