'Against the Time in Which the Fabric and Use of Gunpowder Shall Be Forgotten': Enmore Castle, Its Origins and Its Architect

by Tim Mowl
'Against the Time in Which the Fabric and Use of Gunpowder Shall Be Forgotten': Enmore Castle, Its Origins and Its Architect
Tim Mowl
Architectural History
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'Against the time in which the fabric and use of gunpowder

shall be forgotten'

Enmore Castle, its origins and its architect


The one constant in the history ofEnmore Castle from its construction, I 75 1-57, to the

present day has been its obscurity. In architectural history its impact has been so slight

as to make a very real point about aesthetics and motivation in the early years of the

medieval revival. Enmore was a very large moated castle, highly innovatory for its

building period, and the creation of a prominent politician, an Irish peer who was a

member of the English House of Commons. In spite of this it never captured the

imagination of its times nor the interest of later historians of the Revival, only the

dismissive mockery of Horace Walpole, reproduction in a few prints and some brief

mention in country histories and tours of England.

The second Earl of Egmont, John James Perceval (Fig. I), who designed the castle

himself and supervised its construction as his principal seat, was a trenchant pamphlet-

eer and, until his elevation to the English peerage as Baron Love1 and Holland in 1762, a

powerful debater in the Commons. In 1751 he had seemed within a Prince's breath of

the office of Prime Minister and he remained influential in parliamentary factions even

after the sudden death, 20 March 175 I, of his chief supporter ~rederick, the Prince of

Wales. Lord Bute made him joint Paymaster-General in November 1762, then, in

September 1763, First Lord of the Admiralty, a post which he held until August 1766.

He died, aged fifty-nine, in December 1770.

Writing about him in a letter to Mann of 4 March 1749, two years before Egmont

began work at Enmore, Horace Walpole described the Irish Earl with what reads like

detached admiration:

Egmont has taken the lead in the Opposition, and has made as great a figure as perhaps was ever made in so short a time. He is very bold and resolved, master of vast knowledge, and speaks at once with fire and method. His words are not picked and chosen like Pitt's, but his language is useful, clear and strong. He has already by his parts and resolution mastered his great unpopularity, so far as to be heard with the utmost attention, though I believe nobody had ever more various difficulties to combat. All the old corps hate him on my father's and Mr Pelham's

account; the new part of the ministry on their own. The Tories have not quite forgiven his having left them in the last Parliament.'

Many years later, when he had reason to see Egmont not as an able politician but as a rival medievalist, Walpole's tone had changed notably. He was describing events of 1762:

While men were taken up with the politics of the age, there was a Minister so smitten with the exploded usages of barbarous times, that he thought of nothing less than reviving the feudal system . .. Lord Egmont was such a passionate admirer ofthose noble tenures and customs, that he rebuilt his house at Enmere [sic] in Somersetshire in the guise ofa castle, moated it round and prepared it to defend itselfwith cross-bows and arrows, against the time in which the fabric and use of gunpowder shall be forg~tten.~

This passage reduces Egmont to a figure of farce, an anticipation of Thomas Love Peacock's Mr Chainmail, a character who 'laments bitterly over the inventions of gunpowder, steam and gas' and who held 'that the best state of society was that of the twelfth century'. There was indeed a certain factual basis for Walpole's ridicule because Egmont had, while First Lord, actually petitioned George I11 in a perfectly rational, even persuasive, document to be given Newfoundland to hold on a feudal tenure and 'had prevailed with the Council to suffer him to make the experiment, if General Conway had not chanced to arrive at Council and expose the folly of such an undertaking'.

Egmont was clearly a reactionary extremist, personally ambitious and obsessive over matters of aristocratic rights and status. He and his father the first Earl had both been deeply concerned over the question of precedence between Irish and Scottish peers. But he was not quite the foolish eccentric suggested by Walpole's account. In A Tour ojmEngland by the Revd S. Shaw, published in 1789, there is a fairer and more probable echo of what Egmont's real antiquarian purposes were when he designed Enmore:

The castle is a true representation of those ancient habitations, which, amid the rivalries, animosities and dangers offeudal times, were the impregnable protection of every potent Baron before the invention of gunpowder and the use of artiller~.~

Lord Palmerston's journal of 1787 supports this impression that Enmore had been contrived deliberately as an antiquarian reconstruction: 'built by the last lord (whose hobby horse was the feudal system) directly on the style of the castle of an ancient baron, ~oo years ago. It is built of the coarse rough stone of the country with a deep moat and a drawbridge . . . The house is dull, very indifferently furnished and little attended to or visited by the present L~rd'.~

