This fine Palladian house known as New Park, near Devizes, Wiltshire, was built between 1777 and 1783 and became part of the golden age of the Georgian country house. Its owner, James Sutton, was one of a new breed of landowners, benefitting from the proceeds of the boom in late eighteenth century trade and from local political influence.
The house was a celebration of the dynamism and success of Georgian Devizes, built on its thriving wool trade. As neoclassicism became the defining style for the late eighteenth English country house, New Park, later re-named Roundway Park, perfectly represented the high ambition of the age, the product of the prestigious architect, James Wyatt, and landscape designer, Humphry Repton. Roundway continued to prosper in the Victorian and Edwardian eras under the ownership of the Colston family of Bristol fame. In 1938, on the death of Rosalind Colston, the first Lady Roundway, the house and estate were, on the surface, indistinguishable from their Victorian heyday. But just sixteen years later, the estate had been sold and the house largely demolished as the effects of family tragedy and the weight of social and economic change took their toll.
The Forgotten Country House tells for the first time the story of Roundway’s rise and fall, the people who built and owned it, lived and worked there, and the contribution they made to their local community. It paints a vivid picture of the lives of gentry families who far outnumbered their more aristocratic counterparts and who played a central role in the rural communities that characterised much of Britain up until the mid-twentieth century.
Part family history, part love letter to the English country house, Simon Baynes draws on family papers and new research to pay a fitting, evocative tribute not just to his ancestors, but also to a lost world and the people who lived in it.