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Betton Hall Farm house and agricultural buildings

A Grade II Listed Building in Norton in Hales, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.9337 / 52°56'1"N

Longitude: -2.4583 / 2°27'29"W

OS Eastings: 369293

OS Northings: 337461

OS Grid: SJ692374

Mapcode National: GBR 7W.M9D6

Mapcode Global: WH9BY.6JNB

Entry Name: Betton Hall Farm house and agricultural buildings

Listing Date: 9 May 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1463579

Location: Norton in Hales, Shropshire, TF9

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Norton in Hales

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Summary


Farmstead, mid-C19 with early-C20 additions.

Description

Farmstead, mid-C19 with early-C20 additions.

MATERIALS: the main range of the house is built from red brick laid in Flemish bond, and has a stone plinth, tiled roofs and brick chimneystacks. The service ranges and outbuildings are Flemish stretcher bond, with blue bricks and limestone dressings; most roofs are tiled, except that to the former cartshed, which is slate.

PLAN: the farm buildings are arranged in a regular courtyard plan, orientated roughly on the intercardinal points. At the southern corner of the courtyard is the farmhouse, the principal elevation to which faces south-west, towards the road. A single-storey range of ancillary accommodation adjoins the house on the north-west elevation, enclosing the courtyard on the south-west. Detached from the north-east side of the house is a row of cartsheds, now in use as garages. A T-shaped range, comprising loose-box stables, cow houses and milking parlour, enclose the north-west and north-east side of the courtyard.

EXTERIOR:

HOUSE
The house is a double-pile plan with a full-length cross-wing, creating a roughly square footprint. The principal elevation faces south-west, and has the gable-end of the cross-wing on the right. The elevation has four window bays, with an off-centre doorway with a modern, Georgian-style doorcase; the opening is lined with fielded panelling, original to the building. The door itself is half-glazed with four lights, and has a fanlight with glazing-bars forming three sections. Above is a round-headed multiple-light window. There is a window to each floor within the gable end; these are eight-over-sixteen light sashes on the ground floor, and eight-over-twelve lights on the first floor. They have projecting stone sills and gauged brick lintels. To the left the two bays are narrower, with three-over-nine light sashes; these less-generous proportions reflect the probable use as servants’ accommodation. Windows on this elevation have been replaced. A diagonally-set dentil cornice lines the eaves.

The south-west elevation to the cross wing is a symmetrical, four-bay arrangement, with a six-over-six sash to each bay of each floor. A wide chimneystack rises at the centre of the ridge of the pitched roof; it has decorative brickwork with a dentil cornice and stone crown.

The north-east elevation is four bays; on the left-hand side of the ground floor is a six-over-six sash with a slightly cambered gauged-brick lintel. Two windows have been inserted to the right, in what would otherwise have been a blind elevation, with cold-storage rooms within. First-floor windows are wide cambered openings with three casements. The north-west elevation consists of the two gable ends of the double-pile ranges. The doorway stands in a cambered arched opening, and has a timber surround with a distinctive style of angle-stopped chamfer, which is repeated throughout the service accommodation internally. The door is timber planks, with ledges and braces on the inner face. To the left is a wide window with tripartite glazing. The first floor was blind, prior to the insertion of a window in each gable, lighting the former servant’s accommodation.

A single-storey range projects to the north-west. Breaks in the brickwork reveal a number of phases of construction, and there is evidence of alterations to some openings. Like the main range, it has a brick dentil cornice below the eaves. Openings are cambered with brick arches. A chimneystack indicates the former function of part of the building as a bake house. Historic maps suggest the lower north-west end may have been built as pigsties; the footprint remains the same, but this use if not evident in the fabric.

BARNS
The outbuildings are carefully and consistently detailed, with features which are distinct, yet complementary, to the house, for instance, the dentil course is set square against the eaves, rather than on an angle, as on the house, and the brick bond is the less elaborate Flemish stretcher, rather than the full Flemish. Most original openings are beneath cambered heads lined in brick, as found on the service range to the house, and have chamfered brick jambs; they have blocks of dressed stone at the point of each hinge and latch fixture, enabling the split stable doors, with their four hinge points and two latch points, to be clearly distinguished. Hinges are substantial straps. The openings on the extensions are consistently detailed, though can be distinguished by their incorporation of blue brick lintels and sills.

