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1 Castle Hill, formerly known as Wantage, outbuilding to the north-north-east, and sundial to south

A Grade II Listed Building in Kenilworth, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.3492 / 52°20'57"N

Longitude: -1.5877 / 1°35'15"W

OS Eastings: 428184

OS Northings: 272425

OS Grid: SP281724

Mapcode National: GBR 5LC.MFT

Mapcode Global: VHBX9.F6JY

Plus Code: 9C4W8CX6+MW

Entry Name: 1 Castle Hill, formerly known as Wantage, outbuilding to the north-north-east, and sundial to south

Listing Date: 6 November 1998

Last Amended: 12 October 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1245693

English Heritage Legacy ID: 471630

Location: Kenilworth, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV8

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Kenilworth

Built-Up Area: Kenilworth

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Kenilworth St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

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A detached house in Arts and Crafts style, built in 1901 to designs by Herbert Buckland of Buckland and Farmer; together with an outbuilding to the north-north-east, boundary wall, and sundial.


A detached house in Arts and Crafts style, built in 1901 to designs by Herbert Buckland of Buckland and Farmer; together with an outbuilding to the north-north-east, boundary wall, and sundial.

Partly roughcast, partly Flemish-bond brick, stone dressings, under plain clay tile roofs.
North entrance porch to the central stair hall, around which the principal rooms are arranged to the west, with service rooms to the eastern end.

The house, built on sloping ground, is in an Arts and Crafts, Domestic Revival style. It is of two storeys with attic and basement; the roof is hipped and with stone coped gables and deep sprocketed eaves, wrought-iron gutter brackets and decorated rainwater heads with cast dates of 1901, and tall battered roughcast stacks. The entrance front to the north is an asymmetrical 3:1:1 window range. The projecting two bays on the right are under a pyramidal roof, on the left of which there is a projecting brick gable. To the left, bay two has a wide, semi-circular arch to the deeply-set integral porch; above, under the eaves, a large carved stone corbel with an interlaced monogram of the letters WANTAGE, the ‘A’ used twice to spell out the name of the house. To the right of the gable is a stone canted bay window with a flat roof. The remainder of the elevation has stone and wooden mullion windows with leaded panes, those to the ground floor with transoms; the attic has wide dormers with flat roofs and leaded panes. The western side has a projecting brick gable with stone mullioned and transomed windows, the first floor with a datestone in the centre light inscribed: A 1901 D. To the rear, the garden front has a three-bay, gabled, roughcast range to the right with various wooden and stone mullioned and transomed windows, a stone bow window, a verandah with tiled canopy on the left corner and a stone bow window set back to the left. The east side has a gable to the right, with timber mullioned and transomed windows and a lean-to outshut. The metal windows are probably by Henry Hope and Sons of Birmingham, who frequently provided windows for Buckland's houses; models identical to those in the house are shown in contemporary catalogues of Hope windows.

The interior appears to retain most of its original features in the principal rooms. The rooms mainly have shallow, moulded coving, and the doors are six-panelled with high mid-rails, some part-glazed. The central entrance hall has a stone and brick corbelled fireplace with Delft tiles, coloured glass panels, and an oak staircase with heavy, square-section newels, moulded handrail and a closed string with paired stick balusters. The hall is panelled to dado height, the panelling continuing on the enclosed section of the dog-leg stair. The drawing room has a large, painted, panelled chimneypiece with figural, tile inserts, in an arched alcove, with integral bookshelves. The former dining room has a deep, panelled inglenook with a stone fireplace with a moulded arched opening and bowed, moulded mantelshelf on corbels, panelled settles with curved arms, and built-in shelving. To one side of the room is an inset arch with an integral sideboard with elaborate hinges and a coat of arms in the stained glass window above. The room has a much painted, scrolling plaster frieze to the cornice, perhaps by Robert Catterson-Smith. The chimneypiece in the study has small cupboards with copper strap hinges. The ground-floor service rooms have simpler, ledged and braced plank doors, with segmental arches over, within painted brick walls.

The first-floor rooms have some visible ceiling beams, and those within the gables have partly visible trusses. The principal bedrooms on the first floor are at the east end. One has a small fireplace with tile inserts in a timber surround (now with a gas fire), set within a fitment with a panelled overmantel and double wardrobe with a moulded architrave. Another has a smaller, but similar, fitment, with a fireplace now housing a gas fire, with panelled cupboards above, and an arched niche to the left. The first floor of the east end of the building has undergone significant recent change: the roof structure has been partly replaced, three rooms stripped of lath and plaster and any decorative features and some new floorboards introduced. The original doors from this section have been retained in storage within the house. The former stair to the attic has been removed, but ladder access shows that the rooms in part of the attic have been plastered and painted.

The extensive basement, accessible from the outside only, includes a number of areas divided by brick walls, including an area of wine cellarage with segmental-arched openings.

