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Latitude: 51.9946 / 51°59'40"N
Longitude: -1.2502 / 1°15'0"W
OS Eastings: 451577
OS Northings: 233175
OS Grid: SP515331
Mapcode National: GBR 8W1.W5X
Mapcode Global: VHCWP.84X7
Entry Name: The Pediment Including Boundary Walls, Gate and Gate Piers, Terrace with Urns and Flanking Pedestals, Parterre with Sundial, Temple, Stone Pillar with Statue, and Pond.
Listing Date: 29 March 1988
Last Amended: 14 August 2012
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1226358
English Heritage Legacy ID: 423604
Location: Aynho, South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, OX17
District: South Northamptonshire
Civil Parish: Aynho
Built-Up Area: Aynho
Traditional County: Northamptonshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire
Church of England Parish: Aynho St Michael
Church of England Diocese: Peterborough
House built in 1956-57 and garden buildings added 1959-73 to the designs of Raymond Erith.
PLAN: The house has a square plan and is flanked on its north side by attached diagonally sloping screen walls. It is set within a two-acre plot with a wide driveway on the north side and landscaped garden laid out on the south side.
MATERIALS: Large blocks of ashlared Bath stone, finely jointed, under a roof clad in Welsh (Purple Bangor) slate. Six different varieties of stone are used for the house and garden buildings: Bath, York, Blue Hornton, Portland, Clipsham and Derbyshire Tufa.
EXTERIOR: The Pediment is in the Classical Georgian style. It has two storeys and three bays under a low pitched roof which forms a full width pediment behind a low parapet to the north and south elevations. The entrance (north) façade has a central square-headed entrance with a four-panelled door and over-light with geometric glazing bars. The outer bays are lit at ground and first-floor level by square-headed six over six pane sash windows with timber glazing bars. The window above the entrance is blind. The pediment has an inset oculus and ball finials in York stone to the outer edges. The garden front is almost identical except the door is pierced by four glazed ovals in the top half. The east elevation has sash windows in each bay on both floors. The west elevation is similar except there is a blind window in the first bay at first-floor level, and a tall semicircular window in the middle bay lighting the staircase. On either side of the north elevation, there are ramped walls of rubble stone capped with slate which screen the garden from the road and, on the east side, conceals an open loggia with four timber segmental arches.
INTERIOR: The interior is characterised by its simple plan consisting of a room in each corner on both floors, and a thoughtful use of building materials. The entrance hall leads through an arched opening to the slate-paved central hall, giving access to the dog leg staircase which has turned balusters, moulded handrail with square caps, and a dado with horizontal panelling. The windows and door surrounds in the principal rooms have panelled soffits and jambs. The study has a parquet floor, and the floors in the drawing and dining room were originally laid in cross-sawn Oregon pine (this has not been verified as carpet has been laid over them). The principal features of note include the moulded, lugged fireplace in the drawing room, made of Corsham Bathstone, which has an overmantel consisting of a panel with a moulded cornice, flanked by scrolls. The panel’s inscription, carved by David Kindersley, reads ‘THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DWELLING IS IN THE DWELLER’. The stone fireplace in the dining room is much plainer, having a chamfered opening and a simple timber lintel supported by three brackets. The tiny study is enlivened by a large, ogee arched niche. The partition between the study and hall is not solid wall but timber panelling in the Georgian manner.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The two-acre plot is surrounded by dry stone walls with saddle-back coping. On the north side the timber entrance gates have piers of Bath stone, square on plan, with capitals of Blue Hornton stone. On the south front, the garden door leads onto a stone paved terrace with a short flight of steps, in York stone, flanked by a pair of urns made of Clipsham stone. These are flanked by a pair of pedestals surmounted by ball finials. On the east side of the house is a rectangular parterre consisting of four corner triangles with a central circle laid out in box. It is surrounded by a path of Staffordshire blue bricks, and in the centre is a green travertine pillar supporting a slate sundial. In the middle of the east wall is a classical temple with four Doric columns of Portland stone and a timber entablature and pediment. The handmade bricks are laid in herringbone and the slate-clad roof is lined with Norfolk reeds. To the south-west of the temple is a stone pillar surmounted by an C18 bronze armillary sphere. Directly to the west is an octagonal pond in Portland stone, surrounded by a path of cobbles and York stone, with a pillar housing the tap on the south side. On the west side of the garden, the entrance to the stable yard is flanked by long timber posts which reproduce a motif on the urns.
