The Gothic Temple at Burghley - hardly Gothic, not exactly classical, but with a fine entrance at the back

The Gothic Temple at Burghley – hardly Gothic, not exactly classical, but with a fine entrance at the back.

How fond and how French in their originality and particularity are the questions that Mme de B de V has sent me from France.

She is looking for examples of Ionic temples built by Capability Brown, gardener and architect, with an entrance at the back. I pointed her towards the temples of Stowe in Buckinghamshire, and, above all, to the Temple of Concord, which does use the Ionic. However it is generally entered from the front. Then the Temple of Diana at Weston Park has pilasters in a form of Ionic and an entrance at the back, but is barely recognisable as a temple. The Tuscans at Wotton are, not surprisingly, of the Tuscan or Doric order.

On the other hand the Gothic Temple at Burghley House does have its most decorated entrance at the back – you were to make your way through the building to the front, from which there is a splendid view of the lake and parkland, but it is a building unencumbered by the Ionic. Like the Bath House at Corsham Court it is essentially classical in form, but with Gothick detailing added. Brown moved towards this light-hearted style as his career progressed.

So who is to track the swirl of changes between classical and Gothick, and between Tuscan and Corinthian? What determined the choice of style? I refer the matter to Dr Marion Harney, now beginning what will be her authoritative book on the subject, and I beg Mme de B de V to be patient until that emerges.