ARCHITECTURE

The House at Bramham is built in the manner of a Florentine villa of the 16th Century, an idea brought back by Benson from Italy in 1697, after the Grand Tour of Europe, which completed his education.

Bramham has been described as "a building of distinction and a refined individuality, its main elevation producing an impression of richness with a minimum of decorative detail or spatial massing, a creation oddly apart from stylistic fashions, neither baroque nor Palladian, but ‘classical' in the almost abstract sense of that word."[1]

No record exists of the architect. Giacomo Leoni, James Gibbs and Thomas Archer have all been suggested, as have James Paine and John Wood of Bath.  Paine certainly enhanced the stables with a clock tower, classical portico and flanking pavilions.  A Country Life article from 1958 linked the building of Bramham to Gibbs, on the evidence of a recommendation of Gibbs for and office by Benson.  In a letter the Earl of Marlborough writes ‘Lord Bingley can inform you how well qualified he [Gibbs] is that way'.

The architect, Thomas Archer, was employed by Benson and the earliest known payment to him was in 1698 for £28.10.0.  Whether he worked at Bramham is not known, although he was employed by Benson to build Harcourt House, his property in Cavendish Square, begun in 1700, but long since demolished.  Pevsner speculates that ‘it is not likely that Archer would have done without any of his beloved giant orders on so magnificent a job at Bramham Park. The general proportion, the banded rustication and a few details, on the other hand, have affinities to Archer's work in such places as Chatsworth (1705) and Heythorp (c.1705).'  A further large payment of £845.17.6 ‘To Mr.Archer' is recorded on 7th May 1700.  However, there is an unreferenced assertion that Archer did not work at Bramham because Benson is supposed to have quarrelled with him as a result of poor workmanship at Harcourt House, which was completed by 1705.

Robert Benson may well have been his own principal architect.  Contemporaries are on record as admiring his architectural knowledge and taste.  He was, for example, consulted by the Duke of Chandos over Canons and by the Wentworth family at Wentworth Castle, near Barnsley.

Colen Campbell included the East elevation and plan of Bramham in his 1717 2nd Volume of Vitruvius Britannicus

See the relevant section for details of the restoration of the House after the 1828 fire.


[1] Tim Mowl & Brian Earnshaw, JOHN WOOD: ARCHITECT OF OBSESSION, 1988

  • J P Neale Engraving 1821

    J P Neale Engraving 1821

  • House & Parterre

    House & Parterre

  • Garden Front & Broadwalk

    Garden Front & Broadwalk

  • Spring Flowers

    Spring Flowers

  • House from the T-Pond

    House from the T-Pond

  • House - Evening Light

    House - Evening Light

  • House from the Park

    House from the Park

  • House from the Front Lawn

    House from the Front Lawn

  • House - the Garden Front

    House - the Garden Front