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Description: Bryn Hafod
Date Listed: 29 September 2004
Building ID: 1419079
OS Grid Reference: SP8583377973
OS Grid Coordinates: 485833, 277973
Latitude/Longitude: 52.3931, -0.7401
House, at present Convent. Dated 1898. By J.A.Gotch for Charles Wicksteed. Red brick with stone dressings and plain-tile roof. Brick ridge and end stacks have unusual moulded stone entablature caps which incorporate up-draft enhancers. Seventeenth century Artisan Mannerist style with main windows of stone mullion and transom design with finely leaded castements. Secondary windows are sashes under stone lintels. 2 storeys and attic. Main front faces garden to rear, entrance front to right side, service front faces lane. This has a long front of sash windows with, to right, the fine large window of leaded casements which lights the staircase. Below are further leaded-light casements and, on right, is a facing gable again with leaded casements. The entrance front has the front door recessed within a curved moulded stone arch and has a projecting stack to right with initials and date CW 1898. To right and above are mullion and transom windows, and beyond the C20 chapel link is an unusual stone bow window. The garden front has four large gables facing and is a 6-window range at first floor over a centre-left garden door between 2-light windows and a large polygonal bay either side. These last have low stone balustrade caps. Window to right is a later careful insertion. Further service windows on the right end.
INTERIOR. The entrance door leads to a vestibule and an inner door with finely leaded part-glazed door which leads to the large central hall with boxed cross-beamed ceiling all enriched with plasterwork and anaglypta decoration and frieze. Elaborate fireplace and overmantel and elaborate doors and fittings and half-height panelling. The stairaces rises from the hall and returns to the landing above. Balustrade with reeded square balusters. Room to right of hall has C18 style fireplace. Drawing room behind has fine fireplace and overmantel and unusual low bow window as well as the large bay. At present a narrow strip has been partitioned off to form a passage leading to the chapel, but all the elaborate cornice survives. The dining room also has an elaborate fireplace and overmantel. A further reception room, facing the lane and perhaps a business room, has a C18 style fireplace with cast-iron grate. Bedrooms have been modifed in some cases but many fireplaces with cast-iron grates and moulded doors survive as do the back stairs.
This is a fine quality house by the distinguished architect J.A.Gotch, who was also an expert on C16 and C17 architecture. It was designed for Charles Wicksteed as his home and the patron specified that the house must have 'a central hall, easily cleared for dancing; there must be space for entertaining, and several spare rooms for guests.' Gotch provided this in a very effective manner and embellished the house with many fittings of quality. These have in very large part survived. Charles Wicksteed in a speech in 1923 said of the house 'A beautiful house, which had never been altered or repaired and was comfortable and beautiful in every way. Everything Mr.Gotch did was tasteful, beautiful, and good work'. Charles Wicksteed was a notable local businessman and a very generous benefactor to Kettering. He donated the large Wicksteed Park which continues to be one of the main leisure facilities of the town. He lived at Bryn Hafod until his death in 1931. The house became a Convent in the 1950's.
The various extensions to the house including the remodelling of an early stable or service range which projects forward to the road, the chapel of 1963 (much remodelled in recent years), and the accommodation wing of the 1960's-70's are not of special architectural interest.
Bryn Hafod forms a significant group with the former preparatory school (q.v.), aka Middlewest, next door.
Wicksteed, Hilda, Charles Wicksteed, 1933, pp.76-8.
Northamptonshire Archaeology, Assessment and Building Evaluation for the Convent of Our Lady, Feb.,2003, including pers. comm. from RK Hardgrave who sites Gotch ledgers recording charges for preparing plans for a house for Charles Wicksteed. There are also notices of fees charged at later dates.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.