History in Structure

Grittleton House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Grittleton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.5187 / 51°31'7"N

Longitude: -2.2018 / 2°12'6"W

OS Eastings: 386091

OS Northings: 179998

OS Grid: ST860799

Mapcode National: GBR 1Q9.N56

Mapcode Global: VH963.S3B2

Plus Code: 9C3VGQ9X+F7

Entry Name: Grittleton House

Listing Date: 29 February 1988

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1022310

English Heritage Legacy ID: 315874

ID on this website: 101022310

Location: Grittleton, Wiltshire, SN14

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Grittleton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Grittleton and Leigh Delamere

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

Tagged with: House School building

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ST 87 NE and ST 88 SE
7/63 and 3/63

Grittleton House

II *
Country house, now school, c1832 to 1856 by James Thomson with some modifications 1853-4 by H. Clutton, for Joseph Neeld. Ashlar, in small coursed blocks, with stone slate roofs, Jacobean shaped gables and numerous high shaped stacks. Very large scale, two and a half to three-storey double-pile main range with two-storey north end square plan service court.

Stylistically mixed reflecting two main phases of building; c1832-40 and 1853-56 and also a change of architect in 1853-54, but essentially of a round-arched character, more crudely detailed in the earlier, north end, and with a distinctive Italian Trecento flavour and richer carving in the centre and south end.

The north end, the large wing at left end of entrance front and right of garden front, with a single bay adjoining, was built by 1843 when it was illustrated in J.E. Jackson's 'History of Grittleton', but with different gable treatment. This was a part-refacing and addition to the existing C17 house, which was demolished for the major extension of 1852-56, initially designed by Thomson (his design published Builder 11 281), but in 1853 Thomson was replaced by Clutton, who was in turn sacked in 1854, having altered certain details, the bay-window designs, the design of the central tower, the conservatory and substituted Jacobean gables for the pyramid-roofed angle turrets proposed by Thomson. Thomson appears to have completed the house 1854-56, though a design for the porte-cochere was exhibited 1863 at the Royal Academy by J.J. Thomson Jr.

Exterior: both east and west fronts have tall centre and end pavilions with Jacobean gables (that to garden front centre dated PR 1827 I N 1851) and projecting bays of differing designs. The wings between the gables also differ, though some measure of over-all symmetry is achieved. Centre heavily detailed tower with sunk panels to attic and flat pinnacles. West, entrance, front has projected porch bay to centre pavilion and large porte-cochere beyond. Porte-cochere is round-arched with Neeld motto in pierced parapet. Ornate round-arched front door. First floor 'Florentine' traceried arched window (i.e. with two arched-lights within main arch) and attic semi-circular ashlar oriel with cornice and parapet carried round.

Main pavilion behind has ornate first floor angle windows set diagonally behind an angle shaft with arch on each face. Wings have similar cornices and parapets, but differ otherwise, earlier wing to left has three storey two window elevation, the left bay as illustrated in 1843, the right presumably added to match. Left end pavilion has large two storey square bay of 1:3:1-arched lights, the upper arches on full height shafts with carved caps. Pierced parapet and attic two-light, as illustrated in 1843, but gable altered. Earlier work has small-paned windows while later work has plate-glass. Wing to right of centre is of same height but two-storey, three-window, with ornately carved and shafted two-light windows, square-headed below, round-arched above. Convex-curved one-window section in angle to right.

Right pavilion has very large two-storey square bay of 2:6:2-lights in a round-arched version of Venetian Gothic Ca d'oro type (i.e. with quatrefoils above tall ground floor lights). Stilted-arched heads, carved caps and transom with shaft rings. Upper windows are simpler, without transom or quatrefoils.

East front is broadly similar but bay-windows are canted. Centre has arched doorway with finely carved boss, Ca d'oro type stair-light above, of large transomed curved oriel with side-lights, pierced parapet and attic long two-light. South end has array of ridge stacks, pierced parapet, cornice, nine first floor two-light windows with stilted-arched lights and hoodmoulds and very large ground floor ashlar conservatory with corrugated plastic roof cladding. 4:3:4 bay front, two bays deep, arcaded with chamfered piers and moulded arches, the centre three bays bow-fronted. Some of the original cast-iron tracery survives in centre and end bays. North end service court is relatively plain with similar two-storey, four-window fronts and hipped roofs to west and east. Mullion-and-transom windows, two-light above, three-light below, vertically arranged in slightly projected bays. Statue in niche to south-facing wall of north east wing, depicting female figure in classical dress, remains from auction of Neeld collection of statues in 1966.

Interiors: theatrical sequence of principal spaces on a cross-plan, the short axis of entrance hall, central hall and grand stair intersecting the long axial sequence of full-height top-lit 'vestibules' in which the Neeld sculpture collection was displayed. Statue remaining from upper tier of niches, and from auction of Neeld collection in 1966.

The central-hall rises a full three storeys to a rococo-style plaster roof, fine stone arcading all around and first floor balcony, iron second floor balcony. The staircase is a processional sequence of horseshoe approach to an imperial stair with bronzed cast-iron railings of intersected arcade pattern. Coffered ceiling. To north, two top-lit octagonal plaster-vaulted spaces with angle shafting and barrel-vaulted space beyond with plaster transverse ribs, as illustrated in 1843. Early C19 stained glass in north end window. To south a single large top-lit space with arcaded gallery.

Main rooms are chiefly notable for monumental marble fireplaces, as Neeld intended his pictures to be the principal decoration. South west dining room and south east Drawing Room, then adjoining Billiard-Room on west and Library opposite, this last with original mahogany bookcases, scagliola Corinthian columns and curious bronze tripods as decorative feature on bookcases and windows. Rooms to north of hall are considerably simpler. First floor has one remarkable plaster ceiling to Winter Drawing Room over front entrance, with Gothic pendants, more typical of early C19.

(Wiltshire Record Office, 1305/83, has accounts of c1847-56 and extensive material relating to 1855 lawsuit between Neeld and Clutton. Among named craftsmen, Joseph White is mentioned for stone-carving, Potter of London for ironwork, Parsons of London for plasterwork; Original drawings by Thomson of c1852-3 are at the house; J.E. Jackson, A History of the Parish of Grittleton, 1843, contains illustrations of the house by C.J. Richardson; Builder, 11 279 and 281, gives elevation and plan as intended by Thomson, 1853; Countess Badeni, Wiltshire Forefathers, 1960, 68-75; N. Pevsner, Wiltshire, 1975, 261-2; Country Life, 22 September 1966)

Listing NGR: ST8609179998

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