Tag Archives: BERKSHIRE

OCKWELLS MANOR

One of the finest specimens of an old English Manor House that has played host to Kings and Queens.

Ockwells Manor is an historic and highly impressive Grade I listed timber framed manor house. Image: Knight Frank.

The Manor House of Ockwells, or Ockholt, as it was called when Sir John Norreys, High Sheriff of Berkshire, and a courtier of Henry VI, started to build it between 1440 and 1450, is one of the most complete and satisfying examples of an English manor house of the fifteenth century. It embodies all that is best in the design and workmanship of the Middle Ages and has some remarkably contemporary heraldic glass of eighteen shields of arms, two of them Royal, in the east windows of the Great Hall.

A comprehensive view from the south-west in 1952. The gateway in the buttressed wall leads to a main drive. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Norreys’ house, which stands on land at Bray, near Maidenhead, given to Ricardo De Norreys by Henry III in 1267, was completed in 1466, the year after his death. In his will, dated April 4th, 1465, he is recorded as having left a sum of £40 to complete the building of a chapel. When completed it formed part of the manor buildings, but fire destroyed most of it in 1720.

Ockwells Manor was described by Sir Nikolas Pevsner as “the most refined and most sophisticated timber framed mansion in England.” Image: Knight Frank.

Much of the uniqueness of Ockwells lies in the fact that it is constructed entirely of local materials. It still retains undisturbed today in its entirety the massive oak framework and timber which the Windsor forests originally gave it. It retains also the pleasantly symmetrical architectural features of Tudor building. Ockwells is built round its small Cloister Court. The Great Hall also has its notable features: the massive oak screen with complementary service quarters behind it, a 24 ft long table made of two planks, fine armour and furniture and a large, colourful Flemish tapestry.

The house is faithful to its period and boasts spectacular panelling, stained glass windows and herringbone pattern brickwork. Image: Knight Frank.

Nearly a century after Sir John had completed his manor house it passed, on the marriage of Elizabeth Norreys, to Sir Thomas ffetiplace. And Elizabeth’s daughter, Katherine, in turn, took Ockwells as part of her dowry on marrying Sir Francis Englefield. It was this Lady Elizabeth’s close friendship with Elizabeth I which is known to have brought the Queen to Ockwells on many occasions. King Charles I used it for some time as a shooting box and when George IV visited he was so pleased with its architectural beauty that the style was introduced at Windsor in the building of King’s College in the Great Park.

Ockwells has been greatly extended and restored since the first brick was laid, particularly since 1889, when substantial work was carried out. Image: Knight Frank.

In about 1600 a new staircase was added, the hall furnished with wainscoting and some new chimney pieces added. The fabric of the building then fell into decline until the late 19th Century when Charles Grenfell moved some of the glass to his home at Taplow Court for safe keeping. In 1885, his son William offered to return the glass if a new owner would grant him a 99 year lease of the manor in return. By this time, Sir Stephen Leach came to the rescue and he stripped the whole frame back and repaired it. It was then purchased by Sir Edward Barry, another enthusiastic antiquarian, who recast the building in its present form in stages, enlarging the dining room, inserting fireplaces and windows and moving the Jacobean staircase to its present position. By the 1950s, Ockwells was owned by Mr S.H. Barnett who, at the time, was praised for preserving rather than destroying the fabric of the house.

 The present owners have owned Ockwells Manor since 1986 and with the help of Mansfield Thomas and Partners of Hertfordshire, returned it to its present order.

Aside from its architectural and historical pedigree, the house functions as a beautiful family home ideal for entertaining or family living in equal measure. Image: Knight Frank.
The Jacobean staircase, 17th Century panelling and 15th Century stone fireplace are particularly striking features of the house. Image: Knight Frank.

FOREST FARM

Forest Farm - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - 11 Jun 1910 - BNA
Forest Farm at Winkfield. This image is from The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in June 1910. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

From The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in June 1910. This was Forest Farm in Windsor Forest, Winkfield, in Berkshire, belonging to Henry Pelham-Clinton, 7th Duke of Newcastle (1864-1928). He had abandoned Clumber House in Nottinghamshire for the comforts of Forest Farm in 1908, although it appears to have been under his ownership from 1906.

Soon after moving in it suffered a fire that damaged the upper parts of the building. Presumably it had been restored at the time of this photograph. Following his death in 1928, the Dowager Duchess of Newcastle remained at Forest Farm until her own death in 1955, and the house appears to have been demolished in 1956. Consigned to history and virtually forgotten.

