When you look out of the upstairs windows of the south front of Scampston Hall your eye is caught by a red-brick castellated lodge in the distance.
This is Deer Park Lodge, built by John Carr of York in Gothick style c1768 as an eye-catcher across the lake. Originally, it was stuccoed in white, so that it stood out from the now-vanished forest behind it.
As well as being an ornament to the view, the lodge served a practical function. To each side of the central bay were arcades to provide shelter when the deer came to feed. Behind the building was a modest cottage in which the deer-keeper and his family lived.
The three-sided bay, with its castellated gable embellished with a trefoil, contains two grand rooms, connected by a steep, straight staircase. Both have marble fireplaces and were decorated, apparently, with marbled paper. The upper room, where visitors from the great house would take tea and admire the view, has a delicate plaster ceiling decorated with hunting horns and sheet music.
The current owners, David and Jane Crease, have carefully restored the lodge, and Jane explains how the three sides of the bay offered completely different views – the forest to the right (nature), the house straight ahead (culture) and the mill to the left (commerce).
Mr & Mrs Crease entertained the members of the Art Fund South Yorkshire to tea on their way back from an art day in Scarborough. It’s a rare privilege to enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea sitting outside the lodge gazing across the lake towards Scampston Hall in the distance.
One of the ironies of an eye-catcher is that it commands at least as good a view as the view it belongs to. No doubt that’s why the St Quentins and their descendants, the Legards, drove over to admire the big house in its setting.
Scampston Deer Park Lodge is a private residence and is not open to the public.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lecture Survivals & Revivals: past views of English architecture, please click here.