Cricket Lodge, Cricket St Thomas, Somerset: (executed) portico and entrance front, chimney-pieces and interior mouldings, alterations to the kitchen and barn, large north addition, drawing room addition, library, kitchen, granary and pigeon house for Admiral Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport, 1787-1790, 1801-1807 (39)
John Soane made alterations and additions to Cricket Lodge in two distinct phases, from 1786 to 1790 and from 1801 to 1807, the second phase being the most costly. Due to the incomplete nature of the documentation for Soane's work at Cricket Lodge, the building programme is not fully established. Archive materials, notably those archives that have drawings, are referred to within this catalogue. It is apparent that an existing house was first altered, with the west front refaced and various rooms refurbished, before a substantial addition was added to the north, complete with library, kitchen and north front.
Soane made his first visit to Cricket Lodge in May 1786 (Journal 1, p.42). At the time, Alexander Hood (1726-1814), later 1st Viscount Bridport, was 60 years old and serving as Treasurer of the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich, a post he had held since 1766. Soane was probably introduced to his new client via his early patron Lord Camelford (Thomas Pitt), who was a relative of Hood's first wife and owner of Bocconnoc, Cornwall, which Soane also altered in 1786 (q.v.). Various commissions at Cricket continued in the 1790s and 1800s, as Soane and his wife, Eliza, maintained a friendship with Admiral Hood and his second wife, Maria Sophia (married in 1788).
Cricket Lodge is in Cricket St Thomas, Somerset. A manor house, originally dating from 1313, stood on the estate when Admiral Alexander Hood purchased it in 1775. Some historic accounts state that the manor house was completely demolished and located 200 yards north of the present site (Pullman, p. 179), but it is apparent from archival materials and from the survey drawings that Soane worked with an existing three-storey building on a shallow H-shaped plan. Soane refaced its west elevation and added an Ionic portico in 1788. He also redecorated the rooms and altered the offices. In 1801, just after Alexander Hood retired and was appointed 1st Viscount Bridport, Soane returned to the project for an extensive addition to the north. A notable feature of this new wing was the library, having elaborately ornamented shallow domed-ceiling and apsidal ends. A kitchen was built at the north-east, and the centre of the building was occupied by a service court. The first phase of building works, from 1786 to 1790, Soane estimated at £3,000. Building work from 1801 to 1803 cost £8,650 (L/C/454). In 1803, £1,597 7s 7d was charged for general plastering and redecoration work.
Cricket Lodge was constructed of oolitic limestone very similar to Bath stone (Soane Monuments Trust Inventory Listing). The west front was refaced by Soane in 1788 and extended north c.1801. The south elevation was refaced c.1804 (and possibly the drawing room built by Soane, as a letter refers to it being 'roofed over' in November 1804 (Progress Report letter, 6/32/12). A large extension to the north was built c.1801-1806, containing a T-shaped library, a kitchen, and Lord Bridport's room in between (6/32/17), possibly overlooking a portico. The east side of the house was devoted to offices, where Soane installed a secondary staircase in 1803 (Bill book B p.335).
The first floor had varying levels, with bedrooms connected by long corridors. The 'west front rooms' (drawing 1:2), 'south chamber' and 'north dressing' room received new chimney-pieces 1786-90 and alterations to the south chamber were made c.1804 (drawing 2:15). An attic storey is also referred to in the drawings and archives.
Today, Cricket Lodge is a hotel and it has been significantly altered.
The Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects has five Soane drawings for Cricket Lodge. Dated 1801, these show five alternative designs for alterations and additions to an existing house (ref. SA27/2(1-5). Margaret Richardson has suggested that the five drawings were part of a collection of six proposed designs, the missing drawing being the design executed (M. Richardson, editor, Catalogue of the Drawings Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects, S, 1976, p.100).
Literature: ed. J. Nichols, The Gentleman’s magazine, Vol. 60, part ii, 1786; G.P.R Pullman, Book of the Axe, 1875, p.179; Hood, Alexander Nelson, 'Recollections', 1957 extracts from entry 25.3.1924 *** [citation courtesy of Julian Orbach]; P. Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, pp. 173-4; R. Morris, 'Hood, Alexander', Oxford dictionary of national biography online (accessed July 2011); G. Darley, John Soane: an accidental Romantic, 1999, pp.79-80.