It was for two centuries one of the finest of the mansions and villas which bordered the Thames between Chelsea and Cheswick. Today it is completely gone, and the site covered with modern buildings. It was built on a magnificent scale, described in 1705 as "a noble seat which stands a very convenient distance from the Thames in a sweet and wholesome air, and has a large spot of ground of several acres enclosed adjoyning it. The building is very lofty, regular, and magnificent, after the modern manner, built of brick, cornered with stone, and has a handsome cupola on top. It contains several very handsome rooms, very spacious and finely finished. The foundations and walls are very substantial and the vaults arched in an extraordinary manner".
The golden age of the house began when the Hon. George Bubb Dodington, Lord Melcombe, purchased it. "SillyBub" Dodington was a vulgar exhibitionist but also a man of wit and culture, and he spent a fortune on the old Jacobean house, renaming it La Trappe. The building, under the direction of the architect Roger Morris in 1748, was given the appearance of a Palladian villa, while inside, Servandoni (1695--1766) created a magnificent gallery, 82 ft. long, for the display of statues and antiquities. The floor was inlaid with various marbles, and the gallery was entered between two shafts of white marble, flanked by columns of lapis lazuli. Cipriani (1727--85) was also called in to embellish the mansion.
Dodington was certainly an odd character, and we have a glimpse of the menage at La Trappe in the memoirs of a friend, Richard Cumberland. "In the adjoining parish," wrote Cumberland, "lived Mr. Dodington, at a splendid villa, which by a rule of contraries he was pleased to call La Trappe. and his inmates and familiars the Monks of the Convent; they were Mr. Wyndham, his relation, whom he made his heir; Sir William Breton, Privy-Purse to the King and Mr, Thomson, a physician out of practice. These gentlemen formed a very curious society of very opposite characters; in short, it was a trio, consisting of a misanthrope, a courtier, and a "quack".
Thomas Wyndham, Dodington’s cousin, inherited La Trappe, and lived there until his death in 1777. Queen Caroline lived in the house in 1820-1821. In May 1822, after the Queen’s death, the building’s valuable materials were sold and within the next twelve months the house was razed to the ground. Today a visitor will find the Melcombe Primary School as a faint reminder of Bubb’s period.
Servandoni's 82' Gallery