Shell House Showcase: The Walton Bath House, Stratford-on-Avon
An important 18th century garden retreat was the Bath House.
At Walton the owner, Sir Charles Mordaunt chose a remote site beneath a natural spring. The architect, Sanderson Miller's neo-classical design had a dual purpose: to entertain in the upper room, while below, in a Romanesque-style grotto room, guests could take the health benefits of an indoor plunge pool. The Bath House was created around 1750.
Mary Delany, was commissioned to decorate the walls of the upper tea-room with shell festoons. She was a shell collector and designed and decorated 9 grottoes. The 8 festoons are free flowing in their design and each one measures over 4 metres. She also designed the plaster 'icicles' that form a cornice around the entire room and on the ceiling. All work was done on boards off-site and later attached to the walls.
Although the Bath House was still used for entertainment until the early 20th century by 1970 it was in a ruinous condition. The Land Mark Trust restored this highly important building and today guests can enjoy their own spa-retreat throughout the year!