Roehampton in the 18th century was full of grand country houses. This Doric Temple was built between 1762 and 1769 in the grounds of Bessborough House. It was moved in 1913 to Mount Clare, at this stage to what were perfect bucolic surroundings, on the edge of a lake and other beautiful landscape features. Inside, it had a painted ceiling with a deep cove, winged female demi-figures, medallions and garlands, its centre painted with a lute, laurel wreath, tripod burners and honeysuckle tendrils. On the walls were lavish Prince of Wales feathers, plus a plastercast of one of the Parthenon frieze panels.
As Roehampton University developed in the 1960s, the Temple was marooned amongst low rise student blocks, blocked from the lake. Over the last 20 years, hidden in thick undergrowth, it was severely vandalised and used by rough sleepers. Inside, the plaster reliefs were part-destroyed, windows broken and the ceiling stained by fires lit below. It has been on the Heritage at Risk register in recent years, locked behind hoardings, but there had been no progress despite endless local efforts.
THANKS TO HOLT...
In November 2020 HOLT has launched its restoration with the Southlands Methodist Trust who own the site, given a grant and is negotiating a partnership with a specialist conservation college who will train up young conservators over the next two years. Once up and running the project will be open to the public for tours to see the conservators at work.