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Oak Hall (Wispers School)

A Grade II Listed Building in Haslemere, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.1006 / 51°6'2"N

Longitude: -0.7101 / 0°42'36"W

OS Eastings: 490411

OS Northings: 134268

OS Grid: SU904342

Mapcode National: GBR DCL.TJB

Mapcode Global: VHDYP.MLYN

Plus Code: 9C3X472Q+6X

Entry Name: Oak Hall (Wispers School)

Listing Date: 7 January 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393631

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507732

Location: Haslemere, Waverley, Surrey, GU27

County: Surrey

District: Waverley

Civil Parish: Haslemere

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Haslemere

Church of England Diocese: Guildford

Tagged with: School building English country house

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This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 16 April 2021 to reformat the text to current standards


Oak Hall (Wispers School)


Country house, probably containing artist's studio originally, later school. Designed by Theophilus A. Allen in 1910 and completed in 1911 for the Scottish landscape and portrait painter James Coutts Michie and his wife. Elizabethan style. In 1925 a wing was added to the north east by a Haslemere surveyor and architect, J H Howard, and a further wing was added to the north west in the later C20. The 1925 and later-C20 wings and single storey extensions to the south-west and north-west sides are not of special interest.

MATERIALS: brown brick with stone dressings and tiled roof supporting tall brick chimneystacks, either of cruciform plan set diagonally or channelled. Windows are mainly metal-framed windows with leaded lights. Cast iron rainwater goods.

PLAN: the 1910 house was built to a courtyard plan and is mainly of two-storeys, except for the south west tower which is of three storeys. Most principal rooms are on the south-east or south-west sides but a large first floor room on the north-west side was possibly built as an artist's studio. The service end was mainly on the north-west side. Later school extensions extended the building mainly on the north-east side; these are not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: the principal front faces south-east and the original building is of eight bays. The west end bay consists of a three-storey square tower with crenellated parapet, single casement windows and corner buttresses. To the east of this is a symmetrical section of five bays with three gables, each with five-light windows divided by two-storey projecting canted bays of seven lights. A projecting porch in front of the central gable contains the front entrance, with large round-headed stone arch and double oak door with radiating solid fanlight. The original 1910 house ends in a set back section with four first floor casement windows divided by stone columns (possibly originally an open sleeping platform or verandah) with a four-light mullioned and transomed casement and six-light canted bay to the ground floor. The 1925 extension is in plain brickwork with metal casements under relieving arches and there is a projecting later-C20 school dormitory block further east with four canted bays. Neither of these C20 extensions are of special interest The south-west side includes the tower return at the south-end and three gables, their ground floors obscured by a later-C20 single storey flat-roofed dining room extension which is not of special interest. The north-west side has two end projecting tile-hung gables, the western with five-light canted bay, the eastern with a taller studio window, and three set back smaller tile-hung gables with five-light casements. The ground floors are partially obscured by flat-roofed later-C20 brick or wooden extensions which are not of special interest. The eastern side is plainer with a number of sash windows.

INTERIOR: the south porch leads into a lobby with some Art Deco style stained glass, which opens into a large oak panelled entrance hall with two reeded Ionic pilasters and an early-C20 stone fireplace with four-centred arch and three quatrefoil stone panels above. The adjoining room to the west, latterly a library but probably originally a drawing room, has a wooden early-C20 Neo-Georgian style fireplace, marquetry inlay floor and plastered ceiling beams with vine motifs. To the north of the entrance hall the former dining room has a large mahogany fireplace with strapwork motifs over pilasters and a ceiling with plastered ribs with vine leaf motifs. The room to the east of the entrance hall, latterly the secretary's office, but possibly originally a study, has identical panelling to the entrance hall and a stone four-centred arched fireplace. It leads to the former headmaster's office, possibly originally a morning room, with an early-C20 marble Neo-Georgian style fireplace, shallow barrel-vaulted ceiling with shell and swag decoration, three-panelled door and marquetry inlay floor. To the north-west is a bathroom with blue and green basket pattern tiles and mosaic borders. The main staircase to the east is an oak well staircase with square carved newelposts with strapwork decoration, turned balusters and balustraded landing. The square ceiling above has a deep relief plastered design but the landing balustrade is sited off centre. To the west of the main staircase is a narrow corridor with only one window overlooking the internal courtyard. The south-west wing retains few original features, although one room has a blocked fireplace. The western bedroom on the south-east side has a stone Ionic fireplace and ceiling with a plastered border of Tudor rose design. The adjoining bathroom with white and green tiles divides a window so is either not original or, more probably, a late revision to the plans. Adjoining the western bedroom to the east is a very large panelled room with roof of arch-braced type, a stone four-centred arched fireplace and a row of identical balustrading to the main staircase on the north wall with four-centred arches above, containing shallow cupboards. It is possible that this room was open to the corridor originally. There is heraldic glass to the window. An adjoining room to the east has identical fireplace and ceiling decoration to the western bedroom. To the north-east of the main staircase is a four bay hall with simple arch-braced roof supported on stone corbels with a tall north window and a shallow stage to the south. The large north facing window suggests that it was used as an artist's studio originally, but after 1925 it was used as a school hall. There are two service staircases. The upper floor of the north wing does not retain original features.

