Historic image of the Gothick seat re-worked: the left side buttress is missing in the original photo so I’ve copied, inversed and pasted the right buttress on to this image to present a visual representation of what the seat could look like.
Our vision is being realised: phase one of our restoration project is due to be completed in Spring 2013.
The following text is an extract from a report provided by our conservation and restoration specialists who are working on our Gothick Seat restoration project:
We think that the Gothick Seat at Uppark was probably commissioned in 1758 by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (1714-1774), whose account book for 1758 has an entry for ‘Gothick seats at Uppark £70 19s 7d’.
The architect (or designer) of the structure is unknown. The National Heritage List (which states the Gothick Seat or Gothick Summerhouse is grade II listed) suggests the structure is possibly by the architect Henry Keene (1726-1776) who also built a folly named the Vandalian Tower in South Harting for Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh in about 1770. Keene was notable for designing buildings in the Gothic Revival and Neoclassical style.
Dr Sarah Rutherford has however recently suggested the Gothick Seat may be part of the work undertaken at Uppark by the great landscape designer Humphry Repton (1752-1818) (Uppark Garden Conservation Statement July 2012, p. 32). Repton was commissioned by the Fetherstonhaugh family to make some alterations to the interior of Uppark, and to lay out the gardens. He produced a record of his ideas in one of his famous ‘Red Books’. Furthermore the Gothick Seat at Uppark appears very similar to structure at Woburn Abbey, made by the architect and garden designer Sir Jeffry Wyattville (1766-1840). It is interesting to note that Repton also worked at Woburn. If this attribution by Rutherford is correct the significance of the Gothick Seat at Uppark lies in its connection to Humphry Repton (sometimes called the last great landscape designer of the eighteenth century and often considered the successor to the famous Capability Brown) and the high-profile Wyattville (who was awarded the commission to remodel Windsor Castle in the 1820s).
Historian Kendrun Laurie believes however that the Gothick Seat is unlikely to have been designed by Repton, as it is not in the same ‘genre’ as his other works’ (Marigold Webb, Uppark Park and Garden Survey, 1990). The Gothick Seat is not described in Repton’s Red Book for Uppark. Furthermore if the entry for 1758 in the account book of Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh is assumed to be for this Gothick Seat then it is impossible that Repton was responsible as he was not employed at Uppark until the early nineteenth century.
The Gothick Seat sadly fell into decline in the twentieth century and we now intend to restore the structure to somewhere approaching the original condition and appearance. A conservation project is being undertaken which will seek initially to consolidate the structure and make essential repairs. This project eventually aims to reinstate lost joinery details and return to seat to a historically correct colour.
Image of the Gothick seat in 2011
Detail of buttress in workshop, the carving will be part of the second phase of the work, this can be seen in the photo below.
Close up of bench section of seat
Corner detail and post housing of the seat
We have secured funding for phase one to consolidate but have not secured funding for phase two, the carving. We’re thrilled to have got to this stage – this is the view you’ll be able to enjoy in years to come.