Saturday, November 19, 2011

Island Hall in Godmanchester

As a mentioned in my previous post, Island Hall was built by Original Jackson  for his son, John. 

Island Hall is an elegant riverside mansion built in the late 1740s. The house is situated in 3 acres of gardens including an ornamental Saxon island in the river Great Ouse.
For the purposes of history alone – and other reasons no doubt as well – we are fortunate that the house and grounds are now owned by Christopher Vane Percy who lives there with his family. It is worth checking out theirgallery of photos. Obviously, the Original Jackson who built this Georgian house was blessed with a considerable dab of good taste, as is the current owner.

[Mr Vane Percy] has completed the house's restoration: not only has it been redecorated but the 18th century cupola over the stables has been rebuilt, the island bought back and the Chinese bridge reconstructed. The long task of returning to the garden to the vision of the 'stillest repose' which Octavia Hill enjoyed is now well advanced. She saw the house as a reminder 'of what that deep attachment is to an inherited spot of old earth, rich with memories of days long ago.' By some miracle, that attachment has endured.
Michael Hall, Country Life, February 26, 1998, with photographs by June Buck

I silvered the columns, then stippled them with the blues of lapis. I gilded the woodwork, then gave it a grain finish. For that, the school of safe good taste would probably have taken me out and shot," says Christopher Vane Percy, "but my house needed something bold. Island Hall may be mid-eighteenth century, but the architecture looks back to the seventeenth century, a gutsier era when all the great Baroque houses were over the top.
Elizabeth Lambert, Architectural Digest, 1996

Although Christopher does not have a direct link with Original Jackson, his family’s connection to the house does go back to the early 1800s:

After Original’s death, his son John’s financial situation  went from bad to worse, and his Son, John Junior’s situation was no better. By 1804 the house had to be sold, and was subsequently bought by my ancestor. In 1958, my grandfather’s cousin sold the house and I bought it back in 1983 It was my family who named the house Island Hall – before that there was no name.  

For those interested in all aspects Jackson, the house and grounds are well worth a tour and the family welcome guests:

Island Hall is a family run private home and all tours are given by a member of the family. You can also stay for tea, dinner or attend one of our evening concerts. Visiting is easy by road or rail: drive a short distance from the A14 or A1(M) or alight at Huntingdon station.

As always, when it comes to what I know about Jacksons, I continue to stand on the shoulders of others. Thanks to my new vantage point - standing on the work of Christopher Vane Percy - I can see just that much further. As always, gratitude.

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