It was the 4th baronet Sir Robert who built and owned Lissadell House, County Sligo, Ireland which you inherited and owned until 2003 at which time you then became builder and owner of the new Home Farm, Hartforth. How did you approach the building of a new house? In addition, what did you desire to incorporate into the new property?
I shared these thoughts with Digby, who was keen to use the design of an 'ideal house' which Francis Johnson himself had sketched in 1943; in little time he produced a design based on a tripartite plan, with spans of 18 feet. Having recently visited Rome and Venice, I had been struck by the elegant oval staircases built by Borromini in the Barberini Palace and by Palladio in Santa Maria della Carita, and suggested to him that our house might incorporate such a detail. We settled for a Pythagorean four-centred ellipse because a true ellipse is much harder to draw and set out. Having agreed this, the rest of the plan fell into place and I agreed to his proposal that the fenestration on three elevations should be gothick - in the idiom of Batty Langley or Strawberry Hill - following the precedent of Castle Ward in Ulster. At Hartforth the entrance front is classical. The gothick influence reflects details in several buildings nearby at Aske, in Richmond and on the Hartforth estate itself.
We had stored pictures and furniture from Lissadell which I had felt we could build a house around, having sold the pieces that were too big, too damaged or not to my taste. These - together with items which Jane and I had inherited independently - found a place remarkably readily, like a jigsaw puzzle; since then, we have collected a few pieces and recently commissioned a set of dining room chairs with a Gothick flavour.