Hovingham Hall, North Yorkshire
Hovingham has the unique distinction of being approached through a riding school before the front door is reached through a series of vaulted halls intended as stables. This eccentric arrangement was the brainchild of Thomas Worsley, Surveyor General and amateur architect, who constructed the east and north ranges 1750 – 1760; the south range was never built.
Worsley had studied Palladio’s and other Italian buildings at first hand and it seems he aimed to create a modern version of an early Roman villa. A Roman villa was indeed discovered adjacent to the site. The decoration of the rooms is architectural with a particular order allocated to each and not a trace of the fashionable rococo. Over the central Samson Hall, which takes its name from the marble group of Samson and the Philistine by Giovanni da Bologna, is the large and lofty ballroom with its viewing balcony into the riding school in one direction and its splendid outlook across the cricket field and park in the other.