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www.nadfas.org.ukNADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 201127Above:Belmontis famed for itsgardensAbove left:Theneoclassicalhouse looksbeautiful on asummer's dayLeft:Red bricksare concealedby mathematicaltiles and aCoadestoneborderand architect, also enriched the mainfacade and interiors with Coade stoneplaques for previous owner ColonelJohn Montresor.After Montresor's bankruptcy, disgraceand death in 1799, the house and about80 acres of "Pleasure Grounds" werebought at auction at Garraways CoffeeHouse in June 1801 by General GeorgeHarris. The price was £8,960, takenfrom General Harris's share of £150,000of prize money for defeating Tipu Sahibat Seringapatam two years before. With no inherited wealth and "risenfrom nothing", as General Harris proudlyclaimed, he achieved many domesticGrape Vine cuttings, Figs ..." Echoes of a lost world of 150 years ofinternational service - typical of manyBritish families - resonate throughout thehouse, from the Entrance Hall with itsWaterloo Sword and a silver porter'strolley, presented at the opening of anIndian railway in 1897, to a bedroomhung with large and evocative views ofTrinidad in the 1840s painted by theFree Black artist Jean-Michel Cazabon,whom Lord Harris encouraged withmany commissions. Notable are thewatercolours depicting the 40-year-oldGovernor's marriage in 1850 to SarahCummins, the 18-year-old daughter ofthe Archdeacon of Trinidad. Their son,George Robert Canning, later "thecricketing Lord Harris", was born inTrinidad in 1851. A snarling Indian tiger,shot by the 4th Lord while serving asGovernor of Bombay between 1890 and1895, greets visitors. Set on high ground with viewstowards Essex from its two pepper potlookout towers, the original 1760s housewas enlarged between 1789 and 1793,while the main facade was clad inmathematical tiles to conceal the fierycolour of the red bricks and to protectthem against the prevailing weather.Samuel Wyatt, an innovative engineer

PRIVATE VIEW 28NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2011www.nadfas.org.ukimprovements at Belmont including anice house, still visible in the park, walledgardens and glass houses, as well asproviding settlements for his 10 children.He bought land and planted specimentrees to improve the park and create "agentleman's estate", embellishing it withthe General's Whim, a flint-studdedProspect Tower that is now popular as aLandmark Trust holiday let. A series ofletters detailing improvements to theLondon house in Great George Street in1819-20 reveal both his affection for hisadult children, with whom he was toshare occupancy, and his attention tothe practical details of water closets,window taxand the hygiene of servants'bedrooms. He even emphasised theneed to avoid the smell from dinner dishesbeing carried through the entrance hall. From the American War ofIndependence, through the victory atWaterloo to the Boer War, internationalmilitary and administrative service is aconstant theme of four generations ofthe Harris family. This history is faithfullyreflected at Belmont, which preservesportraits of Harris soldiers, courtcostumes, including the Coronationrobes worn by Lord and Lady Harris atEdward VII's Coronation (he had servedas a Lord in Waiting to Queen Victoria),an armchair from the Delhi Durbar of1911, an armoury of late-18th-centuryMadras-made armour, and SouthAfrican and aboriginal weapons. Masculine energy and love of sport isa recurring theme, from a charming1790s portrait of a 12-year-old WilliamGeorge Harris vaulting over achurchyard gate, to the Billiard Room,lined with late-Victorian and 20th-centurycricketing memorabilia associated withthe 4th Lord Harris.Since the 1990s, the spectacularHarris jewels have been at the V&A andare now shown in the recently openedJewellery Gallery. Deeply glowing Indianemeralds and rubies, fruits of theSeringapatam victory, were re-mountedinto a suite for Lucy Ada, Lady Harris,who married George, the 4th LordHarris, in 1874. When she travelled withher husband on his official duties in Indiaand South Africa, she took theSeringapatam Jewels along in theirbespoke leather case. The 1st Lord Harris, a curate's sonfrom Brasted in Kent, became a talentedarmy soldier, making his way in the armyfrom 1760, wounded at the Battle ofBunkers Hill in 1775 and leadinganarmy of 40,000 at Mysore in the 1790s.There he was accompanied by hiseldest son, William George, who latercommanded the 2nd Battalion of the73rd Foot at Waterloo. In 1846, a year after the 2nd Lord'sdeath, his son George Francis Robertwas appointed Governor andCommander in Chief in Trinidad, wherehe was energetic in improving publicfacilities, and entertained lavishly.Margaret Mann, wife of his ChiefEngineer, wrote in June 1849 to hermother: "We had such a splendid ball atLord Harris's, such brilliant illuminationsand a beautiful display of fireworks.There were upwards of 500 peoplepresent." Dinners were eaten from aLeft:The Harrisfamily's proudmilitary history is celebratedthrough portraits Below:Hospitality hasalways played animportant role atBelmont House