Great Buildings of England

As the Englishman started taking tours around a Europe energised by the Renaissance, a new vocation was born in the 17th century – that of the architect. Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren were probably the first architects in the country. We explore some of their creations and ask how a Romanesque church became a cathedral, and how a castle became the Englishman’s home.

All the locations featured in this guide are open to the public but do check their websites for up to date opening times, prices etc.  You don’t want to arrive and find the door locked!

Lindisfarne Priory

Before visiting you must check the tide timetable to see safe crossing times for the Holy Island causeway and the latest opening times for the castle.  It is not possible to get to the island at high tide.

This 16th-century romantic castle has spectacular views, it’s location having been a major draw for all it’s previous owners.  Originally a fort the idyllic position of the castle has inspired its many owners right up to the rich Edwardian bachelor who used it as a retreat from the hustle and bustle of London.

The architect Edwin Lutyens renovated it in the Arts and Crafts style of the day in turn hiding and enhancing the characteristics of the original fort.  It overlooks the delightful walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll and the imposing Lime Kilns.

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Holy Island and Causeway

Holy Island is still often known by its more ancient name of Lindisfarne. It is only accessible from the mainland at low tide by means of a causeway, which can be reached from the village of Beal. To the south of the more modern road-surface causeway, a series of stakes mark the old route across to the island called the `Pilgrims Way‘ which was used in ancient times by visitors to the great Christian centre of Lindisfarne.  Again this could be crossed only at low tide, a situation perfectly described by Sir Walter Scott;

For with the flow and ebb,its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry shood o’er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day the waves efface
Of staves and sandelled feet the trace.

Lindisfarne’s Norman Priory stands on the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery founded by St Aidan in A.D 635, on land granted by Oswald, King and Saint of Northumbria. Aidan is believed to have chosen the island site because of its isolation and proximity to the Northumbrian capital at Bamburgh.  Aidan the first Bishop of Lindisfarne, a Scots-Celtic monk from the isle of Iona, travelled widely throughout Northumbria and with the help of King Oswald as interpreter, began the conversion of the pagan Northumbrians to Christianity. The conversion of the Northumbrians to Christianity by Aidan and Oswald, cannot have been an easy task.

The Northumbrians were the descendants of a heathen race of people who were in many ways no more civilised than the Scandinavian Vikings, who invaded Britain centuries later. St Aidan’s death in 651 A.D, is said to have been related in a vision to a young shepherd boy called Cuthbert who lived in the hills somewhere near the River Tweed. The vision convinced Cuthbert that he should take up the life of a monk and at the age of sixteen, he entered the Northumbrian monastery of Melrose in Tweeddale (now in the southern borders of Scotland).

In 654 Cuthbert came to Lindisfarne, where his reputed gift of healing and legendary ability to work miracles, achieved far reaching fame for the island. Cuthbert was elected Bishop of Hexham in 684 A.D but exchanged the see for Lindisfarne, to become the fifth successor to Bishop Aidan.When Cuthbert died in 687 A.D, he was buried in accordance with his wishes on the island of Lindisfarne, but eleven years after his death, his body was found to be in an in-corrupt state by the astonished monks of the island. The monks were now convinced that Cuthbert was a saint and pilgrims continued to flock to Lindisfarne in numbers as great as during Cuthbert’s lifetime.

In 793 A.D Lindisfarne was to witness the first Viking raid on the coast of Britain, which was recorded with much drama by an informative book of the period called the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;

” 793. In this year terrible portents appeared over Northumbria, which sorely affrighted the inhabitants: there were exceptional flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying through the air. A great famine followed hard upon these signs; and a little later in that same year, on the 8th June, the harrying of the heathen miserably destroyed God’s church by rapine and slaughter. ”

The Anglo-Saxon chroniclers were largely responsible for giving the Vikings the `bad press’ they still have today. The chroniclers fail to mention that the Anglo-Saxons had invaded Britain in much the same way, two and a half centuries earlier.Nevertheless Viking raids on Lindisfarne’s wealthy coastal monastery did continue throughout the following century and in 875 A.D the monks of Lindisfarne fled their Holy Island with the body of Cuthbert, remembering the dying wishes of their saint;

….if necessity compels you to chose between one of two evils, I would much rather you take my bones from their tomb and carry them away with you to whatever place of rest God may decree, rather than consent to iniquity and put your necks under the yokes of schismatics.”

For many years the monks wandered the north of England, with the coffin of St Cuthbert, until they eventually settled at Durham in 995 A.D where St Cuthbert’s body lies to this day.

Little is known of the island’s history or people in the centuries following the Norman Conquest. There is, however one account which gives us an amusing insight into the attitudes of the island people in later centuries. The account is an observation by Captain Robin Rugg, the seventeenth century governor of Holy Island;

The common people there do pray for ships which they see in danger. They all sit down upon their knees and hold up their hands and say very devotedly, `Lord send her to us, God send her to us.’ You seeing them upon their knees, and their hands joined, do think that they are praying for your safety; but their minds are far from that. They pray, not to God to save you, or send you to port, but to send you to them by shipwreck, that they may get the spoil of her. And to show that this is their meaning if the ship come well to port, they get up in anger crying `the Devil stick her, she is away from us.

Not exactly what we would expect from a `Holy’ Island, it seems that the islanders had inherited the rough ways of the border folk, so typical of Northumberland in those days gone by.

Today the only feature of Holy island, that suggests any involvement with the violent border history of Northumberland, is Lindisfarne Castle. First built in 1550, it sits romantically on the highest point of the island, a stone hill called Beblowe. The Castle has never witnessed any major battle or Border siege although it was occupied by some Northumbrian Jacobites at the time of the 1715 Rising. Lindisfarne Castle was converted into a private residence by the well known British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1903. A small but superbly rugged looking building, it has been a National Trust property since 1944.

The film The Darkest Day brings this bloody and fascinating era alive.

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Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral is one of the great architectural experiences of Europe.

The cathedral was begun in 1093 and completed within forty years.  Renowned as a masterpiece of Norman architecture it retains nearly all its original craftsmanship preserving the original design’s unity and integrity.

Home of a Benedictine community the Cathedral was specifically built as a shrine to St Cuthbert and a place of worship for the many pilgrims who came to honour him.

The nave, quire and transepts are Norman, the Galilee Chapel late 12th century Norman and the Chapel of the Nine Alters 13th century Gothic style.

The Cloister was begun with the main cathedral but most of the work was in fact added in the 15thcentury.

The Cathedral Close, or College, is home to the clergy and others connected to the life of the Cathedral and the Chorister School is where the choir boys are educated.  Around the Green most of the buildings date back to the Middle Ages.

Hundreds of years of monastic life at the Cathedral came to a close during the Reformation in 1540 but life prior to this can be found in The Rites of Durham which can be seen in the Cathedral.   The Reformation was a very traumatic time at the Cathedral when years of medieval worship and monastic life was forcefully replaced by the new Book of Common Prayer.

The sixteenth century was a time of terrible destruction of religious furnishings and the Civil War of the 17th century even worse.  In 1650 Cromwell closed the Cathedral and jailed 3,000 Scottish prisoners there.

In 1660 the bishop John Cosin started the refurbishment of the church and the intricately carved woodwork of the quire is a wonderful example of this.

Again, in the late 18th century, the Cathedral was attacked.  This time by 2 or 3 inches of stone being chiselled off most of the exterior and the Norman Chapter House being totally demolished.  The destruction of the Galilee Chapel was luckily abandoned and the Chapter House rebuilt to its original design in 1895.

Much of the stained glass was added in the 19th century and in the 20th and 21st centuries very sensitive conservation has taken place as well as there being some contemporary additions.

Durham Cathedral was used in the first two Harry potter films for both interior and exterior views of Hogwarts. The chapter house was used for the scenes in McGonagall’s classroom.

The cathedral is open every day, all year from 07.45 to 18.00 Monday to Saturday; and 5.30pm on Sunday.    Entry is free but you are asked to donate generously so free entry can continue.

For further information see the website


Fountains Abbey

This magnificent 12th century ruined Abbey is one of the best preserved and biggest of England’s Cistercian monasteries.  Within the stunning surrounding landscape you will also find a Jacobean Manor House, Medieval Deer Park, Victorian church and Cistercian mill.

Founded in 1132 by 13 Benedictine monks,  the abbey operated for over 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Archbishop Thurston of York gave the monks the land which was , “..inhospitable valley thickset with thorns lying between the slopes of mountains among rocks jutting out both sides of the River Skell. Fit rather to the lair of wild beasts than the home of human beings”.

Although life was a struggle the monks persevered and soon came to receive gifts and land from rich families hoping to save their souls.

The more illiterate monks worked the land and cared for the sheep as well as mining lead, breeding horses and quarrying stone.  But by the 14th century bad harvests, animal disease, the invasion of the north by the Scottish armies and the Black Death caused a decline and sheep were replaced by cattle and more and more masses were said for the wealthy.

Over the next 100 years the wealth of the Abbey grew together with its influence and power but in 1539 Henry VIII closed all the monesteries in fear of their influence and wealth.

Not a lot happened to the Abbey for the next 200 years until in the mid 18th century it was bought by the Aislabie family for £4, 000. John Aislabie had a chequered career but spent his last years designing and developing the gardens.

After various owners the whole estate was taken over by local councils until it was bought by the National Trust in 1983 and became a World Heritage Site.