The T-shaped building enclosing the north of the courtyard consists of three main phases: an L-shaped range containing stables and storage in the north-eastern wing, and a milking parlour in the south-west; an extension on the south-west containing more animal shelters; and an extension, possibly a cow house, to the north-west. Each range of buildings stands beneath a pitched, tiled roof.

The north-eastern range is a single story with a loft. Its south-west elevation faces the courtyard, and the treatment of the façade reflects the different functions of the different areas of the building. The original stables, with a hayloft above, occupy the section of the building in which the brickwork is pierced with ventilation holes. They are lit by high-level window openings with tilting metal casements. The south-eastern end of the building appears to have been a single open-plan space, blind, and accessed by a single doorway. It has since been adapted to provide two additional animal shelters, with inserted windows and a door. In the south-east gable is a large pitching eye lined in blue brick giving access to the loft. The rear, north-east elevation is largely blind; there is another oculus, and a carriageway entrance and window to the right of the stables, which again are distinguished for their pierced brickwork. Openings have been altered and inserted to the right, though these are clearly distinguishable. There is a taking-in door to the upper floor.

The extension to this range, dating to between 1902 and 1926, is a single storey, and may have served as a large cow house. It has a stable door on the south-west elevation, which is carefully detailed, following the form of the earlier building, incorporating dressed stone blocks within the jambs. Windows have cambered heads and sloped sills of blue brick. On the north-east elevation is a section of roughly-coursed stone masonry; this may relate to an outbuilding shown on the 1902 Ordnance Survey, which had been demolished by the time of the next map in 1926.

The south-western range is a single storey and consists of two parts: a large milking parlour, which occupies the majority of the north-east end of the building; and an extension containing animal shelters to the south-west. The original window openings to the milking parlour have flat timber lintels and curved blue brick sills, and the doorways, of which there were three on each side of the building, are within cambered openings; some have been adapted to form windows. A row of three stout brick buttresses stabilise the milking parlour wall. The gable end of the building, part of the extension erected between 1902 and 1926, has three stable doorways.

GARAGES
Standing detached to the north-east of the house is the garage. This building was likely built as cartsheds, and consists of two central open bays with closed bays at either end. Bays are divided by brick piers with rounded corners. Openings have timber lintels with shallow chamfers and stops. The outer bays are enclosed by double plank doors with strap hinges. The south-west gable has a doorway into a small store, and the north-west gable has a pitching eye lined in rounded blue brick; its size suggests it may have functioned as a taking-in door to a loft. The pitched roof of this building is covered in slate. The rear of the building is blind and forms the boundary wall to the garden to the south-east. This wall continues to meet the house a short distance away. It is capped by semi-circular coping stones, and there is a pedestrian gateway with a cambered head.

INTERIOR:

HOUSE
The house has two halves: a polite side containing the principal rooms, and the service side, with the functional rooms. The architectural detailing, to the doorcases in particular, demarcates the difference. The front door to the building is on the south-west, and leads into a wide stair hall, providing access to the lounge and dining room; these rooms, both with inserted period chimneypieces, have moulded cornices, deep skirtings, and moulded architraves and panelled shutters to the windows. Door cases are moulded timber with projecting keystones, and doors are six-panelled. The stair is a closed string with turned newel posts and a moulded handrail, with slightly concave stick balusters. Within the north-western side of the house, which contains the service rooms, doorways have chamfered and stopped timber frames within cambered openings, and doors are ledge and plank with decorative iron strap hinges. There is a row of three former service rooms along the north-east side of the house. The northernmost of these is fitted with brick setlas with a stone top, and was very likely a cheese room or larder. Adjacent are two further rooms now in use as a WC and an office; these were originally windowless. The office, formerly subdivided and with a doorway into the lounge, may have served as a pantry. The WC may also have served the function of cheese storage for this dairy farm.

On the first floor, again, the principal bedrooms are on the south-east side, and the lower-status rooms on the north-west. The difference is reflected in doorcases and doors, which are simpler. There are two elaborate chimneypieces in the two principal bedrooms; these are moulded timber with a cast iron grate, and one has a stone surround. A simpler fireplace is present in one of the lower-status rooms; this has a plain stone chimneypiece, iron grate and a tiled hearth. Wide floorboards survive in some rooms. The rooms on the north-west side of the stair have been reconfigured, and two windows have been inserted in the north-west wall.

