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Rousham House, Rousham

Description: Rousham House

Grade: I
Date Listed: 27 August 1957
English Heritage Building ID: 252860

OS Grid Reference: SP4783424221
OS Grid Coordinates: 447834, 224221
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9145, -1.3060

Location: Station Road, Bicester OX6 3QU

Locality: Rousham
Local Authority: West Oxfordshire District Council
County: Oxfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: OX6 3QU

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Listing Text

14/204 Rousham House
27/08/57 (Formerly listed as Rousham
House, together with Dovecote
and stables)
Country house. Built c.1635 for Sir Robert Dormer; remodelled 1738-40s by
William Kent for General James Dormer; enlarged c.1860 by William St. Aubyn.
Coursed limestone rubble with ashlar quoins and dressings; lead roof; hipped
Welsh slate roofs to side wings; moulded stone ashlar stacks. C17 H-plan with
wings flanking hall, had side wings added by Kent and rear block added by St.
Aubyn. Jacobean 3-storey, 7-window range front with canted bays to front of side
wings and crenellated parapet. 3-storey porch has round-arched doorway and C17
studded inner door with musket holes. Chamfered stone-mullioned windows; Kent
removed ground and first-floor mullions and his octagonal glazing is retained in
windows to right; c.1860 plate-glass sashes. Ogee-cupola by Kent to roof.
Jacobean-style block by St. Aubyn to rear. C17 house flanked by Kent's 2-storey
pavilions: on garden side are canted bay windows with octagonal glazing set in
Jacobean-style mullioned and transomed windows, which are flanked by Gothick
ogee niches with statues of classical subjects by Henry Cheere; dentilled
cornice with small pediments. Joined to house by one-storey corridors with
crested parapets: marble busts by Scheemakers and urn set in ogee niches, and
C17 studded door with musket holes set in chamfered Tudor-arched doorway.
Interior: each staircase has mid C17 staircase with turned balusters and lantern
finials set on newels; fine mid C17 panelled room on first floor of west wing.
C17 and C18 interior features, of prime importance being the Parlour and
Library. Parlour in east wing by William Kent: panelled room with
elaborately-moulded doorcases. Richly carved Baroque overmantel, with Medusa's
head, swags etc., by John Marden has swans flanking painting of Mountebanks by
Van Laer; painted ceiling by Kent depicts romantic landscapes and arabesques,
and Ceres, Bacchus and Venus in central medallion; carved wall brackets made by
Kent for General Dormer's collection of Italian bronzes. Library in west wing
has vaulted Moorish ceiling and Gothic frieze to fireplace by Kent; overmantle
frames portrait of General Dormer by Van Loo; frieze has relief of Leda and the
Swan by Rusconi. Library turned into Drawing Room c.1760 by Thomas Roberts of
Oxford, who made elaborate rococo plasterwork frames for doorcases, windows and
portraits, with eagles set in broken pediments. The Parlour is a rare and
complete example of Kent's work. The house and gardens (q.v.), also landscaped
by Kent, for General James Dormer, are still owned by the Cottrell-Dormer
family. The gardens have been noted as being "The most complete and typical of
William Kent's gardens" (Hussey, 1967) and are of prime importance as the most
complete early example of informal landscape design.
(Rousham Park is included in the H.B.M.C. Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade
I; Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: pp741-3; National Monuments Record; M.
Jourdain, The Work of William Kent, 1948, passim; H.M. Colvin, A. Biographical
Dictionary of British Architects, 1660-1840, 1978, p493; M.T. Wilson, William
Kent 1685-1748, 1984, pp214-7; C. Hussey, "Rousham, Oxfordshire", Country Life,
Vol 94 (1946)).
(For Rousham Park Gardens (q.v.) see also K. Woodbridge, "William Kent's ,
Gardening: the Rousham Letters', Apollo, Vol 100 (1974); C. Hussey, English
Gardens and Landscapes, 1700-1750), 1967, pp147-153; J. Fleming, "William Kent at
Rousham", Connoisser, Vol 153; C. Hussey, "A Georgian Arcady.,.", Country Life,
Vol 94 (1946))

Listing NGR: SP4783424221

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.