The Omen III: The Final Conflict was filmed here as was The Secret Garden and The History Boys

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Ely Cathedral

The Saxon Queen Etheldreda was the foundress and abbess of Ely.  The daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia, she was born in Suffolk.  As a young girl she married Tondberht but the marriage was not consummated.   When she died she retired to the Isle of Ely which had been her dowry.  For political reasons, in 660 she was married to Egfrith who was only 15 and some years younger than her.  He was a young Northumbrian king who agreed she could remain a virgin but after 12 years of celibacy asked for the marriage to be consummated.  The Bishop of Northumbria advised Etheldreda against this and, though Egfrith offered many bribes, she eventually left him and became a nun.  She founded the monastery at Ely in 673.

Elizabeth the Golden Age and The Other Boleyn Girl were filmed here.

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Once home to the powerful Percy family who now reside in Alnwick Castle, Warkworth was and remains one of the largest and most impressive fortresses in North East England. It was once home to ‘Harry Hotspur’, hero of many Border ballads and the bane of Scots raiders.

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Kentwell Hall

This house has been a much loved family home for over 500 years.  The public are welcomed to see many of the rooms and see how little some of it has changed.   It is a constant work to save it from the ravages of time and the current family who brought it in 1969 are very keen to re-create its gardens and keep the farm run on traditional lines.

For 500 years Kentwell has been home for a succession of families. Some as owners, others as tenants. Each has left their mark.

The impact of all these families on the Hall can be seen by visitors. Yet despite these different occupiers the House has remained essentially the same for 500 years. Outbuildings may have come and gone but the Hall (give or take the occasional improvement) and its Moats (albeit later enlarged) are essentially those created by the Cloptons in the early 16th C.

There is a maze, a yew castle, a camera obscura and an ice house but the best thing to catch is one of their Tudor Days,   These are by far the best authentic Tudor experience you will find in England. Tudor times are re-created throughout the house and over 200 re-enactors of all ages go about life as it was lived in the 16th century.  Kentwell also puts on Dickensian Days, opera and theatre and many other events.  See their website for more information.

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Burghley House

One of the biggest and grandest houses of the first Elizabethan age, Burghley was built and designed by William Cecil between 1555 and 1587.  It has 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors, more than 80 smaller rooms and numerous halls, corridors, bathrooms and service areas.

The vast lead roof of three quarters of an acre took nearly ten years to restore  in the late 1980’s.

Visitor facilities include the Orangery restaurant, gift shop, gardens and beautiful walks around the historic parkland laid out by Capability Brown and still occupied by a herd of fallow deer.

The Da Vinci CodePride and Prejudice and Elizabeth: the Golden Age were all filmed at Burghley.

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Castle Howard

The Howard family have lived in this magnificent 18th century house for over 300 years.  Situated in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty it has 1,000 acres of stunning landscape.

Ambition, public service, liberal politics and artistic endeavours are the bedrock of the Howards.  Today the preservation of the house as a national treasure for the public and the family is their fundamental challenge.

Begun in 1699 the building took over a hundred years to build.  Three Earls and many architects and craftsmen added their time and dedication to its construction.

The third Earl of Carlisle asked his friend the playwright John Vanbrugh to design the house.  Vanbrugh, not an architect,  in turn asked Nicholas Hawksmoor to help him in the practical side of design and construction.  The design evolved between 1699 and 1702.

The Earl’s new home took shape in under 10 years and soon became the talk of fashionable society.  By 1725 the exterior was structured and the interiors richly furnished at a cost of 30 percent of his annual income.  It was not, however, complete with no west wing, as Carlisle diverted his energy to the surrounding lands which he carefully designed.

The house was still unfinished when the Earl died in 1738.  His son in law, Sir Thomas Robinson, then added the conservative Palladian wing, very different from Vanbrugh’s original flamboyant baroque design.

The exterior was now left very unbalanced and of course attracted very mixed reviews.

Brideshead Revisited was filmed at Castle Howard

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The Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge, spanning the picturesque Avon Gorge, is the symbol of the city of Bristol. For almost 150 years this Grade I listed structure has attracted visitors from all over the world. Its story began in 1754 with the dream of a Bristol wine merchant who left a legacy to build a bridge over the Gorge.
24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel was eventually declared the winner and appointed project engineer – his first major commission. Work began in 1831 but the project was dogged with political and financial difficulties and by 1843, with only the towers completed, the project was abandoned.

Brunel died aged only 53 yrs in 1859 but the Bridge was completed as his memorial and finally opened in 1864. Designed in the early 19th century for light horse drawn traffic it still meets the demands of 21st century commuter traffic with 11-12,000 motor vehicles crossing it every day.  Folklore says that a rope was taken across the gorge by kite, or even by bow and arrow! The simple and much more likely event was that common hemp ropes were taken down the side of the gorge, across the river by boat and pulled up the other side. These ropes were used to haul 6 wire ropes across the Gorge, which were secured at both ends and tightened. The wire ropes were planked across and bound with iron hoops, making a footway. 2 wire handrails made up the sides and at head height there was another wire along which ran a ‘traveller’, a light frame on wheels that carried each link of the chain out to the centre.

