queen annes summerhouse

Queen Anne’s Summerhouse is a building, which belies its grade 2 listed status. Its designer is unknown but it sits in the tradition of early 18th century landscape features. It bears a close resemblance to the castle style buildings of Sir John Vanbrugh and others of his era and may have been influenced by Thomas Archer who was working at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire at a similar time.

The location on a hill in a wood within a country house park has contributed both to its charm and its decay. The main house is now a college, which has no resources for the upkeep of outlying garden pavilions. With no mains services in the area and only two main spaces within, the building has little potential for domestic use. As a result the building had over the course of 30 years decayed almost to the point of no return.

The Landmark Trust has been able to find a suitably low-key use for the spaces as a holiday home let to members of the public. With grants, fundraising and its own resources it has been able to put into effect a rescue which could not be carried out by an educational trust or a private developer.

Of particular note here is the fine brickwork and the high degree of skill shown in repairs, which included the rebuilding of the upper parts of all four turrets, including their arched openings and the piece repair of the brick walling below. High quality craftsmanship is also evident in the repair of the wrought and cast iron railings, the internal plasterwork (including a new cornice run in situ) and the joinery. The latter was largely based on surviving parts, with forensic analysis of debris, photographs and some inference of detail form classical precedents.