Saturday, 28 September 2013

Dunglass House Berwickshire

This view shows the west front of Dunglass House which was the back of the house.

It  was built on the site of the C14th Dunglass Castle, of which nothing remains. The architect was Richard Crichton who also built Abercairney Abbey and Rossie Castle (also demolished, later in 1960 and 1957). Built between 1807 and 1813, it still retained classical features at a time when the new Gothic style was becoming more fashionable. The full entrance front to the east was around 60 metres wide including the service wing to the north. The final bill for building costs was over £36,000, over two and a half million pounds today. Following a fire in 1947 which gutted the building, it was eventually demolished by 1959. The stables and Dunglass Collegiate Church still survive on the estate and a new Dunglass house is built over the old site.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Cottingham Grange Yorkshire

The name of Cottingham derives from the name of a 5th century Anglo-Saxon tribal chief and means  'Homestead of Cotta's people'. Cotta is derived from an Acient Briton female deity called ‘Ket’, in turn derived from the Celtic for wood, ‘ Coed’. Cottingham Grange was built in 1802 but the Ringrose family had lived in the area since the seventeenth century. William Ringrose lived here in 1820, the time of his portrait painting:

By 1865 the Ringrose family owned 1200 acres in Cottingham, reduced to just 570 acres by 1907. The Ringrose family also owned over 1000 acres and Sarum Manor House from 1870 to 1931.

The Grange was requisitioned during WW2 for officer’s quarters and barracks were built to the south east of the grounds. Some of the barracks still stood until the 1980s. The WW2 Operational Base for Cottingham North Auxiliary Unit Patrol was hidden underneath the green house, entered via the nearby Boiler House. The entire Patrol almost died from the boiler house fumes on one occasion but were rescued by a Unit Member (who was a GP) who had been out on patrol and discovered the unconscious group on his return.

Cottingham Grange was demolished around 1951 to make way for a new secondary school. A school still stands on the site today.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ruskin Manor, Denmark Hill, London

South-east garden front view of Ruskin Manor, a substantial brick house built between the late C18th and early C19th.

Ruskin Manor (as it was later named) was once the family home of John Ruskin from 1842 to 1871. Ruskin’s parents lived here and it is where his wife lived from 1848 until 1854 when the marriage was annulled. He wrote about this house: "It stood in command of seven acres of healthy ground, half of it meadow sloping to the sunrise, the rest prudently and pleasantly divided into an upper and lower kitchen garden, a fruitful bit of orchard and chance inlets and outlets of wood walk.". The nearby railways were one of the reasons Ruskin left the property as they were said to have ruined the view from the house.

The Manor became the Ruskin Hotel in the early C20th and was eventually demolished in 1949.

The site of the old manor is today Cross Court SE5 8HH

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Trebartha Hall Cornwall

The origins of the original Trebartha hall appear to stretch back as far as 1300 as the Trabartha family house, but some accounts state the building date as 1500 and the Spoures family living there. This first hall was burnt down and rebuilt in 1720. It was then left to Francis Rodd Esq. of Herefordshire in 1730 by the last remaining female descendant of the Trebarthas. In the early 1800s plans were drawn up to update the house to a regency / neo-gothic style. The plans were never carried out but a fashionable hooded bay was added to the west front around this time with views down to the nearby weir.
This view shows the south main entrance front which overlooked extensive parkland. To the north of the hall, a cluster of service wings spread north, out of view, leading to the kitchen garden and conservatories. To the NE was a wooded plantation which visitors would travel through having entered via the Highpark Lodge entrance. The hall was demolished in 1948 following years of decline, having been used for a time as a hospital during WW2. Some of the buildings to the north of the main hall still survive today and are in domestic use.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Canwell Hall Staffordshire - James Wyatt C1800

Sir Francis Lawley, 2nd Baronet acquired the estate of the dissolved Benedictine priory (1149-1525) at Canwell, Staffordshire in the late C17th. A house was built on the site of the old priory some time after 1764, which became the Lawley family seat. Sir Robert Lawley 6th Baronet employed James Wyatt around C1800 to enlarge the house and estate buildings to the design shown in this photograph. The hall was let after 1851 and the family finally sold it along with the estate in 1872. The house was again sold to Birmingham council to become a rehabilitation home for WW1 soldiers in 1920. In 1957 the hall was demolished except for the servants quarters. A new building was constructed on the site roughly following the original foundations.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith, London

