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.
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