History in Structure

Eller How

A Grade II Listed Building in Upper Allithwaite, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.2246 / 54°13'28"N

Longitude: -2.9032 / 2°54'11"W

OS Eastings: 341211

OS Northings: 481360

OS Grid: SD412813

Mapcode National: GBR 8M5L.8C

Mapcode Global: WH83D.C2RP

Plus Code: 9C6V63FW+RP

Entry Name: Eller How

Listing Date: 8 July 2020

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1469626

ID on this website: 101469626

Location: Westmorland and Furness, Cumbria, LA11

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

Civil Parish: Upper Allithwaite

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Tagged with: House Thatched cottage


House, enlarged from an existing cottage in about 1818 by Francis Webster, extended 1827-1850 by George Webster. Cottage orné style.


House, enlarged from an existing cottage in about 1818 by Francis Webster, extended 1827-1850 by George Webster. Cottage orné style.

MATERIALS: local slate stone, rendered, with yellow and grey stone dressings; timber barge boards, Westmorland slate roof coverings.

PLAN: asymmetric and irregular with an angled west end; the irregular plan reflects the irregular and slightly sloping nature of the site.

EXTERIOR: Eller How occupies an elevated site above the Kent Estuary at the western foot of Newton Fell. It sits at the north-west corner of a 12 acre contemporary landscape that rises up to the fell and crags at the rear. The house is a mixture of single and two-storey elements, some projecting and some set back, with pitched roofs, multiple tall chimney stacks to the rear ranges, multiple gables and various Tudor chimney stacks. It is characterised by extensive ornate timber barge boards with perforated, curvilinear edging and ornate finials and drops to the gables. Window frames are largely small-paned and timber, set within large stone, chamfered openings.

The main (south) elevation has six bays: from right to left they comprise a two-storey, three-bay rear range with a segmental-headed dormer window to either side of a central, two-storey, projecting, gabled cross wing; it has a six-light bay window and a first floor four-light window with a label mould. To the left is a single-storey gabled bay with a six-light window and to the right is a single-storey entrance bay, with a segmental-headed stone surround fitted with a multi-panelled door with fanlight. To the front is a rustic porch with a vaulted ceiling and a low, solid stone base; Venetian openings on the south and east sides have alternate rusticated voussoirs and turned columns. The elevation continues with three two-storey bays comprising a gabled bay with a first floor cross window and a pair of ground floor openings (now blocked) with rusticated stone piers; a set-back bay with a ground floor entrance and a large cross window above; to the apex, a stone bearing the initials G E W and 1827 probably marks the marriage of George and Eleanor Webster. The west end bay is set at an angle to the rest of the house, and has a ground floor window opening within a recessed segmental arch, and an ornate oriel window above; attached to its south-west face is a rustic, first floor, timber-built, open-sided, scissor-trussed verandah. The left return has double doors to a store beneath the verandah, plain fenestration, and the left end bay has a chamfered corner and an 1827 date-stone. The right return is plain with scattered fenestration, and a passage opening at the rear; a round-headed ground floor window has fine glazing bars incorporating circles. The single and two-storey rear (north) elevation is relatively plain with simple window openings, multiple chimneys and the same ornate barge boards as to the south elevation; the slightly projecting east end has a lean-to roof and over sails a ground floor passage.

INTERIOR: the eastern part of the house has an entrance vestibule with a geometric tiled floor; an opening off to a reception room has an ornate classical architrave fitted with an eight-panel door, and a round-headed opening leads into an inner vestibule. The latter has an identical tiled floor, a heraldic ceiling rose and two round-headed openings with fluted architraves, each fitted with an eight-panel door. The stair hall has an opening with a similar ornate classical architrave leading to a rear reception room; the original cellar door remains, and other doors are replacements. The quarter-turn stone and timber staircase with winder has simple newel posts with timber finials, drops, a moulded handrail and turned balusters. The staircase is lit by a skylight and a small splayed stair window with margin lights. A rear reception room, entered through the classical door case, has a simple plaster cornice and a small, C18 Dent marble chimneypiece. A similar classical entrance opens into the main reception room (formerly two separate rooms), which retains both original geometric plaster ceilings, each with a narrow plaster frieze below with floral motifs in relief. That to the former east room has ribs and a central heraldic rose, and that to the former west room is similar, with rectangular panels. An original grey marble chimneypiece with an early C21 mirrored overmantle, has circular corner motifs and classical relief panels in a buff marble with white marble foliate panels to the jambs. The bay window is panelled, and its small-pane fenestration has unusual grooves to the underside of the glazing bars. To the kitchen there is a simple, blocked timber chimneypiece. First floor doors are mostly six-panel and one bedroom has a marble chimneypiece with a hob grate.

