The manor houses of Lackham 1050-1949 (part 2)

on Thursday, 12 November 2015. Posted in Lackham

The maps (32)

The earliest map so far found is that produced for Mr Talbot, of Lacock Abbey, in 1764.

This map gives wonderfully detailed information on the Lacock estate, the areas of the land holdings, who rented them and so on but only the vaguest outline of Lackham; it clearly shows the main drive and the outline position of the house, but the fine detail evident in the rest of the map is singularly lacking for Lackham.

The abundant woodland, for which we have documentary evidence, is only shown by three small, token, and undefined, areas of woodland. This map's value will become apparent, however, when discussing the various entrance ways into the estate (see below).


Fig.8 Extract from the map made for Mr Talbot, 1764 (33)

The footpath leading from Cuckoo Bush to Lackham House would appear to have run very close to the line now taken by the Back Drive. It is possible that when this drive was put in place (in about 1860) it followed the line of a path that had been in use for generations. Since the map was made the footpath to Chippenham, further to the west, has been diverted along the line of the brook eastwards, to hit the Back Drive about where the footbridge for the other path is seen on the map. The footpath to the House very clearly went to the east of the building, and enters somewhere “behind” the building, away from the avenue and the carriage drive. Servants use the back door...

The western edge of Lackham, where “Mr Kingston’s” land is noted, is identifiable today as being the large medieval boundary ditch still in existence.

The next map was made by Andrews and Drury in 1773 (Fig.9).

The representation of the house is not totally accurate, given the other illustrations we have available, but the multiple sections are shown and the layout of the grounds and woods are almost certainly accurate in essence if not scale. The major Manor houses were all drawn so that their faces were seen, looking from the bottom of the map, irrespective of their actual orientation.

The house is shown with a garden to the east and south and the small buildings visible in Dingley’s sketch are shown. The house area is shown as much longer east to west than it actually would have been and it doesn’t work very well.


Fig.9 Excerpt from Andrews and Drury’s map 1773 (redrawn by the author from the facsimile in W&SHC)

The circular driveway close to the west side of the house is not shown in the 1684 illustration (Fig.1).

The driveway from the Manor is clearly shown running down an avenue of trees that runs (roughly) westwards (down the page) from the house: this line is not the field track that runs from Notton Farm to Home Farm. There is documentary evidence for this avenue, Louisa Montagu recalled that “the approach to Lackham was through a long avenue of aged oaks” (34).

In the 1770’s, the drive turned south just before the current location of Notton Farm and debouched onto the Notton – Reybridge road. This trackway can still be seen and is still in use.


Fig.10 Old Lackham House and its environs (tentative)

Andrews and Drury’s map (Fig.9) shows a sharp, right-angled turn out of the avenue to the south, but this would have been a very awkward turn indeed for horse-drawn carriages (35). Talbot’s map, (Fig.8) however, indicates that the drive turned slightly north-east, so that it entered the avenue at a much shallower angle.

Fig.10 is a speculative plan of the house and gardens. There is evidence that the eastern garden did not extend completely across the width of the house and that the area south of this garden might have been a courtyard area. This would fit with the layout seen on the late seventeenth century floor plan (Fig.7). There might be archaeological evidence to support this, as what looked to be a courtyard area was found in approximately the correct location during the 1992 dig, but until the exact locations of the excavations have been fixed onto the floor plan this is not certain.

When James Montagu decided to build a new house in the late eighteenth century, only 4 years after inheriting Lackham from his father, he decided to position it along the line of the more northerly of the two avenues evident on the 1773 map (Fig.9). The new house was turned ninety degrees to the alignment of the original with a south facing aspect, rather than the westerly view of the original.

The exact date of this rebuild is unknown. For many years the best estimate was between 1790 (36) and 1797. The Rev. Samuel Denne FSA wrote that a friend of his was staying with Col. (37), with the likelihood being that it was closer to 1790.

The latest map that shows the old house would appear to be one prepared for the proposed Wilts & Berks Canal (Fig.11). It isn’t very detailed, but clearly shows the three main parts of the old house and that the building is facing west, not north.


