Antiques: Shropshire and the John Nash connection

PUBLISHED: 16:37 21 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:52 20 February 2013

Antiques: Shropshire and the John Nash connection

Antiques: Shropshire and the John Nash connection

John Nash was the Kevin McCloud of the Regency period

Shropshires grand designs

John Nash was the Kevin McCloud of the Regency period

Shropshire is famous for its countryside and the stately homes and houses it provides a setting for. However, the architects who envisaged and created them are often overlooked.

John Nash is perhaps most celebrated for the projects he completed for the Prince Regent, later King George IV, whose patronage presented him with such ventures as the Marble Arch, parts of Buckingham Palace and the magnificent Brighton Pavilion.

Before Nash was recognised and supported by the future king though, his work was largely conducted around West England and Wales and in particular Shropshire, provincial projects which led to his notoriety and subsequent royal favour.

One of the first of these was Longner Hall in Atcham, where Nash had to design and rebuild on existing premises. This remodelling was begun around 1803 at the request of Robert Burton and incorporates both a Gothic and Elizabethan revival in style. In addition to the changes Nash made to the hall, he was assigned the task of conceiving the lodge for the property. Deciding to employ the same characteristics prominent on the hall for continuity, this modest residence became a taster of what was to be found at the top of the drive.

During the early 19th century he was also acquiring significant patronage from the Berwick family of Shropshire, who set up residence in Attingham Park in 1785. This glorious 18th century house was originally designed by George Steuart, but later remodelled by Nash to conform to evolving Regency tastes.

This development occurred between 1797 and 1808, under the instruction of the 2nd Lord Berwick and is demonstrated best through the addition of a picture gallery to the already exquisite property. This extravagance was deemed necessary by the Lord to exhibit a large collection of art he had accumulated during a grand tour of Italy. Nash commandeered part of the courtyard to accommodate this gallery which was given a glazed roof by the use of a revolutionary cast iron frame, to show his pictures off as best as possible.

The Lordsevident fondness of Italy inspired Nashs most unique country dwelling, the Italian villa inspired Cronkhill at Attingham, built around 1802 and one of the earliest, if not the first, examples of Italianate architecture in Great Britain.

This deviation from the architectural norm is mirrored in Nashs most iconic creation, the Brighton Pavilion. Its unique design not only combines Gothic revival with British Regency but was also inspired by the Indian landscape, as well as exhibiting a Chinese-style interior. This truly exclusive style, which is exemplified beautifully in the book: Nashs Illustrations Of Her Majestys Palace At Brighton through a series of detailed etchings and embellishments dating from 1838.

As people from all over the world enjoy Nashs most famous triumphs, I have come to realise their very existence is perhaps indebted to the work he accomplished in Shropshire.

The book, valued at up to 800, will be coming up for auction at Halls next collective sale on December 15 at the Welsh Bridge Saleroom in Shrewsbury.

Maryanne Lineker-Mobberley is head of the books department
at Halls. Tel: 01743 284777.

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