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Caple Ne Ferne, Saint Leonards

Description: Caple Ne Ferne

Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 July 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1409493

OS Grid Reference: TQ7966709343
OS Grid Coordinates: 579655, 109344
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8557, 0.5511

Location: 4 Caple Gardens, Saint Leonards-on-sea TN38 0LA

Locality: Saint Leonards
Local Authority: Hastings Borough Council
County: East Sussex
Country: England
Postcode: TN38 0LA

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Listing Text


Large private house, 1879 by Jeffery and Skiller for Major Tubbs, built in an eclectic manner reminiscent of the architecture of northern France, extended 1926 for use as convalescent home by the Friendly Society.

Reason for Listing

Caple ne Ferne is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
*Architectural interest: seaside house designed for a retired army officer in an eclectic manner reminiscent of the architecture of northern France;
* Interior: remarkably intact interior, executed to a uniformly high standard, opening off a central baronial hall;
*Fixtures and fittings: specifically commissioned or acquired fittings reflecting the particular, personal taste of the client, providing an insight into an interior, its fittings and furnishings of c1880;
*Historic interest: acquired by the London Omnibus Company for use by their Employees' Death Levy, Distress and Sick Friendly Society as a convalescent home in 1922, and extended in 1926.


Caple ne Ferne (2 Albany Rd) was built in 1879 by the local architectural practice, Jeffery and Skiller, as a private house for Major Tubbs, a retired army officer. His monogram is built into the fabric. The initial house, in an eclectic vernacular revival manner that is also reminiscent of the architecture of northern France, took advantage of its commanding position overlooking the sea. Principal rooms - the drawing room, dining room and a 'boudoir' as it was described on the architect's drawings - overlooked the garden to the south. Major Tubbs' room opened off a large baronial hall. Of the five bedrooms three looked out to sea while stairs led to a tower with a small west-facing balcony.

In 1922 the house was acquired by the London Omnibus Company for use by their Employees' Death Levy, Distress and Sick Friendly Society as a convalescent home. A memorial tablet commemorates its foundation in 1922 and opening in 1923. Minor alterations preceded a major extension in 1926, attached to the north of the servants' quarters that included a new dining room opening onto a billiard room (currently rooms 11 and 12), a steward's office and sitting room (rooms 7 and 9) and bedrooms reached by a new staircase. The old servants' stair was replaced by a new corridor. Although structurally the principal areas of the original house were little altered, rooms acquired new uses: the dining room became a library, the drawing room and boudoir were labelled card rooms and Major Tubbs' Room was used as a smoking room. Most recently the house has been used as a rehabilitation centre.

Other works by Jeffery and Skiller include Rock Carriage Works, White Rock, Hastings (Grade II); Hastings Grammar School; Emmanuel Church, Priory Road, Hastings and the Guild Hall, Winchester (Grade II).

The tiles depicting the children’s story The House that Jack Built were designed by Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) and were probably manufactured by Minton. Along with Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane, Caldecott was one of the most popular and prolific illustrators of children’s books of the later C19, and thanks to the skill of engraver Edmund Evans, his work reached a wide audience. His first drawings were published in 1868 in the comic paper Will o' the Wisp, and in 1878 the first of 16 picture books, John Gilpin and The House that Jack Built were published. His work was not confined to book illustration, and his drawings were also applied to ceramics, including table ware and tiles. In 1875, while at the seaside, he prepared six drawings and later that year ‘was modelling panels for Lord Monteagle’s chimneypiece’, and in 1879-80 designed a series of capitals depicting birds for the Arab Room at Leighton House, Kensington.

Stored in the house is a memorial tablet with a swan-necked pediment inscribed London Omnibus Company Employees' Death Levy, Distress and Sick Friendly Society. The names of the committee are recorded beneath a wreath inscribed Caple ne Ferne, flanked by husked garlands, above the dates of foundation in 1922 and opening in 1923.


MATERIALS: original house in red brick with painted stone dressings, upper floors and gabled entrance bay in applied timber framing. Tile hanging to the gables and side elevations; tile roofs. 1926 wing in darker red/purple brick with flush stone dressings.

PLAN: the 1879 house of two storeys with a prominent tower and a small cellar; asymmetrical plan but with rooms opening off a two-storey, baronial, inner hall. Service quarters to the north-east altered to accommodate a large two storey and two-and-a-half storey extension of 1926 at right angles to the original house.

EXTERIOR: asymmetrical entrance front to the north. Two-and-a-half-storey gabled bay has a moulded stone entrance arch flanked by a three-light mullion window. Jettied, timber-framed, upper floors have timber sashes, the upper sash in each case small-paned; first-floor windows are arranged horizontally above central blind panels. To the left is a large four-over-three pane moulded stone stair window above a triple-light ground-floor window. Set back behind the entrance bay is a four-stage tower in brick with flush stone banding, apart from a timber-framed upper stage. It has a steep hipped tile roof which projects over the tower and its west-facing balcony. Set back at an angle, between the two ranges, is a single bay that according to the original drawings housed the back stair. It projects at upper-floor level above a side entrance to the service quarters that is set back behind an outer arch; prominent flush stone bands frame small single-light windows, the whole reminiscent of a late medieval stair bay. The roof and dormer of this section where it rises to three storeys, are canted, taking the building visually through the turn in direction.