So the castle appears to have been intended, at least in part, as a historicist demonstration piece, but was already falling into the blight of neglect because only its drawbridge, working on a complex system of counterweights, could be considered picturesque by the standards of the Goths. The dry and unenthusiastic account of Enmore that appeared in Collinson's Somerset of 1791 catches both the prodigious design of the castle and its almost complete lack of charm:

It is a very singular structure, being a large quadrangular embattled pile, built of a reddish dark-coloured stone, having semicircular bastions at the corners [the bastions were in fact set in

the middle of three of the castle's four sides], and inclosing a spacious court within. It is surrounded by a dry fosse forty feet wide, and sixteen deep, which opens all round into the offices under the castle, and also into a range of others under the lawn that surrounds it: amongst the latter are the stables, which are all underground; the principal way into them is at some distance from the castle, the entrance being at the side of the hill.6

In 1834, at a time when romantic feudal strongholds were eminently acceptable as seats for the nobility, the greater part of the castle's massive superstructure was pulled down, the virtually indestructible subterranean works surviving almost intact. What remained above ground was given a double classical portico to the east. Only to the west was a section of Lord Egmont's walls and one semicircular bastion left standing under a new roof. Today these east and west portions of Enmore form one of the least likely semi-detacheds in Britain as two linked but separate houses (Figs 2 and 3). Underneath them and far out into the park extends a series of vaults and underground galleries, worthy of any Gothic novel and inhabited, quite literally, by bats and toads. One passage emerges in the graveyard of the neighbouring church.

All this drama failed to engage the attention ofEastlake or any subsequent historians of the Gothic Revival, presumably because that term appears to preclude mention of the round arches of 'Saxon', 'Baronial', 'Castle-style' or 'neo-Norman' work. Topographical method obliged Nikolaus Pevsner in his Buildings ofEngland series to record the remains of a 'large pseudo-baronial mansion with a central courtyard, corner towers, curved intermediate towers, and a turreted gate house'.' The date he offered for its construction, c. 1779, was almost thirty years out; and consequently he missed Enmore's significance.

Only Alastair Rowan, in his unpublished Cambridge thesis 'The Castle Style,' gave Enmore some at least of its reasonable due.8 Prof. Rowan appears not to have visited the castle at the time when he was writing, and his relation of it to supposed Scottish precursors, Linlithgow Palace and ~eriot's Hospital, was incorrect. He had not appreciated the strong Irish connections ofthe Perceval family. But it was Rowan who, while writing that 'none ofthe building accounts have been traced', actually pointed the way, via his footnotes, to substantial documentation in the British Library that records the first year of construction work at Enmore in some detail.g These papers firmly establish the second Earl as his own architect. They make it possible to trace the sources ofits unusual design and to understand the motives of an early medievalist who can be said, in the light of later developments, to have taken the wrong stylistic turning.

Although it is set in quiet Somerset farmland, nine miles south of Taunton, those features in the design ofEnmore which distinguished it from the mainstream of English neo-medievalism have their origin in the insecurities of seventeenth-century Ireland. The second Earl ofEgmont was the sixth generation ofthe Perceval family to have been caught up in an uneasy seesaw between plunder in Ireland and respectability in Somerset. Richard Perceval (1550-1620), the Earl's grandfather three times removed, had been a gentleman with estates in north Somerset around Tickenham and in south Somerset around Burton, a village only ten miles from Enmore. He had sold most of his Tickenham property to buy a base in County Cork and thereafter, by unscrupulous legal manipulation, he and his son, Sir Philip Perceval (1605-47) had collected enormous land holdings in Cork, Tipperary and Wexford, all at the expense of the


native Catholic Irish. In 1637 Sir Philip obtained special licence from the crown to erect a new manor of Burton in the heart of County Cork, as a memento of his Somerset links.

Foreseeing retribution in the approach of the Irish rebellion of 1641 Sir Philip Perceval fortified several of his castles. Lohort, a fifteenth-century tower house of the MacCarthy's, he surrounded with four wedge-shaped bastions to resist modern artillery and a wide star-shaped moat. Liscarrol had been built by the Barrys in the thirteenth century and was a large rectangular enclosure with round corner towers and square intermediate towers to the north and south, that to the south serving as an entrance gate. Its new master added a low triangular ravelin fort to strengthen the gatehouse and dug an extensive system of moats with low earth bastions 'in the nature of a crown work' on the opposite side of the medieval castle.1° The parallels with Enmore's design will become apparent. A further Perceval castle, Kanturk, was not re-fortified as it had never been completed by its original owner, MacDonagh MacCarthy. Kanturk was a large, compact tower house with square projecting towers at each corner, all crowned with a continuous row of massive stone corbels.

When the rebellion broke out Sir Philip made a strategic retreat to Dublin, but the sieges and subsequent capitulations of the Perceval garrisons at Lohort and Liscarrol became part of the later family legend. As the Irish struggle widened into the Civil War Sir Philip moved back to England, nursing losses of&248,000, and, though he changed sides to support the Parliament, he was obliged to sell the family estate of Burton in Somerset.

