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Augusta Villa

A Grade II Listed Building in Ramsgate, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.3361 / 51°20'9"N

Longitude: 1.4249 / 1°25'29"E

OS Eastings: 638656

OS Northings: 165235

OS Grid: TR386652

Mapcode National: GBR X0M.135

Mapcode Global: VHMCW.NP54

Entry Name: Augusta Villa

Listing Date: 22 May 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1461388

Location: Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent, CT11

County: Kent

District: Thanet

Civil Parish: Ramsgate

Built-Up Area: Ramsgate

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Summary


A house of about 1840 probably designed by George Gutch (about 1790-1874) in a classical style.

Description

A house of about 1840 probably designed by George Gutch (c.1790-1874) in a Neo-Classical style.

MATERIALS and PLAN: rendered and colourwashed brick with a slate roof. The building has two storeys with a basement and attic.

EXTERIOR: the road front, facing north-west, has three bays symmetrically disposed. At the centre is a projecting porch which has paired pilasters at either side of its portal which rise to a plain entablature which extends across the front. The porch is approached by a flight of steps, and the flanks have narrow lights. The door is panelled and half-glazed, with decorative metal studs. To either side are windows with three long panes to each sash. At first floor level are three sash windows, each having 3X4 panes. Above these a frieze and cornice cross the front, with a blocking course. There is a balcony with metal balustrade above the porch and similar balconies in front of the lateral windows.

The gabled flanks have first- floor and attic storey windows at their centres.

The rear has three bays with a long, round-arched staircase window to the projecting central bay, above a doorway. At either side are sash windows of 3X4 panes with gently cambered heads. The staircase bay is flanked by C20 single-storey additions and there is an added, glazed porch in front of the door of similar date.

INTERIOR: the central entrance hall leads through to the dogleg staircase which has tulip balusters and a mahogany handrail with a wreathed curtail. The cornice has paterae. To the eastern side of the hall the front reception room has a pair of Ionic scagliola columns with pilaster responds which appear to have originally flanked a sideboard recess, but the rear wall of this feature has now been removed to connect with the rear room which has been converted to a kitchen. The cornice in the front room is richly decorated and there is a ceiling rose with acanthus leaves and paterae. The reception room on the western side of the hall has a central recess flanked by cupboards, all with moulded timber surrounds. This central opening may have originally connected to the rear room on this side, but it is now blocked. Fire surrounds at both ground and first-floor levels are original and of veined or variegated marble. Doors have four panels.

History

Ramsgate is situated on the east coast of the Isle of Thanet, facing France and the Low Countries. Originating as a fishing village within the medieval parish of St Laurence, Ramsgate’s development from the C16 was driven by the strategic importance of its coastal port. Ramsgate became associated with the Cinque Ports as a limb of Sandwich from the C14. Late C17 trade with Russia and the Baltic resulted in a wave of investment and rebuilding in the town. In 1749 the construction of a harbour of refuge from storms in the North Sea and Channel was approved, and a cross wall and inner basin were completed in 1779 to the design of John Smeaton. Later improvements included a lighthouse of 1794-1795 by Samuel Wyatt and a clock house of 1817 by Wyatt and George Louch.

From the mid-C18 Ramsgate became increasingly popular as a seaside resort, its expansion being accelerated by road improvements and faster sea passage offered by hoys, packets and steamers. An assembly room, warm water baths, subscription libraries and places of worship were joined by new streets such as Effingham Street and speculative crescents and squares on the East and West Cliffs such as Albion Place of around 1791-1798 and Nelson Crescent of around 1800-1805. During the Napoleonic Wars Ramsgate became a busy garrison town and a major port of embarkation. Ramsgate’s importance in the 1820s is attested by its patronage by the British and European royal families and the creation of a separate parish by Act of Parliament, served by the large Church of St George (1824-1827). The harbour is the only one in the British Isles which has the designation ‘Royal’, granted by George IV.

The arrival of the South Eastern Railway’s branch line in 1846 opened up Ramsgate to mass tourism and popular culture, bringing a range of inexpensive, lively resort facilities intended for the sorts of middle- and working-class holidaymakers depicted in WP Frith’s painting ‘Ramsgate Sands’ of 1854 (Royal Collection). Wealthier visitors were accommodated at a respectable distance from the town in developments such as E.W. Pugin’s Granville Hotel of 1867-1869. Competition with other Kentish resorts stimulated a series of large-scale improvements in the late-C19 and early-C20 including the construction of Royal Parade and landscaped stairs and pathways at the eastern and western ends of the seafront to join the upper promenades to the Undercliff walks. New schools, hospitals and services were also built. The thriving town attracted diverse faith communities; Moses Montefiore founded a synagogue and a religious college at East Cliff Lodge, while AWN Pugin St Augustine’s Church and the Grange as part of an intended Catholic community on the West Cliff.

In 1940 the harbour was the point of return for many of the small boats involved in the evacuation from Dunkirk and war-time precautions included the digging of extensive air raid shelter tunnels in the chalk beneath the town. Ramsgate remained a popular holiday destination until the advent of cheap foreign travel in the post-war decades. Falling visitor numbers were exacerbated by the decline of the town’s small trades and industries, fishing and boat-building. However, a ferry and hovercraft port and the large marina created in the inner harbour in the 1970s have continued to bring life to the area.

Augusta Villa was an early part of the development of the Mount Albion Estate. The land was bought at auction by John M Gutch in 1838 and it seems likely that he entrusted the design of this and two other villas which stood to the east of Augusta Villa to his brother George, who was surveyor to the Paddington Estate. The Ordnance Survey map of 1872 shows that Augusta Villa was formerly flanked by houses of similar size and outline and the three houses together took up the eastern side of Arklow Square.

Reasons for Listing

Augusta Villa, Bellevue Road, Ramsgate, of about 1840 by George Gutch, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the building has a strong architectural presence on the southern side of Arklow Square and has a high degree of survival of its original design and materials.

Historic interest:

* as a relatively early example of a Neo-Classical villa, similar to George Gutch’s other works for the Bishop of London’s estate in Paddington;

Group value

* Augusta Villa forms a group with other listed buildings in Bellevue Road and Arklow Square including the Church of the Holy Trinity (Grade II).

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