Tong Castle was a very large mostly Gothic country house in Shropshire whose site is between Wolverhampton and Telford, set within a park landscaped by Capability Brown,on the site of a medieval castle of the same name.
The original castle was built in the 12th century. During the Civil War it was defended for the King by William Careless,and afterwards by George Mainwaring. The original structure was demolished in 1765 after the estate had been purchased by George Durant from the Duke of Kingston who built the house illustrated.
The building has been described both as an "architectural mongrel"and more flatteringly as "the first real gothic building in Shropshire". While at first glance there appear some anomalies of design, such as the ogee domes which, though Gothic in shape, are more redolent of the English Renaissance style, the house was actually in the Strawberry Hill Gothic style popularized by Horace Walpole.
George Durant bought the estate at Tong in 1764 and commissioned Lancelot "Capability" Brown to provide plans for rebuilding the castle and to improve the landscape around the castle in 1765.Brown's account book shows a charge to Durant in 1765 for "Various Plans for the alterations of Tong Castle. My Journeys there several times" covering both the house and grounds, and making it Brown's first commission in Shropshire. Water features north and south of the castle were altered to create Church or North Pool and the serpentine South Pool and two larger lakes were added built following Capability Brown's plans. The kitchen garden was moved further from the house and it is suggested that Brown was responsible for installing an ice house. The Tudor Tong Castle was remodelled in the Gothic style, only retaining the main block of the 16th Century red-brick castle. Some of the stone from the college that had stood near Tong church was reused in the new building.
Walpole's Gothic house at Strawberry Hill was begun in 1749, expanded in 1760, and completed in 1776. Thus the comparatively early date of 1765 for Tong Castle to be erected in this fairly rare style would today have made Tong of the highest architectural grading class. The crenellated towers and pediments coupled with the paned, rather than traditional Gothic leaded, windows crowned by ogee curves are typical of this style, as too are the generous bay windows with circular windows and cruciform motifs in the upper levels. The later 19th-century Gothic tended to be more ecclesiastical and sombre in mood, with dark rooms lit by lancet windows while the earlier Gothic had larger windows and a "joie de vivre" of design not found in later versions of the style.
In 1756, Maria Fitzherbert (born Mary Ann Smythe) was born in Tong Castle when it was still owned by the Duke of Kingston; she may have been his illegitimate daughter.[ citation needed ] She eventually married George IV (when he was the Prince of Wales) after being twice widowed. She died in Brighton in 1837 without being formally recognised as George IVs wife due to her Catholic lineage and that official sanction to the marriage had not been given by George's father, King George III.
The house passed from the Durant family in 1854 to the Earl of Bradford. The Earl had no wish to live at Tong but expanded his estate in the area and let the house,chiefly to the Hartley family of Wolverhampton who leased it between 1856 and 1909.
In 1911 the house was damaged by fire and remained unrestored and increasingly structurally unstable until demolished in 1954and the site is currently part of the route of the M54 motorway. Features of Capability Brown's work can still be seen at Tong, including foundations of the castle, Church Pool and clumps of oak and beech trees. Tong Castle is a Grade II Listed site for its special architectural or historic interest and its Historic England List Entry Number is 1176612. Tong Castle was first listed on 29 August 1984.
Lancelot Brown, more commonly known as Capability Brown, was an English landscape architect. He is remembered as "the last of the great English 18th-century artists to be accorded his due" and "England's greatest gardener".
Humphry Repton was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, often regarded as the successor to Capability Brown; he also sowed the seeds of the more intricate and eclectic styles of the 19th century. His first name is often incorrectly rendered "Humphrey". In 2018, the bicentenary of Repton's death, several groups held events throughout the United Kingdom to celebrate his work.
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from a wooden fort, originally built by William the Conqueror during 1068. Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England, situated on a meander of the River Avon. The original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th-century military architecture. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house, and it was owned by the Greville family until 1978, when it was bought by the Tussauds Group.
Claremont, also known historically as 'Clermont', is an 18th-century Palladian mansion less than a mile south of the centre of Esher in Surrey, England. The buildings are now occupied by Claremont Fan Court School, and its landscaped gardens are owned and managed by the National Trust. Claremont House is a Grade I listed building.
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Weston Park is a country house in Weston-under-Lizard, Staffordshire, England, set in more than 1,000 acres (400 ha) of park landscaped by Capability Brown. The park is located 10 miles (16 km) north-west of Wolverhampton, and 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Telford, close to the border with Shropshire. The 17th-century Hall is a Grade I listed building and several other features of the estate, such as the Orangery and the Stable block, are separately listed as Grade II.
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Thomas Harrison was an English architect and bridge engineer who trained in Rome, where he studied classical architecture. Returning to England, he won the competition in 1782 for the design of Skerton Bridge in Lancaster. After moving to Lancaster he worked on local buildings, received commissions for further bridges, and designed country houses in Scotland. In 1786 Harrison was asked to design new buildings within the grounds of Lancaster and Chester castles, projects that occupied him, together with other works, until 1815. On both sites he created accommodation for prisoners, law courts, and a shire hall, while working on various other public buildings, gentlemen's clubs, churches, houses, and monuments elsewhere. His final major commission was for the design of Grosvenor Bridge in Chester.
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Cholmondeley Castle is a country house in the civil parish of Cholmondeley, Cheshire, England. Together with its adjacent formal gardens, it is surrounded by parkland. The site of the house has been a seat of the Cholmondeley family since the 12th century. The present house replaced a timber-framed hall nearby. It was built at the start of the 19th century for George Cholmondeley, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley, who designed most of it himself in the form of a crenellated castle. After the death of the Marquess, the house was extended to designs by Robert Smirke to produce the building in its present form. The house is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.
George Durant was a British landowner and politician.
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William Baker of Audlem (1705–1771) was an architect, surveyor and building contractor, working in Shropshire and the adjacent counties in the middle years of the 18th century.
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