A former National School of 1843-4, converted into two dwellings in the late C20, built for Capt Charles Du Cane, the owner of Great Braxted Park.
Reason for Listing
The former Great Braxted National School (Nos 1 and 2 School House), Braxted Park Road, Essex, built 1843-4, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: This former school has distinctive Tudor detailing to its principal elevations, such as the hooded drip moulds and arched openings, and an unusual, compact, plan-form.
* Historic Interest: It was built for the owner of Braxted Park, Capt Charles Du Cane, whose family held and enhanced the estate from the C18.
* Intactness: Although there were some alterations to the school room during its conversion to a dwelling, the exterior details remain and the plan-form is legible. The attached teacher's house is little altered and retains its near original configuration.
* Interiors: Many contemporary fixtures and fittings remain such as the doors and door furniture, picture rails and fireplaces.
* Group Value: The school has considerable group value with other estate buildings including Braxted Park House, and the Church of All Saints (both listed at Grade II*).
Braxted Park originated as a medieval deer park in the mid-C14, owned by the Countess of Pembroke. In 1680, the earliest house was replaced by a building on the site of the current house by Thomas Darcy, who also extended the park. In the early C18, the estate was bought by Peter Du Cane, a wealthy cloth merchant, who commissioned Robert Taylor to reconstruct the house between 1752 and 1759 (Grade II*) and carried out new planting in the park (registered at Grade II*). After his grandson, also named Peter, died in 1841, the estate passed to his cousin, Capt. Charles Du Cane who had the school house built between 1843-4 (confirmed by date stone), opposite the avenue leading to the Church of All Saints (Grade II*) within the park. Before this provision, the local children attended a day school, their fees paid for by Peter Du Cane and the Rev. Thomas Herring, the Rector of All Saints. On the 1874 Ordnance Survey Map, the building is described as a National School. The playground is shown following the boundary with the road and enclosing an area to the north-west. It appears from the map that the school teacher's house had a separate garden. The boundary wall or fence no longer remains.
An additional bedroom was added to the school teacher's dwelling in 1901 by Captain Charles Du Cane, the owner of Braxted Park at that time, built by W. Sigger. The school closed in 1930. In 1947, Braxted Park was bought by the electronics company, Plessey, and became the home of Sir Allen Clark, its Chairman. Sir Allen's son, Michael, sub-divided the school into two dwellings in the 1960s. The school teacher's house was little altered in the process, but the school room was partitioned into rooms to form the second dwelling and a lower ceiling was inserted. The windows of the former school room were replaced with casements; the original openings were generally maintained, but some were infilled to accommodate the new fenestration. A new window was inserted into the rear wall of the hall. The separate boys or girls entrance on the south-east elevation of the porch was partially blocked to form a window opening. Two boiler chimneys were constructed at the rear of the porch, on the eaves line of the school room's roof.
The cottages were occupied until the summer of 2010. Unfortunately, they have been vandalised by metal thieves recently, necessitating the removal of one fireplace into storage. A Building Preservation Notice was served on the owners on 28th January 2011.
The school is constructed of gault brick, laid mostly in Flemish bond, with stone dressings, and gable roofs with slate coverings.
A compact double-pile plan, with the school room to the front and attached school teacher's house to the rear.
The façade of the former school room faces north-east and the school teacher's dwelling to the rear has its principal elevation facing north-west. At the south-west boundary of the ensemble is an enclosing wall containing a small central courtyard. Attached to the inside of the wall is a range of small outbuildings with pent roofs and plank doors.
The school room lies parallel to the road and has, at its centre, a flat-roofed projecting porch with a plain, rendered frieze. A date stone carved with 1843 is prominently placed at the centre of the frieze, beneath which is a dividing buttress flanked on either side by partially blocked, lancet windows with Tudor-arch heads and C20 casements. On the north-west elevation of the porch, one of the main entrance openings and door into the school room remains; it is unclear whether this was the boys or girls entrance. The opening has a Tudor-arch head with stone dressing above and the door, visible from the interior, is panelled, with inserted glazes and original door furniture. The corresponding entrance on the south-east side of the porch retains the Tudor-arch head, but has been partially filled with brick and render supporting a C20 casement in the centre. On either side of the porch, the school room has rectangular windows with straight, segmented brick heads. The steep, gable ends of the school room have prominent stone copings and shoulders supported by moulded stone corbels at the base. The gable-end windows have carved stone, hooded drip-moulds; the openings have been partially filled to accommodate C20 fenestration. There is an end stack at the north-west gable end.
The single storey school teacher's house has a central ridge stack, and is subservient in height to the school room. Attached to the south-east is a small, lower wing accommodating the kitchen and coal shed. The principal north-west elevation has a central, diamond leaded-light casement window with a carved stone, hooded drip-mould in the gable-end and decorative timber barge board above. The house is linked to the school room by a recessed lobby beneath a pent roof, from which the main entrance to the house, and the teacher's side entrance to the school room, is accessed. Both entrances have contemporary panelled doors and some original door furniture. The front wall of the second room of the house forms the back wall of the lobby and has one side of a central, diamond leaded-light casement window. The south-west elevation of the house faces onto the former garden. The house has one diamond leaded-light casement window, and the wing has a C20 casement window left of the replaced, plank back door. To the right is the coal shed with a C19 plank door.
The rear elevations facing onto the courtyard are plain. At the centre and south-east end of the school room are door openings with an introduced window opening between the two. An external chimney stack is attached to the second room of the school teacher's house.
The school room has been sub-divided, but retains its queen post roof truss; the top of the central opening and sliding door mechanism which divided the school room into two separate teaching areas can be discerned above the inserted ceiling, but does not survive at a lower level. Most fixtures and fittings are late C20, but some original panelled and plank doors remain, and in the former entrance porch there is a quarry tile floor covering. The school teacher's house retains its plan-form. The fireplace from the main room accessed from the lobby, is in storage, but is said to be cast-iron with tiled decoration. The fireplaces in the two smaller rooms have plain timber surrounds; the grate openings are infilled with brick. Contemporary cupboards, picture rails, plank-doors and door furniture remain. In the kitchen wing there is a butlers sink.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.