As well as being a walkway the wire bridge acted as staging on which the chain rested as new links were added. The temporary bridge was anchored by ropes to the rocks below to provide stability in winds. When the first chain was complete the second was built on top, then the third. With the chains complete vertical suspension rods were fastened to the chains by the bolts that linked the chains together. Two huge girders run the full length of the Bridge, visible to us today as the division between the footway and the road. 2 long-jibbed cranes (one on each side) were used to move 5m sections into place where they could be attached to the suspension rods. Cross girders underneath formed a rigid structure. The floor of the roadway was then put in place using Baltic pine timber sleepers.
The chains and suspension rods are made of wrought iron.  The piers (towers) are built principally of local Pennant stone. The Leigh Woods (south) pier stands on an abutment of red sandstone. The Bridge deck is made of timber sleepers, 5 inches (12 cm) thick overlaid by planking 2 inches (5 cm) thick. Since 1897 the deck has been covered with asphalt.

The accepted figure used for the total final cost in 1864 was almost £100,000.
We know of only 2 deaths during construction. In 1867 William Barlow who was one of the contracting engineers for the completion of the Bridge 1862-64, reported to the Institution of Civil Engineers that there had been two deaths during construction. This is the only documented record of which we are aware. Who the two poor souls were and what the circumstances of their deaths were we do not know.

The Bridge is constantly checked for fatigue and corrosion, and maintained accordingly. Provided maintenance continues at the present level and loading is not exceeded beyond the design limit there is no reason why the chains should not last for centuries to come – certainly well beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this!

The Latin inscription ‘Suspensa Vix Via Fit’ at the top of the Leigh Woods pier has no literal translation but freely translated it can be said to mean “A suspended way (or road) made with difficulty”.  The unknown author of the Bridge line has used the word ‘suspensa’ to give it relevance and the word ‘vix’, pronounced ‘vicks’ in the Latin pronunciation is probably a play on words with the name of William Vick who first left money in his will for building a bridge. Puns of this kind were once common.
The state-of-the-art illumination system on the Clifton Suspension Bridge was formally switched on at a ceremony on Saturday 8 April 2006, the eve of the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.   Amazingly, it normally uses no more electricity than a detached house with its domestic appliances switched on.
Bungee jumping or abseiling from the bridge is, without exception, illegal so, however worthy your charity, don’t bother to try to get permission!


Hammerwood Park

The house was built in 1792 by Benjamin Latrobe (1764 – 1820), architect of the White House and Capitol building in Washington D.C. amongst many others including Ashdown House School near Forest Row.

The house was converted into flats in the 1960s, then purchased by Led Zeppelin in the 1970s and was rescued from dereliction by the Pinnegar family in 1982.

Today, it is a both a family home and also a venue for musical events and filming. It is also open to the public in the summer, from 1st June to the end of September on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays, with a tour taking place at 2PM.

Pre-1792: Origins
The origins of Hammerwood are obscure: it is unlikely that we shall ever know exactly what existed on the site of the present mansion before 1792 when B. H. Latrobe began work on it for John Sperling. So a little detective work must be undertaken.

Modern conveyancing deeds talk of ‘the reputed manor of Bower’ and old deeds show that the entire area lately forming the Hammerwood Estate was known as ‘The Bower’. Indeed, you may have noticed as you drove down the lane to the House a Tudor farmhouse on your right called ‘The Bower House’. But sadly the medieval ‘manor of Bower’ was nothing more than a fiction invented by 17th-century owners to enhance themselves, and by the lawyers to cover themselves.

The Bower was a substantial landholding which straddled the parishes of East Grinstead and Hartfield – a few miles north of the Ashdown Forest. A family called ‘Atte Boure’ are listed as paying tax to Edward I in the 1290s along with other families who were lords of local manors. The family would have held the land forming The Bower of one or more of the local lords.

In the mid 1500s a prosperous yeoman called Hugh Botting purchased the estate. He died in 1560 leaving his widely distributed lands to his family but reserving the principal chamber in his “house called The Bower” to the use of his wife, Joan. Whether this house was on the site of the farmhouse up the lane or on the site of modern Hammerwood is unclear. Sometime after 1588 the Bottings founded an iron forge at Bower which was situated immediately to the left of the lake as one looks from the house.

In so diversifying the Bottings were joining an industry which had existed in the Sussex Weald since Roman times (if one visits the nearby Cowden Church, one sees the iron burial memorial slab of ‘John Botting of the Bower’ dated 1622).

Eventually the Bottings fell on hard times and had to sell up to a rising East Grinstead family, the Paynes, in 1628; but it would appear that they continued in occupation of the land until the end of the 17th century when eventually they relinquished The Bower and the Paynes leased it to another local squire called Alexander Luxford for one year in 1693. It was he who, according to Edwardian legend, erected the ‘nucleus of the present mansion’: a little odd if the worthy Luxford only leased the 500 acre estate for one year.

