The Twickenham Museum
People : Garden Designers and Horticulturists

The 3rd Duke of Argyll
An early horticulturist at Whitton
1682 - 1761

the Duke of Argyll

Inherits the title

Archibald Campbell, Earl of Ilay (sometimes Islay) was the younger son of the 1st Duke, inheriting on the death of his elder brother, John, the 2nd Duke, in 1743.

John was a friend of Alexander Pope. A Field Marshall in the army, he was sacked in 1740 for violent attacks on Sir Robert Walpole. Ilay, his younger brother, had better fortune: as a strong supporter of Union of Scotland and England he became the virtual ruler of Scotland under Walpole's administration.

An estate at Whitton

Lord Ilay bought a property at Whitton in 1722, adding land over the next ten years until the estate amounted to 55 acres. He knew the area, having been born at Ham House, then the home of his maternal grandmother, the Countess of Dysart.

George II, while Prince of Wales, settled money in trust for his mistress Henrietta Howard to acquire a property. Ilay acted as a trustee in buying the land opposite Ham House for the erection of Marble Hill House.

The cultivation of exotic plants

Ilay was greatly interested in horticulture and the cultivation of exotic plants and his first years at Whitton were devoted to this pastime: when he visited he apparently at first stayed in a gardener's cottage on the estate.

In 1725 he engaged James Gibbs to design some ancillary buildings for him. One of these, known as the Greenhouse was converted into a residence known as Whitton Park, in 1767 when the estate was divided into two. Shortly after 1732 Roger Morris designed a house for him, known as Whitton Place, later occupied by Sir William Chambers. A further building, a triangular castellated tower stood at the end of a stretch of water, facing the Greenhouse. It was, perhaps, built to remind Argyll of his home, Inveraray Castle in Scotland.

Argyll's work at Whitton engaged the attention of Alexander Pope: In this small spit whole paradise you'll see/With all its plants but the Forbidden Tree...

Following Argyll's death in 1761 his nephew, the Earl of Bute, arranged for the transfer of some specimen trees from Whitton to Kew where he was advising the dowager Princess of Wales on the layout of her garden. A number of these trees are still to be seen in Kew Gardens.

Further reading:

P Foster & D H Simpson (revisions by Vic Rosewarne), Whitton Park and Whitton Place, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper no41, 1999
Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, Yale, 1995
Donald Simpson, Twickenham Past, Historical Publications, 1993

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