Some have suggested it was a bowling green, others a large pond, or perhaps signs of an alien landing. However, with the help of the pictures below, perhaps it can all be attributed to a large mansion house – but one that was never built. Let me tell you more…
Landowner and lord of the manor of Carshalton, Thomas Scawen MP commissioned a renowned Italian Architect to design a grand mansion to be sited in Carshalton Park.
The main gates had already been built (now in America, but that’s another story) and it needed a house to match their grandeur. It featured grand statues and tall columns. The image below is facing East and is the back of the building. It faces the direction of the old Park Gates. The Hogspit is in the foreground.
This picture is the South Facing side (photo is taken looking towards Carshalton village)
Giacomo Leoni, born in Venice, was the chosen designer and he was 37 when he presented a plan for the siting of the house and garden in 1723.
The garden faced west, and there was to be an absolutely huge round courtyard (300 foot radius) with a fountain in the centre.
Is the frying pan part of the remains of the proposed fountain and courtyard. It’s underlaid with chalk which would provide strength and help with waterproofing. Perhaps this was landscaped first to allow materials for the main build to be offloaded.
If you look at the recent aerial shots, the shape of the Hogspit follows the curvature of the drawing.
Although the circle now appears slightly smaller than the plans this could be to a number a of factors, but mainly due to the fact that it wasn’t fully completed.
However, it’s interesting to see that the width of the frying pan is exactly the width of the proposed house.
The front of the garden reaches exactly to Carshalton Park Road, so called because it was the road once at the edge of Carshalton Park. If you look at the 1816 map you can see this quite clearly, and below that, a recent map.
It was 5 years later that Giacomo Leoni finally presented the detailed etchings of the house to Thomas in 1728. The motto at the top of the West Front (facing the garden) is ‘Respiciendo et prospiciendo’, or ‘looking forwards and looking backwards’. This motto is also on the monument to his uncle, Sir William Scawen, in All Saints church. The image below shows the view from the Frying Pan, with a close up of the front door.
Two years later, in 1740, Leoni was commissioned to design the highly regarded Clandon House in Surrey, now owned by the National Trust and which unfortunately suffered a major fire in 2015.
Thomas Scawen faced financial difficulties and the grand house was never built.
House etchings © British Museum. Research and pics© Secret Carshalton 2022. Found this interesting, or got something to add. I’d love to hear your feedback below…
Found out more about where Thomas Scawen lived while the plans for Carshalton Park were being developed: