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Aynhoe Park, Northamptonshire: designs for alterations and additions for W.R.Cartwright, 1799-1802 ( 60)

The manor of Aynhoe and its lands were bought by Richard Cartwright in 1615. Set on fire during the Civil War it was rebuilt from 1662 by Edward Marshall (c.1598-1675) Master Mason to Charles II. From 1707 to 1714 Thomas Archer (c.1668-1743) ) made alterations and additions including the relocation of the entrance from the south to the north side, extending the front on both sides by the addition of a library and orangery (each of seven bays making a 23-bay front) and adding detached stables and offices at right angles to the north front that Soane was later to link to the house by two triumphal arches.

William Ralph Cartwright (1771-1847) inherited Aynhoe in 1772 when he was just one year old. In 1794 he married Emma Mary Maud daughter of Viscount Hawarden and they had sons Thomas and William. Cartwright was elected Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire 1797-1831, and for South Northamptonshire 1832-1846. He died in 1847.

Soane's most visible work at Aynhoe, other than the triumphal arches, was the addition of another floor to the south or garden front above the library. For the sake of symmetry, the orangery (labelled greenhouse in Soane's drawings) was made double-height. Internally the new work was mostly in the south west part of the house. The brief was to provide a new library, garden entrance hall ('anti room'), eating room, a room for the housekeeper, and some new offices. Soane also achieved what Ptolemy Dean ('Sir John Soane and the country estate', 1999, p.84) called his 'finest axial enfilade' in which the 'six rooms from the orangery to the library were reconfigured with large centrally placed double doors designed to create a noble succession of spaces'. This was an early decision evident in drawings [9+8 verso] and [20] dated 2 and 5 of November1799.

The drawings are catalogued (as far as possible) by date beginning with Soane's own rough sketch designs made when he visited Aynhoe from 2nd to 4th of November 1799. Then follow designs made from 5th to 19th of November 1799. After this are designs (some in Soane's hand) dated January, April, May, June and December 1800. Last are four drawings dated January and March 1801 and July 1802.

Jill Lever
November 2015
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