Nevertheless by 1711 the Paynes (by now substantial landowners) were in situ, living at The Bower and, out of all the local residents, paying by far the largest contribution to parish church funds. John Payne’s only child married John Smith, Rector of Withyham who, when he acquired The Bower became that celebrated 18th-century figure, the ‘squire vicar’. Smith was a wealthy man who left in his will large cash bequests, silver and New South Sea Annuities. The Bower passed to his son and eventually to his daughter-in- law, who in 1766 paid Window Tax based on 41 lights, making The Bower the fifth largest out of the 150 taxable residences in East Grinstead.

Thus it seems that before 1792 there existed a very respectable house at The Bower. But the Tudor farmhouse you see today was not it, for in the 18th century it would have been considered hopelessly out of fashion, moreover then it was a third of the size it appears today. Almost certainly the residence of the Paynes and the Smiths was the ‘nucleus of the present mansion’ and when John Sperling purchased The Bower in mid-1792 he acquired a habitable property which he required Latrobe to enlarge and enhance. Indeed, as early as November 1792, Sperling was ordering linen for the house which was now named Hammerwood Lodge.

Whether the same ‘nucleus’ was the house of the Bottings we do not know. But if you walk around to the south side of the house and look at the west side of the central block you will see the remains of ancient foundations. Could this have been a part of the Bottings’ house, situated to keep an eye on the iron workings in the valley? It seems that Sperling had this in mind when he renamed his house and the estate ‘Hammerwood’, a romantic gesture evoking the early prosperity of the area.

Jonathan Small B.A.

1792 to WWII: House and Home at Hammerwood

Near the end of his service with S.R. Cockerell (1754-1827), B.H. Latrobe was made surveyor to the London Police (c.1792), a minor official appointment involving the supervision of renovation and repair of a number of district police stations. Around this time, shortly after his marriage to Lydia Sellon (c.1761-1793), the daughter of a wealthy Anglican clergyman, Latrobe opened his own office, and was soon getting enough work, mainly alteration jobs, to enable him to employ at least one apprentice.

Latrobe’s reputation grew rapidly and he received commissions for some new residences, the first of which came through a Mr John Sperling, of Dynes Hall in Essex, who asked Latrobe to design him a hunting lodge at Hammerwood, Sussex. Latrobe’s only other English house also survives – Ashdown House at Forest Row – which he designed the following year, 1793, for a Mr Fuller. Hammerwood Lodge and Ashdown House are the only two surviving English domestic houses by Latrobe, although he did remodel Barham Court in Maidstone which still exists today.

JOHN SPERLING was the son of Henry Sperling of Dynes Hall in Essex. When he was 26 (in 1789) he married Harriet Rochfort, a relation of the extinct Earls of Belvedere. He must have been a man of foresight to commission Latrobe, who was a year younger than himself and who had never before had free rein to design a complete building.

We can imagine Sperling and Latrobe finding this idyllic setting, featuring a simple iron-master’s house, not far away from the Bower House which Sperling already owned. The remains of the former house have been uncovered in the recent restoration work and remain exposed in the West Wing bathroom. Together, Sperling and Latrobe created the property which you see today. The Water-Garden to the east of the house was constructed at this time, together with shrubberies which have long since been lost. It is sad that Sperling was unable to enjoy Hammerwood for very long, as he returned to Essex to look after his father when his mother died in 1795.

The DORRIEN MAGENS family were descended from two banking families and by 1798 were supplying silver bullion to the Royal Mint for the production of shillings. At this time they lived at Hammerwood; Magens Dorrien Magens lived with his wife (née Lady Henrietta Rice, with whom he had four children), at Hammerwood Lodge (as it was then called) and it seems that his brother, General Dorrien Magens, occupied Thornhill, next door.

Magens Dorrien Magens (c.1768-1849) proved an interesting character, who, due to the threat of the Napoleonic invasion of 1803 was instrumental in the setting up of a volunteer force of over 1000 men to act as a sort of ‘Home Guard’. He was a leading London banker and MP for Carmarthen (and later for Ludgershall). He died in 1849, leaving Hammerwood to his son, John Dorrien Magens, who is remembered for being the man responsible for the connection of East Grinstead to the railway system at Three Bridges in 1855. He was chairman of the local railway company until 1865, when it was purchased by the Brighton Line and extended to Tunbridge Wells.

The Dorrien Magens coat of arms is noted in heraldic circles as it contains the only examples of the cross hameçon in British heraldry. Three generations of this enterprising family enjoyed living at Hammerwood and they finally sold the house in the mid-1860s to another banker.

The new owner was OSWALD AUGUSTUS SMITH of Smith’s Bank, now incorporated into the National Westminster Bank (NatWest). The Smiths are reputed to have been descended from the Carrington family and Oswald Augustus’ sister, Frances, married Claude Bowes-Lyon and so became the grandmother of Her Majesty the Queen Mother.

