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 cafĂ©.
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..