Clandon Park House is an early 18th-century grade I listed Palladian mansion in West Clandon, near Guildford in Surrey.
It stands in the south east corner of Clandon Park, a 220-hectare (540-acre) agricultural parkland estate which has been the seat of the Earls of Onslow for over two centuries. The house and gardens were gifted to the National Trust in 1956, but the rest of the park remains in private ownership. Some of the house’s contents have also been acquired by the Trust in lieu of estate duty.
Construction of the house, designed by Italian architect Giacomo Leoni, began about 1730, and the interiors were finished by continental sculptors and plasterers in the 1740s. It replaced an Elizabethan house. The park was landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in 1781, and there are two formal gardens on either side of the house. Nearby is a Māori meeting house, one of only three outside brand-new Zealand, that was brought to England in the late 19th century. After being transferred to the National Trust, the house underwent restoration before it was opened to the public, and later became a marriage venue and filming location for period dramas.
The house was badly damaged by fire in April 2015, probably caused by an electrical fault in the basement, leaving it "essentially a shell". Thousands of historic artefacts, paintings, and items of furniture were lost in what has been described as a national tragedy. In January 2016, the National Trust announced that some of the principal rooms on the ground floor would be fully restored to the original 18th-century designs, and upper floors will be used for exhibitions and events.
The estate and Elizabethan house, together with Temple Court Farm at Merrow, was purchased in 1641 from Sir Richard Weston of nearby Sutton Place, by Sir Richard Onslow, MP for Surrey in the Long Parliament and great-grandfather of Thomas Onslow, 2nd Baron Onslow, who rebuilt it. Many members of the Onslow family followed political careers; three of them, including Arthur Onslow, were Speakers of the House of Commons. Their portraits would later hang in the Speaker’s Parlour at Clandon House.
Engraving of the house, showing the west front and deer park, c. 1824
The house was built, or perhaps thoroughly rebuilt, in about 1730–33 (the latter date is on rainwater heads) by Thomas Onslow, 2nd Baron Onslow to the design of the Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni. It is a rectangular building of red brick and stone dressings. Clandon House interiors, completed in the 1740s, featured a two-storey Marble Hall, containing marble chimney pieces by the Flemish sculptor Michael Rysbrack, and a rococo plasterwork ceiling by Italian-Swiss artists Giuseppe Artari and Bagutti.
Clandon Park was landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in 1776–81, replacing a French garden and transforming part of a disused canal into an ornamental lake. A porte-cochère was added to the principal facade in 1876. A sunken Dutch garden was created by Frances, Countess of Onslow at the north front of the house in the late 19th century. In 1895, the house was investigated for paranormal activity by the Marquess of Bute and Ada Goodrich Freer on behalf of the Society for Psychical Research. During World War I, the Onslow family created and managed a hospital in Clandon House for the war injured.
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