Getting and Spending - William Blathwayt and Dyrham Park

Barbara Murison tells how one of Stuart England's most successful civil servants used friends, influence and resources from around the globe to fit out a palatial residence in Gloucestershire

During his travels about the kingdom in the 1720s, Daniel Defoe noted the existence of two imposing palaces in the county of Gloucestershire. One was Badminton, the seat of the Duke of Beaufort, Lord Lieutenant of the county and a member of one of the leading noble families of England. The other was Dyrham Park, built by the civil servant William Blathwayt (?1649-1717) in the 1690s. A contemporary expressed surprise that the 'happy Possessor' of Dyrham bore no higher character than that of a private gentleman. Its size and splendour brought visitors flocking to the area to view the 'Magnificence of the Seat', the 'beautiful Irregularity' of the setting and the fountains and cascade, the finest in the country after Chatsworth.

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