Humphrey Sturt

Horton Tower, an architectural folly designed by Sturt

Humphrey Sturt (c. 1724 – 20 October 1786) was a British architect and Member of Parliament.

Life and works

Sturt designed the Horton Tower in Horton, Dorset, built 1750. He was the Lord of Horton Manor and was five times returned to parliament as the MP for the county of Dorset 1754-84.[1] He owed his wealth to his grandfather, Sir Anthony Sturt, who had been a successful business man and City of London alderman and Victualler to the Navy.

He was responsible for developing Crichel House at the nearby village of Moor Crichel. He wanted more than that just one house with a setting of comparable splendor. At Horton he had already created a 200-acre (0.81 km2) lake, and he resolved to indulge this whim again at Moor Crichel, albeit on a smaller scale. There was only one difficulty: the cottages of the village were in the way. The site of the former village of Moor Crichel now lies submerged beneath the waters of the lake. The entire village was moved to what is now called New Town at Witchampton, leaving only the church (rebuilt in 1850) and a carefully contrived landscape in front of the classical mansion. The site of the old village disappeared under the waters of a large crescent-shaped lake, around which was planted an elegantly landscaped park. The residents were moved to houses in nearby Witchampton.[2]

Humphrey Sturt had many ideas for the improvement of agriculture, which he introduced both in the Crichels and on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbor. He used steam power for threshing and transformed Brownsea Island by importing vast quantities of manure and planting new crops. The estates passed to Humphrey Sturt's younger son, Charles Sturt.

Horton Tower

Horton Tower, also known as Sturt's Folly, is just outside the village of Horton. It is an architectural folly with six stories, 140 feet (43 m) high. It had a fireplace halfway up. Taylor's 1765 map of Dorset describes it as an 'Observatory', but according to one local legend it was built by Sturt as a viewing platform from which he could watch the local hunt when he was too old to ride to hounds.


Humphrey Sturt was the son of Humphrey Sturt (1687-1740) of Horton and Diana Napier (died 1740). He married Mary Pitfield, daughter of Charles Pitfield and Dorothy Ashley, on 27 April 1756 at St James, Westminster, London.

Diana Napier, his mother, was the great great granddaughter of Sir Nathaniel Napier the builder of Crichell House, and it was through her that the house passed to the Sturts.[3]


  2. The Ancient Feudal Manor and Lordship of Winterborne St. Martin (Dorsetshire)- The family of Sturt -
  3. Neale, John Preston & Thomas Moule (1823), Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland
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