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.
Mount Clare initially retained its ‘luscious meadows’, but by the 1960s the area around the Temple had become low-rise student housing. By 1999 the Grade II* Temple was on the Heritage at Risk Register. In 2001, Mount Clare was acquired by The Southlands Methodist Trust and since 2004 the site has been leased by Roehampton University. Over the last 20 years, the Temple has been severely vandalised, with rough sleepers using it, lighting fires and damaging its interior. The plaster reliefs have been part-destroyed, windows broken and the ceiling stained. It is one of the most long-standing at risk sites in London.
THANKS TO HOLT...
In November 2020 HOLT launched the Temple’s restoration. As well as giving a grant of £15,000, HOLT is raising additional funds for the project and commissioning research including 3D scanning of the plaster reliefs.
The restoration project will offer placements for early career conservators as well as visits for young people in HOLT’s Proud Places programme. During the project the Temple will be open to the public for tours to see the conservators at work.