There is a brick cellar beneath the dining room, reached by a set of stone steps and a short vaulted passage beneath the hall. The cellar has exposed brick walls, timber chamfered ceiling beams, and a brick floor. There are alcoves within the walls with cambered brick lintels, and a coal chute on the south-west side.

The service range, probably originally a series of individual rooms accessible only externally, has been linked to the house internally, with openings between the three cells.

BARNS
Most of the stables and cow houses retain fittings associated with their original use: hayracks and mangers, and their floors are brick-lined with shallow drainage gullies. They have substantial timber floor frames to hay lofts above, which have a hatch above the hayrack to allow fodder to be dropped through. The row of three stables in the south-west extension is the exception: they do not retain fittings, and are separated by shoulder-height brick partitions with semi-circular coping stones; one partition has been raised with concrete blockwork. The roof in this extension is a queen post structure with raking struts and two ranks of purlins.

The milking parlour is a large open-plan space with fittings dating from a 1960s modernisation by John Bromley and Co of Wellington; a plaque records the installation. The roof consists of a series of queen post trusses with raking struts, supported on brick piers. The roof has been partially ceilied with narrow boarding.

Within the north-eastern range there are looseboxes and a cart shed, now workshop, on the ground floor. Above, there are fittings, including hoppers and chutes, for grain processing. There has been some subdivision in brick, and the addition of a steel truss in the northernmost room.

The north-western range, added in the early C20, was not accessible, but is understood to be a single, open-plan space.

GARAGES
The row of garages has closed bays at either end, and two open bays in between. The roof has a central truss, with a roughly-hewn tie beam, possibly reused form an earlier building, bolted to the king post. The closed bays have brick-lined floors, and curved blue brick sills. That to the north has putlocks in the brickwork suggesting there was a loft, accessed by the pitching eye in the gable.

History

Historical documentation of the origins of Betton Hall Farm is scant, however, the name suggests it may have had an association with Betton Hall, 300m to the south. It has been suggested that an L-shaped building depicted on John Rocque’s mid-C18 map of the area is the farm, however, there are anomalies in the layout of roads and positioning of nearby buildings which cast doubt on this interpretation. Neither Baugh’s map of 1808, the original series 1” Ordnance Survey of 1833, nor the Tithe map of 1840 show the building, and the Tithe apportionment records the plots of land upon which the farm stands as under arable cultivation. The earliest reference to the farm is in a newspaper advert from 1869, although the census does not record it until 1891. The farm is depicted on the first edition of the 1:2500 Ordnance Survey, dating from 1881. Based on this evidence, and the fabric of the building, a mid-C19 date is assumed.

Built as a dairy farm, the footprint of the buildings shown on the late-C19 maps has changed very little. At that stage, the farmstead buildings were arranged around a loose courtyard, with the farmhouse at the south with attached ancillary buildings to the west, cartsheds to east, and an L-shaped range to the north. The L-shaped outbuilding contained a milking parlour in the western wing, and two stables and a large store in the east.

Maps show that at some point between 1902 and 1926 this building was extended to the south-west, adding two looseboxes and three animal stalls. An extension was also added to the north-west, providing one open-plan animal shelter, probably a cow house. The large store in the south-west was adapted on the ground floor to form two more looseboxes.

The 1902 map shows a range to the north-east, standing detached just to the north of the L-shaped building, which appears to have been a row of pig sties. This was demolished in the second half of the C20, though the stone masonry of the gable end remains within the elevation of the north-west extension.

The house is little altered, notwithstanding the partial reconfiguration of the first floor.

Reasons for Listing

Betton Hall Farm, including the farmhouse, milking parlour, animal shelters, stores and cartsheds, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a carefully-composed group of mixed-use agricultural and domestic buildings, with a uniform architectural treatment, and abundant detailing of notably good quality on the farm buildings;
* all of the individual buildings of the mid-C19 planned farmstead survive, and the functional relationship remains clear;
* the farmhouse is a good-quality construction with detailing which illustrates the functions and hierarchy of spaces;
* the original uses of the individual agricultural buildings are legible, and the animal shelters retains fixtures illustrating their original use;
* the complex shares architectural characteristics with a number of prominent model farms of the area, demonstrating a regional approach to C19 farm design.

Historic interest:

* as a little-altered mid-C19 model farm, illustrating the approach to dairy farming at a medium scale in the period.

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