It is fair to say that Oswald Augustus was a true Victorian patricarch. He maintained not only his 1700 acres of woodland and farmland, but also provided a gas installation and roof insulation for Hammerwood. In addition, he took care of the surrounding community and provided a school for 100 children in the village as well as commissioning the building of St Stephen’s Church, Hammerwood and the rebuilding of St Peter’s Church, Holtye. He was the mainspring and chief benefactor of the Victoria Memorial Hospital in East Grinstead.

In 1901 THE REV. GEORGE FERRIS WHIDBORNE, a clergyman, was so impressed with the unusual and abundant wildlife at Hammerwood that he moved his large family from Dorset to Sussex to observe and enjoy this children’s paradise. The young were encouraged to sketch and make notes of all that they saw. When away at boarding-school, they wrote long letters home enquiring after the pheasants, tree-felling and the family mongoose named Riky-Tiky.

The First World War claimed the life of George, without whom family life at Hammerwood could never be the same. During the rest of the War, Thornhill (the dower house on the estate) became a home for disabled soldiers. George had been awarded the M.C. and this was also awarded to his two brothers, who were lucky enough to have returned. The older of his sisters worked with the Red Cross.

After the War, all the children, who had now grown up, went their differing ways, leaving Hammerwood behind. Their father’s ambition to become a missionary was fulfilled by Elfrida, who went to the Sudan. Excitement came when, in 1919, the prep school in Tunbridge Wells, which the Whidborne children had attended, burned down and so St Andrew’s moved to Hammerwood whilst new premises were found in Forest Row. The old boys remembered playing cricket against Ashdown House (Latrobe’s other English building, still in use as a flourishing school) in the gardens, and walking through the rhododendrons.

Due to death duties, 843 acres of the estate were sold in 1918. Three years later the it was necessary to the family to sell the remaining estate. A further 1300 acres of local farms were sold off, the house was sold and the contents auctioned. Hammerwood Lodge ceased to be the hub of local life. Left with 320 acres of adjoining park and woodland, the name was changed to Hammerwood Park. It was then, we see with hindsight, that the seeds of decline were sown.

The purchaser was LT. COL. STEPHEN HUNGERFORD POLLEN, C.M.G. who led a most distinguished military career, having been A.D.C. to the Viceroy of India and winning medals in India and South Africa. His family were the first residents to enjoy an electricity supply and water from the mains. It is an interesting coincidence that one of Col. Pollen’s ancestors, Richard Pollen (brother of Sir John Pollen, Bart.) married the daughter of S.P. Cockerell, the architect under whom Latrobe studied.

In the 1930s, the TAYLOR family purchased and they were the owners when the Second World War broke out. As with all large houses, Hammerwood Park was requisitioned by the Army. It became home to 200 soldiers, including Denis Compton, the cricketer. They left their mark on the house as we have found army scarves, boots and Canadian cigarette packets under the floorboards (a small dig in spring 2012 revealed further WWII relics, including toothpaste tubes and various items of glassware).

Tanks were hidden in the woods and later, aircraft: the Special Operations Executive (SOE) used RAF Westland Lysanders for operations to France from a temporary runway to the north of the Park.

WWII to present: Decline, Dereliction and Restoration
After the War, the CHATTELL family moved to Hammerwood. They recognised the problem of how such a large house could be usefully preserved, and eventually divided the house into eleven apartments, thinking that this would ensure its long-term preservation. The flats became vacant, however, as dry-rot mushrooms appeared on the walls. But when it was sold by auction in 1973, a pop group had another idea.

LED ZEPPELIN dreamed of a musical centre with a recording studio and living accommodation for the members of the group and their families. Plans were drawn but never executed due to their increasing commitments abroad and the worsening problem of the dry-rot.

Hammerwood made an appearance at the beginning of their film The Song Remains the Same, in which they were depicted driving up to the house whilst shooting up Nazis from inside a vintage car. Reputedly, one very large and loud concert (presumably an informal gathering) was also held at the house which attracted enough complaints from surrounding residents that it was not repeated.

During this time, massive vandalism took place and three tons of lead were removed from the roof, allowing thousands of gallons of water to enter in fourteen different places, which then fed wet rot. Dry rot galloped throughout the structure. The house was boarded up in 1976 and offered for sale over the following years. Whilst the group were criticised at the time, at least their ownership removed the house from the property market and the commercial developers, paving the way for a subsequent restoration.

Eventually in June 1982, Hammerwood Park was advertised for sale in Country Life. Its condition had deteriorated so much that only a sketch illustrated the full page advertisment with underneath those ominous words: ‘In need of modernisation’.

It was bought by the PINNEGAR family in July 1982. David Pinnegar had just graduated from Imperial College, London, as a physicist, aged 21. Having come from a family of conservationists and also being fortunate enough to inherit his grandmother’s house, it was possible to sell that and purchase Hammerwood Park.

