Alresford House in Hampshire was built in the early 1750’s for Admiral Lord Rodney (1718-92) – one of Georgian England’s most celebrated Royal Navy commanders. As a young man Rodney forged a considerable wealth during the War of Austrian Succession – Captains were given a healthy share of the booty from enemy ships captured in war. He wasted no time in investing his new money in his sizable estate. Architect William Jones is thought to be responsible for the Palladian exterior and rococo interior of the finely proportioned house.
Soon married, and then with three children – his wife tragically died after the birth of the third - Rodney found himself back at sea for the Seven Years War. His capture of Martinique earned him a Baronetcy and a promotion to Rear Admiral. His second marriage to Henrietta Clies brought fresh impetus to developments back at Alresford including the landscaping of the park to designs by Richard Wood.
Debts however piled up. By the 1770s Rodney had to escape to France in order to avoid his creditors. His role in The American War of Independence was to save him – his actions in defeating the French fleet at The Battle of the Saintes and in other campaigns brought him home a hero. He lived out his days at Alresford. He is buried in the adjacent church.
Admiral Lord Rodney never knew his dining room with this spectacular French oak panelling though – his house interior was English rococo, a notable survivor from his scheme being The Morning Room ceiling. The Rodney’s were to own the estate for three generations and it was not until some point after 1926 – when, a subsequent owner, an eminent Anglo-German art collector Dr C.F.G.R.Schwerdt, updated the house interior that the panelling was installed. He re-assembled the 15th Century marble chimneypiece in the Drawing Room too. Schwerdt died in 1939 and the house was then acquired by the First World War flying ace Wing Commander Gerald Constable-Maxwell.
Alresford House is currently undergoing considerable renovations.
See: John Martin Robinson “Alresford House” Country Life, Jan 1978, pp18-21