Loggia, Horton Court

Record ID:  111301 / MNA165052
Record type:  Building
Protected Status: Listed Building: Grade I
NT Property:  Horton Court; South West
Civil Parish:  Horton; South Gloucestershire
Grid Reference:  ST 7661 8498
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Summary

A covered walkway with inset stone roundels with classical heads in bas-relief, under a stone-tiled roof. The roundels depict the heads of Nero, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, and Attila as idenified by latin inscriptions. It is believed to date from the early 16th century.

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Monument Types

  • LOGGIA (Early 16th C - 1527 AD to 1529 AD)

Description

2. THE LOGGIA
Listed Grade I on 17 September 1952.
ST 78 SE HORTON 8/69 Ambulatory, 20 yards south west of Horton Court. Ambulatory or garden loggia.
Circa 1527-29, for William Knight, Prothonotary to the Holy See, and later Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Rubble and freestone; Cotswold stone slate roof. Perpendicular Gothic but in the form of a Renaissance
garden loggia. 6 bay arcade facing east; octagonal piers with moulded caps and pedestals, chamfered fourcentred
arches. Buttresses with set-offs at north and south ends. Inside on the west wall are 4 coarse stucco
medallions in a classical style, including Nero and Hannibal. Knight went to Rome in 1527 to act for Henry
VIII in his divorce case and it is thought that he observed such structures in Italy.
(C. Hussey, Country Life, 30.I.32).
18

The listing description, taken from Hussey’s 1932 Country Life article (see Section 4), assumes that the loggia was built in 1527-29 on the grounds that ‘Knight went to Italy in 1527 to act for Henry VIII in his divorce case and it is thought that he observed such structures there’. This dating is possible but unlikely. In fact, Knight had already lived in Italy for some time as a student when he studied law at Ferraro from 1501 and he visited the English College in Rome in 1506. His overseas education so influenced him that in 1516 the Venetian Ambassador in London described him as ‘a good Italian’. As he was already greatly influenced by the Italian style it is much more likely that he built the loggia several years earlier in 1519-21, at the same time as dendrochronological evidence and a date stone show that he built most of the 16th-century work at the house, especially the south front which overlooks the loggia and garden. A porch that used to be there may have housed his Renaissance doorcase, since reset in the west front, and it is thought that his ornate fireplace was also originally set in the south range. The juxtaposition of the loggia, doorcase, fireplace and possible Italianate garden together make a coherent group of features. However, there are some peculiarities about the structure, including the blocked aperture on the west wall, the odd arrangement at the north end and the position of the roundels.

Roof: Stone tiles, diminishing courses. The roof structure has five trusses creating six bays as none of the trusses are adjacent to the gable walls. The roof structure has been duplicated, in that a later set of trusses have been placed about 300 mm higher than the original set and are either adjacent to or directly over them. The timber of the original roof appears sound, as far as can be seen from the entrance hatch, and it is not clear why the second roof was inserted. The two trusses to the north have collars bolted to the principals, while the three to the south each have a pair of angle struts instead. Some of the tie beams have also been duplicated and are bolted to the originals. There are five common rafters per bay.

West elevation: Limestone rubble, fairly regular courses, large ashlar at base. At north end quoins not as large. Cast iron guttering with downpipe to north leading to stone water tank which overflows. Probable cause of algae and dampness in inside north-east corner.

North elevation: Limestone rubble, regular courses, cannot determine if bonded to west, pointing is thick, occasionally smeared over stones and with black sand inclusions. Slight offset at tie beam height with stone tile cap. Access hatch to roof space. Door of 3 planks. Hook and eye latch, two strap hinges on pintles

East elevation: Six bays with chamfered four centre arched heads. The piers are in 3 sections, except the end ones which are in five sections. The bases have a chamfered roll above a shallow hollow chamfer. The capitals have a plain chamfered roll with a hollow chamfer above and below. The southernmost bay has been damaged in the past. The respond against the wall and the first freestanding shaft have been hacked from base to cap, and there is some replacement stone in the arch. At the north end is a buttress with offsets on north face. Peculiar angle with chamfered ashlar head at the height of approximately 2000 mm. This is supported on fairly substantial ashlar. It suggests that it is an opening but its position so close to the north wall precludes this. There is no reason why the stonework could not have continued to ground level which does suggest it was a deliberate construction. The lower step is shaped around the bases, each section in one piece, 2210 mm long, minimum 380 mm deep and 120 mm high. Modern. The second step is made of two layers of stone, much cracked at the west.

South elevation: Tall square-headed aperture with timber lintel over set in rubble stone wall. Vent to roof space over. Two large buttresses set together at the eastern corner. Opening with wooden lintel. There are 2 pairs of beams set in the reveals with nail holes at south end. Stone sill. Double buttress at east, repaired top off set.