Fig.11 Map of the proposed Wilts & Berks Canal (after 1793)

The Wilts & Berks Canal was conceived late in the period now associated with "Canal Mania"…

"A committee of potential investors having been formed in 1793, [they] commissioned a survey of possible routes from Robert Whitworth and his son William, the former a pupil of the great canal builder James Brindley. With a suitable route identified, the necessary Parliamentary Act granting compulsory purchase and other necessary powers was duly obtained in 1795" (38).

Thus the old house might have still been standing as late as 1795. In WANHS Library in Devizes, however, there is another map produced to support the proposal for the Canal. It was probably James Montagu’s copy as it bears his name on the outside.

The map clearly shows the new Lackham house (Fig.12) and as its inscription states it is for the “proposed” canal it must therefore predate the end of 1795. This ties the date for the building of the new house to between 1793 and 1795.


Fig.12 Map for the proposed Wilts & Berks Canal 1795

This clearly shows the new Lackham house, and as its inscription states it is for the “proposed” canal it must predate the end of 1795 (39). Therefore the current Lackham House was built by James Montagu VI sometime between 1793 and 1795.

There may be evidence that the new house was built by 1794; in Devizes there is another map, dated 1794 that also clearly shows the new house but the route of the canal follows the river to Chippenham, not the more easterly route with the branch canal to the town that is shown in the earlier map and which was the course actually built.


Fig.13 Map of the proposed canal dated 1794 (40). Because of this the reliability of the dating of this map is questionable and it is not felt that a date of 1794 for the existence of the new house can be definitely made.

The new house was a rectangular structure of two floors with a service block on the east and west end, separated from the main building but linked to it by a corridor running along the northern side of the building. Those who know Newton Park in B&NES will be familiar with this construction except that at Newton the connecting corridor is curves to bring the end blocks in front of the line of the main house; at Lackham the wall lines of the main house determine the north and south wall locations of the service blocks. There were areas between the wings and the main house, clearly seen on the maps above, open to the south.

The house didn’t remain like this for long. The eventual owner after the Montagus lost the estate was Captain Frederick Rooke. He made “substantial improvements": see below.

A map used in the 1831 sale offer is thought to have been produced “about 1816” (41), in which case it was made at about the time that the Trustees rented the estate to Col Tufnell for a few years. This map shows that the arrangement of the drives had been changed; the original entrance drive had been re-aligned at its eastern end to connect with the new house. It is clear that the drive arrives at the south side of the house rather than on the north as it does now. At this date the main entrance was where the current French windows open onto the garden terrace.


Fig.14 Mapp made c1816 (42)

The curving line running from the woods to the east of the house, all around the house and back to the woods might be a “ha-ha” (43) but would appear to be running along to the south of the ha-ha line, which runs along the southern side of the walk to the walled garden, The remains of this ha-ha can be seen both north and south of the house today.

The northern line is much less obvious but some stonework still exists, in the field to the north of the D lawn driveway (44).


Fig.15a Remains of boundary north of D lawn

The date of this walling is uncertain; the construction is not like that of either the terraces or the southern haha although it is closer in makeup to that of the Terrace walls. Excavation to show the base of the wall might help clarify this.

The grounds around the House are shown very clearly on the map and there are curving interconnected walkways through what would appear to be an area planted with shrubs rather than trees. There appears to be a small building to the east of the house, this may be a “Summer house” and is not seen after this period.


Fig.15b Close up of the area around the house from the map c1816

This map is the first to show the Walled Garden in position with one building in the line of the northern wall. Excavations alongside the southern wall of the Garden (46) showed that the brickwork is supported by a foundation layer of dressed ashlar blocks that almost certainly came from the demolition of the old house, and so the garden was probably built at the same time as, or just after, the current house.

A new drive left the old entrance way and ran north-east to intersect with the Chippenham – Melksham road a little north of the entrance where the later Front Lodge is now seen (47). Note the original drive, on the right, is still clearly in use.


