1811: The Thames -
Harleyford Manor, 1811
'Views on the Thames' by William-Bernard Cooke, George Cooke, Samuel Owen and Peter de Wint -
This handsome mansion is the seat of Sir William Clayton, Bart, and is situated on the banks of the Thames, near the borough town of Marlow, in the county of Buckingham. It was erected in the year 1755, after a design, and in the peculiar style of architecture which distinguishes the works of Sir Robert Taylor.
It occupies part, and but a small part, of the ancient manor-house, which was an edifice of very old date, and resembled in form and appearance, as it equalled in antiquity, the venerable mansion of Hurly-house, the seat of Mr. Wilcox, on the Berkshire side of the river; so that the surrounding scenery must have lost somewhat of its picturesque effect, from the change of such an object for the modern structure.
It is built of a red brick, and though not on a large plan, contains something more than a mere commodious suite of apartments.
It was ever a leading and favourite circumstance in the edificial designs of Sir Robert Taylor, and, indeed, it first brought him into notice, that, however deficient his elevation might be in classical beauty and correctness, or in the lesser domestic arrangements of the houses which he built, he never failed to give a succession of as spacious rooms on the principal floor, as the quantity of square feet allotted him, or the expence to which he was limited, would admit.
He never spared his semi-circular sweeps to encrease the dimensions of the apartments; so that the exterior outline of many of his houses have a singular though not irregular appearance. The uncommon height also which he gave to what may be called the living rooms, when raised upon a basement story, threw his building rather in a disproportionate manner into the air.
He was fond, of balls, but on what principles of taste or beauty, we do not understand, as decorations. Harleyford-house is not without them, and possesses the peculiarities which have been just enumerated.
The house might certainly have been shaped with a much better adaption, than it possesses, to the surrounding scenery, which is not without a considerable portion of beauty. Zucarelli made a painting of it, of which there is an engraving by Major; and the truth of our observation, would, we think, be confirmed by an examination of that very pleasing picture.
The mansion is placed on an easy slope, rising from the margin of the river, which comprehends a fine view in each direction, to the town of Marlow, with its spire and bridge, one way; and to Bisham-Abbey, the seat of Mr. Vansittart, the other.
The grounds on the opposite side of the water form a pleasing acclivity, varied with wood and agricultural Cultivation. The house is sheltered from the north by a fine grove of beech and other trees. The lawn is ornamented with the oak and chesnut. The walks are extensive, and open to very charming views.
Several small buildings are dispersed through the grounds, the principal of which is a temple, dedicated to Friendship, and was a tribute of regard to the Clayton family, by the late Doctor Thomas, Bishop of Rochester, who erected it.
1875: Harleyford Manor, Henry Taunt -
Harleyford Manor, Henry Taunt, 1875
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT1748
Harleyford Manor,RIGHT bank below Hurley weir
That house I identify as Toad Hall. I have no reason other than its idyllic river setting and squat self confidence.
Rounding a bend in the river, they came in sight of a handsome, dignified old house of mellowed red brick,
with well-kept lawns reaching down to the water's edge.
'There's Toad Hall,' said the Rat; 'and that creek on the left,
where the notice-board says, "Private. No landing allowed," leads to his boat-house,
where we'll leave the boat. The stables are over there to the right.
That's the banqueting-hall you're looking at now — very old, that is.
Toad is rather rich, you know, and this is really one of the nicest houses in these parts,
though we never admit as much to Toad.'
They glided up the creek, and the Mole shipped his sculls as they passed into the shadow of a large boat-house. Here they saw many handsome boats, slung from the cross beams or hauled up on a slip, but none in the water; and the place had an unused and a deserted air. The Rat looked around him. 'I understand,' said he. 'Boating is played out. He's tired of it, and done with it. I wonder what new fad he has taken up now? Come along and let's look him up. We shall hear all about it quite soon enough.'
They disembarked, and strolled across the gay flower-decked lawns in search of Toad, whom they presently happened upon resting in a wicker garden-chair, with a pre-occupied expression of face, and a large map spread out on his knees.
'Hooray!' he cried, jumping up on seeing them, 'this is splendid!' He shook the paws of both of them warmly, never waiting for an introduction to the Mole. 'How KIND of you!' he went on, dancing round them. 'I was just going to send a boat down the river for you, Ratty, with strict orders that you were to be fetched up here at once, whatever you were doing. I want you badly — both of you. Now what will you take? Come inside and have something! You don't know how lucky it is, your turning up just now!'
'Let's sit quiet a bit, Toady!' said the Rat, throwing himself into an easy chair, while the Mole took another by the side of him and made some civil remark about Toad's 'delightful residence.' 'Finest house on the whole river,' cried Toad boisterously. 'Or anywhere else, for that matter,' he could not help adding.
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
On the Bucks side, Harleyford House itself is ugly enough, though no house on the river has a sweeter situation ; here are cannon balls and fortifications (against whom intended I do not know), neatly kept landing-places, the usual trespassers boards, and some lovely backwaters, in one of which is a very fine boathouse, with the stream running through it, near which a beautiful plane tree overhangs the water, beneath which tree the late Emperor of the French was very fond of lying in his boat, when on a visit here in bygone days.
In 1871 Sir William Clayton sought permission to lay a boom across the channel by Harleyford House. It was quite rightly refused though the reference to the French Emperor above might mean there was more to this request than selfishness.
1793: Temple and Harleyford, Boydell taken from somewhere near Danesfield House (Hotel) -
Temple & Harleford. June 1, 1793. J. Farington R.A. delt. J.C. Stadler sculpt.
(Published) by J. & J. Boydell, Shakespeare Gally. Pall Mall & (No. 90) Cheapside (London).