The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Chambers Summer House and Charles Bridgeman garden

Eighteenth century architect William Chambers' pavilion at Amesbury Abbey was commissioned by the Duchess of Queensbury.  It was constructed of trapped flint arranged in patterns, with deep projecting eaves and unglazed oval windows.

The Duchess was involved in every aspect of its construction and decoration and her letters indicate her desire to employ a Swiss painter to decorate its interior.

No signs that this intention was carried out are evident, uninhabited for years it has today been rescued and restored and provides a place of repose for elderly residents who enjoy the garden.

Many deplored this fanciful style but felt obliged, as Robert Morris who published Architectural Remembrances in 1751 did, to at least include one design in the oriental taste. He added an attacking postscript to his book that said…

…it exists in mere WHIM and CHIMERA, without rules or order, it requires no fertility of genius to put in Execution; the principals are a good choice of chains and bells and different colours of paint; as to the serpents, dragons and monkeys etc., they, like the rest of the beauties, may be cut in paper and pasted on anywhere, or in any manner; a few laths nailed across each other, and made Black, Red, Blue, Yellow, or any other Colour, or mix’ed with any Sort of Chequer Work, or Impropriety of Ornament, completes the whole.

I would welcome further information as to why Kitty Queensberry took an interest in this garden.  What was her connection?

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'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

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