The second Toddington Manor was built in the Gothic Revival style - once attributed to the architect Sir Charles Barry who, with A.W.N. Pugin, designed the Houses of Parliament in London. However, there is now sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Charles Hanbury-Tracy was his own architect.
Historian and researcher Adam Stanford - to whom acknowledgement is made for permission to use some of his texts and various images for this article - writes:-
"Charles Hanbury was born at Pontypool Park, Monmouthshire on 28th December 1778 of a family deriving its wealth from the ownership of the Pontypool Iron Works. He was educated at Rugby and Christ Church College, Oxford, In 1798 he married his cousin, Henrietta Susanna, daughter and heiress of Henry, eighth and last Viscount Tracy of Rathcoole (Dublin), owner of the large estates of Toddington in Gloucestershire and Gregynog in Montgomeryshire. A few days before his marriage Charles added by Royal Licence the name of Tracy to that of Hanbury."
Click on this image to view more about Toddington Manor on the web site of Adam Stanford. Adam continues, "The newly married couple settled at Toddington Manor - in the Jacobean mansion, the ruins of which stand in Toddington Park near the church.
The Manor was damp and partly destroyed by fire in 1800. On being renovated, the house was then attacked by dry rot and this led Charles Hanbury-Tracy to build the present house on higher ground. He was his own architect and attempted in his plans to adapt the Gothic style, which was being revived in England to domestic architecture.
In March 1820, he laid the first stone of the building which was to cost him more that £150,000 and was to occupy his constant attention for fifteen years. Toddington has been ascribed to Sir Charles Barry, but there is sufficient contemporary evidence to prove that Barry had no hand in its design or building. To us the Gothic style is exceptionally appropriate for ecclesiastical architecture but, to Hanbury-Tracy and his contemporaries, the style had great appeal for its picturesque qualities - scenic effects, variety of detail, beauty and grandeur. This is enhanced by landscaping, which seems to have been part of Charles Hanbury-Tracy's scheme, but which was only carried out after his death by his son, Thomas. (Thomas Charles George Hanbury-Tracy, 2nd. Lord Sudeley.)
Charles Hanbury entered Parliament as Whig Member for Tewkesbury and was appointed Chairman of the Commission to judge the designs for the present Houses of Parliament. In 1838 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Sudeley of Toddington. He died in Toddington in 1858 on 10th February at the age of 79 and was buried beside his wife in the Parish Church. He had left £5000 for the provision of a fitting memorial to himself and his wife. The motto of his coat of arms runs, 'Memoria Pii Aeterna' - The Remembrance of a Good Man lasts for ever.
Toddington is remarkable for the variety of its elevations - the severe castle-like East Side with its prominent buttresses, its square towers and its octagonal turrets; the High Gothic North Front reminiscent of an Oxford College with its Tower having affinity with Magdalen Tower, Oxford - but without being a replica - the tracery of the Grand Staircase Window, the intricate stonework about the Entrance, the Bay Windows, supported on fan-vaulted corbels, and the castellation, the sober West Elevation with its identical windows based on some that have now disappeared from Christ Church College Cloisters, Oxford, and flamboyant Gothic of the South seen at its zenith in the so-called Chapel Wing. The heads of monarchs on the South side are recognisable where they haven't been broken in the re-building of the house. Wolsey and Henry VII eye each other across the Council Room; the window - the first on the first floor is possibly Ethelred the Unready."
Of the Manor, it has been said, (Charles Hanbury-Tracy by M.J. McCarthy) that - "In viewing Toddington Manor it is difficult to absorb all its qualities at once, the relations of mass to mass change so frequently about the one stabilising element, the Great Tower. Particularly is this true of the roof line, where, turrets and pinnacles appear in continually varying relationship to those of the Tower and to each other as one walks about park or terraces. Only when the building has been viewed from all angles, and its extent and diversity allowed to settle in ones consciousness, does one come to appreciate the painstaking industry that was required for the accomplishment of this triumph of the picturesque; the integrity of its architect, who insisted constantly upon correct, though expensive detailed work in stone and wood; and finally, the breadth and originality of imagination which first conceived this splendid architectural composition."
Toddington Manor was recently listed for sale on the open market at £3.2 million. The following information - edited for this page - was available at the time in connection with the sale process.
|"Toddington Manor is Listed Grade 1 in the List of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest. The property comprises a substantial Cotswold stone Gothic-styled mansion, dating from 1819-1835 with some later alterations, together with its outbuildings and approximately 124.5 acres of adjoining gardens, grounds and parkland. Within the curtilage of the property there is a Cotswold stone Lodge and a pair of brick and slate semi-detached bungalows. The River Isbourne flows through the estate. From the village, a pair of wrought iron gates to the side of the Lodge lead to the driveway, which passes through the grounds and leads to a spacious forecourt and the main entrance to the house."|
|Said to have somewhere in the region of 300 rooms in all, there are three main storeys and, of course, the grandeur of the main tower. The principal ground floor rooms - which include a spectacular cloister area and numerous kitchen, servery and associated house and estate offices - are listed as Music Room, Drawing Room, Library, Dining Room, Morning Room, Billiards Room, a further large partitioned room and a Dining Hall - (the Chapel Wing). On the second floor may be found at least 19 bedrooms whilst the third floor supplies further bedrooms. Cellars and attics? Of course!|
|"The very beautiful golden stone of the exterior was taken from the quarry known locally as "Jackdaw Quarry in nearby Stanway. The internal stone was obtained locally from Pinnock Farm. One of the best features of the interior is the Cloister with its leafy capitals, naturalistic roof-bosses, and expressive figureheads. The statue at the foot of the stairs is known traditionally as St. Bruno and resembles Houdon's statue of St. Bruno in the Church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli in Rome. Here the Cloister narrows to five feet, but on the other side it is ten feet wide and fifteen high. The glass in the cloister was manufactured very early in this [20th] century and copied the very old glass which was originally there. The window in the North Entrance (modelled on the Red Mount Chapel, Lynn, Norfolk) is Swiss and the original portions of the Window lighting the Great Staircase Flemish or Cologne School - of the late 16th Century."|
Details of the Estate continue -
"To the south of the house, to which it is connected, is the Stable Yard with its Stables and Coach House, which is enclosed within a unique indoor vaulted Ride. Outside there is a further small Stable Yard and Groom's Cottage.
To the south and west of the house are terraced Formal Gardens with stone balustrades and a Swimming Pool Beyond the gardens surrounding the house is the Park, through which flows the River Isbourne, and which contains the ruined Gatehouse of the sixteenth century house (scheduled as an Ancient Monument). Approached from the entrance drive is the pair of brick and slate semi-detached bungalows and to the side of the main entrance gates is Winchcombe Lodge, a two storey building of stone and slate construction. The total area of the property is about 124.40 acres (50.34 Ha).
When the Sudeley family became bankrupt, the house was sold to meet creditor's demands in 1901. During the war, 1939-45, it was occupied first by the National Union of Teachers as their Headquarters, and then by the US Army before and during the invasion of the mainland of Europe. The Order of Christian Brothers bought it in 1948 and it was used as a noviciate and their Administrative Headquarters until 1972 when it was converted back into a superior private residence. It was last occupied as a private school and has been unoccupied in recent years - approximately 15 - during which time the owners have maintained the property and employed a resident caretaker."
Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) was born in London. He studied first with a Lambeth architect and then abroad for a while, mainly in Italy. His work shows the influence of Italian Renaissance architecture. His first important work was a church in Brighton. After further churches in Manchester and Oldham, he had his first significant commissions in London. Following the destruction by fire of the Houses of Parliament in 1834, Barry won the competition for the new buildings on which he worked from 1837 through to the commencement of building, in 1840, to the completion of first the House of Lords in 1847 and then the House of Commons in 1852 though some work carried on after that.
Barry's other well known buildings include the Manchester Athenaeum (1836), Manchester City Art Gallery (built 1824-35), the Treasury building in Whitehall (1845), the Reform Club (1837), and the Royal College of Surgeons. One of his sons, Sir John Wolfe-Barry, was the engineer for Tower Bridge. Barry was also responsible for Hughenden Manor, the house of British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.