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THIS STORY LAST UPDATED: 24 February 2004 1305 GMT
Ten year house archive now complete

The new Wardour Castle
The new Wardour Castle

Lovers of historic properties will be interested to learn that the archive for a significant Wiltshire property is now complete, providing a valuable insight into 18th century European architecture.

BBC Wiltshire: Old Wardour Castle


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Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office

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Thomas, the first Lord Arundell, was ennobled in 1606 by King James I. He had already been created a count of the Holy Roman Empire following a display of bravery against the Turkish forces at the battle of Gran in 1595.

However, as a Catholic family, the Arundells were banned from public office until 1829. During the English Civil War, Lady Blanche of the Arundell family held out against the Parliamentarian forces in old Wardour Castle for five days with only 25 armed men.

Henry, the third Baron of Arundell, was unjustly implicated in a Papist (Catholic) conspiracy in 1678 and was imprisoned for five years in the Tower of London.

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The sumptuous designs for the new Wardour Castle form the centrepiece of the archive, which has been conserved and catalogued by staff at the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office in Trowbridge.

The team has spent more than a decade cataloguing, conserving and preserving the Arundell family archive and have now completed the marathon task.

The Arundells were a wealthy, aristocratic Wiltshire family who bought the original Wardour Castle - now a picturesque ruin - in 1547.

Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle

The old castle was severely damaged during a Civil War siege and was later abandoned.

The Arundells were supporters of the Royalist cause and the castle was first seized by Parliamentary forces and then reclaimed by the family - but only at the cost of its destruction.

The magnificent new Wardour Castle was built in the popular Palladian or classical style during 1770s.

The Arundell archive includes detailed plans for the new Wardour Castle, providing a fascinating insight into European architectural styles of the period.

The architect, Giacomo Quarenghi, who was later the principal architect of the then Russian capital, St Petersburg, worked on a spectacular chapel for the new house, as the Arundells were an important Catholic family.

quotemarkThe plans for the new Wardour Castle are incredibly detailed... they contribute to our understanding of European architecture and design during the 18th century...quotemark

Steve Hobbs, County Archivist

The archive contains around 500 drawings and plans. Preservation work involved removing the drawings from acidic backing paper and placing them in polyester film.

Several large estate maps - including one of Wardour Park from 1753 - were also conserved, and these items can now all be seen by members of the public.

The catalogue for the archive is now available on the Internet at

Steve Hobbs, archivist at Wiltshire County Council, said: "The plans for the new Wardour Castle are incredibly detailed.

"They contribute to our understanding of European architecture and design during the 18th century, as they include a wide range of ideas and schemes from which the actual plans were selected."

The new Wardour Castle was sold by the family after the death of the last Lord Arundell - who was a prisoner of war in the notorious Colditz Castle during the Second World War - and it then became a private school. In recent years, the building has been turned into luxury apartments.

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