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Claremont Park, (Milburn house), Esher, Surrey, part executed plans, elevations and a section for the house, and elevations for a temple and a bridge (unexecuted), for John Hussey Delaval, 1st Baron Delaval, c1786 (11)

c1786
Sir John Hussey Delaval, 1st Baron Delaval, born 17th March 1728, (d. 17th May 1808), was the 2nd son of Francis Blake Delaval, MP and Rhoda Apreece of Washingley, Hampshire, the granddaughter and heir to Sir Thomas Hussey (2nd Bt. of Doddington). Educated at Westminster School and then at Eton College, and Cambridge, Delaval’s time at Cambridge was cut short upon the discovery that his live-in companion, a Captain Hargreaves, was in fact a woman. In 1750 he married Susanna, (nee Robinson, widow of John Potter), at Duke Street Chapel, Westminster. Susanna died in October 1783, and Delaval was later remarried to one Susanna Elizabeth Knight on 5th January 1803.

In 1754 he stood for Berwick-upon-Tweed, successfully contesting the seat against John Wilkes, and again in 1765, against Wilmot Vaughan. Following both elections, the opposition accused Delaval of ‘notorious bribery’, with Wilkes petitioning against the return. Delaval subsequently stood for Berwick unopposed in 1780. He is recorded as voting with the administration regarding Wilkes in February and May 1769, and as voting in opposition to the Royal Marriage Bill on the 11th March 1772. Delaval and his wife Susanna were considered to be intimates of Henry Duke of Cumberland, and were seen to publicly support the Duke’s controversial marriage to Mrs Horton. Indeed, following the wide spread knowledge of the King’s disapproval of his brother’s union, Horace Walpole records how the Delavals ‘were the sole persons of rank above the vulgar that went near them’.

Delaval succeeded to the family estate at Seaton Delaval in 1771, upon the death of his brother Francis. Having previously rescued the estate, following disastrous mismanagement by his brother, Delaval had considerable success overseeing the family’s assets in coal mining, salt and glass production. Following his improvements to the harbour at Seaton Sluice, the surrounding area developed in to a prominent industrial centre, with Delaval’s Royal Northumberland Bottle Works as a driving force.

From 1784, Delaval was once again seen to alter his political allegiances, declaring himself for William Pitt. As a result, in 1786 he was rewarded with an English peerage and the title (1st) Baron Delaval. The title became extinct upon his death in 1808, as he had no surviving male heirs. He was buried in the chapel of St Paul, Westminster Abbey, along with his first wife Susanna and daughter Sarah (1763-1800).

Delaval’s principal residences were Ford Castle and Seaton Delaval in Northumberland. It is possibly through his association with Robert Adam’s prominent patron the Duke of Northumberland that he was introduced to Adam. Delaval himself would prove a useful patron. Alongside this commission for his country villa Milburn in Esher, Surrey, he further employed Adam for alterations to his house at 21 (later 23) Hanover Square along with a town house in Conduit Street, London. Further to this there is an additional commission for Fenton Cawthorne, husband to Delaval’s daughter Frances (1759-1839), at Wyreside Hall.

King highlights that the scheme is misleadingly inscribed for Claremont, leading Bolton to question whether this was part of an earlier scheme for Claremont House, possibly prior to alterations made by Lord Clive. The designs are in fact for Milburn House, (later Milbourne). With Milbourne Lane bordering the Claremont estate, it is one of a number of successive villas established to the north, south and west of Claremont House grounds.
Although none of the designs are dated, it is likely the scheme dates to c1786, as evidence suggests that from 1787 the family were in residence, with the house principally used by Delaval’s daughter Sarah, later Countess of Tyrconnel. Sarah was, for a time, the mistress of Frederick Duke of York, 2nd son of George III. With Sarah residing at Milburn, the Duke of York subsequently took up residence at Oatlands Park nearby.

For Milburn, Adam designed two alternate schemes, each with a central block, flanked by pavilions forming wings to the east and west. In one scheme the pavilions link directly to the house, and in the other they are connected to the house via a subterranean link passage. Rowan notes particular similarities between this scheme and that designed for Princess Isabella Lubominski. For the Milburn scheme, however, it seems likely that only the central three-bay block was ever executed.

The building survives, forming the core of the present Milbourne House. However, having undergone extensive alterations and extensions, very little of the original façade remains. King notes that there is no surviving evidence for Adam’s library ceiling, but records the presence of two ceilings, one on the ground floor and one on the first, both in the Adam style. Also noted is the survival of two eighteenth century doors in the secondary hall which may form part of the original interiors.

See also: 21 (later 23), Hanover Square; Delaval House, Conduit Street; Wyreside Hall

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, volume II, Index pp. 7, 36, 39, 68; A. Rowan, Designs for castles and country villas by Robert and James Adam, 1985, p. 32; I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Surrey, 1987, pp. 162, 222; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, volume I, pp. 106, 139, 401, volume II, pp. 183, 222, 247, 256; Walpole, Memoirs of the reign of King George the third, vol. IV, (1845 ed.), p.363; S.M. Linsley, 'Delaval, John Hussey, Baron Delaval (1728-1808), industrialist and politician' oxforddnb.com; westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/delaval-family; ‘DELAVAL, John (1728-1808) of Doddington, Lins. And Seaton Delaval, Northumb.’ historyofparliamentonline.org; nationaltrustcollections.org.uk (accessed March 2018)

Anna McAlaney, 2018
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