Wollaton, near Nottingham, is one of the most spectacular of the ‘prodigy houses’ built in the decades about 1600. Its architect was probably Robert Smythson, who was certainly involved in its construction in the 1580s, for Sir Francis Willoughby. It had been the subject of a bird’s-eye view by Jan Siberechts (1627–c.1700; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), and was perhaps of special interest to Turner’s generation on account of its self-consciously romantic ‘medievalising’ design, with window tracery and tourelles on the corners of the extraordinary raised central hall.
A second drawing of the house is on folio 35 verso (D00247). That and the present drawing are inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation.