|Willingham House early C20th South entrance front. REVIVALHERITAGE collection|
Willingham House was one of dozens of fine buildings across Lincolnshire to meet its end during the C20th. Its loss is most apparent now in the early C21st, as Georgian design is particularly popular as an architectural style for domestic buildings. It is without doubt that had the building survived it would iether be in institutional use or an historic visitor attraction today, certainly with listed status. It would also have been the finest example of late C18th architecture in the county. But alas, it met its end under state supervision and nothing more than the walls of a few out-building remain.
This view of the house was first sketched by Mr John Aspin, redrawn by Mr R Corbould, then engraved by Bartholomew Howlett and Published by William Miller, Old Bond Street in 1801.
Portrait of Mrs Ayscoghe Boucherett with her two Eldest children Emilia and Ayscoghe, and her half-sister Juliana Angerstein in a garden. Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) sketched and painted the Boucherett family regularly between 1793 and 1805 and would have been only 25 years old when this pastel picture was completed. Their country seat, Willingham House, Lincolnshire had a classical pillared portico as is used in this image although this is just as likely to be a ‘studio effect’ added to reflect the taste and fashion of the times. The picture passed from the Boucherett family to William Angerstein (b.1811 - d.1897) of Weeting Hall, Norfolk which suffered exactly the same fate as Willingham House, but being demolished earlier in 1954 following years of war requisition and hospital useage.
Willingham House, Lincs C1900. Unusual for a house of this stature, for all the locals to see, this was the view from the main road, from Market Rasen to Louth. The lake still remains, although now obscured by mature trees from the main road. Willingham House was blown up at 2pm on June 7 1967 by explosives set by the Royal Engineers following years of neglect. The roof timbers were suffering from wood beatle which was making the building unstable. There was little feeling of heritage attached to the 1790 building by the local authorities, perhaps surprisingly for a county, noted for its conservation of ecclesiastical architecture since the C18th. However, the house had been a prison camp during and following WW2, then an MOD training camp and was unlikely to be taken on again by a family. The repair costs outweighed conversion costs and the feeling was that something should be done rather than leave a dangerous ruin unattended. To avoid the hazard of collapse (and to save money) during a careful demolition and salvage operation, the decision was taken to use dynamite. For practical reasons, but shocking to us today, the portico had its pillar’s loaded with explosives to do the job, thus reducing the remains to nothing more than land-fill. The beautiful wrought iron stair rails may well have been taken away for their scrap value, not having any practical use for anything else. The decorative plastered ceilings and walls were all destroyed. Very few images survive of the interior, or the back of the hall, which was made up of the service buildings and stables (3/4 of the total building area).