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Bicton House, East Budleigh, Devon: unexecuted designs for a house and a gatehouse for John Rolle Walter, 1772 (7)

1772
John Rolle Walter (c1714-79), was the second son of John Rolle MP of Stevenstone, and he succeeded to the estate of his uncle, Sir Robert Walter, 4th Baronet of Sarsden, in 1731, at which time he took the name of Walter. Then in 1750 he inherited the Bicton estates from his brother, Henry, 1st Lord Rolle. He served as MP (Tory) for Exeter in 1754-76 and Devon in 1776-79, and never married.

The Rolle family acquired Bicton through marriage in the early seventeenth century including the original house which is thought to have been erected from the 1560s. The house was then rebuilt from c1730 to the designs of an unknown architect. Nothing of the sixteenth- or eighteenth-century houses survives.

In 1772 Robert Adam was commissioned to make designs for a new house and gatehouse for Bicton. The designs were not executed but constituted a classical house flanked by U-shaped service wings, and a castle-style gatehouse. The house was rebuilt by James Wyatt (1746-1813) from c1800, and then altered and enlarged in 1908-9 by Sir Walter Tapper (1861-1935). It is now the Devon County Council College of Agriculture.

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 3, 90; B. Cherry, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Devon, 1989, p. 172; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 122, 243; History of Parliament online: 'Walter, John (?1714-79), of Bicton, and Stevenson, Devon'; British listed buildings online: 'Bicton Park, Bicton House, Devon, School'

Frances Sands, 2013
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