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Houghton Farmhouse

A Grade II Listed Building in Houghton, Hampshire

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Latitude: 51.0845 / 51°5'4"N

Longitude: -1.5149 / 1°30'53"W

OS Eastings: 434074

OS Northings: 131800

OS Grid: SU340318

Mapcode National: GBR 742.V4S

Mapcode Global: FRA 76Q8.1N5

Plus Code: 9C3W3FMP+R2

Entry Name: Houghton Farmhouse

Listing Date: 7 February 1986

Last Amended: 2 May 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1301104

English Heritage Legacy ID: 140708

Location: Houghton, Test Valley, Hampshire, SO20

County: Hampshire

Civil Parish: Houghton

Built-Up Area: Houghton

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Houghton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Winchester

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Houghton Farmhouse, thought to date from the late C17 or early C18 and extended in the late C19 and converted to a reading room in the early C20, before reverting to domestic use.


House, thought to date from the late C17 or early C18; extended in the late C19 and converted to a reading room in the early C20, before reverting to domestic use.

MATERIALS: red brick, the external walls to the east and south, and the upper part of the north wall being faced with decorative cement render. The hipped roofs are covered with plain clay tiles; there are tall stacks constructed of cut-brick. The windows are late C19 or early C20, with several later C20 replacements.

PLAN: the main range is set on a north/south alignment, with the entrance elevation facing the road to the east. The two-storey late C19 extension projects from the south-west corner of the building, running halfway along the rear of the building to the west. Against this western elevation is a small blockwork addition, which is excluded from the listing. A further, lean-to, extension, continues along the rear of the main range to the north.

EXTERIOR: the main range is four bays wide, with the entrance and stack in the second bay to the south. The doorway is preceded by a tall gabled porch, rising nearly to the eaves and obscuring a first-floor window. The timber-framed upper part of the porch rests on a brick wall or plinth, with earlier brickwork to the lower part. The front gable end of the porch has a king post with ‘butterfly’ braces. The porch is floored with red and buff terracotta tiles, and a small iron lantern hangs in front of the doorway. The door opening is chamfered; the door is a simple late C19 or early C20 planked example. The ground-floor window openings are square (the two northern window openings appear to have been very slightly heightened, with associated marking to the render); the frames are later C20. The rectangular first-floor windows are set high, beneath the eaves; the frames appear to be early C20, if not late C19. The cement render on this elevation has incised lines with ‘tooling’ to resemble ashlar at ground-floor level. At first-floor level, above a plat band, the moulded decoration takes the form of ornamental timber framing, divided into small panels with lozenge decoration below the mid-rail; grouped into threes, the lozenges alternately have straight and inward-curving sides. Above the mid-rail, some of the panels are crossed by straight braces. The fairly shallow-pitched hipped roof over this range has wide eaves resting on corner brackets, the eaves apparently having been extended in the early C20. Rising from the ridge immediately in line with the doorway is the chimney stack with four tall shafts in Tudor style. Each shaft has a different pattern: one twisted, one fluted to the front; one hexagonal and one round to the rear. Both have heavy stepped caps, and rest on a square base of brick laid in English bond. The south elevation of the main range is largely occupied by a square bay window under a tiled roof; this window dates from the late C19 or early C20. To the west, the gable end of the projecting late C19 extension has a cambered-arched window to the ground and first floor, beneath the half-hipped roof; there are moulded bargeboards to the verges. On the south elevation the render follows a different pattern from that on the front elevation: here, above the plat band are alternating lozenges and circles with intersecting crosses. On the eastern side of the extension rises an external stack, topped by two shafts in the same style as on the main range. The brickwork of the stack differs from that of the ridge stack; this may indicate that the elaborate shafts were a later addition. This part of the building is not rendered, the Flemish bond brickwork being painted. The lean-to extension, also of painted brickwork, has a slated roof. There is a plain planked door to the south, and a large window, inserted as part of the reading room conversion. The north elevation of the main range is blind: on the ground floor the Flemish bond brickwork is exposed, though painted; the first floor is rendered in the same pattern as that found on the southern elevation.