Cast iron guttering has been set to flow to north (upslope) and discharges to ground at north-west corner so that rainwater flows back under building.

Interior
Walls: The west wall has four stone roundels set in it featuring Classical heads in bas-relief, including Julius Caesar, Nero, Hannibal and Attila. There is also a wooden lintel over a shallow recess. Larger stones form vertical joint on north, less distinct on south but discernible. Possibly a recess for a statue, or a seat, or a doorway through. There is no evidence of an aperture on the west face of this wall and ground level much higher so unlikely to be a door, but the vertical joints suggest that ashlar jambs have been removed on the east face so any on the west could have been removed and the wall partially rebuilt. The roundels are to the south of this feature so it must be part of this phase.

Roundels: Limestone. Nero and Caesar are made from a cream limestone in comparison to the ochre colour of Hannibal and Attila, but this does not necessarily mean that they are not co-eval. They are set as single roundels to north and south with a pair set vertically between them. From the north:
i) Nero, facing south. Vertical crack through head filled with hard grey mortar. Iron cramp (rusting) across crack below bust. Inscription reads:
NERON CESAR (Nero Caesar)
ii) Hannibal, facing front, fillet around head, long hair and beard. Inscription reads:
ANIBAL DE CARTAGINA (Hannibal of Carthage)

iii) Below Hannibal is Julius Caesar, facing north and looking up. Laurel wreath drilled with pairs of holes for affixing genuine wreath. Mantle over toga with clasp on right shoulder. Inscription reads:
DIVI IVLI (Divine Julius)
iv) Attila, facing north. Stylised hair, jutting beard, aquiline nose, wreath tied with ribbon. Inscription reads:
ACHTLLA FRAGELV DEI (Attila breaker/destroyer(?) of God)

See Appendix 9 for a discussion on the subject matter of the roundels.

The arrangement of the roundels is puzzling, neither evenly spaced nor spaced with regard to the piers. Henderson offers the suggestion that they may not be in situ, which is a possibility given the propensity of many of the owners of Horton to relocate features. However, this seems an odd arrangement to come to with no discernible advantage gained, quite apart from the effort or expense involved in moving them.

Another possibility could be that they are a later insertion but again the arrangement is strange unless there were other features which have since been removed. The roundels are mentioned by Hodges which rules out the 20th century propensity to antiquate the property. There was a classical resurgence in the 18th century stimulated by the fashion for the Grand Tour but there is no evidence of the Pastons indulging in curios, and their financial situation probably did not encourage it. However, there is one very tenuous possibility. In the 1760s-70s John and George Throckmorton were in Italy with their uncle James Paston, their mother being Anna Maria Paston of Horton. While in Italy they became acquainted with the artistic and antiquarian circle of James Byres and were encouraged to collect works of art. It is remotely possible that the roundels were brought at this time for great uncle Clement at Horton as John Throckmorton was Clement Paston’s heir-at-law.

On balance, however, the roundels were probably part of Knight’s original design for the loggia and in their original position. The fashion for roundels was stimulated by those at Hampton Court although Knight may have taken direct inspiration from his travels in Italy. Possibly the major consideration for the siting of the roundels was the view from the house. The loggia itself is quite a prominent feature in the view and from the hall 2 area it has almost the character of a cloister walk or a college quadrangle, both of which would be attractive to Knight. From windows W25 and 26 the roundels are all visible with the top of the roundels roughly level with the capitals of the piers. Presumably the wall would have been lime plastered so the roundels would have stood out more, but even now they are quite discernible. Just to the west of the present window W26 is a possible door position for Knight’s door so this is a focal point. The later cross wing now obscures any line of sight to the west.

Floor: Stone flags.
Ceiling Lath and plaster.
Condition: (i) There is algae and dampness in the north-east corner from the guttering and the tank overflow on the west elevation. (ii) The northern stone roundel has a rusty iron clamp across a crack.

References

  • SNA64024 - National Trust Report: Harcourt, J. & T.. 2009. The Development of Horton Court: An Architectural Survey.
  • SNA64521 - Unpublished document: Jane & Tony Harcourt. 2010. Archaeological survey of the Ambulatory roof structure at Horton Court, Gloucestershire.
  • SNA66386 - Unpublished document: Erica Cotton. 2015. Horton Court Conservation and Management Plan.

Status

None Recorded

Associated Events

  • ENA6118 - Archaeological Intervention, Dendrochronology and historic building survey September 2010
  • ENA7921 - Heritage Assessment, Horton Court Conservation Management Plan Sept 2015

Associated Finds

None Recorded

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