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Latitude: 52.2555 / 52°15'19"N
Longitude: 0.4081 / 0°24'29"E
OS Eastings: 564462
OS Northings: 264658
OS Grid: TL644646
Mapcode National: GBR N9R.G10
Mapcode Global: VHJGJ.1K3S
Entry Name: Soham House
Location: Newmarket, Forest Heath, Suffolk, CB8
District: Forest Heath
Traditional County: Suffolk
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk
Listing Date: 10 April 2017
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1443694
Tudor/ Jacobean Revival house built in 1892 to the designs of C J Harold Cooper.
Tudor/ Jacobean Revival house built in 1892 to the designs of C J Harold Cooper.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond with stone dressings and tile roof covering.
PLAN: the house has an approximately rectangular plan with four south-facing reception rooms and a former service wing at the west end.
EXTERIOR: the house is in a free Tudor style with asymmetrical elevations. It has two storeys with a cellar and an attic under steeply pitched roofs surmounted by tall, faceted chimney stacks. The gables are decorated with what appear to be tie rod plates in the shape of flamingos, although these are not an original part of the design. The fenestration consists of stone windows with ovolo moulded mullions with fillets in moulded and blocked surrounds; the quoins are also blocked.
The principal north-facing elevation has moulded string courses at lintel level on the second floor, first-floor level, and along sill level on the first two bays of the ground floor. From the left, the recessed, double-height billiard room is lit by a four-light mullion with a transom. Behind the parapet rises a triangular gable roof with ornamental timber-framed panelling which is lit by a small two-light window in a wooden surround. Following this, the projecting gabled bay is lit on the ground floor by a three-light mullion and a single-light window, and above by a three-light mullion with a transom and another single-light window. A tiny semi-circular arch window with a gauged brick arch and three stone voussoirs lights the attic. The depressed arch front door is in a moulded and blocked surround with a keystone containing the initials of the people who restored the house in the 1990s. The elaborately carved door has four narrow arched lights and decorative strap hinges. It is set in a canted bay which is lit on the first floor by a four-light mullion. Above, the two gabled dormer windows have timber studs in the gable heads. To the right of the canted bay, the cellar and ground floor are lit by pairs of single-light windows in stone surrounds, and above is a tall six-light staircase window with a transom, the upper two lights arched at the top. The projecting gabled bay to the right has two two-light windows in the cellar, two cross windows on the first floor, an eight-light window with a transom on the second floor and a small three-light window in the attic. To the right is a low service wing with a three-light mullion, vertical plank front door set in a blocked surround, and a two-light window. The attic is lit by a gabled dormer wholly in the roof space.
The south elevation of the service wing has a replaced window, two two-light mullions, and a gabled dormer window. The short west elevation of the main house has, on the left, a single-light window on the ground floor and three-light mullions on the two upper floors, followed by a spiral fire escape. On the right, the ground floor is lit by a cross window, and there are two dormer windows flanking the chimney.
The south, garden-facing elevation is more regular than the façade and has moulded stone string courses at sill and lintel level on both floors. It has outer gabled bays which are lit by four-light mullions on the ground floor and five-light canted oriels on the first floor. The attic rooms are pierced by the same small semi-circular windows as on the façade. The wide central bay has two tall six-light mullion windows with two transoms which light the galleried inner hall. Between these windows there is a stone plaque carved in relief depicting a man driving a two-horse chariot. The billiard room, on the right, is blind on this elevation, and the right return is lit by a four-light mullion.
INTERIOR: the fittings and joinery are of a high quality and survive well throughout the house, although the panelling has been repaired in places and some of the doors and elaborate brass door furniture have been repositioned. The principal area of interest is the suite of reception rooms which retain oak floorboards, decorative iron window furniture, service bells, and wide oak doors which have four moulded panels with four small panels above, set in moulded doorframes.
The small outer hall has a depressed arched door with nine moulded panels and intricate brass lock plates and handle. It provides access to a cloakroom with a red quarry tiled floor and leads to the double-height ‘inner lounge hall’, as it is described in the 1903 sale particulars. This has oak panelled wainscoting with fluted pilasters where it meets the doorframes, and an incorporated display cabinet with glazing bars set in a delicate pattern. The ceiling is clad in timber with exposed joists and moulded beams resting on corbels which support the gallery. This has an elaborately carved balustrade spanned by a semi-circular arch which has spandrels carved in relief depicting different tableau. The fireplace has been removed but the marble hearth remains. In the drawing room to the west, the dentilled cornice, neo-Classical style fireplace and flanking display cupboards are not original. To the west again, the double-height billiard room has oak panelled wainscoting and a depressed arch marble fireplace with Arts and Crafts tiles of turquoise flowers (some missing) and an overmantel consisting of two display cupboards with glazing bars in a square within a square design. The roof trusses have moulded tie beams and semi-circular arched braces supported by carved wooden corbels. The closed trusses at either end of the room are filled with panels decorated with painted flowers. The dining room, on the west side of the house, has oak panelled wainscoting and a moulded wooden cornice. The depressed arch corner fireplace has a marble surround, moulded wooden mantelshelf and jambs, and a red tiled hearth.