Fig.16a Details of entrance locations c1816, map excerpt


Fig.16b Detail of entrance locations c1816 (48)

The line of the drive can be seen immediately south of the much later “pillbox” on the current Main Drive as a slight depression in the ground.


 Fig.17 Old drive depression - dotted line shows original drive profile

This map also shows that there were five separate ponds to the south, the most southerly of which is now probably the location the Alder Carr, and that Home Farm did not exist before this date; there was a large pond roughly where Home Farm is now.


Fig.18 Ponds c1816 (excerpt from 1816 map) (49)

The wooded area on the south side of the sharp bend in the river is also seen for the first time; this wooded area, Plucking Grove, still exists, but has been extended. The Front Drive now runs along its southern edge.

In 1831 the estate was being run by Trustees appointed by the Courts, with Captain Rooke as their tenant. The sale advertisement mentions the site of Lackham House “soon to be pulled down” (50). It is probable that it was felt that the house was worth more as a supply of building material than as a going concern. This was no idle suggestion; the ancient manor house at Alderton, also part of the Estate, had already been sold and demolished by this date. Happily, Captain Rooke was the purchaser, for the sum of £30,000.

Captain Rooke bought the estate in 1836. That was the year when the Tithe Commutation Act was passed (51) and two years later the Tithe Apportionment survey and map were made for Lacock. The map shows changes that had been made yet again in the layout of Lackham’s drives.

The major change was brought about by the decision, probably by Captain Rooke, to move the entrance to the House from the south to the northern side and making the northern driveway the major entrance to the Estate.

To mark this the Lodge had been built on the Chippenham to Melksham road (a on Fig.18 below). This Lodge was made “of Stone and Thatch, [with] 4 rooms“ (52). The drive was taken along the line of the already existing field track, replacing the more northerly line seen in Fig.13. The line of this drive had been changed so that, instead of joining the original entranceway close to its eastern end, it now ran parallel to it, a bit to the south of the line of the current Front Drive, to arrive on the northern side of the House. The original drive was diverted from its course to the south side of the House and now ran north past the western end of the building to meet the new Front Drive at the same point as the current Back Drive-Front Drive junction.

The new entrance to the House was marked by a new oval porch (a in Fig.18) and a widening of the drive in front of this (b) allowed carriages to turn around, draw up to the porch facing back up the drive and then proceed into the Stable Yard (c) easily. It is noteworthy that the drive did not go past the House further east.

The Lacock map and survey are held at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre (53).


Fig.19 Area around Lackham House 1838 (54)

The “embayments” between the House and the service areas on either side had by this time been closed up with walls that make a solid line along the south side of the building (d).

These walls may be some of the “considerable improvements” mentioned above and they were made very rapidly. It was known that he made changes from the announcement of the sale of the estate in 1856 (after Captain Rooke’s death):

"The handsome stone mansion with colonnade and wings, and on which the late proprietor expended several thousand pounds in substantial improvements, is delightfully placed upon a gentle elevation, with all its principal rooms opening to the South, and is suited in every respect for a family of rank and fortunes" (55)

but the scale of these improvements was only realised when, in 2009, an important watercolour dated 1844 came to light. This picture (56) clearly shows a three storey house with a colonnade in position.

This is the only known illustration of the house pre-dating the twentieth century. The large flag on the flag pole to the south of the house is the Red Ensign, which Captain Rooke was entitled to display being a retired naval officer.

Several items of interest can be seen in this picture; there has long been a question as to whether the specimen Beeches [Fagus sylvatica atropurpureum] in the garden area to the south west of the house are old enough to have been planted by the Montagus,


Fig.20 Lackham House 1844 by William Wallace Rooke

when the house was built. They are close to, but not on, the line of the original entrance drive.

The Orangery or Summer house, previously only known in 1864 from maps can be clearly seen, although it is displaced from the correct location much closer to the eastern end of the House. Nothing remains of it except the curve in the wall at the back of the Herbaceous border which was to accommodate the Summer House. It appears to have been a typical Orangery / Summer House of this period. A generation later it was described as being “a handsome Conservatory 35 feet by 18 feet with furnace and potting house in the rear” (57).


