Curator's choice - prints, watercolours & drawings


Wimbledon House

wimbledon houseThe grand mansion straddled what is now Home Park Road and was built in 1588 by Sir Thomas Cecil, who was then living at the Old Rectory House. Thomas was the elder son of the great William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth’s minister.

We know the great house passed from Thomas’s son to Queen Henrietta Maria and then from hand to hand until it came in the early eighteenth century to Theodore Janssen, a prominent City merchant, financier and a director of the Bank of England. Janssen regarded it as old-fashioned and began pulling it down in 1717 and started building a new house for himself on approximately the same site.

This engraving is one of several in the collection – all of which are copies after Henry Winstanley’s original engraving of 1678. Henry Winstanley, of Littlebury, Essex, was engineer, engraver and Clerk of Works to Charles II. He invited the nobility and gentry to commission him to come and draw their houses, which he offered later to publish in a volume. Many accepted this offer, and among them Lord Danby, Duke of Leeds, who then held Wimbledon and so in 1678 Winstanley came to our village and drew the great house for us to see.

wimbledon house