HL Deb 12 May 1887 vol 314 cc1656-9

, in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government, Why the colonnades of Burlington House, which were temporarily placed on the river terrace of Battersea Park many years ago, have been suffered to lie there ever since neglected and uncared for; and whether there was any intention of erecting these beautiful works of art, as originally proposed, in the Park; and, if so, when; also to ask what had become of Temple Bar, and whether that historic monument has met with a fate similar to that which had befallen the colonnades of Burlington House? said, that the facade of Burlington House, which had been described by an eminent authority as one of the finest architectural monuments in Europe, was still lying derelict on the banks of the Thames, Burlington House having been pulled down in 1866. Of this facade Horace Walpole had also said—"We have few examples of architecture more antique and imposing." It had been taken to Battersea Park, where it had been intended to erect it as a summer house; but it had been lying there utterly uncared for and exposed to every chance. Boys with hobnail boots ran from one end of the stones to the other; and, in consequence, the facade had been seriously injured, and in a short time would be absolutely destroyed. With regard to Temple Bar, it was nine years since that gross act of vandalism had been perpetrated by which Wren's beautiful arch had been taken down and the hideous griffin put in its place, which now disfigured and obstructed the thoroughfare. Where Temple Bar now was nobody seemed to know; probably, it had mot with a fate similar to that of the colonnades. As one who had passed many years of his life almost under the shadow of Temple Bar, he ventured to hope that his noble Friend would assure him that the Government would allow it to be placed in the care of the Benchers of the Temple, who would be only too glad to take charge of it, and give it an appropriate home within their domains.


, in reply, said, that the stones which formerly composed the colonnades of Burlington House—a colonnade of whose artistic merit the noble Earl had spoken so highly—were laid on the river bank at Battersea Park in 1868, and were there still. It was decided by Lord John Manners, then First Commissioner of Works, to save this valued architectural work, and it was absolutely necessary to remove it to make room for the new buildings. It was accordingly taken down with great care—each stone was marked so as to go into its proper place again—and it was removed, with the archway and the two lodges, at no small expense, to Battersea Park, as the only available place at the time. It was not removed, as the noble Lord supposed, with any definite plan for its re-erection. He must, however, remind the noble Earl that the structure had not been complete in itself; it depended greatly on the brick wall facing Piccadilly, which, of course, was not saved. When the colonnade was taken down, it was found that a great deal of it was useless; the balustrade was worn and broken, and a great part of it was carted away as rubbish. In fact, it would not have been possible to re-erect it without considerable renovation. The question of re-erecting the colonnade and archway had been considered over and over again. Many proposals had been made, such as making it the river gateway to the Park, making a picturesque ruin of it, as the noble Lord had stated, making a summer house of it, and so on; but all the proposals had been rejected, not only on the ground of the expense they would involve, but also because they were unsuitable to the character of the architecture. It was even proposed to sell it, if a proper place could be found for it, rather than allow the stones to lie where they were. As a matter of fact, it had been designed for Burlington House, and it was most difficult to find any other suitable site for it now that Burlington House was rebuilt. Under these circumstances, the First Commissioner of Works did not propose at present to take any steps to re-erect the building. However, if his noble Friend would make any suggestion to the First Commissioner, he was quite ready to take any proposal which might be put before him by the noble Earl into consideration. As to Temple Bar, he could only repeat what his right hon. Friend the First Commissioner had said, last year, in the House of Commons. It was to the effect that Temple Bar was the property of the Corporation of the City of London, and that it was removed by them. Under these circumstances, he could not, of course, give the noble Earl the information he desired. He had been favoured, however, with the following letter from the Corporation of the City of London, in which they gave the desired information:—

"Guildhall, London, E.C.,

"May 11, 1887.

"Dear Sir,—With reference to Lord Mill-town's Question, which appears in to-day's Lords' Minutes, I have the honour to inform you that Temple Bar was taken down in 187S, a careful key drawing was made, and the stones so numbered that they could be erected thereby in their original order. The stones were deposited on some vacant land belonging to the Corporation near Farringdon Street, and arranged in such a way as to be readily and continuously available for re-erection. Many different sites have been proposed for this purpose, but there have been objections to them all. The greatest care was taken to preserve the stones in their removal; but it was found, as a matter of fact, that the stones had suffered much more from atmospheric causes and decay, and were far more chipped and injured, than there was any reason to anticipate from the general appearance of the building when standing. This, of course, will very greatly increase the cost of re-erection. It is estimated that the cost of re-erecting the old materials would be about double the cost of a similar structure new, say about £2,000.

"I have the honour to remain,

"Yours faithfully,



"To the Eight Hon. D. R. Plunket, M. P., "First Commissioner of Works."

He thought that that letter would give the information required by the noble Earl.


asked whether, if the Office of Works was unwilling, the Government would allow anyone else to make use of the colonnade?


said, he had already stated that the Office of Works had considered the proposal to sell the stones, but without effect; if, however, a proper offer were made, and a guarantee that a proper site was provided were given, the Government would be prepared to consider the matter.


asked, what the expense would be of repairing the colonnade of Burlington House? He had reason to believe it was past praying for.


said, he did not know that he could give the noble Earl opposite any better answer than that when a proposal had been made some years ago, to erect this building in Regent's Park, Mr. Taylor, the able architect of the Office of Works, with whom the noble Earl was no doubt well acquainted, had made an estimate, and had calculated that the expense of reerecting it where it now was would be £2,500, and if it were removed some four miles, that was to say, to Regent's Park, £3,000.

House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.