I came across this whilst I was searching through my old pictures – it is a photograph of a colour print that I took many years ago. The reason for using an old picture is that there is no longer any public access to this monument which stands on private ground – when I took it, there was a permissive path down from Swyre Head to the coast path that went past the seat.
John Scott was the First Earl of Eldon and he resided at Encombe House which sits in the valley below this seat – it is out of picture to the left. The house was built in 1735 by John Pitt, second cousin of William Pitt the Younger, on the site of an earlier house which was demolished. John Scott, also known as Viscount Encombe and The Earl of Eldon, was Lord Chancellor of Great Britain in the early 1800’s and he took over Encombe House which became the seat of the Earls of Eldon.
The seat itself was erected in October 1835 by Lord Eldon and his daughter Lady Elizabeth Repton who laid the first stone – it was her husband who actually oversaw the building of the seat on behalf of his father in law. Since Lord Eldon gave his last address in parliament in July 1834, it seems possible that the seat was for him to enjoy in retirement. In fact, he only enjoyed this pleasure for a comparatively short time since he died in 1838 aged 86. Beside the seat, stands a memorial stone to his favourite dog, Pincher, a German spaniel, who died two years after his master.
The inscription on the seat reads, on the east side, ‘Eldon Seat, 1835’, and on the west side, ‘The first stone of this seat was laid by the Lady E Repton the elder daughter of the First Earl of Eldon, XV. October, MDCCCXXXV’.
The seat stands in a perfect position on a ridge to the west of the Encombe Estate, half a mile inland of the coast path, with amazing views over the estate and along the coast to St Aldhelm’s Head on one side (seen in the picture), and along the coast towards Kimmeridge on the other. The southerly aspect looks down to the coast and out to sea.
It is a shame that the seat is no longer accessible to the public since it is a monument of historical interest, but I am glad that I was able to visit it a number of times before the path was closed.
This whole estate is now owned by an ex airline boss who paid in the region of £20M for what is a wonderfully situated mansion…….and of course, this stone seat!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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Such a pity about the path.
Yes, I think so to John. I guess it changed when the current owner took over.
It’s a shame that it’s now closed.
Yes, I did look at some old maps to see if the path was marked but it wasn’t, so it must have just been a permissive route.