Building record 1067000000 - MENTMORE TOWERS


Nineteenth century 'Jacobethan'-style country house at Mentmore Towers, built in 1852-4.

Protected Status/Designation

  • Listed Building (I) 1117863: MENTMORE TOWERS


Type and Period (1)

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (Built 1852-1854, 19th Century - 1800 AD to 1899 AD)


Plan Form - Square.
Grade I. Formerly a country house, now the British Seat of the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment. Built 1852-4 by Sir Joseph Paxton and G.H. Stokes for Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild. Ancaster ashlar, flat lead roofs. In the Jacobethan style, much influenced by Wollaton Hall. Main block of 2 storeys is almost square in plan with projecting 3-storey corner towers and single storey wings flanking entrance courtyard. Right wing masks service court to north. Main block is articulated by entablatures and pairs of lugged pilasters on plinths: ground floor is Doric with triglyph entablature; first floor is Ionic and has plinths with cartouches. Balustraded parapet with stone urns on plinths and, on N.E. side, a central scrolled gable with broken segmental pediment, clock and flanking obelisks. Towers have Corinthian pilasters on plinths with cartouches, entablatures with carved heads, and scrolled gables with small pediments, central open roundels, heraldic lion finials and corner obelisks. Groups of round stone chimney shafts with panelled capitals and linked cornice heads. Stone mullion windows with double transoms. N.E. front has 5-light windows in outer bays, and slightly projecting centrepiece with 2-light windows flanking 4-light. Towers have 4-light windows or elaborate strapwork cartouches. Central double panelled doors with large radiating fanlight. Single storey porch has semi-circular arch to each face with carved lion-head keystones, flanking pairs of lugged Doric columns, and triglyph entablature with central Rothschild crest. Flanking wings have rows of 6 arched niches, triglyph entablature and balustraded parapet, and terminate in similar 2-storey towers to front. Remainder is similar, the S.E. front with central heraldic crests and cyphers dated 1851, and keyblock dated AH1878. Service wing is of 2 storeys and a basement with a single Doric order and similar parapets, and is built around a small court with inner walls of white brick and entrance arch to N.W. Interior: central 2-storey hall is faced with Caen stone and has arcaded first floor gallery with marble balustrade. Glazed ceiling with wooden ribs, plaster coving with moulded strapwork cartouches. Ground floor of hall has large arched doors with early examples of plate glass, and fireplace, said to have come from Rubens' house in Antwerp, of black and white marble with large projecting entablature hood on scrolled sheep herms. Other ground floor rooms have heavy carved marble fireplaces with large mirrors above, carved skirting boards and door surrounds with panelled doors. Rooms in S.E. range have plaster ceilings with gilt Rococo decoration, some C18 imported from France. Dining room has very fine C18 boiseries and gilt ceiling from the Hotel de Villars, Paris, with C18 Genoese velvet in some panels and paintings by Van Loo over the mirrors. Small room to right of entrance front also has C18 french panelling with overdoors by Boucher. Stairwell is of Caen stone with Jacobethan plaster ceiling; single lower flight and double upper flights of stairs with marble balustrades. First floor has suites of bedrooms, also with marble fireplaces, and with bathroom fittings adapted from C18 french commodes. His Lordship's Room has plaster gilt Rococo ceiling. Mentmore is also notable as one of the earliest houses to have a hot water and central heating system. (SAVE Britain's Heritage, Mentmore for the Nation, 1977) (B1).
Proposal for conversion into hotel, documents include archaeological desk-top and conservation plan. Archaeology section gives much detail as to landscaping &c (B3).
Watching brief of geotechnical test-pits did not distinguish whether the land was terraced into or built up for construction of house and gardens. Land bought by Baroness de Rothschild for her son and the house was built between 1851 and 1854. The house was built on made ground in order to take advantage of the views looking south to the Vale of Aylesbury and the Chiltern escarpment. The house, contents and grounds were eventually sold in 1977 (B4, B17).
Included in English Heritage's Register of Heritage at Risk. In 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015 classified as priority A: 'Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric: no solution agreed'. In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 classified as priority B: 'Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric: solution agreed but not yet implemented'. In 2022 classified as priority A: 'Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric: no solution agreed'. (B5,B8-9, B12-16,B22-24).
Restoration plan with detailed condition survey (B6).
Buildings report held at NMR (B7).
Documents submitted in support of planning application, showing historic images and photographs of Mentmore Towers (B10).
Design statement submitted in support of planning application (B11).

Sources (25)

  • ---SBC20701 Aerial Photograph: Michael Farley. 2001. 2001oblique AP by Mike Farley. SP90301970. Yes.
  • <1>SBC19041 Bibliographic reference: DoE. 1984. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. p58.
  • <3>SBC19521 Unpublished document: Rolfe Judd. 2001. Mentmore Towers Environmental Impact Assessment (Technical Annexes).
  • <4>SBC22938 Unpublished document: Oxford Archaeology. 2007. Eastern Courtyard, Mentmore Towers: Desk-based assessment. p 5.
  • <5>SBC23138 Bibliographic reference: English Heritage. 2008. Heritage at Risk Register 2008. p211.
  • <6>SBC23306 Unpublished document: Aukett Fitzroy Robinson. 2007. Approach to Refurbishment: Mentmore Towers.
  • <7>SBC23358 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 2006. NMR Buildings Reports. BF082360.
  • <8>SBC23453 Bibliographic reference: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South East. p27.
  • <9>SBC24032 Bibliographic reference: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South East. p22.
  • <10>SBC24199 Unpublished document: Rosemont Architecture & Surveying Limited. Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire: Historic Images (Appendix B) and Photographs (Appendix C).
  • <11>SBC24200 Unpublished document: EPR Architects Limited. 2001. Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire: Supplementary Design Statement for: Alterations made to proposals for the main building and new Derby Wing 28 November 2001.
  • <12>SBC24601 Digital archive: Historic England. 2015. Heritage at Risk Register 2015.
  • <13>SBC24775 Digital archive: Historic England. 2016. Heritage at Risk Register 2016. p5.
  • <14>SBC24932 Digital archive: Historic England. 2017. Heritage at Risk Register 2017.
  • <15>SBC25083 Digital archive: Historic England. 2018. Heritage at Risk Register 2018.
  • <16>SBC25245 Digital archive: Historic England. 2019. Heritage at Risk Register 2019. p132.
  • <17>SBC25435 Unpublished document: Oxford Archaeology. 2006. Mentmore Towers, Mentmore: Archaeological Watching Brief Report.
  • <18>SBC25436 Unpublished document: Richard Smith. 2017. Heritage Assessment of the Former Smithy, Mentmore.
  • <19>SBC23698 Unpublished document: Aylesbury Vale District Council. 2019. Mentmore Conservation Area Review.
  • <20>SBC25438 Bibliographic reference: Professor Russell Thomas. 2020. The Manufactured Gas Industry: Volume 3 Gazetteer.
  • <21>SBC19664 Bibliographic reference: Nikolaus Pevsner & Elizabeth Williamson. 1994. The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire.
  • <22>SBC25497 Digital archive: Historic England. 2020. Heritage at Risk Register 2020.
  • <23>SBC25511 Digital archive: Historic England. 2021. Heritage at Risk Register 2021.
  • <24>SBC25896 Digital archive: Historic England. 2022. Heritage at Risk Register 2022.


Grid reference SP 90250 19660 (point)
Civil Parish MENTMORE, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (16)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • Event - Survey: Site visit (EBC13593)
  • Event - Intervention: Watching brief (Ref: BUMENT06) (EBC18311)

Record last edited

Feb 18 2023 6:39PM

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