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Henry Pelham-Clinton, 7th Duke of Newcastle. He had poor health and played only a small part in public life. As a staunch Anglo-Catholic he spoke on ecclesiastical issues in the House of Lords. One of his achievements was the restoration of the fortunes of his family estate. In 1879 a serious fire destroyed much of Clumber House in Nottinghamshire, he had it magnificently rebuilt to designs by the younger Charles Barry. His Thames Valley estate was at Forest Farm in Winkfield which he eventually moved to.

Forest Farm - Country Houses of the UK and Ireland
Forest Farm was more convenient for the Duke of Newcastle. It was close to London and Eton and suitably positioned for Ascot Races. Sadly, it was demolished, presumably surplus to requirement.

NEW LODGE

New Lodge, in Windsor Forest, appeared in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in June 1910. It was the home of Colonel Victor Van de Weyer and was to be the scene of house parties for Ascot race meeting.

New Lodge - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - 11 Jun 1910 - BNA
New Lodge, at Winkfield. This image appeared in The Sporting and Dramatic News in June 1910. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The house was built by Thomas Talbot-Bury (1809-1877) between 1856-1859 for Jean-Sylvain Van der Weyer (1802-1874), the Belgian Ambassador to Britain, friend of Queen Victoria and Albert and a notable book collector. His American father-in-law Joshua Bates, a partner in Barings’ Bank is said to have paid for the house, which was Tudor-Gothic, in the style of Pugin-Barry.

Queen Victoria and her children were regular visitors to New Lodge and planted the Wellingtonia trees that line the driveway.

Van der Weyer made his fortune from investments in the United States and Canada. The family held interests in Chicago, Detroit and Canada Grand Junction bonds, the Grand Russian Railway Company and Atlantic and St Lawrence railroad bonds, among others.

His wealth was used to buy land and farms surrounding New Lodge, as did his eldest son, Victor, who inherited the estate in 1874. After he died in 1915, Captain William Van der Weyer, a grandson of the Belgian Ambassador, sold the estate in 70 separate lots the following year.

New Lodge - The Sphere - Jul 1956 - BNA
New Lodge, which falls in between the parish of Bray and Winkfield between the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Bracknell Forest Borough Council is nearby to Windsor Great Park and is within Green Belt land. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

New Lodge was bought by Dr Venables (or Venebles) who leased it in 1925 to New Lodge Clinic Ltd, an exclusive establishment that operated until 1939, when the house was sublet to Sir Malcolm Deleringe and others for the accommodation of refugees. In 1942, the house was bought by Dr Barnardos, the children’s charity, for £24,000.

In 1956, New Lodge was acquired by the British Railways Transport Commission for £24,000 and turned into a training school, known as ‘The British Railways School of Transport’. At the time, the purchase of the house was believed to be more economical than the cost of a new building. However, the cost of conversion was said to have eventually cost over £100,000. It was later shared with B.T. Hotels, who used it to train staff until 1964.

New Lodge - Daily Mail
New Lodge is currently an office conversion featuring around 30 units. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

Faced with high running costs, the Commission closed the facility in 1971 and sold it a year afterwards to environmental information specialist Barbour Index, who used it as offices. Afterwards the Grade II* listed house was extensively refurbished and, after being sold in 2004 to the Marchday Group for office use, it was put up for sale again in 2013.

In 2016, a planning application was submitted by two brothers to convert New Lodge from serviced office use back to residential. Lewandowski Architects, based in Eton were appointed to work on the project and restore the listed building as far as possible to its original features.

New Lodge - Daily Mail 6
The hunting lodge that was once a favourite of Queen Victoria was put on the market 2013. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

New Lodge - Daily Mail 4
In 1972 New Lodge appeared in the Hammer House of Horror classic ‘Asylum’ starring Robert Powell, Peter Cushing and Britt Ekland. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

New Lodge - Daily Mail 5
New Lodge still has many of its original period features, including this imposing fireplace. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

New Lodge - Daily Mail 2
The floors have been converted into dozens of offices all with catering and toilet facilities but maintaining the stunning features of the building, including a grand staircase with a large stained glass window. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

New Lodge - Daily Mail 3
The building went under considerable refurbishment in 2004 as independent business suites owned by Marchday Group Plc. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

New Lodge - Daily Mail 1
It is hoped that the former hunting lodge will be restored back into a family home. Image: INS News Agency Ltd.

COWORTH PARK

The home of the Earl of Derby appeared in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in June 1910, highlighted for its close proximity to Ascot Racecourse.

Coworth Park - The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - June 1910 - BNA
Coworth Park at Winkfield. From The Illustrated and Sporting Dramatic News in June 1910. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Coworth Park appears to have been built in 1776 for William Shepheard, an East India merchant. His son sold it before 1836 to Colonel George Arbuthnot, a Scottish Colonel who served in Madras. It passed to his nephew John Alves Arbuthnot , a director of the London Assurance Company and of the London and Colonial Bank, and later a founder of Arbuthnot Latham & Co.

