Built to mark Britain’s Indian triumphs in the Napoleonic Wars, this celebrated house is more than a fanciful creation. explains how it strives to recreate accurately the architecture of India
Sezincote, Gloucestershire The home of Edward and Camilla Peake
he River evenlode rises in a valley that irrupts through the northern Cotswolds. From the westerly hills on an uncertain day, the view is miles wide, a travelling panorama of rain, cloud and sunshine. Further down the slope hides a house the peculiarity of which has been little understood, rejoicing in an architectural style entirely of its own.
Sezincote consists of a main house with a radiating conservatory, originally described as ‘harlequinade’, terminating in an octagonal pavilion (Fig 6). The buildings of the whole estate, including the stables, farm and garden structures, were designed in various configurations of styles native to the Indian subcontinent, with only the interior of the main house following a conventional european neo-classical idiom (Fig 4).
The adaptation of Indian forms is without precedent in its depth and detail. It even features a garden temple to Surya, the hindu sun god (made of Coade stone), presiding over a pool with a fountain, probably intended as a lingam (Fig 3). The depiction of Surya conflates different traditions in its iconography, derived from cult practices in late18th-century Bengal. The water runs from