David married Anne-Noëlle (née Tamplin), daughter of the late Lt. Col. Tamplin, a Military Knight of Windsor, in 1990. Their first son, George, was born in 1991 and is represented by the cherub in the bi-centenary mural. Tom was born in 1993 and Edward in 1996.
Hammerwood Park is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Bank Holidays from 1 June until the end of September. The tour (there is only one, compulsory for security reasons) starts at 2PM and lasts approximately an hour and a half. Tea follows in the Elgin Room.

Adults: £6.
Children: free (under 16s).

Private visits may be arranged at other times and school visits are welcome. Visiting by coaches of more than 20 seats is limited but possible – please contact Contact: David and Anne-Noelle Pinnegar

Postal Address:          Hammerwood Park
East Grinstead
East Sussex
RH19 3QE

Telephone:            +44(0)1342 850594

Email:     or


No 1 Royal Crescent, Bath

No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath (Grade I) was built to the designs of John Wood the Younger in 1767 – 1774 as the first house in the Royal Crescent, a Bath stone crescent of thirty houses with a uniform Palladian design to the principal facade.  The Royal Crescent is the culmination of the 18th century development of Bath by the elder and younger John Woods, the latter part-owning No.1.  The open view in front of the Royal Crescent, a key element to the design, has been altered by the subsequent development of Bath but partly preserved in the form of what is now Royal Victoria Park and a small semi-circular lawn in the ownership of the Royal Crescent residents.

The construction of No.1a was carried out in three phases:
(1)  1767:  a 2-storey east range was built over cellars;
(2)  1769:  an extension of No.1 was built by John Wood the Younger, and
(3)  a post-1769 link section was constructed between the two.
The eastern range became the service wing of No.1 and later developments integrated it more fully with No.1.

The occupation of the house reflects the changing social make-up of Bath with a decline in the status of the occupants from a wealthy landowner (Mr Henry Sandford) who rented the house 1777-1796 to clerics and minor gentry.  In the 1840s the house was a seminary for young ladies and later became a lodging-house. There were alterations to the plan and features of the house in the 19th century including the removal of the back stairs and the lowering of all first-floor window sills.

The buildings were first formally separated in 1968, when No. 1 was bought by Mr. Bernard Cayzer who supported its restoration to become both a historic house and the headquarters for the Bath Preservation Trust.
In 2006 No.1a (Grade II) was acquired by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation specifically with the intention of making it available to the Bath Preservation Trust on a long term lease.  Preserved within the building are some rare and important kitchen fittings.  Reuniting it with No.1 allows the Trust to conserve its significant architecture and fittings, tell the whole story of the house for the first time and improve access.

In 2014, No 1 Royal Crescent is open from Friday 14th February 2014 until Sunday 14th December.

Opening hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 10.30 to 17.30 and Mondays,  12.00 to 17.30. Last entry is 16.30.
Admission prices  are:
Adults – £8.50
Seniors (65+) – £6.50
Students (with student card) and pupils over 16 in full time education (with ID) –  £6.50
Children (6-16) – £3.50
Family (2 adults, up to four children) – £17.00
Groups (minimum 15) – £6.00
Carers of disabled visitors – free

They offer visitors with a valid B&NES Discovery Card a 30% discount on the ticket price.

Joint tickets are available with the Building of Bath Collection:
Adults – £10.50
Concessions – £9.00
Children – £3.50
Family – £21.00

Joint tickets include £1 off the full adult ticket price at Beckford’s Tower and Herschel Museum of Astronomy.


The Queen’s House, Greenwich

The Queen’s House, Greenwich, was commissioned by Anne of Denmark, wife of James I (reigned 1603–25). James was often at the Tudor Palace of Greenwich, where the Old Royal Naval College now stands – it was as important a residence of the early Stuart dynasty as it had been for the Tudors. Traditionally he is said to have given the manor of Greenwich to Anne in apology for having sworn at her in public, after she accidentally shot one of his favourite dogs while hunting in 1614.

17th and 18th centuries

In 1616 Anne commissioned Inigo Jones (1573–1652), who had risen to fame as a designer of court entertainments and was appointed Surveyor of the King’s Works the following year, to design a new pavilion for her at Greenwich. It was apparently a place of private retreat and hospitality and was also designed as a bridge over the Greenwich to Woolwich Road, between the palace gardens and the Royal Park.

Jones had recently spent three years in Italy studying Roman and Renaissance architecture. It was his first important commission and the first fully Classical building seen in England. Though generally called Palladian in style, its prime model was the Medici villa at Poggio a Caiano, by Giuliano de Sangallo.

Work stopped on the House in April 1618 when Anne became ill: she died the following year. It was thatched over at first floor level and building only restarted when James’s son Charles I gave Greenwich to his queen, Henrietta Maria (daughter of Henri IV of France), in 1629. It was structurally completed in 1635. Reflecting Renaissance ideas of mathematical, Classical proportion and harmony, the House’s design was revolutionary in Britain at a time when even the best native building was still in red-brick, Tudor-derived style.