The Pediment was designed by Raymond Erith for Elizabeth Watt who was a keen horticulturalist and art collector, as well as a lawyer in what was probably the first all-female practice in Britain. She required only a small house in which to display her collection of modern British art but welcomed Erith’s idea to create a ‘piece of architecture’. The Pediment was built in 1956-57 in a two-acre plot (the former rectory paddock) which, over the next two decades, was transformed by Erith into a landscaped garden on a miniature scale. He worked closely with his client who was interested in every detail of the design for the house and garden buildings, and who documented their creation in an account written in 1976. Erith first envisaged a house with a pediment as it had to be distinctive so as not to appear insignificant in relation to the size of the plot. His idea for a square plan was initially a concern as a square house can look smaller than it really is, but, he observed, ‘it would elevate rather well and have the charm that one occasionally sees in eighteenth century buildings when they are at once very small and very architectural.’ In order to make the house look bigger, Erith suggested that the Bath stone extracted from Monk’s Park quarry should be cut in larger blocks than was necessary. He paid an equal amount of attention to every detail of the interior, carefully choosing all the materials and creating an ogee arched niche in the small study to display sculpture. The principal areas of the house have been little altered, except for the conversion of the fireplaces in the sitting and dining rooms for gas. A fitted kitchen has been installed, involving the removal of the original larder, and the bathroom suites have been updated. The loft space was converted c10-20 years ago and a staircase installed to provide access.
In 1958 work began in the garden in which Erith had determined on two main axes, one aligning the entrance gates with the front and garden doors to the pond; and the other a diagonal to the south-west corner of the site. The north entrance gates were built and the gravelled approach to the house was made symmetrical; and on the south front, a flight of garden steps was added, either side of which plinths with ball finials were erected. At the same time the ball finials on the corners of the house were put up which are slightly smaller in diameter. In 1959 Erith designed the Classical temple located in front of the east garden wall which was inspired by Miss Watt’s admiration for the dairy at Uppark. Two years later the parterre in the north-east corner was created, based on one Erith had seen in a client’s garden in Sussex. In the centre Miss Watt placed a green travertine pillar (which ultimately disintegrated) for which David Kindersley’s Workshop in Cambridge carved a slate sundial to fit the top in 1971. The octagonal pond was built to Erith’s designs in 1963, followed in 1964 by the croquet shed located in the south-west corner (separately listed at Grade II). In 1967 a pair of urns for the garden steps were made in Clipsham stone to Erith’s design. A motif on the urns was reproduced for the caps on the long timber posts at the entrance to the yard of the converted stable. At the time of Erith’s death improvements were still being carried out in the garden. Miss Watt acquired an C18 lead Hercules holding up a bronze armillary sphere on a Bath stone capital for which Erith designed the pillar duplicating on the base the original moulding on the capital. His proposal for a new travertine pillar for the sundial in the parterre, which was based on the font at St Mary’s Church on Paddington Green, was carried out in 1974 after his death by his partner Quinlan Terry. All the garden buildings by Erith have remained in situ. In her account, Miss Watt mentions that at Erith’s suggestion, ‘I acquired over the years all the dry stone boundary walls of the property, and these have all been repaired and put in order by Aubrey [Aubrey Charles, stonemason]. They are 400 yards long all told.’ It is likely that these walls formerly belonged to the bordering Aynho Park. The walls at the front were heightened, when Erith built the new gate piers, and the remainder probably was too over the years. A number of features have more recently been added to the garden, including a greenhouse, a sunken pond, raised flower beds, and a walled enclosure for bonfires. None of these have special interest.
Raymond Erith was one of the foremost architects working in the classical tradition in the C20. He trained at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and opened an office in London in 1928. He received a commission for Great House (Grade II*) in Dedham, Essex, relatively early in his career which was soon followed by the lodges at the approach to the Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park (1939). After the Second World War Erith opened an office in Ipswich and received a variety of commissions, notably for the provost’s lodgings at Queen’s College, Oxford (1959-60); the library and Wolfson residential building at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (1961,1966); and the reconstruction of 10 and 11 Downing Street and rebuilding of no. 12 (1959-63). Erith’s respect and understanding for architectural tradition meant that he was asked to restore or remodel many old houses. In 1958 he based his practice in Dedham and was joined four years later by Quinlan Terry, first as his assistant and then as his partner.
The Pediment, built in 1956-57, including the garden buildings added 1959-73, all to the designs of Raymond Erith, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
*Architectural interest: it is a dignified and elegant example of a post-war house in the Georgian style with an elevational design of restrained grandeur, characterised by pared down Classical motifs and a lack of mouldings.
*Architect: it is by one of the most highly regarded C20 architects working in the Classical tradition, and aptly illustrates Erith’s belief that classicism is a progressive architectural language that could be adapted to suit modern, middle-class lifestyles.
*Setting: the interest of the house is enhanced by the garden structures which were designed by Erith over a period of fourteen years. He carefully placed them to form a coherent group which represents a country house estate in miniature.
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