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The Chamberlayne family purchased the Kirtlington estate in 1623. On the death of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne in 1682, the Chamberlayne estates passed to Robert Dashwood (cr Bt 1684) who had married Penelope, daughter of Sir Thomas, earlier the same year, the main residence being Northbrook House. In 1741 Sir James Dashwood (d 1779), who succeeded from his grandfather Sir Robert (d 1734), commissioned designs for a new mansion on his estate, to be set in a clearing made in what had previously been known as the Great Wood, a wood of oak and Spanish chestnut. The house was ready for occupation by 1746 and in 1750 Northbrook House was demolished.

A scheme for the grounds was supplied in the mid 1740s by the then Royal Gardener, Thomas Greening, some parts of which were carried out. A plan survives showing this scheme to have been focused on the land west of the house. In 1751 Sir James signed a contract with Lancelot Brown (1716-83) for the landscaping of the grounds, and work proceeded over the next four years. The two surviving plans show Brown's plans for the pleasure grounds and for the north park (Stroud 1975).

The Dashwoods held Northbrook and Kirtlington until 1909, when the estate was bought by the Earl of Leven and Melville. It has since passed through a series of hands, having been split into a number of ownerships.

Site timeline

1750: The earlier mansion, Northbrook House, was demolished.

People associated with this site

Designer: Lancelot Brown (born 1716 died 06/02/1783)

Designer: Thomas Greening (born 1684 died 1757)

Builder: John Sanderson (died 1774)

Architect: William Smith 1 (born 1661 died 1724)