Whitmore Lodge
Sunningdale, Berkshire

It is not clear exactly when Whitmore Lodge was built on the Silwood Road, sandwiched between the parks of Sunningdale and Tittenhurst: possibly some time in the late 18th century. It became the home of Captain Robert Mangles, a man who took a great interest in both his house and his garden. He was a great horticulturalist and among the flowers that he established in this country, a number were named in his honour, including the state flower of Western Australia, Mangles' kangaroo paw. It  was first raised in England, in his garden at Whitmore from seeds presented to him by  Governor Sir James Stirling who had gathered them along the Swan River. Mangles certainly made additions to the building, but kept the architecture simple. The interiors and the gardens were its high points, as shown by this description of 1829:

Whitmore Lodge is "very highly kept ... and has been greatly improved by additions to the house, and by alterations in the grounds. Mr. Mangles has a very marked taste for symmetry in architecture, and for order and contrivance in interior arrangement; fitting up, as the upholsterer terms it, and finishing and furnishing; and he is happy in finding the counterpart of his own taste in Mrs. Mangles. The interior of the house, therefore, it may easily be conceived, is a perfect museum of contrivances, excellent furniture, and rare, precious, or curious articles. We have examined every corner of the house, from the cellar to the bedrooms, and shall shortly enumerate a few things from recollection.

  • Cellar: The bins divided by slate, to save room. The French portable ice vessel, found to preserve the ice for a number of days after it is taken from the ice-house.

  • Kitchen: The walls lined with Dutch tiles, which, being glazed, do not retain the dust, and they are always clean. The cook said they rendered the place too hot. Instead of charcoal stoves for compound cookery, one immense cast-iron plate is heated on the principle of a common hot-house flue, by a common coal fire below. Steaming closet and oven very perfect. Cistern behind the fire, which, by communicating pipes, heats a bath. Ventilation openings near the floor, and near the ceiling, and through wire grating to exclude flies.

  • Outhouse: Knife-cleaning machine. Wheel-brush for brushing shoes, and the common description of clothes.

  • China closet: Very complete collection; the walls covered with paper, in imitation of Dutch tiles.

  • Entrance hall and garden front saloon: Sunk panels in the floor, for the large mats, 6 ft. square, to allow of the doors opening over them. A raised bed for flowers in the centre of the garden saloon, with stone curb. A large recess in the wall, enclosed with brass wire, serves as an aviary for canary birds; the birds pass through small inconspicuous openings on one side of the recess to their eating and drinking place, so that no husks of seeds are ever seen from the saloon. Shutters double, and curiously contrived both for warmth and security. In the flower-bed is now a collection of handsome balsams, the pots covered with green moss.

  • Mr. Manglesí dressing room and business room: Clothes-press admirably arranged; the drawers containing the different parts of dress, named and numbered. Complete system of housekeeping books; letters and copying machine; engraved forms of bankers' cheques; with the family arms, view of the house, etc.

  • Breakfast room: The walls covered with brown moreen, bordered by gimp, with cable cord in the angles. Egyptian fire irons, ornaments, tables, etc, from the late sale at Whiteknights, of the Duke of Marlborough's rarities. Frames to mirror, doors, etc of bird's eye maple, and corresponding patterns.

  • Dining room: Slips of lead, three-sided, and covered with oil cloth, laid along the skirting on the carpet, to prevent the chairs from being pushed too near to the wall. Contrivance for receiving the dinner hot, direct from the kitchen, as at Arundel Castle, and said to be also at Dreghorn Castle, near Edinburgh. Large bay window for the dessert table during the summer season.

  • Drawing room: The whole of the light admitted from a bay of three large windows. Bird-cage, with an under-storey, in which the bird descends through a small opening, by a trap-ladder, to its eating-place, so that no husks of seeds are ever exposed to view. Flower-stand, in which cut flowers are kept in moist sand. Set of musicians in Dresden china, numerous other articles of virtu, etc.

  • Staircase & co: heated by a Brussels stove, which is of iron, cased inside with fire-stone, very handsome and effective.

  • Bed room: Three sorts of blinds are in use; the best kind seems to be that in which the cloth is rolled up by pulling a string which coils up and unrolls in a groove on the end of the roller. The end of the string hangs loose.

What is particularly deserving of imitation in this house is the admission of light into all the rooms, not by rows of windows, but by bays or large windows without any cross lights, so that the light always comes in masses, and thus sets off all forms to advantage. There is not a room in the house with two windows, nor a door with a display of locks, knobs, handles and other fastenings, as if, in a house of enjoyment, the security of person or property were a matter of constant consideration. The view of the pleasure ground from the dining room displays a plain lawn, ornamented with shrubs and trees, but without flowers. That from the breakfast room the same view, but introducing an inviting portion of extreme distance. That from the drawing room, a lawn highly enriched with baskets of flowers of different shapes, grouped so as to exhibit handsome combinations: a large one being directly in front, two irregular ones at each side along the walk, and a smaller regular one placed beyond the first at some little distance. The bordering of these figures is of cast iron basketwork. 

A new rosary has been formed; a summer garden, surrounded by a trellis walk, covered with the most rare and beautiful hardy and half hardy climbers; a fountain; a rustic covered seat; a greenhouse heated by hot water in zinc pipes, etc; a little defect is having the gravel of the walks too much sunk below the level of the grass, which always produces more or less of a ditch or kitchen garden alley appearance, accompanied by deep harsh ridges. This defect, we are promised, shall be removed. The pots on the chimney-tops should be changed for square, or some other forms not at present so common as to be considered inelegant.

Independently of the beauty and high keeping of Whitmore Lodge, it is interesting, as affording an example of a small villa that would gain nothing in character or effect by additional acres. All the views are to the south and east, over an extensive, richly wooded country, and terminating in the south-west in the hilly parts of Bagshot Heath. Mr. Gilpin, whose professional assistance was called in, some years ago, when the property was purchased, and Mr. Mangles, have managed the foregound so as completely to appropriate all beyond it; and were the possessor now to have an opportunity of rendering the whole landscape his property, though he might add to his power and consequence, he could not add to the beauty of his residence. The important lesson to be learned from all this is the great advantage of building and gardening in elevated situations. The proprietor of thousands of acres, whose establishment requires a baronial mansion, may form his park on a flat surface, elevate his house by a terraced platform, and look from the centre to the circumference, over a homemade landscape; but the smaller gentleman, if he is a man of taste, will make choice of the top or the side of a hill, where he can command an extensive prospect, at least on two sides, and where one acre will go as far, in point of enjoyment and picturesque effect of scenery and sky, as a hundred acres on a plain decorated with all the art of the architect and the landscape gardener."

There were probably further nineteenth century additions to the building, including a fine ballroom. The  house was demolished in about 1936.

Whitmoor Lodge no longer stands.

 

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