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Building 279 (York House)

A Grade II Listed Building in Sleaford, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0333 / 53°1'59"N

Longitude: -0.5045 / 0°30'16"W

OS Eastings: 500385

OS Northings: 349488

OS Grid: TF003494

Mapcode National: GBR FQ2.Z46

Mapcode Global: WHGK5.701Y

Plus Code: 9C5X2FMW+86

Entry Name: Building 279 (York House)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391601

English Heritage Legacy ID: 495993

Location: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap, North Kesteven, Lincolnshire, NG34

County: Lincolnshire

District: North Kesteven

Civil Parish: Cranwell, Brauncewell and Byard's Leap

Built-Up Area: Cranwell RAF College and Airfield

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Cranwell St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Listing Text


1311/0/10003 RAFC CRANWELL
01-DEC-05 Building 279 (York House)

Officers' Mess and domestic accommodation. 1933-4, by the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings. Brown brick in Flemish bond, Portland stone dressings, Westmoreland slate roofing.

PLAN: A complex of buildings with public rooms in a long symmetrical E-W range returned to the main entrance at the E end, all in 2 storeys, beyond which the dining room extends in a single-storey range at right angles, to the N. At the opposite end the return is a symmetrical block with projecting end bays. Attached to this at either end is a low straight wall quadrant taken forward as an enclosed corridor giving access to three bedroom blocks each side. The main building has an entrance lobby with access to the dining room, right, to lounge, reading room, and a bar to the left of a corridor straight ahead, and open well staircase to the left. Kitchens are to the right, in the internal angle of the rear courtyard, which also has a free-standing 2-storey domestic block set parallel with the front range. The domestic units generally are double-banked with central corridor.

EXTERIOR: All buildings have hipped roofs, mostly to a box eaves and secret gutter, but the 6 bedroom units have very high parapets to internal gutters, the roofs nearly concealed from view. Small-pane sashes in flush boxes voussoir heads and stone or reconstructed stone sills are universal. The wide S-facing range has a recessed centre of 11 bays, and 2-bay wings brought forward 3 bays; first floor windows are 12-pane, and ground floor 15-pane, but bays 4, 6 and 8 of the long centre have pairs of glazed hardwood French doors on 2 steps and with radial overlights. There are 4 small stacks forward of the ridge, and 2 on the wings. The return to the right is in 2 + 3 bays, with 12 over 15-pane, and to the right a pair of part-glazed hardwood doors on 2 steps, and with radial head, in bold Roman Doric portico in Portland stone, with open segmental pediment, flat responds, and a high tympanum with carved RAF insignia in high relief. Beyond, to the right, and slightly set back, is the single-storey dining room, in 7 bays, with five large segmental 18-pane sashes flanked by plain 15-pane sashes. The wall is taken up above the five bays to a cornice carrying a Portland stone urn at each end; the return gable, to the N, has a raised coping with large moulded kneelers, and a central stack with swept haunches dressed in stone flanked by a segmental 18-pane each side. The ridge carries a central square ventilation lantern with cupola.
The W end of the main range is symmetrical, with wings in 2:5:2 bays and single bay returns, all 12-pane. A central pair of glazed doors with overlight and on 2 steps has a stone surround with moulded architrave and central key panel, plus frieze and straight cornice. In the courtyard to this principal range is the flat-roofed kitchen and services block, with a 2-storey yard accommodation building in 5 x 2 bays with 12-pane sashes, a ridge stack and a large stack to the inner eaves. The rear of the front range has various narrow paired sashes, with two 9-pane in the return to the W block.
The enclosed access corridors to the accommodation blocks have flat roofs to a simple moulded verge, with 2 entrances each side, pairs of glazed doors in stone architraves and blocking-course in a stepped-forward section of the wall. Each side also has 4 small-pane lights, with one on the returned end. The bottom blocks have mainly 16-pane sashes in pairs, but some narrow 8-pane to service areas, and a 16-pane on each end. These units have a stone moulded architrave below a 10-course brick parapet. The 2 blocks nearest the main range are fenestrated slightly differently from the other four.