His son John recovered all the ill-gotten Irish estates and was made a baronet in 1661. He and his two sons, Philip and John, proceeded to build at Burton between 1665 and 1683 one of the finest houses in all Ireland, a great seven-bay classical house, topped like Coleshill with a domed gazebo and splendidly furnished in its state rooms. As a prescient reminder of recent history it was surrounded by a complex of walled courts containing the various offices, and at each corner of the enclosure was a square projecting tower. In 1690, only seven years after its completion, Burton was burnt down by the retreating Catholic followers of King James 11. Its owner at that time was a seven-year-old child, John Perceval, who was to become the first Earl of Egmont and the father of the man who designed and bdilt Enmore. All this tempestuous history of siege and of fine houses put suddenly to the torch was, therefore, not a remote tale of medieval violence for the Perceval family, but a very recent account of recurring disasters. Of all the aristocrats who designed castle-type homes for themselves in the eighteenth century only the Campbell Dukes of Argyll, who began Inveraray just before the second Jacobite rebellion, could have felt quite the same insecurity and need for defences as the Percevals.

Though born in Burton House, County Cork, the first Earl never attempted to re-establish himself there. Educated at Westminster and Magdalen College, Oxford, he kept one foot in England and one in Ireland, serving at one time or another in both Houses of Commons. The titles which he acquired over the years of cautious political activity are one outward sign of those genealogical passions which he passed on to his son. Baron Perceval of Burton in the county of Cork, 1715; Viscount Perceval of Kanturk 1723; Earl of Egmont in the peerage of Ireland 1733; the rise was both steady and symbolically considered. Burton recalled not only the burnt house but the lost estate of the Somerset gentry. Kanturk was a truly Gothick choice, the evocation of a great ruin five storeys high, embattled and threatening. Egmont was, technically speaking, only the name of an unimportant townland in Churchtown parish, County Cork, but the title was chosen to evoke the early medieval Egmont Counts of Flanders. They were just some of the impressive collection of noble ancestors gathered by the first Earl to fill a two-volume exploration of his family history. This was published in 1742as AGenealogical History of the House of Ivry in its different branches of Yvery, Luvel, Perceval and Gournay.

These volumes were supposed to have been 'ghosted' for the Perceval father and son by John Anderson and William Whiston, an unhappy use of the verb as Anderson died after publishing the first volume and Whiston died before completing the second. Horace Walpole claimed that the book had cost the Percevals 23,000 to the College of Heralds alone and he seems to have considered the second Earl, at that time still Lord Perceval, as chiefly responsible for its publication and partly responsible for its actual text. It was a work, Walpole claimed, 'so ridiculous that he has since tried to suppress all the copies'. Walpole parodied a passage describing Lord Perceval's election to the Commons to represent Westminster: 'And here let us leave this young nobleman struggling for the dying liberties ofhis country'. l1 The original was actually even more inflated and gives a fair impression of the general tone of unctuous self-recommendation:

In this eminent and glorious Situation of a Representative of the second City, the first Borough of this Kingdom, elected with such Circumstances ofpublic Esteem and Confidence, we for the present leave this Nobleman, exerting himself to maintain the Independency of his Country, of which no Man can, or ought to have a dearer Sense, since no Man ever received more Honour from it than he has done.12

The first of the two volumes works impressively through the Dark and Middle Ages tracing the multiple related branches of the Percevals in order to give an air of noble consequence to a line of Somerset gentry. It includes an illustration of 'The Mannor of Weston in Gordano granted by Will ye Conqueror as appears by Doomesday Book to Ascelin Govel de Percheval common ancestor to the Familys of Love1 and Perceval'. l3 In the second volume the right of 'the Present Earl of Egmont' to resume 'a cross crosslet, Or' is asserted 'as being now the Chief of this noble Family . . . upon the extinction of the house of Weston Gordein'.14 Another illustration picks up the Somerset connection with 'The Mannor of Sydenham in Com. Somt . . . sold 1613 by Richard Percival'. l5

At that appropriate point the narrative moves to Ireland. The castles of Liscarrol, Lohort and Kanturk are all illustrated to give a spurious air of consequence to the estates which the Percevals had picked up by devious use of the offices of General Feodary of Ireland, Escheator ofMunster and Commissioner of Survey into land titles. Liscarrol is described at particular length with an account of its siege. When the second volume reaches the first Earl and contemporary events a point is made of the dubious fact that he twice refused an English peerage. The preamble to his patent as Baron Perceval of Burton is quoted describing him as 'being undoubtedly descended from an House of the most remote Antiquity, who under the Standard of William Duke of Normandy our Great Ancestor, first entered England'. l6

It is not easy to decide whether all this print was intended as a consolation to the father for not achieving an English peerage or as a launching pad for the political career ofhis son. In view of the fact that the second Earl began buying up farms and estates in mid-Somerset at a furious pace immediately after the death of his father in May 1748, it seems likely that The History of the House of Ivry was only part of a careful scheme to establish an English, as opposed to an Irish, gravitas for the Percevals. Those shabby, borrowed proofs of feudal ancestry -Liscarrol, Lohort and Kanturk -were to be compounded and recreated in Somerset as near as possible to Burton, the genuine seat of Perceval ancestors.