Fig.21 Summer house 1844 [detail from Fig 20]

The top of the “ha-ha”, the ornamental ditch that separates the lawn areas around the house from the productive countryside without forming a barrier visible from the house, is just visible in this picture, curving from its closest approach to the house on the eastern side (where it formed the southern side of a walk that linked the house with ornamental areas and the distant Walled Garden) to being three times further away from the building.


Fig.22 The ha-ha [detail from Fig.20]


Fig.23 House in 1844 showing the “new” walls [detail from Fig.20]

The most obvious change was the insertion of a third floor, which Lackham tradition holds to have been to accommodate his large family (58), but they were fully grown by the time Captain Rooke and his second wife bought Lackham. It may have been to accommodate a large number of servants.

Looking at the house it appears that the roof and pediment were removed, the new floor built and then top and roof put back on There is a line of decoration running across the west wall of the house that seems unconnected with anything but if the third floor is removed this decoration lines up with the base of the pediment. This would seem to suggest that the top decoration has been raised.

The map for the 1856 sale, when the estate was bought by Henry Berney Caldwell, doesn’t show any changes in the arrangement of the drives around the House from the 1838 one.


Fig.24 Lackham House as shown on the 1856 map


Fig.25 Map for the 1856 sale

The eastern block had a pediment to it; a photograph of the house (Fig.25) taken in the early nineteen 1960s (59), clearly shows one, but it is unknown if this was an original feature or added later, stylistically it seems to fit very well. It was removed when the roof was replaced some time in the mid 1970s (60).


Fig.26 Photograph of eastern range (date uncertain, <1965) (61)

It should be noted that the glass roofing visible here is a later addition, built by Maj. Gen. Llewellyn Palmer.

The Main drive had been changed and finally left the line established for at least 200 years, if not more, and took an alignment more closely relating to the arrangement seen today.

The drive still came out into the fields south of where the Pill box now is and then passed through two “screening” tree belts that were likely to have been put in to allow a surprise view of the house as the visitor passed between the trees.

“The approach to the mansion is by a neat lodge and iron gates from the Chippenham Road, with a carriage drive of about three quarters of a mile, chiefly through plantations” (62)


Fig.27 Detail from 1856 map showing driveways.

Home Farm was built sometime between 1816 and 1856, it appears for the first time on this 1856 map. The original drive had been abandoned and a new trackway to Home Farm (the one seen today) had been constructed. It used, however, the same entrance as the old main drive.

The next map is dated 1864, and was made for another sale that did not result in a change of ownership. It shows further development of the drive, see below.

There appears to have been changes made to the stream close to where it debouches into the Avon. A rectangular arrangement of channels appears to have been put in place, the reason for this is unknown, but it might have been to do with the shooting interests of the estate.


Fig.28 1864 map

The drive close to the house had changed, the major access way ran north of the house. Access to the porch area, clearly visible for the first time since the 1795 map, (Fig.12) was from the north-eastern side of the house.


Fig.29 Detail from 1864 map

The farm drive from Home Farm westwards followed its current line, going due south to the Reybridge road at its southern end, rather than following the line of the stream as seen in all the earlier maps.

There were three major changes, the first being the appearance of the Back Drive as it is seen today. This was an entirely new drive but following the line of the old footpath from the house to the Reybridge as seen in Talbot’s map of 1764 (Fig.8) and the construction of the Ornamental (Back) Lodge.

The date of the building of the Ornamental Lodge at the end of the Back Drive is uncertain. The County Buildings Record shows it as 1833 but this is probably based on architectural style. The Lodge is a typical "picturesque pattern book" lodge with tufa walls and these are common in the third decade of the nineteenth century. The 1864 catalogue described it as being “of ornamental character  built of rough stone with freestone dressings veranda &c containing 4 rooms” (63).

