Designing William Kent at the V&A

22 March – 13 July 2014. Experience the world of William Kent, the most prominent architect and designer in early Georgian Britain and explore how his versatility and artistic inventiveness set the style for his age when Britain defined itself as a new nation and developed an Italian-inspired style.

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain – About the Exhibition

William Kent by William Aikman, about 1723–25, oil on canvas. © National Portrait Gallery, London

22 March – 13 July 2014

William Kent (1685-1748) was the leading architect and designer of early Georgian Britain. A polymath, he turned his hand from painting to designing sculpture, architecture, interior decoration, furniture, metalwork, book illustration, theatrical design, costume and landscape gardens. His life coincided with a major turning point in British history—the accession of the new Hanoverian Royal Family in 1714. This exhibition reveals how William Kent came to play a leading role in establishing a new design aesthetic for this crucial period when Britain defined itself as a new nation.

To learn more click this link

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain

15286The most versatile British designer of the 18th century, William Kent (1685–1748) created a style for a new nation and monarchy. The scope of his achievements encompasses architecture, palatial interiors, elaborate gardens, and exquisite furniture. Among his creative innovations are bold combinations of elements from Palladian, rococo, and gothic design, anticipating the intermingling of architectural styles we see today.  William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain is the first comprehensive exploration of this important designer and his extraordinary creations.

An international team of the foremost experts in the field examines the entire spectrum of Kent’s oeuvre, including the interiors at Kensington Palace and Houghton Hall. Essays illuminate issues about the authorship of Kent’s furniture and metalwork, situate his contributions in relation to architectural discourse, and classify the characteristics of his designs. Copiously illustrated, including many stunning new photographs, this handsome volume celebrates the work and career of one of the most influential figures in the history of architecture and design.

To learn more, click this link:

William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain at the Bard Graduate Center

15200William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, on view at the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture from September 20, 2013 to February 9, 2014, is the first major exhibition to examine the life and career of one of the most influential designers in eighteenth-century Britain.

Visitors will discover Kent’s genius, through nearly 200 examples of his elaborate drawings for architecture, gardens, and sculpture, along with furniture, silver, paintings, illustrated books, and through new documentary films. As most of his best-known surviving works are in Britain’s great country houses, the exhibition is rich in loans from private as well as public collections.

Organized by the Bard Graduate Center in collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the exhibition is curated by Susan Weber (BGC) and Julius Bryant (V&A). It will travel to the V&A where it will be on view from March 22 to July 13, 2014.

Visit this page for more information

Milbourne Lodge School, visit to Waynefleet Tower in Febuary 2013

Penny was delighted to welcome students from Milbourne Lodge to The Tower for a guided tour. The day was a great success, enjoyed by all. Below I have included an extract from Milbourne Lodge’s School Newsletter.

“Students from Milbourne Lodge, this week were extremely fortunate to be offered a glimpse behind the doors of Wayneflete Tower, one of Esher’s oldest and most significant buildings.

Originally constructed during the 15 Century by William Wayneflete it has at various times expanded to the proportions of a palace, before these additions were demolished to leave just the original Gatehouse – which is now a painstakingly and beautifully restored private house. Previous owners and guests have included Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII , Queen Mary, Lord Howard of Effingham and Richard Drake (who held Spanish Admirals hostage in the tower) .

Our guide on Monday was the current owner, Mrs Penny Rainbow, who talked to us for over an hour about the detail of the building and its famous inhabitants. Our thanks not only to Mrs Rainbow but to the current tenants of the Tower for allowing us access. It was fascinating.

Tower Milbourne Lodge Visit Feb 2013


William Kent, 1686-1748: Designing Georgian Britain

The William Kent exhibition is to be held at the Bard Graduate Center in New York from September 19, 2013 until February 16, 2014.  It reopens at the V&A London on March 22, 2014, and closes on July 13, 2014.

Wayneflete Tower is a highly significant feature of the exhibition as William Kent invented the Gothic Revival at Esher for Henry Pelham. Furthermore, Wayneflete Tower is arguably the finest surviving example of William Kent’s Gothic Revival architecture.

History of 1460s tower charted in new book

Taken from: Get Surrey

Wayneflete Tower. Picture: Darren PepeONE of Esher’s most historically significant but lesser known buildings has come under the spotlight after its owner decided to detail its origins in a book.

