Originally the house of the remount depot Commandant, dated 1906, now (2014) offices.
Reason for Listing
The Moat House, dated 1906, built for the commanding officer of the remount depot, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:* Architectural interest: Moat House is a concisely composed building in a loose Jacobean style, unusual for the military, that alludes to the style of the main house on the estate, by Robert Kerr; * Quality of detailing: the brickwork is of good quality, the storey band and cornice are crisply executed and the aedicular doorcase is a restrained but striking inclusion; * Intactness: the building has undergone very little alteration, retaining most of its original fixtures and fittings; * Historic interest: Arborfield’s significance as one of a very limited number of remount depots is clear; it played a crucial role in mobilising the cavalry in WWI, and the Moat House is one of its few surviving buildings; * Group value: with the scheduled moated site it overlooks, and from which it takes its name, forming the focus of the historic site.
The Army Remount Department was established in 1887; previously, cavalry regiments purchased their own horses, and though this was adequate in peace-time, it was not in war time when the need was acute and demand could not be met. Original remount depots were in Woolwich and Dublin, and were effectively distribution centres for horses obtained through a scheme of registration with private owners, in which the Army paid a retainer for horses to be impressed in war-time. The Boer War proved that the training, administration and organisation of the service was inadequate; numerous animals were lost through disease and poor horsemanship, and demand continued to exceed supply. Additional depots were therefore established at Arborfield and Melton Mowbray (Leicestershire): at Arborfield, in 1904 on land leased from the Bearwood Estate. The depot was commanded by Captain Quartermaster James Barry of the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards until shortly before the First World War, in which the depots, combined, mobilised over 600,000 horses from within the UK, and imported as many again. Increased mechanisation had, by the 1930s, made remounts all but redundant, and the department was reduced and eventually absorbed by the Army’s Veterinary Service, with the depot at Melton Mowbray the final centre. Arborfield was closed as a remount depot in 1937. By 1939 the site was used for the Army Technical School for Boys, before becoming the Arborfield Garrison and home of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The Moat House was built as accommodation for the commanding officer of the remount depot in 1906. The eclectic, historicist design is unusual for the military who tended to prefer the discipline implicit in simple classical or neo-Georgian treatment which could be applied in multiples. The Dutch gable and Jacobean detail are said to allude to Bearwood Manor, the country house of 1865-74 by Robert Kerr, but also perhaps to the presence of the historic moated site it overlooks and from which it takes its name. Moat House has been little-altered since being built; its conversion to use as offices involved the insertion of a partition wall on the first floor, while fireplaces were replaced in the inter-war period.
Originally the house of the remount depot Commandant, dated 1906, now (2014) offices.MATERIALS: red brick, in English bond, with rubbed brick dressings, a tiled roof and brick chimney stacks. PLAN: the building lies to the south of a scheduled medieval moated site (NHLE 1009886). It is rectangular in plan, with a projecting central bay on the symmetrical south-east elevation and a shallow, single-storey service bay to the north-east. Internally the ground and first floors are arranged with rooms on either side of a spinal corridor, and in the attic, rooms are on the northern side. EXTERIOR: it is a building of three bays and of two storeys with an attic. It has a chamfered brick plinth, a brick storey band, the central course laid on the diagonal, creating a chevron effect, and interrupted by plain pilaster strips at the angles. It has a continuous deep cyma and dentil eaves cornice, beneath a slightly flared, hipped roof. Tall, square stacks have moulded brick caps. The entrance is on the asymmetrical north-west elevation. It has a shallow, broken-pedimented brick doorcase, consisting of a rubbed brick four-centre arch with a tall voussoir, flanked by narrow windows. Above is a three-light window within a flared, eared architrave on a tall base flanked by shallow scrolled brackets. The door is of three fielded panels beneath a broken pediment. There is a brick mounting block to each side of the door. At first floor, to the right, is a recessed moulded panel, dated 1906. Windows have rectangular leaded lights in ovolo moulded timber mullioned and transomed casements ranging from two to six lights, in plain brick openings with quarter-moulded brick cills. Apparently original, there is a centrally-placed three-light, flat-roofed dormer, with tile hung cheeks. The elevation onto the private garden is symmetrical, with a projecting central bay beneath a shaped ‘Dutch’ gable, the windows diminishing in size per storey in Jacobean manner: a three light window on the ground floor, a two light window on the first floor and a narrow window in the gable head. Again, the flanking bays have two-light windows to the ground floor and a pair of single lights to the first floor. There are two, flat-roofed two-light dormers with tile hung cheeks, to the attic. There is a doorway concealed in the return of the projection giving access the former dining room. INTERIOR: the main entrance leads into a stair hall which is dominated by an oak screen in Jacobean manner. The shape of the tapering shafts is replicated in the finials to the stair newels. The stair is of open-well, closed-string type with turned balusters, a heavy moulded rail and square newels with ball finials on tall tapering shafts. Doorcases are moulded, and doors, where they survive, have six moulded panels. Rooms to the ground and first floors have picture rails, deep skirtings and moulded cornices. Fireplaces have been replaced and date from the mid-C20. Windows, including those in the attic, have iron stays and pigtail catches; some have been replaced.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.