The Banqueting House (Hardwick Park, Sedgefield)
The Banqueting House was designed by James Paine, whose original plan and elevation drawing survives in the Durham County Record Office. It is essentially a conventional Palladian building, adhering to the required rules of proportion and paying conscious homage to the whole sequence of influences on Anglo-Palladian architecture including Vitruvius, Andrea Palladio himself and Inigo Jones. The building enabled Burdon, through Paine's good offices, to present himself as a man of taste and learning. The visual feast within continued the grand scheme, and this was where Burdon chose to hang his own portrait.
The west-facing building was built of ashlar sandstone. The garden front consisted of three bays of blind arches. In the central bay was a doorway of Serlian (Venetian) form, with the side openings supported by Ionic columns. The bays to either side featured windows with Gibbsian surrounds and strips of balustrading beneath. Corinthian pilasters, coupled at either end, supported an entablature, above which was a balustrade. Paine's drawing shows statues along the balustrade above each pilaster, but this proposal does not appear to have been carried out. The north and south fronts featured canted bay windows with balustraded rooflines. Above each of these was a central round-headed niche housing an urn, with a blind square window to either side.
The facade of the Banqueting House appears to have been based on an engraving of one of Inigo Jones's designs for the palace at Whitehall, published in John Vardy's Some Designs of Inigo Jones and Mr William Kent of 1740. Another precedent may be the Banqueting House at Studley Royal, Yorkshire, designed by Colen Campbell in c.1729. This has a similar plan and front elevation to that at Hardwick, and is comparably situated.
The interior of the Banqueting House was approached from the rear, another example of Burdon's penchant for springing dramatic surprises on his guests. The visitor would arrive along the woodland path from the Ruin and enter a small anteroom, the 'pleasant recess' (1800 guidebook) whose walls were lined with green baize trimmed with gilt (papier maché?) and furnished only with 'an exquisite little bust of Momus' (Mackenzie & Ross 1834), foreshadowing the subject matter of one of the paintings in the principal apartment.
On opening the door beyond, the visitor would enter the large room, to be 'struck with the magnificence and splendour which everywhere prevail in this noble apartment' (1800 guidebook).
Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.