Lord Perceval was certainly playing a bold and successful hand through the I740S, antagonizing virtually every faction in politics by his treachery yet dazzling all by his aggressive skill in debate. A month before his father's death he had written and talked himself into becoming a Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales. The papers that survive show how seriously he took that position and how exactly he was preparing to take over power in the vital four weeks that would follow the death of the old King. l7 What he had not achieved was a secure parliamentary seat in the Commons. He had quit Westminster for Weobley in Herefordshire, but only held that by the favour of Henry Pelham whom he had subsequently offended. Policy dictated a land-holding in Somerset sufficient to guarantee at least one secure seat in a county where he could pose convincingly as an aristocrat of ancient lineage rather than an Anglo-Irish parvenu with a house outside Tunbridge Wells. This last was a plain classical box with the improbably heraldic name of Mountjoy. Illustrated in the Ivry volumes it did little to establish any medieval charisma for the Perceval heirs of Charlemagne.

Consequently, when one of the many parcels of land that Lord Egmont bought in 1750 included a picturesque gatehouse, all that remained of the old Mallet family's manor house, he must have decided that there, at Enmore, only ten miles from Burton, he would build a seat worthy ofa new Prime Minister who could trace his ancestry back through two heavy volumes to the Norman Conquest and beyond.

That he should have determined to be his own architect for a very large building at a time when he was certain to be actively employed in the politics of the capital suggests that the second Earl of Egmont was self-confident, wilful and socially isolated. His consistently confrontational stance over these years in the House of Commons supports that. Popularity with fellow members was not his aim so conformity with the current fashion in country house building is not likely to have worried him. Unlike his father he had been privately educated and had failed to make the usual Grand Tour of classical Italy. It would be unwise also, to underestimate the Irish element in his conditioning. Though born and brought up in England he was elected to the Irish House of Commons even before he was of age and continued to represent a constituency in Kerry from 1731 until 1748. During that time he could have absorbed the insecurity and arrogance attendant upon the possession ofgreat estates in that turbulent island. The illustrations in The History of the House of Ivry indicate an interest in Irish architecture where that related to the Perceval family. There is also one pencil sketch of a castle with a gateway and two angular towers in the Perceval papers of the British Library.18 This probably dates from October 1748 and may relate to an un-named property which the Earl was considering buying for £1,500 with the intention of pulling it down to use the materials. At that date he had already begun the buying spree which was to bring him the Enmore gatehouse.

One other possibility is that the Earl intended to put the construction of the castle in the hands of a professional architect, only constraining him to produce something on the model of an Irish castle like Liscarrol. The third Duke of Argyll had recently done much the same by persuading the architect Roger Morris to devise a Palladian version of a Scottish tower house, complete with turrets, moat and bridge at Inveraray. l9 But then, just as the work on the Enmore gatehouse was beginning to get underway in the spring of 175 I, all Egmont's expectations of political power and all his careful planning collapsed with Prince Frederick's sudden death. This is bound to have caused some revision of his prospects and he may have gone on at that point to direct the castle's construction himself as one way of drowning his disappointment. It is even possible, if his correspondence of that year is examined, that until the Prince's death he was only intending to refurbish the gatehouse as an occasional residence, and that the enormous moated building which was beginning to take some outline shape by the end of 175 I was a compensatory afterthought.

Whatever the truth there was something distinctly amateurish, even bucolic, about the Earl's construction staff and their letters to their master. Most of these were written by his bailiff 'farmer Gooding'; John Gooding appears to have come very recently into Egmont's service at the time ofhis first letter, 25 November 1750.~~

This informs the

Earl of three local farms up for sale and ofthe cost oflocal stone and brick. In December

he was advising the Earl to set up his own brickyard, bricks would 'come a great deal

cheaper, than if you was to have them from Bridgwater'. 21 This matter was still being

debated on 17 February 1751. Bath stone would cost 18s. ~od. per ton delivered at

Bridgwater and, 'it is the only stone used amongst the Gentlemen in this

neighbourhood'. 22

As the castle was to develop the Earl devised a system of building by using a limited number of parts, window surrounds, 'arrow lights', cornices, battlements, 'spike holes' and chimneys 'after the Tabernacle kind'. All these would arrive prefabricated from any ofthree Bath masons who supplied estimates and would then be fitted into the castle rather after the fashion ofa child's building set. But for the main walls and towers the Earl was not interested in what building stone was used by the local gentry. Gooding was set to work to find a cheap local quarry. The pace of the major building can be judged by the fact that as late as 6 December 1751 Gooding was still trying 'in some Places ofthe Downs for a Quarry but can find none', and was suggesting bringing miners in at ~od. a day to open one up.23 Eventually a reef of the local stone was struck while the north moat was being dug.

