Monday, April 5, 2010

Dinton, Buckinghamshire


Someone recently asked, ‘How do you find your buildings?’ Well, sometimes they’re structures I’ve known about for years, often I just stumble upon them as I travel around. But now and then, I get a hint from a map. Maps, especially Ordnance Survey maps, offer all kinds of hints about the buildings that are dotted all over the countryside, and this is a subject I hope to come back to. Meanwhile, here is one example.

Between Thame and Aylesbury I spotted the abbreviation ‘Cas’ on a map. I knew of no medieval castle thereabouts, so I made my way along the A418 to have a look. What I found was ‘Dinton Castle’, an 18th-century eyecatcher, now ruined and shielded by trees. It was built in 1769 for Sir John Van Hattam and designed to be visible from his house in the village, over on the other side of the main road. It’s in typical Gothick sham castle mode – an octagonal plan with two round side towers, and ogee-topped windows – designed to impress passing riders and carriage-travellers.

The building is in a terrible state, and obviously has been so for a long time – in the 1960 edition of Pevsner it is described as ‘now in decay’, while the 1981 Shell Guide to Bucks refers to its ‘ruinous condition’. But there are plans to restore it, so it may yet be saved to make a still more dramatic impression on those who pass by on the way from Thame to Aylesbury. I certainly hope so.


Peter Ashley said...

This looks like it's from the portfolio of bonkers Sanderson Miller.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, it does have the feel of 'San' about it. Definitely an attack of Georgian Gothick syndrome.