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Description: Grotto in Carshalton Park
Date Listed: 16 March 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 206793
OS Grid Reference: TQ2825764064
OS Grid Coordinates: 528257, 164064
Latitude/Longitude: 51.3612, -0.1592
Grotto in Carshalton
TQ 2864 SW 23/3 16.3.54.
Early C18; in his description of the design for Carshalton House Leoni wrote
"behind the House is a delicious Garden adorned with variety of Statues and Fountains,
as also with a Canal of a very noble length and breadth, terminating in an ample
and delightful Grotto, most artfully contrived and adorned with a great number
of rarities, according to a curious design invented by the Master of the House
himself". (See "Some designs for Buildings both Publick and Private" in Vol 3
of "The Architecture of Leoni Battista Alberti", translated by Leoni and published
The outside of the grotto has symmetrical curved walls of brick ramped up gradually
to the central peak and following the outline of the earth hill behind it. The
splayed walls flanking the centre have plain segmental topped and backed alcoves,
and the centre has 3 round-headed arches with wide rectangular "piers" between,
the central arch being wider and taller than the others. The arches open into
a rectangular vestibule with round-headed niches at the ends, and from here access
is had to a large octagonal room with brick walls and cambered ceiling rising
from a coved brick cornice. Facing the entrance inside is a segmental-headed
and backed niche. Outside the grotto is the brick retaining wall of the long
water. Decoration has disappeared.
Carshalton Park was the seat of Sir William Scawen. Mascalls, the old manor
house, was referred to by Aubrey in 1718 as "a handsome old house .... with behind
it a fine garden adorned with reservoirs of water, also a long and pleasant walk
of orange and lime trees and a wilderness", After the death of Sir William Scawen
in 1723 plans were prepared by Giacomo Leoni, the celebrated architect of George
I, for a new house; these came to nothing and the family moved to Stone Court
and Woodcote Park. It is not at present known what happened to the old house,
Mascalls. A possibly new house, with a front of late C18 to early C19 date is
shown in a print of 1819. Most of the estate has now been built over, and the
iron gates illustrated in Starkie Gardner's "Ironwork" have been removed to Planting
Fields, Oyster Bay, Baltimore, now owned by New York University. The only features
surviving apart from the landscape treatment of the Park are this grotto, the
former orangery or garden temple in The Square, and sections of the Park Walls.
Listing NGR: TQ2825764064
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.