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Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard, Staffordshire: unexecuted design for the tapestry room ceiling for Sir Henry Bridgeman Bt, 1775 (1)

1775
Weston Park is a quadrangular, brick house, built in 1671 by Sir Thomas Wilbraham, probably to designs by the architect William Taylor (b 1632). In 1762 the estate passed through the female Wilbraham line to Henry Bridgeman, (1725-1800), who two years later succeeded his father as 5th Baronet. Sir Orlando Bridgeman, the 4th Baronet had lived at Castle Bromwich, but Sir Henry made Weston his principal seat.

Sir Henry served as MP (Whig) for Ludlow in 1748-68 and Wenlock in 1768-94. He was also Clerk of the Household to the Prince of Wales in 1756-60; Clerk Comptroller of the Board of green cloth in 1761-64; and was created Baron Bradford in 1794. His eldest son, Orlando, was created the 1st Earl of Bradford (the second creation of this title which had become extinct on the death of Sir Henry’s maternal uncle, Thomas, 4th Earl of Bradford).

Sir Henry commissioned various improvements to Weston, presumably as a means of elevating its status as his family's principal seat. He employed Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-83) to landscape the park, and this work remains. He also commissioned Robert Adam to improve the interior decorative scheme within the house, although only one unexecuted drawing for the tapestry room ceiling survives. Chimneypieces and various buildings within the park were added by James Paine for Sir Henry in c1765-70. Paine had been Sir Henry's architect in 1766 for his townhouse at 17 St James's Square (demolished in 1865).

Later, repairs and alterations were made at Weston for the 1st Earl by John White (1748-1813) in 1802-8, for the 2nd Earl by Thomas Rickman (1776-1841) in 1830-31, and for the 3rd Earl by William Burn (1789-1870) in 1866. The estate was given to the nation in 1986 by the 7th Earl, and funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund it is open to the public under the guardianship of the Weston Park Foundation.

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 52, 633; E. Harris, The furniture of Robert Adam, 1963, p. 26; N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, pp. 305-6; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 179; History of Parliament online: 'Bridgeman, Sir Henry, 5th Bt. (1725-1800), of Weston Park, Staffs'

Frances Sands, 2013
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