The OUTBUILDING to the NNE of the house is a small, single-storey structure built in brick with stone dressings, with hipped roof with sprocketed eaves and a painted timber dovecote with finial mounted on the ridge; on the west side the wall is bowed out at the centre whilst the south side has a double doorway (with temporary doors at the time of inspection in March 2016) and a gateway in the wall linking it to the house. The long frontage of the plot to Castle Hill is defined by a long BOUNDARY WALL, built in the same pinkish brick as the house, with regular piers at 4-5m intervals, with moulded brick caps. Three sets of larger-section gatepiers are built in brick with stone quoins, and have stone cushion caps. The pedestrian gateway at the western end of the wall has been infilled in brick; the wide vehicular opening and pedestrian gateway at the eastern end retain their contemporary timber gates.

On the terrace immediately south of the house, is a stone plinth on which is a SUNDIAL, inscribed ‘Abuse me not, and I will do no ill: I stand to serve thee with goodwill; as careful then be sure thou be, To serve thy God, as I serve thee’.


The house known as Wantage was built in 1900-1, to designs by Herbert Buckland of Buckland and Farmer, for Charlotte, widow of Aaron Lufkin Dennison, an important pioneer of mass-production watchmaking, who became known as the father of the American watch industry, and her daughter Ethie, who was the primary force behind the building of the house. Dennison had moved from his native United States of America to Birmingham in 1871, setting up the Anglo-American Watch Company. After Aaron’s death in 1895, at which time the family was living in West Bromwich, the Dennisons bought land on Castle Hill in Kenilworth, at the edge of the Abbey Fields. The sale of the building plots was brought about to help finance the purchase of the Abbey Fields as a public recreation ground. Ethie Dennison commissioned Birmingham architect Herbert Buckland of Buckland and Farmer to design a house for them. Herbert Tudor Buckland (1869-1951) was a Birmingham architect, articled in 1885 to a quantity surveyor, Henry Clere, whilst studying at the Municipal School of Art. He joined the Birmingham Architectural Association, and through this came into contact with Charles Edward Bateman, part of a significant family of Birmingham architects, working with his father in the firm of Bateman and Bateman. Buckland worked in the offices of Bateman and Bateman from 1891 to 1895, in which year he set up in practice with Henry Clere, but by 1897 he was in independent practice. In 1899, he joined in partnership with Edward Heywood-Farmer (1871-1917), creating the new firm of Buckland and Farmer, which was to become well-known for its Arts and Crafts buildings, along with the likes of William Bidlake, and Bateman and Bateman, also working in Birmingham; Buckland worked alongside William Bidlake when the two were teaching at the Birmingham School of Art; certainly Buckland’s work shares many characteristics with Bidlake’s buildings. Buckland and Farmer worked primarily in the Birmingham area, but also undertook commissions as far away as, Suffolk, Glasgow, Barnsley and Wales. They principally designed houses for wealthy industrialists and professionals, and school buildings, but their work also extended to commercial and industrial premises. Buckland and Farmer’s domestic work appears to have been largely designed by Buckland. Their output from 1899-1911 included more than fifteen mid-sized detached houses, including Buckland’s own house, 21 Yateley Road, in Edgbaston, Birmingham (1899), a fine example of an Arts and Crafts house of this period, influenced by C17 domestic building, which is listed at Grade I.

Wantage, whose name is spelled out in a carved cipher on a corbel on the main elevation, was built in 1900-1, and it was published, with plans and a photograph of the garden elevation, in The Studio: an illustrated magazine of fine and applied art (Vol 33, 1905, pp. 306-9), along with Herbert Buckland’s own house in Edgbaston. The article comments on a number of novel features in the house which speak of the patron’s American origins, including a recessed balcony to one of the first-floor bathrooms (since converted to a window), allowing early-morning fresh air; a ground-floor box room; and a recessed rear porch with seating creating a verandah. The article also notes that the garden was designed to set off the dwelling, and uses the slope of the land, with terraces and steps; the accompanying photograph shows the steps and terracing below the house. Charlotte Dennison died shortly after Wantage was completed, the Dennisons having moved in from lodgings just over the road, from where they would have been able to oversee the construction; and Ethie continued to live in the house, until her death in 1915. She bequeathed the house to her widowed sister Charlotte Dennison Terry. It was sold in 1937, renamed Hillcote, and a garage was built to the east of the house. It was sold again in 1958, but then remained in the same family until 2007.

Reasons for Listing

Wantage, 1 Castle Hill, Kenilworth, an Arts and Crafts house of 1901, designed by Herbert Buckland, with its boundary wall, outbuilding and sundial, are listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: a good Arts and Crafts design by Herbert Buckland, a well-known regional architect of considerable reputation; the house is a good example of Buckland’s Arts and Crafts style of building, with excellent massing, careful proportions, limited but good external detailing and adherence to traditional materials and craftsmanship;
* Interior: the interior retains its architectural set pieces, with good inglenook fireplaces, carefully detailed fixtures and fittings, and use of stained glass, tile and timberwork;
* Design interest: the house demonstrates clear quality in its architectural style, with attention to detail throughout the building;
* Lack of alteration: the principal areas of the house are largely unaltered and survive well;
* Ancillary structures: the contemporary boundary walls, sundial, and outbuilding to the north-north-east form a good, related grouping with the house.

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