The Original Toad Hall

The Original Toad Hall

The Inspiration for Toad Hall in the Much-Loved Children's Novel The Wind in the Willows

On 27th June 2023, Chorley’s Auctioneers were delighted to present a series of landscapes depicting views of the Thames Valley to coincide with the Henley Royal Regatta. Fawley Court, the nearby country estate, is linked to the famous Temple Island where the world-renowned race begins each year. Fawley Court was the inspiration for Toad Hall in the much-loved 1908 children’s book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.


On 27th June 2023, Chorley’s Auctioneers were delighted to present a series of landscapes depicting views of the Thames Valley to coincide with the Henley Royal Regatta. Fawley Court, the nearby country estate, is linked to the famous Temple Island where the world-renowned race begins each year. Fawley Court was the inspiration for Toad Hall in the much-loved 1908 children’s book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

The three landscapes in pen, ink and watercolour show Fawley Court in all its glory, surrounded by the charming countryside around Henley. Fawley Court was originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1684 and was then remodelled for Sambrooke Freeman (1721-1782), of the prominent Freeman family, for whom Fawley Court was the ancestral home. (Freeman was a member of Parliament for Pontefract in Yorkshire from 1754–61 and Bridport in Dorset from 1768–74).

Fawley hall henley Chorleys

The remodelling was done by English architect James Wyatt in the 1770s in the Neoclassical style and extensive landscaping and garden re-design was carried out by English landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1715-1783) in the 1760s. Freeman also commissioned Wyatt to design and build the aforementioned temple for the island on the Thames, positioned in full view of the house, now known by all rowers and Henley locals as ‘Temple Island’ and a landmark for the start of the race each year. Fawley Court passed to Sambrooke’s nephew, Strickland Freeman, in 1782. It then passed down through the Strickland family of Apperley Court to the current owner.

As well as inspiring the home of Toad of Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows, Fawley was requisitioned (along with Bletchley Park) as a decoding centre during the Second World War. In 1953 it was bought by the Marian Fathers, a Polish clerical congregation to be used as a boarding school, which became a hub for the local Polish community. It is now privately owned.

The works were created by British landowner, artist and garden designer Coplestone Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791), who is known for capriccio landscape painting and portraits. His work was regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Society of Artists. He was well known for his design, sketches and paintings of his family’s Hestercombe estate, which are now listed Grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. He also painted several views of the Stourhead estate and gardens. His stunning works champion the English countryside, depicting sweeping landscapes of natural beauty in various parts of the country with very accurate and scenic detailing.  

The three landscapes were offered as one lot in Chorley’s Old Masters, British and European Art on Tuesday 27th June, 2023 with a winning bid of £2,500 plus fees.

 

Round & About: Henley Royal Regatta paintings going under the hammer

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