INTERIOR: on the ground floor, all plaster has been removed, exposing the brickwork, and no chimneypieces remain. The front door opens into a small lobby in front of the chimney, which in this area appears to have been largely rebuilt in the late C19 or early C20, though some areas of brickwork in English bond may be earlier. Some timber fixings remain in the wall, apparently for securing panelling. A C20 door set in a reduced opening to the north leads into the former reading room. This large double-height room occupies the whole of the main range’s two northern bays, with the first floor and all partitions having been removed. The current ceiling is part of the reading room scheme, with two central transverse beams supported on large moulded brackets; both the brackets and the exposed joists are painted black. To the west, a large opening has been made, turning the lean-to extension into an alcove for the main reading room; the opening is framed by a lintel on brackets like those supporting the beams. There is a distinct variety of brickwork to the walls, reflecting a high degree of alteration and rebuilding over time. The lower part of the walls appears to be the earliest, with much use of headers: it is possible that this could represent the plinth of an earlier timber frame, since removed, but this is not evident. Above, the walls are principally laid in Flemish bond, though with much variation. The walls show no clear evidence of the removal of the first floor, such as joist sockets, though this may be obscured to some extent in the eastern wall by the alterations made to enlarge the ground-floor windows, and in the western wall, by the creation of the opening. The first-floor window openings, now forming a clerestory, do not appear to have been altered. The ingle fireplace opening in the southern wall has a three-centred arch with an almost flat top; the brickwork around this feature appears to date to the late C17 or early C18, but the brickwork immediately above, incorporating a relieving arch, is later – probably late C19. Set within the fireplace are two seats, one of which has collapsed; these are probably late C19 or early C20. To the west of the opening is a blocked oven or niche; the arch is partially obscured by the west wall, though a lintel suggests there may have been an opening in this position. This west wall shows evidence of later change, both around the large opening, and around the ceiling brackets; there is a blocked opening at first-floor level at the north end. The blind north wall has a blocked window opening at ground-floor level. The western, northern and eastern walls retain fixings for panelling to shoulder height. The entrance to the southern room has a late C19 or early C20 four-panel door from which a letterbox has been removed, possibly reflecting the domestic use of this part of the house following the early C20 conversion. In the southern ground-floor room the plaster has also been removed. The north wall, representing the stack, and the west wall, have both seen much rebuilding, mainly in English bond. The chimney opening has been rebuilt, with a reused timber set above it as a lintel. To the west of the opening is a tall alcove, also part of the rebuilt arrangement. Further west, a high opening connects with the corresponding opening in the northern room. The western and southern walls are composed of earlier brickwork; the lower part makes much use of headers, with the brickwork above tending towards English bond. The window opening in the eastern wall is enlarged. In the southern wall is the inserted bay window. Within the two-storey south-west extension, the ground-floor room has a small chimney-opening. In this room, the south end of what is thought to be the original west wall of the main range is visible, the good-quality brickwork apparently laid in a combination of Sussex and Flemish bond. Otherwise, brickwork in this room is laid mainly in Flemish bond, with a scattering of limewashed bricks, indicating re-use; this gives a clue to the type of brickwork used in alterations of the same late C19 date elsewhere in the house. In the northern part of this extension is a room apparently formerly used as a kitchen, with a chimney opening. Beyond it to the north, within the lean-to extension, is a short passageway leading from the back door; the partition between this passageway and the reading room alcove has been removed. The stair is located in the northern part of the south-west extension; the stair is straight, with a quarter turn with winders at the bottom. It has lost most of its balustrade, but two turned balusters, and the newel post with an acorn finial, survive to the upper part.

On the first floor, the south room in the main range has had the plaster removed from the west and north walls. To the north, the brickwork of the stack appears to have been completely or largely rebuilt, probably in the late C19. The chimney opening contains a cast-iron hob-grate; the style of the grate, with scrolled cresting and acanthus consoles to the pilasters, suggests an 1840s date, but adjustments to the interior of the opening indicate that it is not in its original position. In the recess beside the stack to the east, a blocked doorway originally led to the northern part of the first floor. Within the recess to the east is the blocked window covered by the porch, of the same form as the room’s other window, which is in the centre of the eastern wall. In the south-west extension, the southern room has also had two walls stripped, but a late C19 or early C20 cast-iron chimneypiece remains. To the north of the stairs, the extension contains a formerly subdivided space, with just the studwork of the partitions surviving. The first floor retains late C19 or early C20 ledged and braced doors.