INTERIOR: The main public rooms only were inspected. The Doric portico gives to a panelled entrance lobby, with square-piered wooden screen leading to the long cross corridor, with main rooms to the left and services to the right. The front of the range has lounge, reading and writing-rooms and bar; the lounge in the SE corner has moulded plaster cornice and ceiling beams with polished hardwood skirting and a hardwood 'Adam style' fir surround. An inner room has a polished hardwood 'Tudor' fire surround, plaster cornice with full entablature and moulded cross-beams. Doors are either panelled or glazed, in moulded hardwood architraves. From the lobby an open-well staircase in polished hardwood has a closed string, square newels and turned balusters, and a moulded handrail, with dado panelling to the walls. To the right is the entrance to the dining room, in 7 bays with flat segmental plastered ceiling divided by plain beams carried on a continuous deep plastered entablature broken forward over square pilasters with caps and bases. The entablature is carried horizontally across each panelled end wall, with a fireplace to the inner end.

HISTORY: The most lavishly-appointed building dating from the re-planning of the West camp in 1932-4. It is situated to the east of the planned core at West Camp, constructed in 1915-16 but rebuilt and re-planned in 1932-4: York Mess stands on the site of officers' accommodation dating from this earlier phase. The studied neo-Georgian design, using high quality materials both within and without, reflects the concern of the RAF at this time - especially on such a high-profile site as Cranwell - to meet the raised design standards suggested and monitored by the Royal Fine Art Commission.

It comprises an integral part of a site that is key to the development of Britain's military air power. When the RAF was formed as the world's first independent air force in April 1918, and during the period of retrenchment which lasted from the Armistice until the early 1920s, its founding father and first Chief of Air Staff, General Sir Hugh Trenchard, concentrated upon developing its strategic role as an offensive bomber force. His primary considerations were in laying the foundations for a technology-based service, through the training of officers at Cranwell and technicians at Halton (Buckinghamshire).

The foundation of a college to train RAF officers on the lines of Sandhurst or Dartmouth was a key element in Trenchard's plan for the permanent organisation of Britain's independant air force, whose potency was considered to rest on the effectiveness of officer and technical training. Although best-known for its RAF Cadet College - the RAF equivalent of the Army's college at Sandhurst and the Navy's at Dartmouth - Cranwell has in addition a long aviation history, dating back to the earliest years of the service. In early 1918 it was established as a Training Depot Station, but it had previously been used by the Royal Naval Air Service, from whom the RAF inherited temporary hutting on the West Camp. Also from 1918 a Radio Training School was based here, remaining until 1945, and the Cadet College dates from 1919. The whole was renamed RAF College in 1929, and it was a Service Flying Trainng School from 1939. From August 1925, until he left the RAF in 1935, T E Lawrence served at Cranwell: his experiences of life on the base are recorded in The Mint, 1936.

Although work was largely completed at Halton ( the apprentice base for training up personnel in a technology-based service) by 1923, work at Cranwell was delayed through uncertainties about location and costs: the result was that the main Cadet College was not begun until 1929, and the major domestic buildings until after 1933. In the gestation period major decisions were made about overall planning at the base. College Hall was envisaged to be self-contained, sited to the N of the road, with a favourable prospect to the S centred on the principal axis which passes through the main gates to the principal parade ground of the air station. The air station's domestic buildings which in 1933-4 replaced the West Camp hutting - particularly York Mess, the Institute of the Initial Officer Training Group HQ (Building 16) fronting onto a parade ground and flanking barracks blocks and the Central Flying School Headquarters (Building 259) - were completed to a high design standard. This dramatic example of Air Ministry planning was designed to enhance the overall effect of College Hall and its grounds through its architectural quality and layout, and represented a clear response to the Royal Fine Art Commission's recommendations to the Air Ministry of February 1932. The hangars (not included) lie to the south, facing the main flying area. The airfield is very extensive, with flying fields both to N and S, and a public road (B1429) separates the two parts.

(C S Dobinson, Royal Air Force Cranwell (report for English Heritage), 1998)

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

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