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The Natural History of Wiltshire ebook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 207 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.

Philip, his son (the second Earl of that name), experienced some pecuniary difficulties, and the valuable collection of pictures and books formed by his predecessor, was sold by auction, and dispersed for the benefit of his creditors.  Aubrey’s description, from his own familiar knowledge of them before the sale, is therefore the more curious and valuable.

In 1669 the second Earl Philip was succeeded by his son William (the third of that name), and on the death of the latter in 1674, the title and estates were inherited by his brother, a third Earl Philip.  The two last-mentioned noblemen, according to Aubrey, “espoused not learning, but were addicted to field sports and hospitality”.  Their younger brother, Thomas, became Earl of Pembroke in 1683.  He was a warm admirer and liberal patron of literature and the fine arts, and is famous as the founder of the magnificent collection of ancient marbles, coins, &c. which have given great celebrity to Wilton House.  Aubrey dedicated the present work to that nobleman, soon after he succeeded to the title, and was honoured with his personal friendship.  The Earl survived him many years, and was succeeded by Henry, the second of that name, in 1733.  Of the latter nobleman and his works at Wilton, Horace Walpole wrote as follows:- “The towers, the chambers, the scenes which Holbein, Jones, and Vandyke had decorated, and which Earl Thomas had enriched with the spoils of the best ages, received the best touches of beauty from Earl Henry’s hand.  He removed all that obstructed the views to or from his palace, and threw Palladium’s theatric bridge over his river.  The present Earl has crowned the summit of the hill with the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, and a handsome arch designed by Sir William Chambers.* No man had a purer taste in building than Earl Henry, of which he gave a few specimens besides his works at Wilton.” (Anecdotes of Painting, &c.) The nobleman thus commended for his architectural taste, was succeeded as Earl of Pembroke, in 1751, by his son Henry, who employed Sir William Chambers as mentioned by Walpole; and George, who succeeded to the Earldom in 1794, caused other extensive additions and alterations to be made at Wilton, by the late James Wyatt. — J. B.]

[I have in my possession a drawing of this arch by the architect. - J. B.]

The old building of the Earl of Pembroke’s house at Wilton was designed by an architect (Hans Holbein) in King Edward the Sixth’s time.† The new building which faced the garden was designed by Monsieur Solomon de Caus, tempore Caroli {primi}, but this was burnt by accident and rebuilt 1648, Mr. Webb then being surveyor. [See next page.]

†[There is no authority for the assertion that Holbein designed more than the porch mentioned elsewhere.-J.  B.]

The situation of Wilton House is incomparably noble.  It hath not only the most pleasant prospect of the gardens and Rowlindon Parke, but from thence over a lovely flatt to the city of Salisbury, where that lofty steeple cuts the horizon, and so to Ivychurch; and to add further to the glory of this prospect the right honourable Thomas, Earle of Pembroke, did, anno 1686, make a stately canal from Quidhampton to the outer base-court of his illustrious palace.

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