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Keeper's Cottage and associated Kennels, Orchard Lane, Cusworth

A Grade II Listed Building in Bentley, Doncaster

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Latitude: 53.5294 / 53°31'45"N

Longitude: -1.1688 / 1°10'7"W

OS Eastings: 455194

OS Northings: 403955

OS Grid: SE551039

Mapcode National: GBR NW8M.RK

Mapcode Global: WHDD2.0KP5

Plus Code: 9C5WGRHJ+PF

Entry Name: Keeper's Cottage and associated Kennels, Orchard Lane, Cusworth

Listing Date: 24 September 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421398

Location: Sprotbrough and Cusworth, Doncaster, DN5

County: Doncaster

Civil Parish: Sprotbrough and Cusworth

Built-Up Area: Bentley

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Doncaster St Leonard and St Jude with Scawthorpe St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield

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Former keeper's cottage and kennels. Late C18-early C19. Rendered limestone rubble walls, ashlar stone dressings, stone slate and buff pantile roofs, brick stacks.


Former keeper's cottage and kennels. Late C18-early C19. Rendered limestone rubble walls, ashlar stone dressings, stone slate and buff pantile roofs, brick stacks.

PLAN: the two-storey house has a linear plan of three interconnecting rooms with a cross passage between the south-east room and two other rooms which contains a staircase and has doorways in both the north-east and south-west long elevations on the ground floor. On the first floor there is also a small room, now a bathroom, on the north-east side of the cross passage. On the south-west side of house is a long, rectangular garden. On the north-east side of the house is a smaller, rectangular yard with two former kennels in the outer corners, that in the north corner with a small, walled run on its north-west side. Between the kennels is a later stable block containing two stalls.

EXTERIOR: the house is positioned so that it is in line with the eastern end of the middle lake and appears as a terminating vista when viewed from the landscaped path that passes between the upper and middle lakes. The walls are of rendered limestone rubble painted white, and the double-pitched roof has four eaves courses of stone slates to both long elevations with buff pantiles above and angled ridge stones. The gables have shaped ashlar coping stones with moulded ashlar kneelers, and there are two brick gable stacks and a brick ridge stack on the north-west side of the cross passage.

The south-west elevation is of four bays and two storeys. The first, second and fourth bays have windows on the ground floor with slightly narrower windows above on the first floor. All the windows have chamfered ashlar sills and rectangular, stepped and moulded hoodmoulds. The timber window frames have two mullions and three lights to the ground-floor windows and a central mullion and two lights to the first-floor windows. The lights have slender transom bars with one-over-one panes. The third bay has an entrance doorway with two steps up and a similar hoodmould. The door has two lower panels and the upper half has a single, glazed panel. Between the doorway and the fourth-bay window are two small, rectangular windows at ground-floor level, the left a C20 insertion to light an understairs w.c., the right an enlarged ventilation window for the pantry (shown as small aperture in c1908 photograph). The north-east elevation is of four bays and two storeys. The fenestration is similar to that of the south-west elevation with ground-floor windows in the first, third and fourth bays and slightly narrower windows above on the first floor, all with chamfered ashlar sills and rectangular, stepped and moulded hoodmoulds, and similar timber window frames. The second bay has an entrance doorway also with two steps up and a hoodmould. The timber door has four panels. On the first floor is a small, rectangular window with chamfered sill and hoodmould, and timber window frame with central mullion and two one-over-one pane lights. The south-east gable wall has two narrow, rectangular first-floor windows with chamfered sills and rectangular, stepped and moulded hoodmoulds, and timber frames with single, one-over-one pane lights. The north-west gable wall is blind.

INTERIOR: the majority of the rooms have simple, moulded architraves with four-panelled doors. The doorways of the three ground-floor rooms are aligned enfilade on the north-east side of the building. The staircase has a timber balustrade with plain stick balusters with squared and chamfered newel posts and squared handrails. The south-east kitchen has a pantry against the inner cross wall with a similar four-panelled door and a stone-topped bench beneath the window. The kitchen and pantry have red quarry-tiled floors. The north-west room on the ground floor has a dressed stone mantelpiece with stone chimneybreast above. The middle room and kitchen have chimney breasts with altered hearths. The south-east bedroom has a blocked doorway in the inner cross wall which formerly led into the small room over the cross passage (latterly a bathroom). There is a hearth stone against the outer, south-east wall. The middle room has a chimneybreast with a hearth stone, and the north-west bedroom also has a hearth stone against the outer, north-west wall. The timber roof structure has been replaced at an unknown date with common rafters and purlins of machine-sawn soft wood.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the two former kennels in the outer corners of the yard are built of roughly coursed rubblestone, rendered, with mono-pitch, stone slate roofs sloping in towards each other (that to the east corner largely collapsed), with stone copings over the sloping walls and the higher, outer walls. The east kennel has a C20 window opening in the south-west elevation which partially cuts across an earlier blocked doorway, and two further inserted windows in the south-east, outer elevation, all the openings patched round with machine bricks. The north kennel has a high rubblestone wall surrounding a run on its north-west side with a doorway in the south-west wall with a plank door with strap hinges. The rubblestone wall is continued between the north-east outer walls to form the boundary.