It was in the first three months of 1751 that Henry Wilkins the carpenter and Jordan the mason began to feature in the letters. From the tone of the writing they both appear to be locals, well known to Gooding and probably introduced to Egmont by Gooding. Jordan never wrote to his employer, but when Egmont was threatening a visit Gooding reported that 'Jordan says your Lordship may have a Room and a bed at his house'.24


When Wilkins wrote his register was desperately respectful but he was nevertheless still inclined to press his own stylistic views. On a matter as important in such a plain structure as the proportion of the windows he was to have his own way. He wrote on 14 December 175 I:

As your Lordship is pleased to alter the form of the window from those drawn in the plan your Lordship sent I have drawn all of them semicircular heads with some little difference in the manner of making them, 3 exactly the same dimensions as your Lordship's directions -that is 3 foot wide in the clear and 6 foot 6 inches high. The other, that marked, I have drawn 3 inches wider which I humbly think to be as good proportion as the others. But that I leave to your Lordship's betterjudgement if yr Lordship like either of these or part of one and part of another or any other yr Lordship is pleased to direct I will take care shall be executed.25

The standard round-arched windows which are the distinctive feature of the surviving


west front are all three feet three inches wide as Wilkins urged.

Before any work was carried out on the gatehouse 768 trees were planted, 'and the Gardiner is in Hope they will do This suggests that there had been no existing park and that one had to be created out of the farm fields. The sheer homeliness of this first year's operations is conveyed by the fact that the farmer and his family ofthree sons were living in the gatehouse throughout all the reflooring and underpinning that took place during 1751. On 20 April Gooding reported, 'I received your Lordships and to Day Ihave been to visit the Premises and find them in the following condition. Garrets so much out of repair that it is almost impossible to convert any more than one into a lodging room. The Chambers over the Parlors are for your Lordships use . . . very much out of repair. The Farmer's family is disposed in this Manner 3 beds in Chamber over Cellar in which the Farmer's sons lie. g he Farmer in the parlour chamber . . . one of the Parlour Chambers are wainscotted. The Wainscot is oak and I should be glad to know if that is to be painted'.27

No illustration exists of the old Mallet gatehouse in its original condition but a large mullioned window over an arch flanked by classical pilasters seems to have survived Egmont's reshaping (Figs 4 and 5). The round towers, one on each side of the gate, appear from Gooding's letters also to be original, though much altered. Over the archway was what Gooding refers to as 'the Great Room' and over the next few months Wilkins was busy laying a new floor in this. As late as 25 September Gooding warned Egmont:

The Gatehouse will be far from being finished by the time your Lordship proposes coming into the Country, and all that can be done to it will be some ofthe Walls plaisterd and the Stairs casd as far as the great Room. The Boards laid loose in the great Room for Wilkins says it will not be proper to nail them down, till Spring of the Year.2s

It was a month before this, in a letter of 26 August, that Gooding's letter makes it clear that the old gatehouse was not simply being repaired to make a hunting lodge but was being actively re-fortified with 'Spike Holes'. These were giving trouble because 'Jordan has put in six of the Spike Holes, Three in each Tower in a perpendicular Line, one above the other, and I believe too, according to his Directions'. But two 'New Holes' would ifplaced 'upon the same level with the rest, as your Lordship mentioned', be so sited that no one would be 'able to look through it, without the assistance of a chair or some conveniency of that kind'. 29 Evidently Gooding and Jordan were taking


the defensive potential of the 'spike holes' more seriously than the architect-Earl


Robert Parsons, a Bath mason who worked for John Wood the Elder on Titan- barrow House in I 748, was offering 'to Arrow Lights in one stone Parapet Hole o.2.0d1 in a letter of 4 Oct~ber.~O

This sounds as if the Earl was already planning the heavily overhanging machicolations which were to give Enmore such a close resemblance to Kanturk. Another letter of20 October from another, and near-illiterate, Bath mason, Stephen Gond, suggests both that the great ditches and underground works which are such a feature of Enmore were already being prepared and that the Earl was not above seeking a little technical advice. Gond writes of 'yr draw bridg' and mentions a spring of water struck while cutting rock, but adds:

I cant rightly understand yr subtreain passedge ifyour Lordship must have one it must be sunke a I I foot under ye present surface yr ground. I think yr Lordship Should send down a true plan of yr ditch Court an pashedge figured playn that it may be understood by your Steward or mason on the spot.31

All of which is conclusive proof that Lord Egmont alone initiated all the more

remarkable features of the finished castle.