The west-facing elevation is dominated by the tower, which has a tall, shallow two-light oriel window at first-floor level with a steeply-pitched tiled canopy that rises above storey level and supports the octagonal base for a figure. Above and below are narrow paired lights, on the ground floor surmounted by a monogram of Tubbs' initials. To the right is a two-storey canted bay beneath a canted tiled roof, flanked by a prominent external stack enriched with vertical ribbed panels. Most windows on the principal facades have chamfered and ovolo moulded stone mullions and transoms in flush stone surrounds. Sashes are in moulded timber architraves, fitted internally, that rise and fall independently of the stone structure. Transom lights have coloured glass. Side and rear elevations have timber sashes, some with leaded lights, in brick reveals. Deep eaves have shaped rafter feet.

The south-facing elevation has forward gabled bays with applied framing to the gables. The right hand gable is more ornate, with a moulded cornice supported on robust moulded feet. Again windows have timber sashes set behind stone mullion and transom windows in flush stone surrounds. The drawing room and central room (former boudoir) have central part-glazed doors that are now internal but originally opened onto a terraced garden. They have four centre arched architraves, flanked by glazed margin lights and transom lights with coloured glass. A single-storey conservatory was added in the C20 (this is not of special interest). The return gable elevation is dominated by a large offset external stack, with strongly expressed vertical ribbed panels, that rises through the eaves and ridge and is supported by small gablets where it emerges through the ridge. The gable to the rear of it is similarly but more simply treated. The side elevation is tile hung at first-floor level and within the gables flanking the stacks.

The 1926 range echoes the character of the earlier building. The three-storey gabled bay to the left has three-light mullion and transom windows with leaded lights; the upper gabled floor, which has light applied framing, has small-paned two-light sashes and is set forward between tall corner turrets. Plaster crest, dated 1927, on the gable. The porch, offset to the right, has an arched entrance beneath a shaped parapet. The two-storey range to the right has similar mullion and transom windows and half-hipped two-light full dormers. Similar dormers to the south elevation of the gabled wing. North and east elevations are treated in a similar but less ornate manner.

INTERIOR: the 1879 house is richly fitted with pine dado panelling and other joinery. Entrance with door with studded moulded muntins, and ornate strap hinges, knocker and door knob, is set back under a porch with a polychrome tile floor. It leads to a vestibule with a glazed screen and inner door fitted with coloured leaded glass. Hall (room 1) rising though two storeys has an open-well closed string stair rising to a landing overlooking the open well, all with balustrades with robust turned newels with ball and drop finials and turned balusters. The soffit of the stairs and landing is panelled. Fireplace has painted panels probably in oil on wood, in a late medieval or Tudor manner, depicting garden scenes and progress on horseback by a lady and her retinue. Upper floor arcaded landing in a Jacobean revival manner, supports a panelled ceiling with moulded ribs. Richly panelled pine doors throughout the house are set in deep moulded architraves with panelled linings and have a prominent facetted central panel and in many cases original door furniture.

The library (Major Tubbs’ room, room 2) has an inglenook fitted in oak dado panelling, with a matching fireplace, dated 1880, cupboards, and built-in seating. The fireplace surround is lined in twelve coloured tiles depicting the story The House that Jack Built, illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. The inglenook dado is lined in tiles, in pink on a cream background, depicting the same story and also by Caldecott. Dado panelling, bressumer and panelled ceiling with moulded ribs all in pine.

Drawing room (room 5) has a panelled dado and ceiling with deep moulded ribs. Bay window with panelled linings set behind an arcaded screen with chamfered facetted shafts in a Jacobean manner has fitted seating with a panelled base. Here, as elsewhere on the ground floor of the house, is a moulded, panelled pine chimneypiece with pale green tiled slips. Double doors in similar but not identical architraves to elsewhere give onto a small boudoir (room 4) which is similarly treated.

Dining room (room 3) bay window has panelled linings and architrave. Dado includes built-in cupboards; chamfered ribbed ceiling. Fireplace in moulded surround with green tile slips. Window in coloured glass depicting a vase of roses set in a geometric patterned margin glazing. Back stair has square balusters set diagonally.

First-floor rooms have timber chimneypieces, some with tiled panels. Two sets depict scenes from Shakespearean plays almost certainly by John Moyr Smith for Minton. Usually in brown, the series in light red colour is unusual. One set of geometric patterned tiles, possibly produced by Wedgwood.

The 1926 wing is similarly but less lavishly treated and has panelled pine dados and moulded skirtings, moulded architraves and panelled doors. Open well, closed string main stair in oak and pine has robust chamfered newels and turned balusters and a matching dado. Rear windows in deep reveals lined in flush timber. Oak fireplace surround with green/blue glazed tile slips.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.