Basildon Park was designed by John Carr of York and is one of his masterpieces. A golden Palladian mansion, it was built by Sir Francis Sykes of Yattendon (1732–1804), 1st Bt, a nabob who had made a fortune as Resident of Murshidabad. It was sold in 1838 to the wealthy draper James Morrison (1789–1857), MP. In partnership with the dealer William Buchanan, Morrison put together one of the most distinguished painting collections in Britain in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, although most of it has, unfortunately, since been dispersed. The newspaper proprietor Edward Iliffe (1877–1960), 1st Lord Iliffe, purchased the estate in 1928 and intended to export the whole house to America but the Depression intervened and only some parts were dismantled. Basildon was subsequently restored by his second son, Edward Langton Iliffe (1908–1996), 2nd Lord Iliffe, 3rd Bt, and his wife, Renée Merandon du Plessis (1916–2007), Lady Iliffe. They had bought it back in 1952 and later donated it and many of their Baroque and Rococo pictures, bought at Agnew’s and Colnaghi’s, to the National Trust in 1978. More recently, two small capriccio landscapes by Giuseppe Zais, a portrait by Batoni, and a major work by Madame Vallayer-Coster were acquired in lieu of tax in 2010.
National Trust, Basildon Park
Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire RG8 9NR England
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