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Croquet Shed in the garden of The Pediment

A Grade II Listed Building in Aynho, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 51.9939 / 51°59'38"N

Longitude: -1.2507 / 1°15'2"W

OS Eastings: 451541

OS Northings: 233098

OS Grid: SP515330

Mapcode National: GBR 8W1.W29

Mapcode Global: VHCWP.84NS

Plus Code: 9C3WXPVX+HP

Entry Name: Croquet Shed in the garden of The Pediment

Listing Date: 14 August 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1409641

Location: Aynho, South Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire, OX17

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Aynho

Built-Up Area: Aynho

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Aynho St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough

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Croquet shed designed for the garden of The Pediment by Raymond Erith in 1964.


MATERIALS: roughly dressed rubble stone, partly Clipsham, laid to courses, under a roof clad in Stonefield slate salvaged from a demolished building. Hornton stone flagging on the loggia floor.

PLAN: the croquet shed is located in the south-west corner of the garden, at the terminus of one of the two main axes in the garden. It is square on plan.

EXTERIOR: the croquet shed gives the impression of being a giant classical gate pier around which a little rubble-stone building under a hipped roof has been constructed. The front (north-east end) forms an open loggia supported by four square timber pillars which shelters a semicircular wrought iron seat made by Rathbones in Kingham. The roof has exposed rafters at the eaves, and through the top rises an elaborate stone carved pillar with a moulded capital surmounted by a flaming urn. The shed is accessed by a wide, four-panelled timber door on the rear (south-west) elevation, either side of which is a six-pane window with timber glazing bars, positioned directly under the eaves.

INTERIOR: the timber roof structure is exposed, as are the stone walls. A slate plaque cut by David Kindersley’s Workshop in Cambridge and set in the north-east wall, records the name of the architect, mason and client.


The Pediment (Grade II) was designed by Raymond Erith for Elizabeth Watt who was a keen horticulturalist and art collector, as well as a lawyer in what was probably the first all-female practice in Britain. She required only a small house in which to display her collection of modern British art but welcomed Erith’s idea to create a ‘piece of architecture’. The Pediment was built in 1956-57 in a two-acre plot (the former rectory paddock) which, over the next two decades, was transformed by Erith into a landscaped garden on a miniature scale. He worked closely with his client who was interested in every detail of the design for the house and garden buildings, and who documented their creation in an account written in 1976.

In 1958 work began in the garden in which Erith had determined on two main axes, one aligning the entrance gates with the front and garden doors to the pond; and the other a diagonal to the south-west corner of the site. Miss Watt decided that the termination of the latter axis required a building, and in 1964 she asked Erith to design something similar to one of Kent’s pyramid pavilions at Badminton House in Gloucestershire. Erith’s surviving sketches show the progression he made from a pyramidal structure to the final idea of a building constructed around a central column. A pencilled note reads: ‘I am on the whole in favour of something of this sort because a pyramid roof gets so big if it has got anything at all inside it.’ He had been inspired by the proximity of Aynhoe Park to create the impression that the column was the abandoned gate pier to a former entrance, similar to those sometimes seen in the Cotswolds.

Raymond Erith was one of the foremost architects working in the classical tradition in the C20. He trained at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and opened an office in London in 1928. He received a commission for Great House (Grade II*) in Dedham, Essex, relatively early in his career which was soon followed by the lodges at the approach to the Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park (1939). After the Second World War Erith opened an office in Ipswich and received a variety of commissions, notably for the provost’s lodgings at Queen’s College, Oxford (1959-60); the library and Wolfson residential building at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (1961,1966); and the reconstruction of 10 and 11 Downing Street and rebuilding of no. 12 (1959-63). Erith’s respect and understanding for architectural tradition meant that he was asked to restore or remodel many old houses. In 1958 he based his practice in Dedham and was joined four years later by Quinlan Terry, first as his assistant and then as his partner.

Reasons for Listing

The croquet shed at the Pediment, Aynho is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
*Architectural interest: it is a highly original and imaginative building that expresses a subtle fusion of the Classical and vernacular.
*Architect: it is by one of the most highly regarded C20 architects working in the Classical tradition, and demonstrates his idea of ‘built-in history’, an amusing but highly disciplined game which occurs throughout his work to provide ingenious ways of integrating his buildings with their settings
*Group value: it has strong group value with the Grade II listed house and garden structures, all designed by Erith to form its setting.

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