The Bagg family, who moved from Dorset to Plymouth in the early 16th century, built Saltram House in the late Tudor period. In about 1660 ownership of Saltram was passed to the Carteret family, who, in 1690 built the three-story block on the west side of the house.
In 1712 the house was sold to George Parker of Boringdon. He made few changes to Saltram apart from enclosing 220 acres of its grounds as a deer park. George Parker died in 1743 and his son, John Parker, inherited the house.He constructed the three facades. John Parker died in 1768 and the house then became the property of his son, John Parker II, better known as Lord Boringdon, who contributed a great deal to the interior of the house. He also built the Stable block, castle, orangery and chapel.
John Parker II was a great socialite, and had many important friends such as the artist, Joshua Reynolds, and the architect, Robert Adam. In the 18th century many rich people began to build country houses, as opposed to castles.As well as the church no longer owning all of the land, England was becoming a less aggressive state and so instead of building castles for defence purposes, people opted to build large country houses, where they could relax and show-off to their friends. The grand rooms and beautiful grounds of houses like Saltram and Corsham court are perfect examples of people showing off their wealth in this way. Also the invention of gunpowder meant that castles were unable to protect the inhabitants; another reason why country houses began to be built in England.In the 18th Century, for people of the upper classes, it was very important to have grand houses and lots of land.
To be accepted into 'high society' it was vital that you had these things, and so, people began to build grand houses like Nostell Priory, Chiswick house, Lyme Park, and Saltram to gain recognition throughout the country. Hiring renowned artists and architects showed the social status of the owners and so hiring people like Robert Adam and Capability Brown, was favoured by the upper classes. In the mid 1700's more than half of the British population made a living from farming. Villagers had strips of land that they worked on.
This system of 'open field' farming suited simple, community life. However many rich and powerful farmers noticed this was a wasteful and inefficient way of farming. They also realised they could make a large profit by buying the land of the smallholders, who could not prove the land was theirs, and producing food. These ventures developed their status as well as increasing their wealth.
18th century English gentlemen would finish their education by embarking upon the 'Grand Tour'. This would entail travelling to France and Italy, where they would gain knowledge about the politics, culture and art of the countries they visited.The 'Tour' could last from a few months to 8 years, although it normally lasted about a year. Only the very rich would go on the tour, because they were the only ones that could afford it. The Grand Tour had a great influence on English taste and fashion as the gentlemen brought back ideas of, and drawings about, European design.
In Saltram you can see these influences in the Roman columns and pediments. During the 18th Century the Parkers began to move up in society. This was for many different reasons. They were very rich, which meant they had a good education and were able to go on the Grand Tour.John Parker I married Lady Catherine Poulett, the daughter of the1st Earl of Poulett, who was Lord steward to Queen Anne. John Parker II also married a lady of good status- Theresa Robinson, daughter of Lord Grantham, a top British Ambassador.
John Parker II was also a great friend to the artist Joshua Reynolds and the architect Robert Adam. Paul Menthuen, owner of Corsham court also hired these men to design his house. Saltram House was developed over three periods of time. The Bagg family built the original quadrilateral building during the late Tudor period.During the late Stuart period the Carteret family, who enlarged and adapted the west front of the Tudor Core, owned Saltram. Ownership was passed to John Parker I in the mid Georgian period.
He built the South and East wings of the house, and enlarged the West wing. The development of Saltram was prohibited in the Stuart times because of the commonwealth. In these times, developing your house in an elegant way was a punishable offence. The three facades at Saltram were constructed during the time when John Parker I owned Saltram. The South, East, and West wings, were built around the 16th century Tudor core but fail to conceal it.
It can be seen from the West side of the house. This meant that this side of the house was unsymmetrical- an a-typical feature of this time. This suggests that John Parker I wanted to keep a tight control of his budget and so only employed local architects and builders. As a result this the west side of the house is highly decorated to take the visitors minds off the lack of symmetry.
Although Saltram is grand the style of the house is very simple, this is because Saltram, like many other country houses of the time is very symmetrical. There are the same numbers of windows and chimneys on each wing of the house.On the west wing some windows were even blocked out to make the house look symmetrical. This was also useful because you didn't have to pay tax on fake windows.
To add detail to the house there are cornices along the bottom edge of the roofs. These too are symmetrical. Houses such as Lyme Park have symmetrical arches and Chiswick house has symmetrical staircases leading to the house. People liked to use symmetry because it represented stability and harmony and as a result symmetry was a very typical feature of 18th century country houses. Symmetry was also a style used in Roman architecture.
