In the second of two articles, explains how an initiative to restore a house associated with Winston Churchill and Nancy Lancaster has got off to an impressive start
Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire part II The property of the Ditchley Foundation
ourteen rooms on a floor and not one good one,’ complained the incredulous Mrs Lybbe Powys after her tour of Ditchley in August 1778. Her shrill judgment can probably be read as a reflection of the expectation for ever-larger reception rooms in 18th-century houses. As described last week, the 2nd earl of Lichfield had commissioned the architect James Gibbs to design this new seat in 1720 and its interior had been furnished in stages with the involvement of William Kent and his close associate Henry Flitcroft.
Mrs Powys was certainly not alone in finding difficulties with the house. Indeed, after his inheritance of the estate in 1743, the 3rd earl toyed with the idea of making major changes to it. A surviving drawing shows a proposal to erect towers on each corner of the central block and a pediment over its central door. the design seems closely allied to William Kent’s earlier additions to Badminton in 1745–7 and, as fellow Jacobite sympathisers, the Duke of Beaufort and earl of Lichfield knew each other well.
In the event, the plans were never executed, but one associated internal alteration was made: a large dining room was created on the east side of the building by knocking two