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Hinton St George, Somerset: survey drawings and unexecuted designs for alterations and additions, and for a lodge, for 4th Earl Poulett, 1796-7 (17)

The Poulets were at Hinton St George from c.1430 until 1973 when the 8th Earl died without an heir. He had sold the estate a few years earlier and Hinton House with its domestic offices and stables is now divided into a number of apartments and small houses.

An engraving by T.Bonnor published in 1791 (and reproduced in Orback & Pevsner, p.362) shows 'an Elizabethan three-storey centrepiece faced W in a deep forecourt, flanked by three-storey crenellated wings ending in taller crenellated corner towers'. From 1788 a surveyor know only as Felton set about recasting much of Hinton. Thus Soane's survey of the west front made in 1796 (drawing [7]) shows it as rebuilt by Felton. So that, for example, the right-hand end bays of the house were given the pedimented windows of the south front with the additions of a canted bay (octagonal on plain) in the centre and crenellations. To the left is Felton's service wing stopped by corner towers at each end and with only two storeys visible since he had raised the ground level by a whole storey.

The earliest surviving part of Hinton is the south range which dates from c.1634-6 and is perhaps the remodelling of a Tudor range. In the early 18th century a stair and chapel were added to the back of the south range. Soane's survey drawing [7] shows the south front of nine bays (spaced 3-1-5) with Felton's two storeys + basement intervention. The south range is flanked on the left by Felton's service wing and on the right by his stables and riding house.

Soane made visits to Hinton in July 1796 and again in August 1796. Also in August, a pupil, Thomas Jeans, spent three weeks measuring the whole of the house, offices and stables. Four design drawings were dispatched in October 1796. In January 1797, Lord Poulett was sent five drawings of designs and an estimate: the Saloon - £1,260, the Hall and entrance - £980 and other works - £300. In April Soane breakfasted with the Earl in his London House at 19 Stratford Place (surveyed by Soane in July 1794) and in the next month seven drawings were sent there. Nothing much is recorded after this until 7 July 1798 when Soane received a letter from Earl Poulett in which Soane's bill for £163.9.6 was questioned on the grounds that Poulett had not received all of the drawings. Soane refuted this and ended his letter 'I only wish to forget a business in which I have been very much disappointed & in my judgement not very handsomely treated'. He received a draft for the money owed within the week. James Wyatt (1746-1813) succeeded Soane in c.1800-05 and afterwards Jeffrey Wyatt (1746-1816) in 1814-16.

There is in the Soane Museum archives, Jeffrey Wyatt's accounts for 'Journies, Drawings &c' for Hinton St George that amounts to £475.6.0. They begin on 30 March 1812 with a survey and continue with 'Different Designs for Entrance &c'. An entry for November is to do with 'alterations to the Riding House'. The accounts finish in October 1816.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal) has an undated drawing (plans and elevation) for Hinton St George. It is inscribed in pencil, probably by Soane. '(Copy Except that heights are to be taken from the present new part'. A reference to the raising of the ground level of the west front by Felton. B1975.2.420

The Yale Center for British Art (USA) has an interior perspective of the Saloon showing a shallow domed ceiling with a circular lantern, dated 16 January 1797. DR1983:0853. Copies of both drawings in the Soane Museum files.

Literature. Revd J. Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, drawn and engraved by T. Bonnor, 3 vols, 1791; P. Dean, Sir John Soane and the country estate, 1999, p. 187; J. Orbach & N. Pevsner, Somerset: south and west, 2014, pp. 362-5.

Jill Lever, September 2014
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