By December the farmer was still in residence but complaining 'there will be no opportunity of making use of the House of Conveniency', and preparing to leave for a purpose-built new farmh0use.3~ A 'Great Hall' is mentioned for the first time but the timber for it was not even cut yet, let alone seasoned. Thirteen men were at work on the ditch, but on 22 December there was a collapse of 'made ground' caused by rain water. Jordan had 'a great many hands at work underpinning the house' and 'all that part of the New Court Wall facing the East' was pr~ceeding.~~

An indication of the time scale that was envisaged is contained in the long Wilkins' letter of 14December. This warned that 'the underpinning needs to be finished in a shorter space of time than 6 months as your Lordship's direction is', otherwise 'we shall not be able to finish the parlor on that part of the house your Lordship calls the first work by the middle of May next as your Lordship's direction is'.34

It is interesting that Wilkins was still referring to the structure as a 'house' and not a castle. By 'the first work' he seems to imply the whole east or entrance wing of the planned courtyard. Egmont must have been hoping to complete that by May 1752, roughly a year after operations began, so a likely, notional completion date for the castle would be spring 1755. In a 1758 Act of Parliament to alter the condition of the Earl's marriage settlement Enmore was described as 'his Chiefmansion house which he has himself lately erected, with a view to making it the principal seat of his family'.35 The likeliest building dates would seem to be 175I to 1756 for the completion ofa castle about a Great Court 86 ft by 78 ft, with outer walls 159ft by I 55 ft to a moat 40 ft wide and 16 ft deep. The whole was surrounded by four great bastion outworks and covered chambers. But, tantalizingly, the Gooding-Wilkins-masons' correspondence ends with a 7 January 1752 note from Robert Parsons about chimneys.36

Before the greater portion of Enmore was pulled down in 1834 several prints and lithographs of the castle were made. One, dated I June 1783, was drawn by Charles George Perceval, the second Earl's first son by his second wife Catherine.37 She was

I I4

created Baroness Arden of Lohort in her own right by a thoughtful disposition of her noble husband. There is also a detailed and annotated print illustrating the system of balances and counterweights which controlled the Enmore dra~bridge.~~

The Sale Particulars of 3 I March 1834 are also inf~rmative,~~

but the clearest impression of Enmore in its prime can be gained from a large and exceptionally handsome heraldic engraving preserved in the Somerset Local History Library at Taunton Castle.

This was prepared by Joseph Edmondson, Mowbray Herald, at a date between 1762 and 1770, and was intended as an illustration, probably the frontispiece, to a third but never published volume of A Genealogical History of the House of Yvevy. Central to the engraving is a display of the thirty-two quarterings, all named, of the Percevals between eagle supporters. Then come representations of four historic Perceval seals. In the four corners of the engraving are set detailed ground-plans with dimensions and named rooms of the four floors of Enmore Castle. Finally, two on each side, are set pictures of Enmore and the three Irish castles to which it was stylistically related: Kanturk with its machicolations, Liscarrol foursquare about its large open court, Lohort and Liscarrol both with their wedge-shaped moats and bastion works (Figs 6-8).

It is a remarkable document that virtually obviates the usual quest for sources, influences and architects. There, plainly and vaingloriously, is the second Earl Egmont's declaration of his own creation, his ancestry and the recent military triumphs, if they can be so called, ofhis forefathers. The caption to Lohort reads: 'taken by the Irish and retaken by Sir Hardress Waller after a siege of 4 days in 1650'. To Liscarrol the caption is prouder: 'as fortified in 1641 taken by an Irish Army of7500 men after 13 Days Siege Sep' 2d 1642'. No mention is made of Sir Philip Perceval, skulking ignominiously in Dublin during that siege. If, as Horace Walpole claimed, Egmont paid the College of Heralds 23,000, at least he got something for his money.

The four plans make the disposition of the castle's rooms and offices perfectly clear (Figs PI I). Most remarkable is the Under Ground Plan. These great outworks are what distinguish Enmore from any contemporary essay in the castle style. They are not medieval but contemporary, large enough to have provided a small Dutch town with defences against an investing French army. Had any force of desperate Somerset peasantry scaled the outworks above the stables they must have drowned in one of the four fishponds or perished in a withering fire from the array of 'spike holes' and portholes set in a pattern of two, one, two, one, all along the Confection, Laundry, Evidence, Strange Servants, Men Servants and Maid Servants rooms of the castle's lowest floor.

Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire, built between 1717 and 1725 by George 1's rascally Lord Chancellor, the Earl of Macclesfield, resembled Enmore in that it was set in a moat, approached by a drawbridge and was wholly round-arched.40 But Shirburn had no great inner courtyard and no contemporary defensive system. Both Enmore and Shirburn were round-arched, that is 'Baronial', transformations of existing Gothic buildings. So too was Hugh May's reshaping of Windsor for Charles II.41 The moat surrounding Inveraray castle, already mentioned, could have had some defensive functions, and with building dates of 1744-58 Inveraray was Enmore's contemporary so its form could have influenced Egmont. But Inveraray is essentially a Palladian


tower house and its moat is a paltry thing compared with Enmore's fosse. Enmore was a unique creation, hence its failure to influence other works. If it has to have a description it should be 'Irish Gothick Revival' or, bearing Kanturk in mind, 'Irish King James Baronial Revival'.

There had, of course, been a fashion for bastion gardens in the wave of military triumphalism that followed Marlborough's victories. Blenheim Palace had one, Seaton Delaval has a semi-military fosse and one was planned for Kings We~ton.~~

None were on Enmore's structural scale with a servants' entrance drive from the west diving into a long tunnel like a foreshadowing of Victorian Welbeck. There was nothing playful about the rough rubble walls lowering over the moat. The only reliefs, apart from the Bath stone detail of string courses, flat architraves and battlements, were a few round heraldic plaques attached to the north front and bearing the inevitable Perceval achievements. Some of these have been preserved as garden ornaments.

The 'Ground Floor' and 'Principal Story' plans demonstrate Enmore's scale and its highly original arrangement of reception rooms. The gateway, retained from the Mallets' manor house, represented the only break in the monstrous sequence of single or paired round-arched windows, as devised by carpenter Wilkins in 175 I. The Revd Shaw's account of 1789 noted that the 'pleasant plain room' with mullions over the gate was a favourite with the Perceval family.43 Inside, the almost square courtyard had small round turrets at each corner and an arched porch two storeys high leading into the galleried Great Hall, 27 ft high, 'the walls adorned with family busts and coats of arms; painted chairs of the same'.44 A few of these 'busts', actually stucco reliefs with Rococo impressions of Elizabethan-style lords and ladies, have survived. These, a few fire- places in Batty Langley style and the inevitable heraldic achievements may have been Egmont's only gestures towards medieval interior decoration.

Enmore, as befitted its spreading ground plan, was a castle of many staircases, eight in all. Servants' stairs led upwards, one on each side of the Great Hall, while axially ahead was 'a curious geometric staircase', the Revd Shaw's description, a broad spiral which may have been Egmont's one tribute to the memory of the short-lived home at Burton in Ireland, which also had a spiral stair.45 The semicircular bastion which contained this stair on the castle's west front is the only such bastion to have survived the wreckers. It now contains a kitchen, not a stair.

On the ground floor the south wing held the kitchen, larder, upper servants' hall and common servants' hall. Such a house could afford generous accommodation. To the right of the Great Hall was an Armory-Dining Room (there was another State Dining Room on the floor above), then a whole north wing dedicated to a complex series of antechambers, bedchambers and dressing rooms which are planned as if Egmont was hoping to entertain a king and queen, or at least a prince and princess, in the old-fashioned state appropriate to such guests. There were 'Alcove Bed-chambers' for royal body servants. The 1834 sale catalogue records 'a magnificent state bedstead'.

The 'Principal Story' was predictably lavish. To the north was a sequence of a Long Gallery with a coved ceiling and numerous family portraits, 'some very ancient; particularly one on board of Margaret Beauchamp, Dutchess of Somerset, living in the 5th of Edward IV',46 then a Drawing Room, a Salon 44 ft by 30 ft and a further suite of bedchamber, ante-chamber and dressing room leading to the Cabinet over the gate


windows have an unhappy tendency to look like melancholy eyes in the face of an elevation. The castle can be seen as a mid-point link between earlier round-arched 'Baronial' work at Windsor, Blackheath and Shirburn and the later wave of Adam's Scottish castles, Arundel, Eastnor and Penrhyn. But such a chronological significance is merely an accident. The second Earl of Egmont happened to make his political bid at a certain time, bringing an unusual background, state of mind and rich rent-roll to bear upon the requirement for a grand house and power base. The only real significance of Enmore is negative. It was built; it was enormous; it was not admired. In 1751 there were two alternative ways of approaching neo-medieval forms: Egmont's 'Castle Style' and Walpole's 'Abbey Style'. The former had the correct iconographic associa- tions for noble house-builders; the latter had a far richer aesthetic appeal of fretted vaults, rich tracery and pinnacled rooflines. It is a matter of history which way was eventually chosen. In the whole of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto there is no major, setpiece description of a castle exterior though many scenes in chapels, churches and vaults. His contemporary Egmont built his own Otranto, realizing all the symmetry of logical defence works and all the essential austerity of war. Hence the ridicule, the indifference and the demolition.