The 1856 map does not show a building at this location (this part of the estate is not visible in Fig.28 but is included on the full map held in W&SHC) but the lodge is clearly visible in 1864. This puts the date of its construction between these two years.

This appears to indicate that the Lodge was constructed, like the Back Drive, by Henry Berney Caldwell. It is interesting to note above the front door to the Lodge a painted crest (Fig.30) which fits the blazon for the Caldwell family of "Staffs, London and Worcs" (64). The date of this crest is not known.

The Lodge retains most of its original external features, although the fine chimney stacks that are seen in a photograph (65) from the mid 1960's have gone, it is believed they were unsafe and were removed.


Fig.30 Crest above the back door of “The Ornamental Lodge" (66)

The Front Drive had been straightened, passing north of the clumps of trees it had gone between only 8 years earlier, almost following its current line. Plucking Grove (the woodland north of the drive) had been extended. It is likely that the Balustrading at the eastern end of Plucking Grove, which allows the only view of the River Avon from any of the drives, was constructed at the same time.


Fig.31 Excerpt from the 1864 map showing the 1856 driveway

A description of the interior of the house is given on the sale notice for the 1866 sale:

"The interior accommodation of the mansion is as follows An enclosed portico entrance or vestibule conducting to a spacious paved hall of about 27ft by 19 ft on either side of which are a capital dining room about 27ft by 22ft; an elegant double drawing room about 31ft by 23ft and 27ft by 21ft, handsomely decorated; a library about 27ft by 21ft, a magistrates room, a billiard room, bath room, &c, 18 large and lofty sleeping apartments, with dressing rooms, and spacious domestic offices; with lawns, pleasure grounds, conservatories and vineries, walled garden, melon pit &c; excellent stabling for nine horses, coach houses, and out-offices, enclosed in a court-yard" (67).

However the 1864 catalogue was able to go into much more useful detail and gives a very complete description of the House and associated buildings; the “capital dining room” had

"an ornamental cornice and ceiling black and gold marble chimney piece and mahogany doors and"

the double drawing room had been decorated by Charles & Co of Great Castle Street with

"ornamental cornices and ceiling with white and gold enrichments a handsome carved statuary marble chimneypiece in each and mahogany doors"

The library was “fitted with a double iron repository in the wall between the windows and a variegated marble chimneypiece”.

A “handsome modern staircase with ornamental brass balustrade  and mahogany handrails” gave access to “four excellent bedrooms large and lofty, each being about 20 feet to 26 feet by 20 feet” as well as two smaller rooms and closets. There was also a secondary (servants) staircase.

The upper floor had 13 bedrooms, storage closets, a WC and gave access to the roof as well as a cistern for hot water from the kitchen boiler. The House water supply was contained in a “spacious cistern supplying the house and grounds with abundance of pure water” that was positioned above the whole of the third floor.

The east wing held the “domestic offices”, such as the Housekeeper’s / Butler’s room and store and a stone staircase led down to the Servant’s hall with the Butler’s Pantry and bedroom above it. There was a kitchen and scullery and a washhouse underneath the laundry. Here also was located the dairy, the bakery and three servant’s bedrooms. The eastern courtyard was “partly roofed with corrugated iron”.

Underneath the entire house ran the cellars, which was stone paved and to keep the damp from the walls a dry area extended completely around the house at basement level.

The western wing was separated from the House by a courtyard (the Magistrate’s room mentioned earlier had access directly into this courtyard) and housed the Stable department. On top of this wing there was, and still is – although now non-functioning – a turret clock. The stables had six loose boxes and three stalls, a double coach house with a loft above it. These buildings, the hay and straw storage and the tack room all opened onto a paved courtyard, at the extreme western end of the complex, that was enclosed by folding gates.

The next owner to make changes to the house was Brigadier General George Llewellen Palmer, who bought Lackham in 1893 for £17,562, from Lady Stapleton-Bretherton, who did not make any changes that have been identified. Disappointingly no details from this sale are known and the estate map is not available.

