Danson House

BookDanson House

Danson House

The anatomy of a Georgian Villa

English Heritage


April 30th, 2011





Danson House (1762–66) is one of the finest surviving villas by the architect Robert Taylor (1714–88). Restrained, compact and ingeniously planned, it was built for the City merchant John Boyd (1718–1800), who had made his fortune in the West Indies sugar trade. Boyd had a keen eye for the arts. He engaged William Chambers to design chimney pieces, picture frames and garden buildings, the French Provençal artist Charles Pavillon to paint a vibrant suite of allegorical panels for the dining room, and the landscape architect Nathaniel Richmond to remodel the grounds in the manner of Capability Brown.

This book tells the story of the house, the estate, its owners, and its restoration by English Heritage between 1995 and 2004 after a long period of neglect. Written by two specialists who were closely involved in the conservation and repair work, it explains how the building evolved from the start of construction in 1762, as wings were added and then demolished, and how the interiors were later modified to accommodate Victorian standards of comfort. Restoring these interiors to their appearance when the house was finished in the late 1760s has revealed Danson House as one of the glories of Georgian domestic architecture.

'Danson's story is told by Lea and Miele in a clear, lucid style, mercifully free of the jargon and half-baked theorising which nowadays bedevils some academic writing on eighteenth-century architecture. The book is beautifully produced to the impeccable standards we have come to expect of English Heritage - long may their publications department flourish! - with copious illustrations and specially-drawn plans.'
Geoffrey Tyack, The Georgian

Author Information

Author and freelance editor, London.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Acknowledgements Preface 1. The origins of Danson 2. Augustus and John Boyd 3. Robert Taylor, architect of Danson 4. Proportion and structure in Taylor’s villa at Danson 5. Completing the house and landscaping the park, 1765-1773 6. Planning, decoration and iconography 7. The cost of life as a gentleman 8. Nineteenth-century Danson 9. Danson House and Park since 1924: decline and restoration Appendix 2 Sale Inventory of 1805 Notes Bibliography Index