Sir Thomas re-imagines Killerton
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Thomas grew up at Killerton, living in the H-shaped Elizabethan era house with its small formal garden and orchard. He spent his early adult years away at family estates such as Petherton Park in Somerset, before moving back to Killerton.
When Sir Thomas made Killerton his home, he wanted to make it worthy of being the centre of the vast Acland estates. He was possibly inspired by the grand new house and parkland at Saltram, built by his friend John Parker.
Killerton has an eye-catching and dramatic location, and Sir Thomas decided he must first have a new park laid out to take advantage of this. In 1770 he hired Scottish gardener John Veitch to work on the grounds.
Sir Thomas then commissioned architect James Wyatt to draw up plans for an impressive new house on top of Dolbury Hill, above the old Elizabethan house in which he'd grown up.
Change of plans
Unfortunately, Wyatt’s house was never built. This was perhaps partly because of expense and personal difficulties between Sir Thomas and Wyatt, and partly because of the death of Sir Thomas’s son John, late in 1778.
Sir Thomas had also commissioned a less well-known and cheaper architect, John Johnson, to build a modest temporary house on the site of the Elizabethan house. Johnson worked quickly, completing this house by 1779.
This became the main Acland family home, altered by succeeding generations to fit their needs, until it was given to us in 1944.