The roof space over the main range is divided by three trusses, with the upper part of the stack visible in the narrower second bay to the south. The lower section of this appears to be original, built of late C17 or early C18 bricks; the upper section appears to be a later rebuilding. The roof structure is composed of a variety of elements – many reused – rather than forming a consistent and legible structure, and appears to represent a gradual process of repair and rebuilding. To the south of the stack is a truss of queen strut form, pegged, with slightly raking struts; the underside of the collar has a groove for a wattle and daub panel but the upper surface of the tie beam has no corresponding groove, the suggestion being that the upper part of the truss was brought from elsewhere and re-assembled. The two trusses to the north of the stack have raking struts, and take slightly different forms, being constructed of re-used timbers. The roof has clasped purlins, with different joints to the purlins in the southern bay: to the west the purlin sections are jointed with a bridle joint whilst to the east they are joined by an angled scarf joint. There is no ridge piece, and the rafters appear mainly to be nailed. In the southern hip, a collection of re-used timbers includes one with a stepped stop. There has been some replacement with modern softwood timbers.

The roof over the C19 south-west extension, a closed couple roof constructed of softwood, is complete.

Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the small blockwork addition against the south end of the western elevation is not of special architectural or historic interest, however any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.


It is not known when the building now known as Houghton Farmhouse was first built, though the existing List entry suggests that it dates from the C17. This suggestion is supported by the building’s ‘lobby-entry’ plan, having the entrance set to the east of the axial chimney stack with a small lobby between the entrance and the stack – a form dominant in Hampshire between about 1600 and the 1660s. However, whilst the building may have originated at that time, there is no clear evidence of timber-framing, and it seems most likely that the house was brick-built from the start; there are surviving examples of lobby-entry houses in Hampshire dating from the early C18, and this is a possible date for the first phase of Houghton Farmhouse.

The Tithe map of 1840 shows the main north/south range facing the street, with a projection from the south end of the rear elevation. It is thought that this must have been a lean-to or other extension, given the survival of a stretch of the external west wall, believed to be pre-1840, in this area. The Ordnance Survey mapping indicates that between 1871 and 1896 an extension was built to the south-west of the building, projecting beyond the main range to the south, and stretching behind it to the west. The single-storey extension along the northern part of the western elevation was also in place by this date, as was the bay window to the eastern bay of the south elevation. The building had a porch by the time the 1896 OS map was published; this is not shown on the 1871 map, though there may well have been an earlier porch. It appears that the house underwent some additional alterations and rebuilding during the late C19. The building was converted to a village reading room at some time between 1911 (when a resident farming family is recorded on the census) and 1923 (when events in the reading room are noted in the local press). Internally, the conversion involved the removal of the first floor within the northern two bays of the house to create a double-height reading room. The southern portion of the house remained as a residence, probably for a caretaker or attendant.

The current neo-Tudor/Arts and Crafts inspired appearance of the building, with its unusual external cement render suggestive of timber framing, its elaborate stacks in Tudor style, and the gabled timber porch, may be the result of the late C19 phase of works, or be part of the building’s conversion to a reading room. Certainly a late C19 date seems possible; however, it is likely that the external alterations were made at the same time as the internal conversion, with which they are stylistically consistent.

The 1939 England and Wales Register shows that the reading room – then described as a club house – was then still in use. Later in the C20 the building reverted to domestic use. It is currently (2019) undergoing a thorough renovation, and has largely been stripped out internally, with the removal of plaster and other features. The Details section records the building at the time of the 2019 inspection.

Reasons for Listing

Houghton Farmhouse, Houghton, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* as a farmhouse originating in the late C17 or early C18, retaining its essential plan-form, and some significant early fabric;
* for its re-modelling in as a reading room in a Tudor style during the early C20, with features including elaborate cut-brick chimneys and a timber-framed porch;
* the use of cement render, incised to resemble ashlar and moulded to resemble ornamental timber framing, is very unusual.

Historic interest:
* the building plays a dual role in the history of the village, as both a link with its agricultural history, and a focus for educational and community activities;
* the two major phases of the building remain legible, the early C20 re-modelling reflecting the history of the farmhouse.

Group value:
* with the house immediately to the north, a late C18 brick house thought to have an earlier core, and with numerous other listed buildings of C15 to C18 date grouped at the south end of Houghton.

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