In 1883, his son, William Arbuthnot sold Coworth Park to William Farmer (afterwards Sir William Farmer), chairman of Farmer & Co Ltd, Australia merchants and later Sheriff of London in 1890-91. About 1899 he sold the estate to Edward George Villers Stanley (1865-1948), Lord Stanley, who in 1908 succeeded his father as 17th Earl of Derby. His widow died in 1957 and the house became a Roman Catholic convent school and was later converted into offices by Harold Bamberg, a director of the travel agency Henry Simpson Lunn (later to become Lunn Poly) and also chairman of British Eagle Airways.

Coworth Park - The Sketch - Wed Jun 19 1901 - BNA
Royal visitors were no stranger to Coworth Park, a trend that still exists. This article appeared in The Sketch in June 1901. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

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The land that Coworth Park now stands on was granted in 1066 by Edward the Confessor to Westminster Abbey. William the Conqueror regained possession of it from the Abbey in exchange for lands in Essex. Theoretically, the manor of Old Windsor still remains with the Crown. In 1606 it was leased by James I to Richard Powney, whose great grandson, Penyston Powney, was administering it in 1737. After his death in 1757, his son and heir, Penyston Porlock Powney, became the Crown lessee, and was still appearing as such in records when Coworth House was constructed in 1776. The land was conveyed in 1770 by William Hatch and Elizabeth his wife, who were presumably Powney’s agents or sub-tenants, to one William Shepheard.

In the mid-1980s, Coworth Park was acquired by Galen Weston, owner of Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, who developed the property’s first polo field. These days Coworth Park is owned by the Dorchester Collection, owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, and is a luxury hotel and resort, altered significantly inside and enlarged between 2005 and 2011.

Coworth Park - HLN Group
This Georgian manor house is the only hotel in the UK to have polo fields, an equestrian centre and stabling. A fitting spot then for Prince Harry and his best man Prince William to have spent the night before the royal wedding. Image: HLN Group.

THE VALE

There is little more seductive than a grand, yet not overbearing country house. Once known as Vale Lodge, in the reign of George I, this property was the scene of Royal feasting.

The Vale - 2018 - KF (2)
Image: Knight Frank.

In 1849, a ‘modern house’ was put up for sale in the village of Winkfield in Berkshire. ‘The residence is approached by a carriage drive sweep with lawn, flower garden, orchard and meadow. It contains eight bedrooms and dressing rooms, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, two staircases and a stone entrance’.

Vale Lodge had not long been built, supposedly rebuilt using the structure of a hunting lodge on the Windsor Castle estate. 169 years later, the country house, now known as The Vale, no longer stands on Royal land, and is up for sale for the first time in 22 years.

The Vale - 2018 - KF (14)
Image: Knight Frank.

The house appears to have fallen into the hands of Isaiah Linwood Verity, a Major in the 92nd Highlanders, whose desperate suicide at Brompton in 1849, may have prompted the house sale the same year. The house probably didn’t sell because his son, Charles Felix Verity, soon to become a Major in 2nd (South) Middlesex Corps, later lived here.

And so, Vale Lodge, in Berkshire hunting country and close to Ascot Racecourse, proved to be a popular house. Often tenanted, its notable residents including Warine B. M. Lysley, a director of the County and General Gas Company and Bombay Gas Company, and The Hon. Arthur Henry John Walsh, Politician and Lord-Lieutenant, and later 3rd Baron Ormathwaite.

The Vale - 2018 - KF (8)
Image: Knight Frank.

Vale Lodge, with its painted stucco, was extended in the late 19th century, probably with the addition of its portico flanked by Corinthian pillars, but appears remarkably unchanged, except for the addition of an outdoor swimming pool.

Grade II listed, The Vale is on sale at Knight Frank with a guide price of £3.5 million.

The Vale - 2018 - KF (10)
Image: Knight Frank.

HALL PLACE

A stately home – of agriculture

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
Hall Place in 1949. In the Early part the 19th. Century, a large doric portico was built onto the front entrance of the mansion, but due to its unsafe condition and its incompatibility with the architecture of Hall Place, it was demolished in 1953. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Up and down the country there were many places like Hall Place, almost abandoned by their owners, for few could afford the upkeep of a big house. Some had been converted into flats, others had been taken for schools and institutions, but many were falling into decay, their ruin hastened by the gangs of lead stealers who were roving the country and stripping the valuable lead from the roofs, and by young hooligans who hurled a brick at the windows as they passed.

It was the 1940s, and attitudes to country houses was indifferent. Many thought that some of these houses weren’t worth saving, but many had been built with a care and skill in workmanship which couldn’t be found in post war Britain. Future generations may well have regretted the indifference of this one to the homes of England’s past.

Hall Place, in the parish of Hurley, between Henley and Maidenhead, had been built in 1728 and stood in its grounds and gardens of 14 acres on a deer park of 128 acres. With its farms and woodland, the whole estate was 484 acres – a landmark 300 feet above the Thames flowing in the valley below.

Hall Place - British-History)
An early sketch of Hall Place. William East died in 1737 and was succeeded by an infant son, William, who owned the estate until his death in 1819. He maintained the geometric layout of the park, and is attributed with the building of a Gothic Entrance Arch, demolished in 1967. Image: British-History.

There had been a house here since 1234, replaced by a 14th century house by John Lovelace and finally the mansion constructed over a seven-year period by William East, a wealthy London lawyer. His son, another William, was born shortly after his death, and during his minority years the house was rented by the Duke of Buccleuch and then Lord Folkstone. On his death in 1819 it passed to Sir William East’s eldest son, Gilbert, but he died just nine years later. Hall Place was inherited by George Clayton, a nephew. Descending the family line until the extinction of the baronetcy in 1932, Hall Place was bought by Lady Frances Clayton East who lived in the south wing until the outbreak of World War Two. Hall Place was requisitioned by the Government and in 1943, 1,025 acres of the estate were purchased under a Compulsory Order by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The house had remained empty but in November 1949, through the Berkshire Education Committee, the house had come to life again. Berkshire County Council had bought Hall Place, Home (now Top) Farm and 148 acres for use as the Berkshire Institute of Agriculture (the remaining 541 acres were used for the relocation of the Grassland Research Institute). At Hall Place, farmers’ sons, sons of agricultural workers, and recruits into agriculture, all of whom had at least one year’s experience of farming, would spend a year in the practical application of scientific knowledge and modern methods of farming designed for those who intended to make the land their livelihood.

Hall Place (BCA)
The times were changing. After 1949, the approach to Hall Place was tidied up. Trees were cut down, fences repaired and paths cleared. Grade I listed Hall Place is a large country house built between 1728 and 1735 for William East, incorporating a small part of a former late 17th century house and with interior stucco work attributed to Artari and Vassali. Image: Berkshire College of Agriculture.

Thirty-seven students had just started the first term of their year at the new Institute, though its departments were no way complete. Governors, staff and students were combining in a planning effort in every direction, the fertility of the land had to be improved – livestock raised, trees to be lopped, scrubland reclaimed, field water supplies extended, and buildings renovated and modified to meet the modern standards of livestock husbandry.

The Berkshire undertaking was a big one, but undoubtedly constructive – an English heritage was being preserved, and a band of young men were being equipped to meet the problems of the land.

In 1968 the Institute was re-named as a College by which time a substantial programme of extension and development was in progress and which is continuing to the present day.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 6 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
The newly appointed staff at the Berkshire Institute of Agriculture. (l. to r.) Mr J.W. Salter-Chalker, Mr E. David (Principal), Miss J. Mathews (Dairy Lecturer), Mr J. Oliver (Animal Husbandry and Farm Management), Miss K. Ward (Poultry and Dairy), and Mr R.G. Holt (Crop Husbandry and Machinery). Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 5 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
‘House-warming’ in 1949: An informal dinner of governors, staff and students at which Alderman J.W. Salter-Chalker, chairman of the Board of Governors, was the host. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 1 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
Dairy farming was a strong feature of the general farming policy and all cattle were attested. There was a herd of beef-bred bullocks and heifers from the Welsh hills, and small herd of Jerseys, Friesians and Shorthorns. Robert Coyle, of Bracknell, Miss Kathleen Ward (Institute Dairy Instructress) and Mike Evans, of Slough, in the new dairy of the Institute. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 2 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
Living Quarters: A corner of a four-bed dormitory. Students made their own beds and were responsible for keeping their rooms neat and tidy. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 3 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
Lecture Rooms: The first two terms were spent on general and mixed farming with lectures and laboratory work in the mornings, and practical work and demonstrations in the afternoons. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 4 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
Log-Cutting: Robert Mattick, aged 23 of Reading, and Robert Slatter, aged 18, of Kingham, Oxford, using a tractor power-driven circular saw. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 7 - Nov 2 1949 (BNA)
Poultry husbandry, horticulture, pigs and sheep, were also important branches either with their own lectureship or combined in the general farming work. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hall Place (Studentlandua)
Modern-day Hall Place. The house has been used by the Berkshire College (formerly Institute) of Agriculture since 1949 and has been altered and extended since the mid 20th century. Note the removal of the central chimneys and the large doric portico. Image: Studentland.ua.