Leading European painters – including Jordaens and Orazio Gentileschi – were commissioned to provide decorative ceiling panels and other art works, and Classical sculpture was provided from the collection Charles had purchased en bloc from the Gonzaga dukes of Mantua. Of this original splendour all that survives in the House is the ‘grotesque’ style painted ceiling of the Queen’s Presence Chamber, the ironwork of the ‘tulip stairs’ (the first centrally unsupported spiral stair in Britain), the much discoloured but original painted woodwork of the Hall, and its finely laid 1635 marble floor.

Gentileschi’s ceiling panels, much altered, survive in Marlborough House, London, since Queen Anne allowed their removal in the early-18th century.

Queen Henrietta Maria, 1609-69

Henrietta Maria had little time to enjoy the House. The Civil War broke out in 1642 shattering the Stuart idyll. Always an object of suspicion because of her Catholicism, the Queen went into exile in France and Charles was beheaded in 1649, his property being seized and dispersed by the Commonwealth regime (1649–60). The House lost its treasures and became an official government residence. It however survived, while the Tudor palace on the riverside fell into decay.

Charles I (1600-1649)

After his restoration to the throne (1660), Henrietta Maria’s son, Charles II, refitted the House for her temporary use in 1662 before she moved to Somerset House, though she died in Paris in 1669. His principal changes were the addition of two upper ‘bridge’ rooms to east and west over the road. This produced a square plan on the first floor, rather than the original ‘H’ of two separate blocks either side of the roadway only connected by a central first-floor bridge.

A Mediterranean brigantine wrecked on a rocky coast

From 1673 studio space in the House was allocated to the Willem van de Veldes, father and son Dutch marine artists.

They came to England at the invitation of Charles and founded the English school of marine painting. Find out more about the van de Veldes in the Art of the van de Veldes gallery in the Queens’ House.

The House continued to be used for various Royal ‘grace-and-favour’ residential purposes in the 18th century, when the replacement of most of its original windows with Georgian sashes gave it its modern external appearance.

19th century to present day

In 1805, George III granted the Queen’s House to the Royal Naval Asylum – a charity caring for and educating the orphan children of seamen. This moved to Greenwich from Paddington the following year and eventually became part of the Royal Hospital School, which itself moved to Suffolk in 1933.

In 1807–12, to meet the need for dormitories, classrooms and other facilities, the architect Daniel Asher Alexander added the Colonnades and immediately flanking wings which still frame the House in its modern role as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the National Maritime Museum which took over in 1934.

The House was first restored to something approaching its 1660s form and was fitted out to display the Museum’s early collections in 1933–37. Further major restoration, including of all its services, was completed in 1990 with additional work in 1998–99.

The last included replacement of an unimportant 18th century service stairway with a new public stair and lift connecting basement, ground and first floor, augmenting the original ‘tulip stairs’ on the Hall (north) side.

From 1990 to 1998 the upper floor of the House was partly refitted as and furnished to give an impression of its use as a Royal residence of the 1670s, and to display the NMM’s early art collection. It was also increasingly used as a place for appropriate events and corporate entertainment (analogous to some of its original courtly functions).

Since 2001 the House has been reorganised to showcase the Museum’s fine-art collection, with an ongoing programme of displays and temporary exhibitions, including contemporary work. It has an active events and education programme and continues in its successful role as a place for corporate and private entertainment.

Opening hours

Last admission 16.30

Admission is free


Romney Road
Greenwich, SE10 9NF
+44 (0)20 8858 4422


Cumberland Terrace, Regents Park

Completed in 1826, Cumberland Terrace is a stunning neoclassical terrace overlooking  Regent’s Park in north London.

Most of the terraces and crescents surrounding the park were designed by John Nash, 1752–1835, under the patronage of George IV, still only the Prince Regent of the time.  He had plans for a palace in the park so the terrace was of particular importance to him.  He named it after his younger brother the Duke of Cumberland.

During Nash’s career, Palladianism was no longer really in fashion but Nash’s uses of these villa-like features shows how Palladio remained influential in the 19th century.

The resident architect was James Thomson and the Terrace was built by William Mountford Nurse.  The three main buildings are linked by neoclassical arches, typical of the time, with the main block having a sculptured pediment over Ionic columns.  This is not technically a portico but alludes to the idea of a temple front to a villa which was Palladio’s idea.  The rusticated ground floor with an illusion to a piano nobile above is another Palladian villa feature.

The whole of Cumberland Terrace is still in residential use although some of the 31 original family homes have been converted into flats.  It was first occupied by William Mountford Nurse in 1828 and fully occupied by 1836.

The Terrace was used as a location for the filming of The Invasion (Doctor Who) in 1968.

Cumberland Terrace is just 5 minutes walk from Camden Town tube station.