Wayneflete Tower, once part of Esher Palace, has long lived in the shadow of Hampton Court.

Now its centuries of history are catalogued in the book The Tower of Esher, written by Penny Rainbow, who started to research the site soon after buying it in back in 1992.

“I think a lot of people believe it to be Victorian folly and a mimic of Hampton Court and don’t actually realise that it was here before Hampton Court,” she said.

“It is just tucked away here in Esher.

“Cardinal Thomas Wolsey would stay at the tower while Hampton Court was being built.

“I couldn’t live somewhere like that and not feel compelled to research its history.”

The tower, completed in the 1460s, was named after its builder William Wayneflete.

It was the former gatehouse to Esher Palace and one of 240 properties he owned in his role as the Bishop of Winchester and Lord High Chancellor of England.

Subsequent owners of the site included King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Cardinal Wolsey.

Ms Rainbow said the most eye-opening find during her research was a 1673 drawing of the entire Esher Palace site in its original form, found at Bodleian Library in Oxford.

In 1677, the estate was bought by Sir Thomas Lynch, who imported African slaves to knock down Esher Palace, leaving only the gatehouse standing.

“I was told that there were no other drawings so that was just incredible,” she added.

“I maintain that I will find other drawings and I haven’t drawn a line under my research.”

It was only after the First World War that the land was broken up and turned into private estate.

During the 1930s it had been neglected and vandalised but was saved from demolition by the actress Frances Day.

Ms Rainbow was alerted to the availability of the Grade I-listed building after she saw it in theSurrey Advertiser.

She estimated she had spent almost £1m on restoring the property over an 18-year period, including renovating the powdery stone.

“The place was a wreck because of water damage to the roof,” she said. “All the time I have Wayneflete Tower I am asset rich but liquid poor.

“I’m never going to have money in the bank but I’m a lucky girl because I own Wayneflete Tower.”

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, added: “Penny Rainbow must be congratulated on this labour of love.

“Few owners of important buildings make the time or have the talent to fully research their houses, let alone publish the results.”

Anybody who wants more information about the book should visit

Esher District Local History Society

Taken from: Esher District Local History Society

For many years Penny Rainbow has been researching and documenting the history of her home, Wayneflete Tower in Esher. This has culminated in the publication of a book “The Tower of Esher” which is devoted to the impressive catalogue of its residents.

The Tower of Esher flyer

William Wayneflete built his grand Esher Palace in the 15th century and the Tower was the former gatehouse sited on the banks of the river Mole. Please visit the website from our “Useful Links” page which gives information about how to purchase. Locally, Esher Fine Art (opposite Waitrose) and the Elmbridge Museum in Weybridge also have it for sale. The publication is a stunning record of the occupants, a building which has been the logo of the Society since it was formed in 1968.

Towering effort from Time Team

Taken from: Get Reading

Tony Robinson and student Edward Tyhurst share their enthusiasm for archaeology during the Time Team visit to Wayneflete Tower, Esher.PUPILS from Danes Hill School, Oxshott, took a step back in time last week when they joined the crew of Channel 4’s Time Team.

The children accompanied Tony Robinson and his group of archaeologists on a televised dig at Wayneflete Tower, Esher.

The 15th century tower was formerly the gatehouse of Esher Place and was constructed by educationalist William Wayneflete, the founder of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Over the years, it has been home to a number of important historical figures, including Cardinal Wolsey and the bishops of Winchester. Since 1992, it has been owned by Penny Rainbow, whose children attend Danes Hill.

The Time Team crew, along with the pupils, unearthed a number of exciting finds, including evidence of the keep, turret and many artefacts, which enabled Penny to date the property to before 1470.

The programme featuring the children is scheduled to be shown in the new year and will coincide with the publication of Penny’s book The Tower of Esher. She said: “The pupils had a wonderful experience, learning from professionals and gaining an insight into how an archaeological dig works, together with a great local history lesson.”

A spokesman for Danes Hill School said: “It is good for the children to realise what might be under the ground beneath their feet,” he said. “Wayneflete Tower is the most extraordinary structure at the end of a modern housing estate.”

He added that the children had particularly enjoyed working with Tony Robinson because he was so “hands on”.

The day also gave Tony the opportunity to meet archaeology student Edward Tyhurst, who was given a lottery grant of £9,000 to develop a digital guide to Newhaven Fort.