The panelled wainscoting continues up the stairwell. The handsome oak dogleg stair has a panelled spandrel, closed string and a moulded handrail supported by wide balusters ornately carved in different designs. The substantial square newel posts are surmounted by large carved finials in the form of various creatures – lion, ram, dog – each holding a cartouche. The rooms on the first floor mostly retain eight-panelled doors in moulded frames with a pulvinated frieze. The principal bedrooms are those with canted oriel windows. That on the east side of the house has a parquet floor and a corner fireplace with a tiled inset and slate hearth; and that on the west side has panelled wainscoting, painted white. The cornice in the east bedroom and the bedroom in the north-west corner is probably not original.
In the extensive cellar, on the back of one of the plank and batten doors is written ‘W. Bloyce 1915’ which is the name of the house boy in the census returns. The rooms include a wine cellar with slate shelves, a coal cellar with chute, an old boiler room with oil tank, and a white tiled room, probably for food storage.
Newmarket has been associated with horse-racing since the early C17 and is popularly known as the headquarters of thoroughbred racing. This pre-eminence is indicated in the town and its environs by two historic racecourses and the high concentration of stables and other buildings provided for the sport. Snailwell Road was developed as a consequence of the significant expansion of horse training yards and stud farms in the late C19 into the vacant heath land to the north-east of Newmarket. Soham House was built in 1892 to the designs of C J Harold Cooper (1863-1909), an Arts and Crafts architect and member of the Art Workers’ Guild who enlisted all the arts connected with building in his designs. He designed Soham House for Wallace Johnstone who retained a trainer at Newmarket for his horses and won the 2000 Guineas Stakes with his horse Disraeli in 1898. The Johnstone family, headed by the newspaper proprietor, James Johnstone of The Standard, commissioned considerable work from Cooper. He designed 1A Palace Gate (1896-98), a town house in Kensington, for James Johnstone’s youngest son William Alfred (Grade II* listed); and 15 Stratton Street, Westminster (1895-1900), for Captain H. A. Johnstone (Grade II listed). Cooper has a third listed building to his name: The Mansion at Porter’s Park in Shenley, Hertfordshire, a country house built in 1902 (Grade II).
The sale particulars from 1903 describe Soham House as an ‘exceptionally choice freehold residential estate’ with a ‘handsomely appointed mansion fitted throughout with every modern convenience and luxury, and containing spacious lounge hall, 2 reception rooms, billiard room, nine bed and dressing rooms, 3 bath rooms and extensive and complete suite of domestic and culinary offices; a well-built squash racquet court, suite of bachelor’s quarters, cottage, 3 span roof greenhouses, double conservatory, large paddock and stabling and delightful pleasure grounds, the whole of the property extending to an area of ten acres’. Only one of the outbuildings has survived which is now in separate ownership. Photographs in the sale particulars show that the house originally had crow-stepped gables, and a crenelated parapet to the billiard room. The service end of the house to the west also had a single-storey range projecting on the north side which has since been removed.
Soham House was purchased in 1910 as the Newmarket residence of Lord Queenborough (1861-1949) who was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1909 and MP for Cambridge between 1910 and 1917. He won the 2000 Guineas Stakes with his horse St Louis in 1922. His daughter, the Honourable Dorothy Wyndham Paget, also resided at the property until 1952. She too was a wealthy race horse owner and, on her death in 1960, was reported to have been worth the equivalent of £100 million today. Nearby roads have been named after her. In 1963 Soham House was converted for use as the Horse Racing Forensic Laboratory. It hosted a visit from HRH The Princess Royal in 1970, and a Soham House Stakes was run at Newmarket Rowley Mile Racecourse during this period. In 1997 it was restored back to a residential dwelling.
The conversion of Soham House into the forensic laboratory and its subsequent restoration to a house has resulted in some changes to its layout and fabric. In the service end of the house, the wall between two rooms (one of which was the butler’s pantry) on the north side of the dining room has been removed; and the servants’ stair has been reconfigured, although it is approximately in its original position. To the north of this stair, the wall to the original study has been removed to create a larger sitting room; and the large kitchen was originally three rooms. On the first floor, ensuite bathrooms have been inserted into the two south-facing principal bedrooms. In the bedroom on the north side, to the east of the main staircase, a wall has been removed to create a larger room. The stained glass in the window depicting scenes from Juliana Horatia Ewing’s The Brownies (1865) was donated to the V&A Museum after its removal to facilitate a fire escape when the building was used as the forensic laboratory. The sale particulars show the drawing room with an oak panelled ceiling and wainscot with bookcases either side of a tiled hearth but none of these fittings remain. The drawing room also opened out into the billiard room but these are now separate rooms. The south and east parts of the garden have been developed for housing.
Soham House, a Tudor/ Jacobean Revival house built in 1892 to the designs of C J Harold Cooper, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is a finely crafted and thoughtfully designed Tudor/ Jacobean Revival house which evokes this earlier style whilst providing easeful accommodation for a later age;
* Interior: it has a suite of meticulously detailed reception rooms demonstrating the use of good quality materials worked with a consistently high level of craftsmanship, especially the joinery which shows much imaginative flair;
* Architect: it was designed by an architect whose work is already recognised as being of national importance having three other buildings on the List, one at Grade II*;
* Historic interest: it is closely associated with some of the most famous names in horse racing.
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