EXCLUSIONS: the boundary walls to the garden and yard are excluded from the listing, with the exception of the north-east wall associated with the kennels (see Subsidiary Items). The stable block located between the former kennels is excluded from the listing.


The present Cusworth Hall was designed as the seat of William Wrightson in 1740-45 by George Platt, with alterations in 1749-53 by James Paine. When Wrightson died in 1760 the estate passed to his daughter, Isabella, and son-in-law John Battie, who subsequently took the name Wrightson also. They employed the landscape architect Richard Woods in the early 1760s to design a more impressive setting for the house. The well-documented commission shows that Woods created a chain of three lakes on the site of a stream on the south side of the hall and records his planting schemes. Keeper's Cottage is situated very carefully within this landscape, a short distance from the dam at the north end of the Lower Water and angled so as to create a terminating vista for the Middle Water. However, while details remain of the boat-house grotto on the Upper Water (Grade II) and a sketch of a bridge-cum-dam between the Middle Water and Lower Water, there is nothing relating to Keeper's Cottage. It is not shown on the surviving plans, nor does Thomas Jeffreys' map of the 'County of York' published in 1775 show anything on the site of the cottage, indicating that it was a subsequent addition.

In 1766 William Wrightson inherited the estate upon this father's death, living there until his own death in 1827. A letter written in 1869 by his son, William Battie-Wrightson, discussed his father's love of fox hunting, stating that 'my Father built the kennels at Cusworth about the year 1781...'. He mentioned how for at least the following seven years Wrightson had spent the hunting season in Warwickshire, but that the hounds always returned to Cusworth when the season was over. Between 1790 and 1795 he only hunted with the local Badsworth Hunt. Late-C18 estate cash books include references to wages for the 'dog feeder', food for the hounds, the occasional purchase of hounds and general hunting expenses. An entry in 1783 records a sum of £2-2-0 for tiles to the dog kennel, and an entry in 1790-91 states £16 was paid 'for making kennel'. No specific mention is made of a cottage although C19 books on hunting advocate kennel staff living close to the kennels, being located away from other domestic habitation and close to water, as here, perhaps suggesting that the cottage was built in the late C18 for an employee looking after the hounds. Alternatively it may have been built in the very early C19 for a gamekeeper. Little hunting activity appears to have taken place on the estate after about 1795, but there was an increasing emphasis on game and game-hunting with a gamekeeper, William Ascough, being employed from 1809 until 1814 when George Wright replaced him. The Wright family were then employed by the estate as gamekeepers until the death of Frederick Wright in 1953.

An estate map of 1835 shows the footprint of three buildings corresponding to the cottage and associated outbuildings to the east, and to a lost building to the west terminating the long garden. It is unannotated and the schedule is missing, but a small-scale map of 1841 marks the site as 'Dog Kennels'. The tithe map of 1847 identifies the same layout of buildings as 'Cottage Garden Yard and Dog Kennels'. The same three buildings appear on the first edition 1:10560 Ordnance Survey map published in 1851, when the west building is annotated as 'Dog Kennel' and the east building as 'Shed'. The census return of 1861 locates the second gamekeeper, George Wright, and his family 'at the Dog Kennels' and thereafter the census returns consistently showed the Wrights occupying the property. Though it was still referred to 'The Kennels' in 1891, a Vesting Deed and map of 1926 referred to it as 'Keeper's house, gardens etc'. Historic photographs of c1905, c1908 and c1925 show the Gamekeeper and his family outside the house. By 1892 the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map shows that the west building had gone and the site generally is marked as 'Kennels', as it is on the Ordnance Survey maps published in 1906 and 1930.

The cottage was sold into private ownership in 1956. Subsequently Cusworth Hall (Grade I) and the closely adjacent park and gardens (Grade II) were acquired in 1961 by Doncaster Rural District Council for use as a museum and country park, a use continued by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council.

Reasons for Listing

Keeper's Cottage and kennels, Cusworth, a late-C18 or early-C19 estate cottage for Cusworth Hall, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: as a Picturesque estate cottage which combines local vernacular detailing with more refined, smooth rendered walls and decorative, stone hoodmoulds, a design which suggests the use of a pattern book due to its intentionally visible location in the grounds of Cusworth Hall
* Historic Interest: the cottage is carefully placed within the pre-existing landscaped grounds, designed by Richard Woods in the early 1760s, terminating the vista at the east end of the middle lake
* Group Value: the cottage was built to house either a keeper of the estate's pack of hounds or the estate gamekeeper, and as such the two kennels form an integral group component with the cottage, which due to its position and historical functional association has group value with Cusworth Hall (Grade I), the grotto boat house (Grade II), and the Grade II registered park

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