Corsham was a royal manor in the days of the Saxon kings, reputed to have been a seat of Ethelred the Unready. After William the Conqueror, the manor continued to be passed down through the generations in the royal family. It often formed part of the dower of the Queens of England during the late 14th and early 15th centuries, becoming known as Corsham Reginae. During the 16th century, the manor went to two of Henry VIII's wives, namely Catherine of Aragon until 1536, and Katherine Parr until 1548.
During the reign of Elizabeth I the estate passed out of the royal family; the present house was built in 1582 by Thomas Smythe. In 1745, Paul Methuen bought the house, which has since remained in the Methuen family.
In 1761-64, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was commissioned to redesign and enlarge the house and landscape park. Brown set the style of the present day building by retaining the Elizabethan stables, the Riding School, and the great gabled front to the house, which he doubled in depth and provided gabled wings at either end of the house, creating the Picture Gallery and State Rooms in the east wing and a library and new kitchens in the west wing. The Picture Gallery was designed as a triple cube and boasts a coffered plasterwork ceiling over a high cove stuccoed in scrolls, designed by Brown and carried out by Thomas Stocking of Bristol (1763-66). The Long Gallery contains of Italian Old Masters, with a famous marquetry commode and matching pair of candlestands by John Cobb (1772) and four pier glasses designed by Robert Adam (1770).
In 1795 Paul Cobb Methuen commissioned Humphry Repton to complete the landscape, left unfinished at Brown's death with the lake still to be completed, and in 1796 commissioning John Nash to completely remodel the north façade in the 'Strawberry Hill' Gothic style, beating out the experienced James Wyatt for the commission: Wyatt was furious. Nash further embellished other areas of Brown's external building works, including Brown's Gothic Bath House in the North Avenue, as well as reorganising the internal layout to form a grand hall and a library, at the center of which is the large library table associated with a payment to Thomas Chippendale's partner Haig, in 1779. By 1808 much of Nash's work was replaced with a more solid structure, when it was discovered that he had used unseasoned timber in beams and joists; all of Nash's work at Corsham save the Library was destroyed in remodelling by T. Bellamy (1844-49).
The layout of grounds and gardens by "Capability" Brown represent his most important commission after Blenheim Palace. Brown planned to include a 50,000 m² lake. This lake, however, was not completed until some forty years later, by Humphry Repton, who formed his long working relationship with Nash at Corsham Court. They laid out avenues and planted the specimen trees, including American oaks, Quercus coccineus and Q. phellos, and the magnificent Oriental Plane. Some of the scenes from Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon were filmed at Corsham Court.
International show brings big-name artists to Bath ; An important new Bath Spa art show will be split between the new Sion Hill gallery and historic Corsham Court
Sep 30, 2010; Several of the most innovative and prominent figures in contemporary art are taking part in an international exhibition at Bath...