The Roman Empire was extremely powerful and so Roman styles were used on country houses to represent power, and to perhaps remind them of the growing power of the British Empire. The classical era had great influence on the design of Saltram. The pediments above the doors at Saltram are classical features, used to give doors and windows special importance. The cornices are also found in classical buildings.
These can be decorative but were mainly used to throw rainwater clear of the wall. The Doric columns on the south exterior of the house also stem from classical architecture. Most of the windows at Saltram are sash windows.Sash windows replaced the old 'casements' but were expensive to make and so were only used on grand houses. Venetian windows can also be found at Saltram. These windows were very popular with 18th century English architects and were more of a formal window.
Venetian windows can be found on the west exterior of Saltram and above many of the doors. Many wealthy people of the 18th century had lots of foreign ornaments brought back from the grand tour. Outside the doors on the west exterior of Saltram are two sphinxes. These are used to give the impression that the inhabitants were well traveled.Also on the west exterior of the house are four niches.
Each niche contains a statue- Isis, a Vestal Virgin, Mercury and Antonius. All of these figures are important religious figures of great importance, Gods and such like. These figures represented the wealth and how widely traveled the inhabitants of the house were. Saltram displays many features typical of the 18th century.
For example the porticos, pilasters, cornices and pediments are all typical 18th century features. These features are also displayed at Nostell Priory. However Saltram also displays many features a-typical of the time.Saltram has no cupolas and has a-symmetrical chimneys, features that are not seen at many other country houses like Nostell Priory or Kendelston Hall. The downstairs rooms at Saltram have been arranged in such a way that as you walk through the house you are impressed.
You first walk into the main entrance hall-a large room, covered in paintings. As you enter the morning room you are greeted with walls of red silk velvet, again, covered in paintings. The next room- the velvet drawing room has impressive axeminister carpets and more red silk velvet walls, with the addition of Gold leaf coving.The saloon was designed by Robert Adam, as was the library, (which later became the dining room). Robert Adam was the most fashionable architect of the time, and so rooms designed by him were also impressive.
The rooms are not arranged in a very practical way, which shows the Parkers valued Style over being practical. Showing off rooms in this way, was very typical of 18th century people, who wished to show off their wealth. Robert Adam designed the di?? cor of the saloon and library to dining room conversion. He was employed by John Parker II and so was allowed more money to spend.
Adam designed everything in these rooms, even the doorknobs. Robert Adam also designed rooms at Osterly Park. Chippendale furniture and axeminister carpets can be seen in many of the rooms at Saltram, this again showed the wealth of the Parker family. There are numerous paintings on the walls of many of the rooms at Saltram. Joshua Reynolds, who was friends with John Parker II, painted many of them.
Rococo style designs can be seen in the entrance hall, morning room, velvet drawing room, and in the staircase hall. Rococo designs were very fashionable at the time, and they can also be seen at Syon house.Some rooms at Saltram, such as the saloon, were designed specifically for parties where as others were designed for more formal occasions, such as meals with people of high stature. For every occasion the rooms at Saltram needed to impress and so they were lavishly designed with things such as Chippendale furniture and Wedgwood vases. These sorts of features were also very typical of the time.
George Parker built the 220-acre deer park at Saltram but it was John Parker II and his wife Lady Theresa who employed people to design the rest of the land.They employed a local gardener- Richmond to design the garden in the style of 'Capability' Jones. Saltram's grounds have many outbuildings such as a chapel, an orangery, the castle and fanny's bower. The castle was used as a summerhouse. It has a rococo style interior- a typical feature of the time, however, it also has gothic windows an a-typical feature. Typically classical windows would have been used.
This suggests that the Parkers were possibly getting bored with the old styles. The same a-typical gothic windows are used in the chapel.The orangery would have been used to grow citrus fruits. This would again have showed the wealth of the Parker family. Fanny's bower would have been used as a place for people to retreat to during dinner parties in the orangery.
Fanny's bower has Doric columns and a pediment- more typical features of this time. It was necessary to have grand outbuildings and grounds to impress visitors and show them your wealth. Many of the features of Saltram's grounds are very typical of the 18th century. It has outbuildings, a ha-ha, stables, large parkland and beautiful views.
Saltram does however have some a-typical features. Many houses of the time had fake temples and a ruined castle; Saltram does not have either of these. Saltram has no lake because it is on the banks of a river, but not having a lake is also an a-typical feature of this time. Many house of the time also had long, straight drives leading up to a grand entrance.
However, the landscape surrounding Saltram forced visitors to approach Saltram from the back of the house. This meant that guests saw the servant's quarters first. This is another a-typical feature at Saltram.