I should like to thank Simon and Anne Stoye, Stephen Croad, Peter Reid, David Bromwich and

Christine Hopper for their help and encouragement in producing this article. Fig. I by courtesy of Bradford Art Galleries and Museum (Cartwright Hall). Figs 5-11 by courtesy of the Local History Library, The Castle, Taunton.


I Horace Walpole's Correspondence, ed. by W. S. Lewis, 36 vols (Oxford, 1973)~20, p. 32. 2 Horace Wal~ole, Memoirs of the Reign of King George 111, 4 vols (London, 1845), I, pp 387-88. 3 Ibid., p. 387. 4 Revd S. Shaw, A Tour ofEngland (London, 1787), pp. 331-32. 5 Quoted by Brian Connell, Portrait ofa Whig Peer(London, 1957)~p. 171. 6 John Collinson, The History and Antiquities of the County ojsomerset, 3 vols (Bath, 1791)~ I, p. 94. 7 Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings ofEngland: South and West Somerset (London, 1958), p. 167. 8 A. J. Rowan, 'The castle style in British domestic architecture in the 18th and early 19thcenturies' (Cambridge, Ph.D., 1964-65). 9 British Library, Egmont Papers: Add. MS 4701 I. 10 A Genealogiral History ofthe House of Yvery in its different branches of Yvery, Luvel, Perceval and Gournay, 2 vols (London, 1742), 2, p. 215. I I Walpole's Correspondence, 20, p. 3 I. 12 A Genealogiral History of the House of Yvery, 2, p. 464. 13Ibid., I, p. 360. I4 Ibld., 2, p. 5. 15 Ibid., 2, p. 24. 16 Ibid., 2, p. 420. 17 BL, Add. MS 47012D. 18 BL, Add. MS 47010, fol. 133. I9 For Inveraray see I. G. Lindsay and M. Cosh, Inveraray and the Dukes ofArgyll (Edinburgh, 1973).This work illustrates (p.44) rejected designs for Inveraray within large contemporary defensive earthworks. These were prepared for the third Duke by a military engineer, Dugal Campbell; they are undated. 20 BL, Add. MS 4701 I, fol. 44 21 Ibld., f0l. 205. 22 Ibid., fol. 50.

23 Ibid., fol. 120.

24 Ibid., fol. 90.

25 Ibid., fol. 128.

26 Ibid., fol. 52.

27 Ibid., fol. 58.

28 Ibid.. fol. 88.

29 Ibid., fol. 79.

30 Ibid., fol. 94. For Robert Parsons see T. Mow1 and B. Earnshaw,John Wood: Architect ofObsession (Bath, 1988),

p. 132. 
31 BL, Add. MS 4701 I, tbls 99-100. 
32 Ibid., fol. 126. 
33 Ibid., fol. 130. 
34 Ibid., fol. 128. 
35 Quoted in A. J. Rowan, 'The castle style', p. 132. 
36 BL, Add. MS 47011, f01. 139. 
37 The illustration is in the Somerset Local History Library in Taunton Castle. Its caption notes 'The castle was 
built by John the last Earl of Egmont, who himself designed and planned the whole'. 
38 Somerset Local History Library, Taunton. 
39 Somerset Record Office: 'The Catalogue ofFurniture and Effects' includes a chair of George I1 given to the first 
Earl of Egmont by Queen Caroline. 
40 For Shirburn see Tim Mowl and Brian Earnshaw, 'The Origins of 18th-Century Neo-Medievalism in a 
Georgian Norman Castle' in Journal of the Society ofArchitectura1 Historians, vol. XL,no. 4 (December 1981). 
41 For Hugh May's Windsor and its influence on early eighteenth-century medievalism see Tim Mowl, 'Early 
Mediaevalism: "To have built in heaven high towers" -the castle as a theme in English architecture before the 
Gothic Revival' in The Georgian Group's Gothirk Symposium (21 May 1983). 
42 For Vanbrugh's bastion gardens see Kerry Downes, Vanbrugh (London, 1977), p. 107 A drawing for the fosse 
that Vanbrugh projected for Kings Weston is illustrated by Kerry Downes in 'The Kings Weston Book of 
Drawings' in Architectural History, vol. 10 (1967), fig. 17. 
43 Shaw, A Tour of England, p. 333. 
44 Ibid., p. 33.2. 
45 Ibid., p. 332. 
46 Ibid., p. 333.

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