Undisturbed for the best part of two centuries
The first evidence of the Pavilion’s existence appears on a drawing for a "plan for the intended lawn" proposed for Ingestre in 1756 by Lancelot "Capability" Brown for John, the second Viscount Chetwynd. Here a lightly sketched square outline indicates that the Pavilion was already standing in its present position at the western end of a grassy ride, backing on to the boundary wall of the park. Of its previous existence we know almost nothing. We do know that John Chetwynd and his brother Walter, the first Viscount, who died in 1735, were both enthusiastic "improvers" of their great estate.
It appears that the Pavilion belongs to the period when John was adding to and completing the work of his brother – he later swept much of it away. But although Ingestre was much visited by both tourists and writers, none of them rated the Pavilion as worth more than the barest mention and no reference to it has been found in the Chetwynd papers.
Although no design drawings for the Pavilion have survived, the RIBA Drawings Collection does hold an unsigned drawing for an unknown pavilion that is not unlike it, but without many of its oddities. For example, the front wall carried statues in niches, together with carved panels and swags, where the real Pavilion has vermiculated masonry; the window details are also different, and the Pavilion is both lower and broader in proportion. We may speculate that this drawing was used as a starting point for the building of the Pavilion, but that the designs were altered during their execution. The changes may have been made by a mason or sculptor engaged on its construction, and a candidate may be the mason-builder Charles Trubshaw, who in 1752 was working at Ingestre on a pedestal and dolphin in the new reservoir. The excellence of the carving of the screen of the Pavilion confirms the skill of the sculptural mason concerned. There is however no evidence that Trubshaw was in any way an original architectural designer. The gentleman-architect Sanderson Miller, who designed the Gothick Tower that once stood to the north of the Pavilion (and also the Landmark Trust’s Bath House at Walton, near Stratford), may have advised on the design – he was certainly at Ingestre in 1751 – or indeed Lord Chetwynd himself may have suggested the changes to Trubshaw. This however is no more than supposition.
An archaeological survey has shown that the original Pavilion was roughly square in plan, and larger than most garden buildings of its type – certainly bigger than necessary for a mere picnicking place, with a central large room surrounded by smaller ones. The number of rooms gave accommodation equivalent to that of a small house, but no evidence of a kitchen or of fireplaces has been found. Perhaps the Pavilion was used only as a summer-house; again, the pattern of its use by the family that built it can only be guessed at.
The Pavilion appears again on a survey map of 1789 and again on a map of the parish of Ingestre drawn up in 1802–3. But in the interim it had suffered drastic changes: more than half of the building – the central saloon and several side rooms – had disappeared, for reasons we can only guess at, leaving just the façade, the loggia and the small rooms on either side.
In this diminished form it stood undisturbed for the best part of two centuries.
For a short history of Ingestre Pavilion please click here.
To read the full history album for Ingestre Pavilion please click here.
To download the children's Explorer pack for Ingestre Pavilion please click here.
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Monday 13th February 2014