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A Grade II Listed Building in Brenchley, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1597 / 51°9'34"N

Longitude: 0.3788 / 0°22'43"E

OS Eastings: 566439

OS Northings: 142741

OS Grid: TQ664427

Mapcode National: GBR NR2.6LT

Mapcode Global: VHJMX.J34S

Entry Name: Weirleigh

Listing Date: 24 August 1990

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1249600

English Heritage Legacy ID: 431789

Location: Brenchley, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN12

County: Kent

District: Tunbridge Wells

Civil Parish: Brenchley

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Matfield St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

Find accommodation in
Paddock Wood

Listing Text


6/82 Weirleigh


House in 2 occupations. 1866 (date plaque), built for Harrison Weir, artist
and designer. Alterations of circa 1890 for the family of Siegfried Sassoon,
who was born at Weirleigh (1886) and spent his childhood here. Brick, partly tile- hung with ornamental tiles including scalloped tiles and bands of cream-
coloured peg-tiles; stone dressings; peg-tile roofs; brick stacks. Eclectic
High Victorian, the late C19 alterations in an Arts and Crafts style.

Plan: Asymmetrical, approximately rectangular plan on a roadside site, the
long east elevation directly overlooking Gedges Hill. The site slopes away to
the north and the plan of the house, with the principal rooms in tall 3-storey
blocks at the north end, is designed to take advantage of views across the
Weald. The principal entrance is into the south end with a passage on the
long axis to the stair, which is in the centre on the east side. Rooms in the
south block, to the west of the entrance passage, include smoking room,
butler's pantry and a store room. The principal rooms, dining and drawing
rooms, are at the north end with kitchen and services in a half-basement
below. Pump yard in the centre on the west side. The principal rooms were
partly remodelled by the Sassoon family in circa 1890. There have been some
minor post 1945 alterations associated with the subdivision of the house into
2, and a spire and observation platform over the stair tower has been

Exterior: 2 and 3 storeys. At the north end and east side the half-basement
gives the impression of 4 storeys. Irregular floor levels between the south
and north blocks. Various asymmetrical blocks, all with very steeply-pitched
roofs. High-transomed windows, many with stained glass above the transom.
Asymmetrical one-window entrance (south) elevation, the roof half-hipped to
the front at the left and carried down as a catslide to the porch at the
right. Original plank front door, the porch roof supported on upward curving
stone brackets and a stone lintel carved with flowers and a Latin text. The
brackets are supported on detached pink polished granite octagonal shafts with
capitals of finely-carved foliage. To the left of the porch a secondary late
C19 canted bay window with a hipped roof glazed with high transomed casement.
A C20 block has been added, set back to the left. The east elevation,
overlooking the road, is impressively tall and craggy and consists of the 2
storey east return of the south block (3 windows) then 4 staggered blocks
1:2:1 windows, the fourth block blind. The east return of the south block, to
the left, is gabled to the east with a first floor one-light oriel window on
corbels, date plaque of 1866 over, and 3 ground floor one-light transomed
windows. The next block, 3 storeys, is set forward with a pyramidal roof,
ground and first floor one-light transomed windows and a third floor 3-light
stone mullioned window with terra cotta relief panels below. The next block
to the north is the 4-storey stair tower, with a pyramidal roof. The lower
stage is basement level with a plank door to the service rooms. The door has
strap hinges and a recessed overlight in a stone frame. One-light transomed
window alongside to the left, similar window above. The third stage has 2
transomed windows, each with terra cotta panels below the sill, one with
sunflowers in relief. The upper stage has a 2-light stone mullioned window
breaking the eaves of the roof with 2 stone carved panels below. The adjacent
block to the north is 3 storeys with a 2 storey front (east) projection with a
lean-to roof. 2 ground floor one-light high transomed windows, one first
floor 3-light stone oriel. Above the lean-to roof a V-shaped oriel is glazed
with high transomed windows. The right hand (north) block has a projecting
shouldered stack with a panel of blue headers and tall multiple shafts. The
north elevation consists of 2 blocks, a 3-storey, one-window (including
basement) block at the left (east) with a pyramidal roof and, set back to the
right a 2-window gable-ended block with a diapered brick stack. The left hand
block has high transomed windows, 3-light to the basement plus one-light on
the west return; 5-light on the ground floor plus 2-light on the west return;
3-light on the first floor plus one-light on the west return, 2-light lucarne
in the roof. The right hand block has 3 one-light windows one to each storey
one either side of the stack. The south elevation has an asymmetrical 2-
window block to the left, gabled to the front in the centre. Late C19 glazed
garden door to the right under a hipped porch hood on shaped brackets.
Secondary late C19 canted bay to the left, partly converted to French windows.
2 ground floor 2-light casements, one first floor 4-light window in the gable.
To the right (south) is the pump yard, partly infilled on the south side. The
south elevation of the stair tower, set back to the right, preserves a doorway
into the pump yard and one-light stair window.

Interior: The interior of Weirleigh is of interest not only on architectural
grounds but also because of references to it in Sassoon's writing.
Spectacular stair of 1866, open well and rising through 4 storeys. The
balustrade has alternating barleysugar balusters and verticals of single
pieces of wrought iron, bent into shallow curves. The underside of the
flights is clad with boarding in a herringbone pattern and similar boarding
lines the pyramidal roof. The single original water closet was sited on one
of the stair landings, the fittings no longer exist. The drawing room (north
west) retains a late C19 Arts and Crafts Inglenook with a canopy formed from a
balustrade of turned balusters and a timber chimney-piece. It is referred to
in Sassoon's The Old Centurv (1938)where he describes clambering through it
during the poetry readings organized by his mother. The dining room (north
east) has late C19 wall panelling in an early C18 manner and good stained
glass in the windows above the transoms. The smoking room (south) has a late
C19 Art Nouveau chimney-piece. C19 joinery survives throughout and some
original tiled floors remain.

Harrison Weir (1824-1906), for whom the original house was built, was an
illustrator of some distinction who contributed to the Illustrated London News
and specialized in ornothological prints. The Sassoon family purchased the
house in 1882. References to it in Sassoon's writings include descriptions of
furnishing etc. The present owner has an extensive archive of historical
information about the house, including a planting plan of the garden as
recollected by one of the gardeners. The 1882 sale advertisement described
the original house as built "from the designs of a well-known firm of

A house with considerable historical as well as architectural interest.

Listing NGR: TQ6643942741

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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