Formerly called Paddenswick House (manor) a house had stood on this site since the C12th. The C13th manor which had a moat was rebuilt in 1650. In 1747 the house was renamed Ravenscourt by the owner Thomas Corbett who had a raven in his family coat of arms. Lancelot "Capability" Brown first laid out the grounds of Paddenswick House (or manor) so must have done so before the house changed its name when he was just 34 years old. A later, owner George Scott who was a builder (constructed nearby St Peter’s square) commissioned Humphrey Repton to lay out the park at some time around the decades surrounding 1800.
There are records that refer to a further remodelling of the house in the 1830s by John Willoughby for Lord Paddenswick. Willoughby doesn’t appear in the directory of British Architects for this decade, but it is possible he was a speculative builder, as he was gifted land on the edge of Ravenscourt Park which he built on in a style similar to that of the main house (many of these houses surviving today). The land surrounding the house became a public park in 1888 and by 1889 the house had become a new public library. The house was destroyed following a bombing raid in 1941. The stable block survives today as a café.
This view shows the east main entrance front.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Stockwood House, Luton, Bedfordshire


This is the NW entrance front of Stockwood House viewed from the north at the end of the 500m drive which still exists today along with the neighbouring stable block. The house was built in 1740 for the Crawley family who had bought the land earlier in 1708 including a building described as ‘the old mansion’ (called Stockwood) which was situated near to the site of Stockwood Park and may have been demolished during its construction. John Crawley, who built the house was a tenant at Rothamsted Manor nearby, from 1738 while the house was built.

A good description of the house can be found in "History of a Bedfordshire family; being a history of the Crawleys of Nether Crawley, Stockwood, Thurleigh and Yelden in the county of Bedford" 1911

‘There are an outer and an inner hall, the latter lighted by a lantern in the roof. The staircase is of massive oak, on the east side of the inner hall. Facing you as you ascend the staircase is a wind-dial connected with a weather-cock on the roof. The walls are decorated after the style of James in the reign of Queen Anne.' (refers to James Thornhill) 'The reception rooms are on the west and south-west sides of the building, and open the one into the other. The floors of the halls and the reception rooms are of oak parquet. The kitchen and other offices are on the east side of the building, and open into the stable-yard. The gardens are extensive and beautifully timbered, but the chief delight of the grounds are the walled-in, old-fashioned rose-gardens. Stockwood is famous for its roses.’

The house fell into disrepair after a variety of uses in the C20th and was demolished by Luton town council in 1964. The painted wall decorations may possibly have been washed over during time as a children's hospital during World War 2. Or possibly they were still there when the decision was taken to demolish the hall..

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Wonersh Park, Surrey

Wonersh Park (or Wonersh House), Surrey was a C17th brick house with later additions. Richard Gwynne was a retired clothworker from London who took possession of a part of the Wonersh estate in 1677 and subsequently converted a farm house opposite the church to become the first Wonersh House. This was later extended in the C18th (including the construction of the stables) and C19th (with the addition of a conservatory on the east front and adjoining 3 storey central block connecting the southern main house and long service wing to the north). These can be seen on the right hand side of this photograph.The main front to the left is most likely the original C17th structure, possibly modified. The architects Robert and James Adam were commissioned to redesign the interiors in 1767 but they were never executed. This view of the south front was taken from the eastern edge of the Park lake, today just south of half way between Wonersh Court (the old stable block to the house, now converted) and St John the Baptist church. The site of the house is now a grass field. The house was demolished between 1929 and 1935 (records show conflicting dates) due to its poor state of repair.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Grainsby Hall Lincolnshire - The lost Italianate mansion

