Old Garden, Richmond upon Thames

Unusually in the career of Quinlan and Francis Terry, this was not a house commissioned by a private client for his own use but was a speculation by a property developer from South Africa who, having studied the market, felt that even in a recession there would be a call for a traditionally designed house by celebrated architects. He was proved right for he completed the sale satisfactorily one month after it was put on the open market. He had also wisely commissioned a leading garden designer, Randle Siddeley, to lay out in advance a handsome formal garden in axis with the proposed house and leading directly to a stunning view down to the River Thames.

There is a great element of surprise at Old Garden for its north entrance front is first seen at an angle in a confined space, very close to the road, so that the visitor is initially unaware of the magnificent formal garden behind it which gives the house its name. In the centre of the house is an imposing two-storeyed hall with a gallery on the garden side supported by Doric columns with a triglyph and metope frieze. Francis Terry added this to the original design and in Palladian spirit made the flanking wall exactly square 1:1 ratio. On the north side of the house is an elegant oval, cantilevered stone staircase, designed in collaboration with the engineers Price and Myres, Sam Price being the world authority on cantilevered staircases. As with the cantilevered staircase at Kilboy, the soffit of the steps is smooth rather than stepped as adopted in later periods.

Because of its relation to the all important garden, the garden front of the house is the richest. It is adorned with a portico of engaged Ionic columns with a pulvinated frieze in the entablature and a prominent dentil cornice carried round the pediment which is enlivened by a Diocletian window in the centre.

Taken from The Practice Of Classical Architecture by Professor David Watkin, Published by Rizolli

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