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Deputy Ranger's Lodge, Green Park, London, commissioned by Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglington, 1769, executed to a variant design, and for Lord William Gordon, 1778, unexecuted (10)

References to a lodge in the area now known as ‘The Green Park’ are documented shortly after its emparkment in 1688. Charles II took the decision to enclose the area, previously open meadowland, in order to form a deer park. Around this time ‘snow wells’ or ice houses were introduced to the Park, which was initially known as ‘Upper St. James’s’. Queen Caroline took a particular interest in the area and she oversaw a number of changes including the addition of ‘the Queen’s Basin’ which supplied water to Buckingham House and St James’s Palace. She also introduced a wilderness, a sunken walkway and a pavilion appointed ‘the Queen’s Library’. The first recorded reference to area as ‘The Green Park’ can be seen on Rocque’s map of 1746. The Park lodge is first shown on a map of 1710 and there are documented alterations to the building in 1730. It is on the site of ‘The Old Lodge’ at the corner of Old Park Lane and Down Street that Robert Adam constructed his Deputy Ranger’s Lodge in 1769.

Within the Soane collection there survives two schemes for the Lodge, the first produced for Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglinton and dating to 1769.

Montgomerie was born on 18 May 1726, the second son of Alexander, 9th Earl of Eglinton and his third wife Susanna Kennedy. He studied at Eton, 1738-41, and was sent to Geneva to further his education in 1743. As a young man, following the outbreak of The Seven Years War, Montgomerie joined the army, raising the Montgomerie Highlanders, for which he was appointed lieutenant-colonel. He stood as MP for Ayr in 1761 and, following the murder of his elder brother Alexander, he succeeded to the earldom in October 1769.

Following his role as Equerry to Queen Charlotte, Montgomerie was appointed Deputy Ranger for St James’s Park and Green Park in 1766. This new appointment seems to have required a new residence for the Deputy Ranger and the Adam office was commissioned to replace the older lodge. The drawings which survive at the Soane Museum for this earlier scheme of 1769 (SM Adam volume 42/26-8) are an alternative design to that which was executed. It is similar in form, being two storeys and five-bays wide, but the south façade is shown with a central canted bay rather than a bow front and the relieving arches surrounding the ground-storey windows are omitted.

The executed design can be seen in The Works... (Volume III, pl. XVI-XVII). Here the bow front of the south façade is surmounted by a dome supported by Doric columns, and plans for the ground and first floor reveal a circular eating room and drawing room. A watercolour by John Melchair Barralet in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland (Volume no. 03398) dating to March 1774 shows the south façade of the lodge executed to The Works... design (Volume III, pl. XVII). King notes the separation of the dining room and drawing room in the plans, with the drawing room positioned on the first floor. He compares the Lodge to Letterfourie and Moreton Hall, early designs for small-scale houses, and notes here also Adam’s decision to remove the drawing room to the first floor. King highlights Adam’s preference in separating the dining and drawing rooms as a reflection of eighteenth-century dining etiquette. The ladies in the company were not to be disturbed by the gentleman once they had withdrawn. Bolton notes from the plans the use of timber studding in the lodge’s construction and this might account for the decision to demolish the lodge in the early 1840’s.

The second scheme produced by the Adam office for Deputy Ranger’s Lodge dates to 1778, which coincides with Lord William Gordon’s appointment to the post that same year.

The second son of Cosmo George, 3rd Duke of Gordon and his wife Catherine, the daughter of William, Earl of Aberdeen, William was born on 15 August 1744. He was educated at Harrow and Eton and whilst he was still a schoolboy, a commission was secured for him as Lieutenant in the 89th Foot. Following his Grand Tour of 1762-3 William was then appointed Captain in the 37th Foot in 1764, but he resigned from the army in January 1769 when he eloped to Scotland with Lady Sarah Bunbury. Scandal ensued as Lady Sarah, the sister of the Duke of Richmond, was married to Sir Charles Bunbury. After a few months she returned to London and her brother’s household, and Lord William found himself expelled from society. As a result, in August 1770, he left England, declaring his intentions to walk to Rome and never return. Some years later, in 1774, he returned to London society, setting himself up amongst Lord March’s circle of friends.

William’s elder brother the Duke of Gordon, on whom he was increasingly dependent, was anxious to secure a position for him. Eventually in February 1778, with help from Lord North, the Duke was permitted to purchase the position of Deputy Ranger of St James’s Park and Green Park for his wayward brother. Lord William subsequently served as MP for Elginshire (1779-1784), Inverness-shire (1784-1790) and Horsham (1792-1796) where he proved consistent in his support of the administration. He was greatly unsettled by his younger brother George’s involvement in the Gordon Riots of 1780 and is recorded as one of Lord George’s visitors during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. In 1781 William married a ward of Chancery which proved a solution to his increasing gambling debts. He died on 1 May 1823.

As with Lord Montgomerie before him, Lord William Gordon’s appointment as Deputy Ranger prompted a commission from the Adam office in 1778. This scheme (SM Adam volume 45/5-8, 51/60-61) concerned an extension to the north front of the 1769 building. The proposed additions included carriage and entrance archways alongside and expansion of the first floor level of the lodge. The alterations were never executed and the lodge was demolished c1841.

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index, pp. 45, 70, 72; A. Rowan, Robert Adam, Catalogue of Architectural Drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1988, p.55; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 10, 11, 18, 264, 267, 389, pls. 374-5, Volume II, pp. 80, 129, 183, 221; M. Tait and E. Parker, London’s Royal Parks, 2006, p. 50; ‘Ranger’s Lodge, www.pastcape.org.uk; ‘Deputy Ranger’s Lodge in the Green Park’, www.watercolourworld.org; ‘Green Park’, www.historicengland.org.uk; Lot 18, The David Style collection, London, 12-13 January 2005, www.christies.com; F. Sands, Robert Adam's London, 2016, pp. 109-111; ‘Archibald Montgomerie, 11th Earl of Eglinton (1726-96)’, www.rct.uk; ‘The Death of the Earl of Chatham – John Singleton Copley (NPG L146)’, www.npg.org.uk; ‘Montgomerie, Hon. Archibald (1726-96) of Minnoch, Ayr’, www.historyofparliamentonline.org; ‘Gordon, Lord William (1744-1823), of Mamore, Inverness’ www.historyofparliamentonline.org (accessed December 2020)

Anna McAlaney, 2020
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