In an article in the recently published 2013 National Trust Historic Houses and Collections Annual, Rupert Goulding reconstructs the personality and taste of William Blathwayt (?1649-1717), the builder of Dyrham Park.
By analysing an inventory of Blathwayt’s lost print collection, Rupert has found telling details of Blathwayt’s intellectual interests and love of art and gardening.
Blathwayt was a government minister under King William III, ‘a master at managing information’ as Rupert characterises him.
This not only made Blathwayt an able Secretary of State and Secretary at War, but it was also reflected in the architecture and gardens of Dyrham Park and the collections he assembled there.
Blathwayt might be dubbed a ‘Hollandophile': he not only spoke Dutch (which was useful when serving under a Dutch king), but he also owned many Dutch paintings and prints.
Blathwayt shared an appreciation of gardens with William III, and his print collection included a number of views of contemporary gardens. The garden at Dyrham was laid out in Dutch baroque style, like those at William’s palaces at Hampton Court and Het Loo. Rupert defines Dyrham as ‘essentially a Dutch house in Gloucestershire.’
Rupert’s article clearly demonstrates how an inventory can be the key to revealing the rich personal meanings contained within a house, a garden and a collection.