Boathouse and deep-water dock, riverside landing stage, steps, balustrade and gates, built in the 1870s as part of Frederick Chancellor's remodelling of the house and grounds of Poulett Lodge for William Punchard.
Reason for Listing
The boathouse and deep-water dock, riverside landing stage, steps, balustrade and gates at Thames Eyot, built in the 1870s as part of Frederick Chancellor's remodelling of the house and grounds of Poulett Lodge for William Punchard, are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: boathouse and dock and associated landing stage, reached by steps from a balustraded terrace, demonstrating how Chancellor's Italianate scheme for the house and landscape incorporated access to and use of the river; the landing stage and stairs derive from an C18 structure and earlier C19 river stairs in the same location;
* Rarity and date: only near-intact example of an 1870s, private, deep-water dock of this type remaining on the upper tidal Thames;
* Historic interest: continuing tradition of picturesque riverine and garden structures along this stretch of the river dating from the early C18; association with the increased use of the river for pleasure in the later C19.
Poulett Lodge replaced or incorporated the villa built in the 1740s for Dr William Battie, President of the Royal College of Physicians. It was one of a group of substantial houses and gardens fronting the Thames at Twickenham, which were the centre of the literary and dilettante circle which included Alexander Pope and Horace Walpole. It became known as Poulett Lodge after the family who owned it from 1774 until 1838. The house and grounds were remodelled by Frederick Chancellor in the 1870s in the Italianate manner for the new owner William Punchard. The gardens were raised above the river providing a view from the paved terrace walk, which was much admired at the time. To the south the balustrade turns west to meet the loggia and grotto (qv) which line the southern boundary wall and to the north it terminates at the boathouse.
A structure in the position of the steps is depicted on the engraving entitled A View of Dr Batty's house at Twickenham (published in 1768). The Ist edn 25" Ordnance Survey map (1864, 1867) shows steps in a similar position. The boathouse was first shown on the 1896 OS map but earlier photographs and records confirm that it also dates from the 1870s when the terrace was laid out in its present form. Poulett Lodge was still in use as the Newborough Club in the 1920s but was demolished in the 1930s to make way for Thames Eyot, a block of serviced flats. The grounds were remodelled and replanted in 1962.
The popularity of boating for pleasure in the later C19 prompted an increasing number of commercial and private boathouses to be built along the Thames. Significant numbers survive on the non-tidal reach above Teddington Lock, while very few remain on upper tidal Thames. Thames Eyot boathouse along with Tough's boathouse, a near-contemporary commercial boathouse from the 1860s, offer a rare glimpse of late C19 river transport and the dependence on and enjoyment of the river, which was recorded in early photographs, engravings and in the press. Thames Eyot boathouse also continues the tradition of riverine and garden structures along this stretch of the river dating from the early C18, depicted in Peter Tillemans perspective of Twickenham in 1725, and seen in the case of Poulett Lodge in the surviving late C18/early C19 grotto and C19 loggia.
Boathouses on the upper tidal Thames fall in to two categories, deep water boathouses, which were filled with water throughout most of the tidal range and tended to be used for larger boats, and wet boathouses, which were flooded by the tide and were commonly used for storing skiffs which could be hauled up a sloping slipway on steel bars or rollers. Deep water boathouses were served by a floating pontoon; steel runners set into the walls guided the pontoons as the water rise and fell. They were used for storing shallops, livery company barges and longer rowing boats which would be damaged if partially in the water and were too heavy to drag over rollers. Runners for pontoons and the profile of the dock identify the boathouse built for Poulett Lodge as a deep-water boathouse. Unusually the associated landing stage, reached from the terrace, shows how privately owned boats were boarded from the garden, linking the landscape to the river.
MATERIALS: boathouse and dock: stock brick and red brown brick with stone dressings. Balustrade in stone and reconstituted stone, stone steps and landing stage (with some repair in concrete), iron gates.
PLAN: boathouse and dock: rectangular single-storey boathouse with a deep-water dock opening to the river where private boats were stored and maintained. It was designed to enclose the view from the riverside terrace from which symmetrical flights of steps descend to a landing stage, which is placed asymmetrically on the river frontage.
EXTERIOR and DOCK: although engulfed in ivy, the boathouse has an intact brick-vaulted jack-arched roof and a balustraded parapet, (where the balustrade in part survives), which is similar to the river frontage balustrade, above a deep moulded cornice. An oculus with a cast iron grille punctuates the southern elevation (further openings are hidden beneath the ivy). There are blocked doorways at the rear and on the north side. The round-arched opening to the river has a plain stone keystone and is flanked by brick piers where foliate stone capitals incorporate the head of a river god; both were noted in 2006, only the northern pier is now visible. Fixings for slatted timber gates, which were depicted in earlier photographs, but since removed, remain in situ. Remnants of timber stairs are fitted against the rear wall. Steel runners for pontoons are fitted on the lateral walls; the pontoons have not survived. Formerly recorded as having a tiled roof-top terrace (not accessible), behind a balustrade adorned with urns similar to those on the river frontage and the house.
BALUSTRADE AND LANDING STAGE: the stone balustrade has bulbous vase balusters between square, panelled stone piers and a broad flat coping. The balustrade is punctuated by swagged urns embellished with fruits and lion's head masks; the central and largest urn is adorned with fruits and foliage which spew from the mouths of lion masks or river gods placed on each side. Most of the decoration on the urns is quite eroded. Placed off-centre on the river front but symmetrically arranged, a double flight of stone steps descends to a stone landing stage; the steps are enclosed behind ornate wrought iron gates. Attached to the river wall flanking the stairs is a pair of mooring rings, each in the form of a bronze lion's head. The gardens were raised above the river providing a view from the paved terrace walk, which was much admired at the time. To the south the balustrade turns west to meet the loggia and grotto (qv) which line the southern boundary wall and to the north it terminates at the boathouse which was similarly treated, architecturally, to the balustrade.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.