HISTORY: in 1909 the twenty acre site on which Oak Hall was built, Puckshott Farm since at least 1799, was purchased from a Mrs Buckton, who sold part of the grounds and a lodge from Weycombe, a mansion built in the 1860s situated to the south east. The land was bought for the sum of £3,000. Building approval was granted for Oak Hall in March 1910. The house was completed and occupied during 1911 and first appears on the 1913 Ordnance Survey map. It was designed by the architect Theophilus A. Allen for the recently married Scottish landscape and portrait painter James Coutts Michie and his wife. Mr and Mrs Michie also had a house at 184, Queen's Gate, Kensington and Oak Hall was probably used as a summer residence, Mrs Michie was the widow of the art collector, George McCulloch, and 184 Queen's Gate had been designed by Theophilus A. Allen for Mr McCulloch.

James Coutts Michie (1861-1919) was born in Aberdeen and studied painting in Edinburgh under Joseph Farquarson, and in Rome and in Paris with Carolus Dunn. His works, often rural scenes but also portraits, were exhibited between 1889 and 1893 at the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists and the Grosvenor Gallery. Works by him are in the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. He was elected Associate of he Royal Scottish Academy in 1893 and to the Society of Scottish Artists. He received a medal in the Paris salon in 1898 and acted on the Executive Committee for the Franco-British Exhibition in 1907 and for Rome in 1911. He was a friend of George McCulloch, whom he advised about his collection of contemporary art.

The architect Theophilus A. Allen was born in 1868, educated at Lancing College and the Architectural Schools and also studied in Belgium, France and Italy. From 1885 he worked with his father Theophilus Allen FRIBA. He qualified in 1892 and became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1893. His works included cottage hospitals at Weybridge and Woking; nurses and children's homes for the Chertsey Union; village homes at Ottershaw, Addlestone, Chobham and Chertsey, the chancel of Trinity Church, West End Chobham; and the Theatre Royal, Worthing. He also built at least eight London residences, at least twenty seven country residences and a house at Muizenberg, South Africa.

Michie died in 1919 intestate and without children. His elder brother the Rev. Henry Esson Michie was his heir, but in 1922 Oak Hall was released to Mrs Michie because it was agreed that she had paid for the purchase of the land and that she would pay any of Henry Michie's debtors. In 1925 Mrs Michie left Oak Hall to live in Cobham and leased the house and grounds to a Miss Voy and Miss Keyte-Perry.

They established a school, Oak Hall School, and in 1925 commissioned a Haslemere surveyor and architect, J H Howard, to build an extension at the north-east of the main house. Between 1927 and 1938 Oak Hall was owned by Mrs Michie's son by her first marriage, Alexander McCulloch, but the Misses Voy and Keyte-Perry bought the freehold of the property from him in 1938. In 1946 they sold the school to Norbert Hardy Wallis. In 1969 the property was bought by Wispers School Trust and remained in educational use until 2009.

'Who's Who in Architecture'. 1914. For Theophilus A. Allen FRIBA.
'Who Was Who' (1916-1928) for James Coutts Michie.
Hazel E. Morris 'The Story of Oak Hall'. Unpublished Report written for Wispers School.
www.wispers.org.uk. Accessed on 22/10/09.

Reasons for Listing

Oak Hall, designed by Theophilus A. Allen in 1910 for the Scottish landscape and portrait artist James Coutts Michie, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as an Elizabethan style courtyard plan country house with varied compositional design, including crenellated corner tower, symmetrical entrance block and a series of gables to other sides.
* Materials: for good quality brickwork with stone dressings and tile-hung gables, cast iron rainwater goods and metal windows.
* Interiors: for good quality fittings to principal rooms including panelling, exposed roof trusses, main staircase, original doors, marquetry inlay to some floors, plastered ceilings, stone and marble fireplaces, marble floors, heraldic stained glass and tiled bathrooms.
* Intactness: the 1910 exteriors and the interiors of the principal rooms are little altered. The later school additions are not of special interest.
* Rarity of building type: there are very few examples of houses being commissioned by artists, especially large country houses. A large north facing room on the first floor was probably the artist's studio.
* Historical interest: some historical interest as the country residence of the artist James Coutts Michie (1861-1919).

External Links

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