The western part of the house has exposed ceiling beams, supported in one room by a substantial, chamfered and tooled stone column. Rooms at the extreme west end are irregularly shaped, one with a rusticated stone fireplace. An inserted C20 staircase leads to the first floor, where a large L-shaped room has a similar plaster ceiling to those of the ground floor, with a central and corner heraldic roses and other intricate floral and foliate motifs with an ornate, modillioned cornice below. There is also a contemporary white marble classical chimneypiece. A segmental-headed opening in the upper stair hall opens into a pair of irregularly-shaped rooms with exposed triangular roof trusses and purlins: both rooms have a number of plaster figures and heads mostly in the form of roof corbels, and one room has a large chamfered recess to the north wall, a square plastered floriated recessed panel to the ceiling, and vertical sliding sash doors to the west verandah.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: a bridge with weir below over an ornamental lake is located to the south-east. It is of rusticated stone construction and has three tall, segmental arches with cut waters. It has a low flat stone parapet set with a series of shaped pyramidal stone posts carrying metal rails. There are dry stone abutments to either side; that on the north side has attached, flanking stone steps (not mapped) with stone piers and balustrades with flat coping and attached low, stepped stone wall.


The Cottage Orné or ornamental cottage is a mid-C18 English invention that reached its peak in the early C19 and continued well into the Victorian period. Some of the leading architects of late-Georgian England designed in this style and in the early C19 it became more widespread as pattern books passed on the designs. The style arose as part of the picturesque movement and many were inextricably linked to their contemporary designed landscapes. Designed with aesthetic attention, typical features include asymmetrical elevations, deep gables, thatched roofs, embellished barge boards, small-paned leaded glazing and often a particular kind of verandah, constructed from roughly-hewn tree trunks. A classic example is the group forming Blaise Hamlet, by John Nash, on the Blaise Castle estate in Bristol (about 1812, listed Grade I).

In about 1818 the Kendal-based architect Francis Webster bought and enlarged a vernacular cottage situated in a narrow valley at Eller How. The house was used as a country retreat to which Francis Webster retired in 1826. After his death the following year, his son George Webster, mason, builder and architect, enlarged the existing L-shaped cottage creating a classic cottage orné to which he moved in 1830, and which he continued to enlarge and embellish until 1850. A water colour by Kendal artist Richard Stirzaker (1797-1833) thought to have been painted just before his death depicts the house and its Repton-influenced landscape: the house is shown with multiple chimneys, Tudor windows and various gables. There is a lake spanned by a bridge in the foreground and a steep wooded hill rising up behind, crowned by a folly. The second edition Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1890 depicts the complete dwelling including a more extensive rear range incorporating a courtyard, which subsequent editions show had been demolished by the mid-C20. An inventory of the house in 1864 details the interior, which contained numerous paintings and a large library. During the C20 the house was subdivided into two separate dwellings, involving some alteration to its plan and the loss of some original internal fittings. Some fittings including the stair hall doors and a small C18 marble chimneypiece were introduced in the late C20/early C21.

The Webster Family started as stone masons and marble polishers in Cartmel. Subsequently, Francis Webster (1767-1827) worked as a contractor, for example at Lowther, and also produced individual Georgian or Gothic designs. His son George Webster (1797-1864) was a professional architect who in his early years was an exponent of the Jacobean Revival. He was prolific in Cumbria, with a number of commissions in Lancashire and North Yorkshire. His work includes the building, renovation and remodelling of churches and commercial, domestic, and industrial buildings; his work is considered of more than regional repute.

Reasons for Listing

Eller How, a detached villa with associated bridge and walls of 1827-1850, built to the designs of George Webster, with C20 alterations is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a good and largely intact example of an early-mid-C19 cottage orné, making good use of the rise and fall of its site giving an impression of organic growth;
* incorporating an asymmetrical composition embellished by the use of steep gables, a variety of window styles, multiple chimneys and ornate barge boards;
* a good example of the work of the highly-regarded architect George Webster who designed it as his family home;
* although the original circulation has been altered by its division into two dwellings, the linear plan-form remains legible;
* a range of original internal fixtures and fittings survive including fireplaces, doors, staircase and plaster ceilings;
* the blending of the house into the garden and the wider landscape in the picturesque fashion, adds to the sense of organic growth.

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