Grainsby derives its name not from farmed grain but from Scandinavian derivation, the word for branch of a river. The area is covered in small tributaries to the river Humber. The manor of Grainsby dates back to 1086 and a house would have stood on the estate in various forms for all this time. Grainsby Hall was once owned by the Nettleship family from Lea, Gainsborough in Lincolnshire and Francis Nettleship lived there for most of the eighteenth century and is likely to have been responsible for rebuilding the house from an earlier structure. Francis left the estate to his servant Elizabeth Borrell who had actually bought the house and 313 acres for £5,800 in 1795 before his death. Elizabeth in turn left the estate to her great niece Elizabeth Charlotte who married a Yorkshire land owner William Haigh of Norland, Halifax in 1827, hence the subsequent Haigh ownership. The Haigh family were very wealthy throughout the C18th and C19th centuries and built the Garden Street Mill, the second oldest in Halifax in 1833, which still exists today converted into flats. They also owned Castell Deudraeth, a property in Merionethshire, Wales, known as ‘Aber Iâ’ at the time. The estate there later became part of the fantasy village Portmeirion by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. The family regularly travelled around Britain including London, Wales, Cheltenham spa and the south coast for holidays. Such was the influence of this family in business and even politics, George Henry Caton Haigh became High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1912.
Grainsby Hall was rebuilt around the C18th shell around 1860 and is recorded as being photographed in 1863 by Warner Gothard & Co of Grimsby, although only family portraits from this shoot survive. They chose the fashionable Italianate style with the main feature being a campanile-style tower. The design was typically asymmetrical, fashionable in architecture at the time. The new design was in keeping with the social aspirations of the family at this time.
The hall was a full household, with the 1881 census showing the owner George Henry Haigh and his wife Emma, with eight children, seven domestic servants and a governess. This didn’t include the workers in the estate cottages or the many farm labourers, stable staff and gardeners. In 1888 a Miss Thomas of Cardiff, one of many subsequent governesses was reported as successfully taking the family to court over the mischievous behaviour of three of the Haigh daughters. There are also records of some of the staff prior to this census. A farm labourer on the Grainsby estate was a William Taylor (b. 1783 – d. 1859) who married one of the house servants Elizabeth Wells (b. 1783 – d. 1849) in 1803, and went on to have 10 children between 1805 and 1828. They seem to have grown tired with life at Grainsby as some time later the couple took a huge risk and took most of their youngest children and emigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio to start a new life in America. The family soon spread out and are recorded as having been quite successful. Other workers at Grainsby took to family life on the estate such as John Barker (b. 1810 – d. 1857 to 1861) a mole catcher who married (after 1840) Ann Dows (b. 1824 – d. after 1881) a charwoman (house cleaner) and they were both resident at Grainsby hall in the 1851 census. Their daughter Mary Ann also became a servant at the hall. John’s elder brother Francis Barker (b. 1802) was a farm labourer at the hall also in 1851 but had left to become a carpenter by 1861. He also married a fellow Grainsby hall worker, Jane (b. 1813 – d. 1887) and they had two children registered as living at the hall although in reality this would most likely have been in the out houses.
The Haighs were wealthy enough to build beyond their estate and even constructed Grainsby Halt railway station 2 miles to the east in 1905 to serve the Hall. This was closed and demolished some time after 1952. Another notable structure next to the hall, along the north wall of the kitchen garden, was a huge 100-foot conservatory which would have been used for the production of food, flowers, herbs etc, and out of season produce needed to sustain such a large family and workforce. The walls of the garden and the C18th stable block north of it still survive. The demise of the hall was typical of so many houses at the time. Grainsby had been requisitioned by the army during WW2 and fell into disrepair afterwards when maintenance costs had become unsustainable for the family. Having been used for some time as a grain store, the building, apparently in a dangerous condition, especially from the roof and upper floor, was demolished in February 1973.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Swarland Park Northumberland. The lost Carr house.

Swarland Park was built for Davison Richard Grieve (high sheriff of Northumberland in 1788) in 1765 by the architect John Carr of York in the classical style. He had made his fortune as a merchant and shipowner on the Canada trade route during the American war of independence. The house was simple in style, stuccoed and using the doric order. The main portico faced SE across extensive parkland with trees arranged to represent the British fleet positions during the battle of Aboukir Bay against the French Fleet in 1798. This arrangement and an obelisk memorial to Nelson erected in 1807 were commissioned by the owner Alexander Davison (1750-1829) who purchased the hall on the death of Davison in 1795. He found himself imprisoned a year later, found guilty of fraudulent activity while organising government supplies. His family survived this episode and the hall remained with them until 1874 when it came under the ownership of a coal mine owner previously of Felton Hall, Hugh Andrews. Following a number of exchanged ownerships which saw the house become a miners’ hostel in 1922, the building was considered economically unsustainable and demolished in 1933 to make way for a settlement to provide employment for tradesmen from Tyneside. Swarland Hall Cottage still exists having been built in the late C19th to act as an electricity generating house for the hall. It was in operation not long after electricity was famously installed for the first time at nearby Cragside House in the 1870s.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sandwell Hall Staffordshire