However we are very fortunate to have a photograph of the interior of the house at the very start of George Llewellen Palmer’s ownership although it shows it when his tenant, Mrs Taylor, was living there.

It is very fortunate that this picture exists as most of what is shown was swept away very soon afterwards; George Llewellyn Palmer moved into Lackham in 1900 after making alterations. From the local paper it is known that the redevelopment was extensive and took almost an entire year.


Fig.32 The Drawing Room, Lackham House, 1895 (reproduced by kind permission of Daphne Damery)

"Mr G Ll Palmer intends to remove from Springfields, Trowbridge, to Lackham between Chippenham and Lacock ... In January of this year the house was handed over to builders and so extensive are the alterations that the interior of the building has been almost completely remodelled [sic]. The house is lighted throughout by electricity, even in the cellars and outbuildings, and altogether about 330 lamps are provided while hot water pipes are laid throughout" (68).

Some of the plans for this work are available in W&SHC which provide a wealth of detail, not only of the construction but also of what was there previously. As mentioned above, George Llewellyn Palmer put the glass roof over the courtyard between the eastern block and the main house, to form a covered work area.

40Fig.33 Architectural plan for the 1899 development

A new servants’ hall, a dairy extending into the first floor and a new kitchen facility were built in the newly covered area. The plans show where existing walls were to be removed and thus some idea of the original layout of the building can be gained. The building was extensively remodelled, to give the basic structure seen today, although further modifications have since been made.

Fig.34 shows the ground floor of the area, Fig.35 the first floor.


 Fig.34 Ground floor plan 1899

During remodelling work in 2012 the floor of the old Dairy area was removed and the original tiled floor was revealed.

Changes were made to the first floor of the eastern block making bedrooms. It is likely these were for servants and it is probable that there was a direct connection between the Servants’ Hall and the east end block. This may be why the Servants’ Hall is shown elevated (Fig.36).


Fig.35 First floor plan 1899

If the plan shown in Fig.33 and the photograph of the area (Fig.23) are manipulated to align the two figures (Fig.36) an exact correspondence can be seen between the plan and the location of the first floor windows.


Fig.36 Comparison of photograph of the existing East block and the plan for the 1899 first floor plan

The plans for the 1899 developments also have a cross section through the new building (Fig.37) running through the Servants’ Hall and the dairy, in the glassed area between the East End block and the House.


Fig.37 Elevation plan 1899

From this plan it is seen that the current Porch replaced the original oval structure, seen on the 1838 Tithe map (“a” on Fig.19).

The OS map for 1886 shows the same arrangement of drives as today, with the Front Drive running straight across the front (northern side) of the House, and the Back Drive joining it immediately west of the front of the House. There is a carriage pull-around, but whether there was a hedge as there is today is unknown.

The OS maps clearly show the change in the floor plan of Lackham House due to the 1899 building.


Fig.38 Lackham House 1886, before the building work (70)

From this map the only clear information about the layout of the Walled Garden before modern times is found; the entrance to the garden appears to have been by the door in the north western comer. The map does not indicate any opening in the northern wall and none of the internal paths are shown connecting with it or the south wall. The layout of four quarter beds is very traditional and indeed is the arrangement seen in a photograph of c1950.


Fig.39 Walled Garden (1886 OS map excerpt)

Although not specifically shown it is possible that the paths in front of the green houses detour around  the “melon pits” mentioned in the 1864, or this may be an area of frames. If so they might have been there to help control the growth of grape vines inside the greenhouses.

The 1886 map clears up a question that has been unanswered for some time – was the fountain that is such a feature of the Top terrace today part of the original gardens or bought in when the terraces were built.  It is impossible to say that it is the same fountain but a fountain is clearly seen on the 1886 map. As the fountain now in place is stylistically even earlier than that, indeed mid eighteenth century or earlier it is very possible that it did come out of the gardens of the original house.


Fig.40 Lackham House 1926

What is even more obvious are the terraces, constructed by George Llewellyn Palmer between 1900 and 1904 (the attributable date of the first image of them currently known, see Fig.42 in the next part of this article).

To be continued!

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