Uvedale Price: designs for a hall (possibly for Foxley House), c1771, possibly executed (2)
Sir Uvedale Price, Bt. was born at Foxley, Herefordshire in April 1747, the eldest son of artist Robert Price and Sarah, daughter of John, 1st Viscount Barrington. Educated first at Eton, Price went on to study at Christ Church, Oxford from 1763. He was a close friend of Charles James Fox and from 1767 the two men travelled on the Grand Tour together, visiting Florence, Rome, Venice and Geneva. Price returned to England in 1768 with a significant collection of old master drawings, which were subsequently the subject of a Sotheby’s sale in May 1854.
On 28 April 1774 Price married Lady Caroline Carpenter, the daughter of George, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel. Together they had one son, Robert (d. 1857) and one daughter, Caroline (d. 1853).
In 1784 he was elected to the Society of Dilettanti. He also held several positions in his local Herefordshire, including the post of sheriff from 1793 and that of deputy surveyor of the Forest of Dean from 1816. He was an active member on several Hereford committees, and was instrumental in the commissioning of architect John Nash to design the county’s new goal in 1796.
In February 1828 he was created a baronet at the age of 81.
Uvedale Price was a passionate landscape gardener and theorist, publishing his controversial ‘Essays on the Picturesque’ in 1794. Here Price, like his friend Richard Payne Knight, criticised the flat landscapes made so popular by Capability Brown and actively promoted rugged and overgrown woodlands and hills.
‘Essays on the Picturesque’ proved hugely influential, and Price developed his estate at Foxley in accordance with his theories. The estate’s substantial alteration was begun under Price’s father Robert, who was assisted by his friend Benjamin Stillingfleet. Following his inheritance Uvedale Price expanded the estate considerably with additional lands acquired from nearby Mansell Lacy, Yazor and Ladylift. By 1775 the estate consisted of 3537 acres and produced an annual income of £2461. Price introduced several elements to Foxley to reflect his ideal, including alterations to the wooded valley landscape. As a result Foxley’s landscape attracted many visitors and admirers who came to gain an appreciation of Price’s ‘picturesque’.
Price died at Foxley 14 September, 1829 and was buried in the churchyard at Yazor in a simple tomb erected in his memory. Price’s friend the young poet Elizabeth Barrett wrote ‘To the memory of Sir Uvedale Price, Bart’ in his honour.
Adam’s c1771 designs for a wall treatment and a ceiling of a hall for Uvedale Price do not record its intended location. As a result, Bolton catalogues the scheme as site unknown. However it seems probable that the designs were intended for Price’s manor house at Foxley where Adam is recorded as making internal alterations c1772. As the date for the designs coincides with the work undertaken for Price it is possible that the scheme was executed.
Dating to 1717, Foxley House was altered in the late eighteenth century and again in the nineteenth century. The house was eventually demolished in 1948. The estate of Foxley first came into the Price family in 1679 with the marriage of heiress Ann Rodd to Robert Price. In 1855 the estate was sold to John Davenport and it remained within the Davenport family until the late twentieth century.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 84, 57; ‘Uvedale Price’, www.britishmuseum.org; ‘An Essay on the Picturesque by Uvedale Price. 1794 – RCIN 1151382, www.rct.uk; D. Whitehead, ‘Price, Sir Uvedale, first baronet (1747-1829)’, September 2004, www.oxforddnb.com; ‘Foxley’, www.historicengland.org.uk (accessed March 2021)