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The Triumphal Arch Commemorating Lt Col William Harding of Upcott House (1792-1886)

The Triumphal Arch Commemorating Lt Col William Harding of Upcott House (1792-1886) /media/flashcomm?action=mediaview&context=normal&id=799

This Triumphal Arch was erected by Lt Col William Harding of Upcott House as a personal commemoration of his military exploits when fighting in the Peninsular War (1807-1814) which, incidentally, was a military conflict fought by Spain and Portugal, assisted by the United Kingdom, against the invading and occupying forces of the French for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars.
William was the third son of Robert Harding and his wife Dionisia and his childhood home was Upcott House in the Parish of Pilton. In 1866, following the death of his elder brother Thomas Wrey Harding (1783-1866), he inherited the Upcott estate and became lord of the manor of Pilton. On a prominent hill on his estate of Upcott he built this large stone folly, described variously as either a ‘castellated sham gatehouse’, a Triumphal Arch or ‘Eyecatcher’. It survives today and, until recently, was somewhat dilapidated. It is a prominent landmark visible from the main road between Barnstaple to Braunton. It has recently been renovated, as can be seen in the picture, because it is a Grade 2 listed structure, although it was perhaps intended to be seen more as a Gothic ruin. In the distance, through the arch, can be seen Upcott House.
In 1850 he also paid for the building of three of the turrets on St Mary’s Church in Pilton. He spent the last years of his life working on his huge collection of papers mostly relating to the churches, memorials and families of Devon. These remain unpublished and following his death were deposited in the Athenaeum in Barnstaple. A Report on the Harding Collection was published in 1870 by the Devonshire Association.
For more about William Harding follow this link to another entry in the archive:
The Historic England Listing for the Triumphal Arch says:
Eyecatcher to be seen from Upcott House q.v. Circa 1800. Sham Gothic ruin, stone rubble on rubble plinth. Large central opening with segmental brick arch with moulded imposts and remains of brick features above. Blind loop patters of two roundels to each side of central quatrefoil. Taller flanking walls resembling towers break forward slightly, each with a pair of blocked roundels above and below large blind quatrefoil. 3 brick crenellations to left, one remaining to right. Low rubble wall curves away on west side.

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