The ‘new’ Sandwell Hall was (re)built from 1703 by the master builder William Smith of Warwick. He was the brother of the prolific master builder Francis who had recently completed Dudmaston Hall, a structurally similar building to Sandwell. The approach to the house was along a long straight driveway from the east across the open parkland. To the North was woodland also with a pond and to the west a substantial lake which still exists. The South entrance front shown here extended double width to the east at single level height after building work in 1840. The porch was added earlier in the C19th. The east front had twin double height bays which would have been an impressive sight to approaching visitors. By the early C19th the whole building had been stuccoed in white as was fashionable at the time. The hall’s latter years from around 1850 saw it used as religious school, mental asylum, borstal institution, and periodically, unoccupied. It was demolished in 1928. The site of the house is north of Sandwell Priory ruins, east of the M5 and north of Sandwell Park Golf Club.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bitteswell Hall Leicestershire

Bitteswell Hall near Lutterworth, Leicestershire  was built in 1838 for William Corbet Smith, Esq. a Captain in the 1st Regiment of Dragoons, and was the centre of a 600 acre estate. It was in a simple stuccoed classical style incorporating plain double height pilasters .There were also additional outbuildings and a stable block with a clock tower. William retained the hall until he died in 1847.

The hall was next  occupied by Robert Fellowes Esq. Of Shottesham Park, Norfolk. He began a large family there and is recorded as having 10 servants in 1861. He returned to Shotesham Park at some point where his death was recorded in 1915 at an incredible 98 years old.


By 1886 the hall was the home of David Bromilow the High Sheriff of Leicestershire. He is known to have been a wealthy man and there are records of him purchasing the Marlborough Gems, a collection of works in Cameo and Intaglio formed by George, 3rd Duke of Marlborough. He bought them in 1875 at a staggering cost of £35,000. David had only one daughter who took possession of the house and (Gems) on his death in 1898.

The hall was demolished in 1928.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Stourton Hall Lincolnshire - the lost neo-palladian house

Stourton Hall Lincolnshire

The estate at Stourton near Baumber, in central Lincolnshire didn’t have a substantial house before the arrival of the Livesey family in the late eighteenth century. The first Livesey at Stourton who bought the estate was Thomas who died in 1790. His son  Joseph rebuilt most of the existing house in 1810 and this later remained as part of the large service wing of the final hall. The brick kiln (cica 1800) on the estate still survives today by the lakeside. The house retained its late Georgian design and stood alone but for a few outbuildings  in a 300 acre park until Joseph Montague Livesey inherited the Stourton estate in 1871 at the age of 20. He built the first phase of the new house onto the existing property between 1873 and 1875 using Ancaster stone. The next phase of the plan for remodelling was never completed. Ancaster stone was known for its beautiful light, warm hue and was even chosen for building Westminster palace in the C19th. At Stourton, it was the perfect choice of material for the new Italianate design. Certainly expensive, and impressive as a building material, it was however mined conveniently just 30 miles away and a train line had been operating from Ancaster to nearby Horncastle since 1855.
Stourton hall was unlike many other Victorian Italianate buildings that were more asymmetrical and heavy in design. The style of the windows and surface decoration was entirely based on palladian proportions and gave the building a historic Italian look, also popular in England in the early C18th. The west front which faced the main entrance drive was quite simple and followed exactly the same design for height of windows and architectural features as the south garden front. At ground level one of the windows was larger with 3 openings and two centralised ionic pillars supporting the central pediment. Visitors arriving could be first viewed from this room. There are no surviving pictures of the north entrance front but old map views showing the paths suggest there would have been a doorway in the centre of the main western block of the house. It certainly would have been in keeping with the Italianate designs of the west and south fronts.
The grand south front was topped with a balustrade supporting urns, and most unusual for Lincolnshire, other than at Grimsthorpe Castle, a set of four life-sized draped classical figures. The substantial 90-foot conservatory on the south garden front would have provided the kitchens with a huge variety of food throughout the year. The importance of displaying wealth was important to the Liveseys who were familiar with the grandeur of other houses in Lincolnshire belonging to notable families. In 1903 Algemon Montague Livesey, the Livesey heir married a daughter of the Bertie family of Uffington. The Bertie’s family seat Uffington house unfortunately burnt down the following year.
When Algemon died in 1951 the family decided to sell Stourton. At a time when building materials were highly valued and the running costs of a large house were disproportionate to the dwindling wealth of families facing death duties it was common for family seats to be demolished with little thought for their cultural legacy. In 1953 the house was sold with the entire estate and sure enough was pulled down in 1955. The grand new house had stood for barely 80 years. A few outbuildings and cottage still exist to the north of the estate but unlike many lost country houses, the substantial service wings have also disappeared. The site of the house is now completely wooded over.