WYATT, James
(b. 1746, Burton Constable, d. 1813, Marlborough)

Interior view

1808-17
Photo
Ashridge, Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire

The asymmetrical layout of Strawberry Hill became the hallmark of a whole movement that left its mark on English country house architecture towards the end of the 18th century, namely Castellated Gothic or Castle Style. A country seat now had to look like a medieval castle, with compact masses and huge towers which, with the obligatory battlements, would convey a sense of fortification. The picturesque Castle Style soon achieved great popularity, and late 18th-century/early 19th-century architects switched effortlessly between the Neoclassical vein for public commissions and Gothic Revival for country houses.

One of the most successful architects of the time was James Wyatt. His last Gothic Revival country house at Ashridge is a perfect example of the Castle Style. The large central tower of the spacious building is completely occupied by a stairwell, which is open through the full height of the tower and enclosed by a fan vault. In this building, an overwhelming effect was sought, prompted by the crossing towers of medieval cathedrals.

The photo shows the stair tower.