Tax Exile & Daily Mail proprietor Rothermere's country pile

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Apr 18 22:42:45 BST 2012

Ferne Park, Wiltshire, just East of Shaftsbury & South of the A30

The building of a modern Classical 'masterpiece'
Posted on May 8, 2010 - Ferne House, Wiltshire (Image: Q&F Terry, Architects)
The English country house is considered our 
greatest contribution to the field of 
architecture – the unified vision of house and 
landscape combined with fine interiors, superb 
furnishings and exceptional art collections.  Yet 
in the 20th-century, it seemed that after Lutyens 
we largely lost our ability to excel in their 
creation – the new country houses seemed shadows 
of our earlier confidence, lacking the grand 
flair, and certainly the detailing, which had so 
defined the Georgian Classical house.  This was 
partially due to financial circumstances but also 
due to the influence of modernism which sought to 
re-interpret the country house in a new language 
– and it often didn’t translate well.
Yet, there are signs that given the right client 
and the right architect, we can again create the 
sort of country houses which will be admired in 
200 years. Country Life magazine this week (5 May 
2010) features one of the best country houses to 
be built in the last 70 years; Ferne Park in 
Wiltshire, winner of the Georgian Group award for 
the Best Modern Classical House in 2003.
This is a house built in the finest traditions of 
the English country house – with its clear use of 
the Palladian vocabulary but skilfully 
reinterpreted for the location and the needs of 
the client, Lady Rothermere.  The architect 
responsible, Quinlan Terry, has been responsible 
for some excellent buildings but this may well be 
his best.  The new house, built in 2000-2, was on 
the site of a previous Georgian mansion called 
Ferne House which was demolished in 1965 having 
fallen into a poor condition.  By rebuilding on 
the same site, Terry had a setting which was 
simply waiting for a new house to be created.
The local authority had already set the 
requirement that the new house must be Classical 
so both client and architect drew on other houses 
they knew such as Came House (Dorset) and 
Castletown Cox (Ireland), and were able to 
develop a distinctive plan for the site.  The 
house also cleverly has contrasting fronts with 
the dramatic views to the north matched by the 
stately columns and pediment, whilst the south, 
with the gentler views into Dorset, using a simpler facade.
Ferne Park has revived hope that it is possible 
to build a successful Classical house which is 
recognisably a continuation of the the glorious 
Georgian traditions which have created so many of the houses we love today.

Ferne Park is a modest sized country house 
constructed in the English Palladian tradition, 
inspired by Came House near Dorchester. The 
entrance front has a central giant composite 
order and pediment; the garden front on the south 
side also has a central pediment but with a 
smaller Ionic doorcase. The front door leads into 
a large square hall with freestanding Doric 
columns. The house stands in a central position 
in a park, its four symmetrical elevations 
visible from all sides. It is built in Portland 
and Chilmark stone. It won the Georgian Group 
award for the Best Modern Classical House 2003.
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