THE SEAT OF JAMES BURTON, ESQ.
This elegant imitation of an ancient castellated mansion, situate on an eminence called Quarry-Hill, about a mile above the town of Tunbridge, in the direction towards the Wells, was built about five years since by its present proprietor. The scite, upon which the house stands, together with several excellent farms, and their appropriate buildings, were purchased by Mr. BURTON, and now constitute an estate of considerable magnitude. Its elevated situation gives it a command of view in every direction, and the beauty of the adjacent grounds will recommend it to the admirers of rich and varied scenery ; whilst the well-conceived character of what it is intended to represent, produces an admirable effect to the whole country from whence it is viewed, and will probably impose itself on the stranger to this neighbourhood, for the genuine remains of an ancient edifice.
In fixing upon the style of Mabledon, it was very probably thought that neither the neatness, or rather spruceness of the Italian nor the elaborate elegance of the Grecian architecture, would harmonize with the bold character of the grounds. It was therefore determined to adopt the castellated form with a mixture of the Gothic. But however antique the exterior appearance may be, the interior is of the most modern
description. The apartments are of good dimensions ; and are so disposed that each of the principal rooms looks upon a different prospect. The stone, of which the house is built, was dug upon the premises ; having the property of hardening by exposure ; and is of a remarkably durable quality. It will be observed however, that in some parts there appears a rust of antiquity, which gives a stamp to the building favorable to its ostensible pretensions ; this is produced by the use of some materials brought from Penshurst Place, part of which has been lately pulled down and sold. This circumstance cannot be reflected upon without considerable concern : consecrated as the temple of those arts they love, and those virtues they admire, the scholar, the patriot, the warrior, and the poet, must see with emotions of poignant regret the dismantling of an abode, which contained within its walls the illustrious race of Sidney, and consider dilapidation, sacrilege. Thus are castles and palaces, equally with their frail inhabitants, subject to the vicissitudes incidental to all sublunary creation.
In the notice of Mabledon it would be improper to omit an account of the improvement which has been made in the turnpike road since this seat was erected. It formerly passed near the spot now occupied by the house ; and the descent from thence to the town of Tunbridge, at all seasons unpleasant from its steepness and length of declivity, in winter was frequently dangerous. Mr. Burton, anxious to improve the access to his own place, and at the same time desirous of effecting a great public advantage, suggested the idea of cutting through the hill ; a labour almost herculean. The plan however was put into execution. The facility of travelling has in consequence been greatly increased, and the former perils of the road altogether obviated.
Though the removal of the road to some distance from the house was a benefit to it, yet, for effecting the improvement, Mr. Burton from this circumstance should not be deprived of the praise of public spirit. It should be recorded that he guaranteed to the trustees the performance of the work for an inconsiderable sum, advanced the money that was required, and individually bore by far the greater part of the expence. It therefore should not be forgotten by those who were acquainted with the road in its former state, that although the owner and projector of Mabledon may have derived an advantage from the alteration, it is owing to him, that now undisturbed by a compassionate distress for the sufferings of their cattle, or a painful anxiety for their own safety, they can contemplate the magnificent scenery of Quarry-Hill.