Wreatham Hall, Norfolk: unexecuted design for William Colhoun, 1789 (2)
William McDowall Colhoun (1740-1821) was MP for Bedford in 1784-1802. From his father Colhoun had inherited plantations and enslaved people on St Kitts, Nevis and St Croix. Colhoun purchased part of the manor of West Wretham in 1788 and subsequently leased the Eton College lands of East Wretham. Thereafter he developed Wreatham Hall.
Plan 'No. 1' is for a house about 68 feet wide by 66 feet deep - 4488 square feet. A strong north/south central axis divides the house with drawing and eating rooms on the east side and the library, justice room with its own entrance, butler's and housekeeper's rooms to the west. Plan 'No 3' is about 70 feet wide and 46 feet deep - 3220 square feet. A porch, segmental on plan, gives on to an oval vestibule and via an 'Arched' lobby to the 'Great Staircase' - the central axis completed by an unexplained stair to the north that, presumably leads down to the basement. The justice room has gone along with butler's and housekeeper's room but there is a gentleman's dressing room with a door to the north.
Soane's Sketches in Architecture containing plans and elevations of cottages, villas and other useful buildings ... was published in 1793, it includes 'The Elevation of a House designed for William Colhoun Esq. near Thetford in Norfolk' (plate XV) and 'The plans of the two principal stories, over which attics were intended, and the whole of the basement was proposed to be arched' (plate XVI). These plans (ground floor and chamber floor) offer yet another design for a house about 66 feet wide and 56 feet deep (3696 square feet together with a bow at the back). The ground floor plan's central axis is composed of a segmental porch, a circular hall, corridor and bowed drawing room, with music room and eating room on the left and library, dressing room and an unlabelled room on the right. The first floor has eight bedrooms and a bowed 'Ladies Dressing Room' or boudoir. The only surviving elevation shows a three-bay, three-storey house with, in the centre, a giant two-storey semicircular-arched window (?) fronted at the ground floor level by a segmental Ionic portico. The first floor plan does not clarify the location or function of this arched opening showing, as it does, three modest sized windows. Again what appears to be a portico in the elevation is, on plan, a porch with door and side windows.
Jill Lever February 2012
Literature includes: Legacies of British Slavery database, UCL: www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs