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Beechwood Park School and Walls of Walled Garden Adjoining, Flamstead

Description: Beechwood Park School and Walls of Walled Garden Adjoining

Grade: I
Date Listed: 22 October 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 157786

OS Grid Reference: TL0453514478
OS Grid Coordinates: 504535, 214478
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8192, -0.4848

Location: Flamstead, Hertfordshire AL3 8AW

Locality: Flamstead
Local Authority: Dacorum Borough Council
County: Hertfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: AL3 8AW

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Listing Text

TL 01 SW
(West side)
3/10 Beechwood Park School and walls of
22.10.52 walled garden adjoining (formerly
listed as Beechwood Park)

Country house, now a school. Circa 1664 for Thomas Saunders (d.1693)
probably incorporating part of an earlier house built for
Sir Richard Page (d.1548) who was granted in exchange for his lands by
Henry VIII in 1539 the lands of the Priory of St. Giles in the Wood
(Benedictine Nuns) founded c.1120 suppressed 1537 the buildings of which
stood some 100M to E of the present house. Hearth tax 1663 showed 9
hearths: in 1673, 13 hearths. In late C17 Chauncy notes 'the Manor House
is a fair brick house of the figure of a Roman H' (Chauncy Hist of Herts
II, 511-3). Front block added forming a closed courtyard 1695-1702 for
Sir Edward Sebright 3rd Baronet who had married Ann Saunders.
'S/E.A/1702' on rainwater pipes of front block. Circa 1744 a Great Room
was added to the NW, facing W attributed to Roger Morris for
Sir Thomas Sebright (J Lees Milne English Country Houses: Baroque
(1970)263). During the 1760s and 1770s some interiors were remodelled by
Sir William Chambers, and the N and S pavillions were added to the E
front after unexecuted schemes had been prepared by Lancelot Brown
(1754) and Mathew Brettingham (c.1759). The grounds landscaped by Brown
in 1750s. By c.1800 a cupola had been removed from the centre of the
house. The Great Room was remodelled as the library 1804 by Thomas Cundy
after earlier schemes by Sir John Soane and Alexandre-Louis de Labriere
(RCHM Typescript). In 1851-4 the courtyard was roofed by William Burn as
a saloon (with chimneypiece and doorcases c.1860s carved by Barbetti)
for Sir Thomas Gage Saunders Sebright 8th Baronet, who also in 1863
formed the 3 arches in the rearwall of the entrance hall and had a
lean-to roof put on the library. In the later 1860s for Sir John Gage
Saunders a billiard room and new stables was grouped round the N
courtyard and a clock tower and service buildings to SW of house. In
1905 M.H. Judge and Sons architects converted the billiard room to coach
house and the chapel to a Motor House for G.C. McCorquerdale Esq. Front
block restored 1933 for Sir Giles Sebright 12th Baronet. 1964 opened as
a school.

The oldest parts in red brick and English-bond with stone quoins and
steep pitched roofs now slated. Front block in chequered red and purple
brick with stone dressings, stucco window surrounds and steep pitched
hipped old red tile roof above wooden eaves cornice. C18 N and S
pavilions in red brick, English-bond, with stone dressings and hipped
slate roofs. Plum brick and hipped slate roofs to N stable court and S
service wing. Library wing is red brick with Portland stone dressings
and lean-to slate roof behind parapet.

The 1664 2 storeys and attics house had a main range facing E flanked by
N and S crosswings projecting more to E than to W. 2 large external
lateral chimneys remain symmetrically placed on W front capped off at
the eaves. Staircase in middle of each wing (N wing more elaborate) and
tall diagonally set chimney shafts in groups on N side of N wing and S
side of S wing. Partly blocked hollow moulded mullioned and transomed
stone windows in N and S wings and oak panelled room with stone
fireplace in S wing (housemasters' room). The stone quoins of S wing
were uncovered during C20 alterations to the saloon. Central E entrance
probably led into hall extending to N, with kitchen etc. a S wing.
Parlour probably to S of hall. Taller new F front block of 1695-1702
U-shaped with grand front range, short wings at NW and SW linking to
wings of old house, and shallower stair hall between, lit from courtyard
and originally with cupola over. Entrance up steps central on E into
large nearly square entrance hall with fireplace on S and access to
stair at rear. To N and S 2 large reception rooms, Dining Room on S now
Staff Common Room, and Drawing Room on N, both possibly enlarged by
taking in small end corner rooms during alterations in mid C18. The
addition in 1740s of the tall single-storey Great Room to the N end of
the old house was presumably the start of a redevelopment of the W front
abandoned when the E front was extended c.1760s by N and S pavilions
linked by short arcades (replaced in C19 by recessed linking-blocks)
with a new kitchen and offices in S pavilion and a chapel in N pavilion.
In 1804 the Great Room was remodelled as the library. After 1850 the
open central courtyard, with covered passage across, was replaced by a
top-lit saloon rising through 2-storeys, the central part of the old
house was remodelled as a single large room on ground floor with a
central stone bay window set out between the projecting W chimney
stacks, and 3 arches were formed to link the entrance hall to stairhall
and the new saloon. Since 1964 the school have moved the elaborate
Renaissance style carved chimneypiece by Barbetti from the S end of the
saloon and it now forms the altarpiece of a chapel in the recess facing
the foot of the main stair. The saloon is now the Great Hall, and the
large room in the central part of the old house the Dining Room.
Subdued brick and tile low buildings have been built in the walled
gardens linked to the house on the SW to replace a block of temporary
buildings at rear.

Symmetrical E front has tall central chequered brick block of 2-storeys
and attics raised on a high plinth. 9 windows long with 6 pedimented
dormers on the steep roofslope. Double-chamfered stone plinth, stone
plat-band, deep modillioned wooden eaves cornice. 3-windows central
pedimented projection with stone quoins, and same at corners of block. 6
broad stone steps and landing with iron handrail, to central doorway.
Moulded stone surround with Corinthian fluted pilasters and broken
segmental pediment, half glazed double doors. Triangular pediment to
roof has cartouche of Sebright arms flanked by putti. Recessed tall sash
windows with 6/6 panes and V-jointed stepped rustication at jambs. Head
has stucco chamfered rusticated applied flat arch with raised keystone.
The upper edges of the voussoir flanking the keystone have been cut down
to give it more prominence. Windows on the N and S ends of the block
have similar rusticated surrounds but a chamfered lintel in stucco with
raised keystone no deeper or higher than the lintel. (This may be the
alteration to the front windows made in the earlier C20 rather than the
addition then of these lively window surrounds as suggested by Pevsner).
Iron guards to lower part of each window. Sash windows with 8/8 panes to
dormers. The ends of this block continue the architectural treatment of
the front, with 2 similar sash windows to each floor and 3 dormer
windows with sashes and triangular pediments on the roofslope.
Rectangular rainwater pipes around the block have a decorative garland
in relief on each length between eared brackets, and '1702' and 'S/E.A'.
One replacement pipe at S end has 'SHS/1962'. Matching, hip-roofed N and
S pavilions linked by recessed lower 2-storeys, 3 windows wide brick and
slate blocks. 2-storeys, 5 windows long with slightly projecting
3-windows centre topped by a triangular pediment. Stepped rusticated
stone quoins, double-chamfered stone plinth, hollow chamfered stone
plat-band, and moulded stucco cornices. Flat gauged arches to recessed
sash windows of 3/3 panes to 1st floor and 6/6 panes below. Extending to
N the plum brick screen wall with central iron gates to N stable yard
with red brick gate piers with stone plinths, caps and finials.
L-shaped 2-storeys plum brick stables and coach house with hipped slate
roofs, red brick gauged arches, sash windows with 8/8 panes to ground
floor and 8-panes pivoted upper windows. The tall square clock tower
set back among kitchen buildings at S end is in similar plum brick with
a pyramidal metal roof with vane. Moulded stone frame to circular dial
on each face with a bell on a bracket on each face below. Although fixed
here in 1860s the clock is marked Northampton 1764 and presumably came
from the Worcestershire estates of the Sebright family. At the N part of
the W or garden front is the distinguished facade of Roger Morris's
Great Room. A tall single-storey with parapet, 4 windows with N window
designed as an entrance to a vestibule to the 3-bays Great Room, with
swept architraves carried lower. Tuck-pointed red brick and Portland
stone. Low stone plinth, plain stone projecting dado band, and very deep
modillioned cornice, frieze and moulded architrave in painted wood. 4
equally-spaced very tall windows with Portland stone moulded and carved
surrounds each with pulvinated frieze and triangular pediment with
egg-and-dart bedmould and enriched architrave with bead-and-reel.
Architraves sweep out at base to meet plain sill projecting flush with
stone plinth. Tall cross-windows and glazed double doors to vestibule.
To the S the old house of 2-storeys and attics has gabled 2 windows wide
wings projecting symmetrically each end of 4 windows centre. Plinth
faced in C18 with Portland stone slabs with tooled margins similar to
Great Room, stone plat-band, with an upper band across gables of wings
at eaves level stepping up over 1st floor windows. Totternhoe stone
stepped quoins at angles, flush with English-bond C17 brickwork, with
remains of C18 tuck-pointing. Carved bargeboards with moulded pendants
probably mid C19 by William Burn along with central large stone canted
bay window up 3 steps with flat roof and 2-light casement windows with
plate glass, set between twin projecting massive chimneys with the
plat-band continued across them. Small 2-light windows in gable tops,
cross-windows with plate glass casements and flat gauged arches in red
brick. C19, lower, plum brick, slated buildings extend to S. 4M high red
brick C17 and C18 garden walls extend from S part of house to form a
polygonal enclosure to SW with 2 similar cross-walls within.

Interiors: of C17 house the housemasters' room has early C17 oak scratch
moulded oak panelling on 3 walls, a 4-centred moulded stone fireplace
with foliate spandrels and stops half-way up the jambs. Arcaded carved
oak Jacobean overmantle with terms between the round arches, deep
cresting dentilled and corbelled with 4 foliate brackets. Moulded
panelled strip and shelf over fireplace an insertion. Panelling on W
wall much made-up. The features of this room pre-date the rebuilding of
1664. More typical of that date are the N staircase in oak with closed
string, dumpy balusters, heavy moulded rail and heavy square newels with
finials. Bolection moulded dado on walls probably added. Top of S
staircase has simple heavy rail, balustrade infilled, and rectangular
heavy newel with ogee finial. It is lit by a hollow chamfered 2-light
stone mullioned window. Roof structure of butt-purlin construction, S
wing has in attics plank doors with old iron hinges. E entrance hall
has freestone floor, bolection moulded panelling, moulded skirting and
cornice, and projecting chimney breast on S with grey marble surround.
Large room on S designed by Chambers as Dining Room has 3 windows, deep
enriched dentilled cornice with egg-and-dart. Moulded skirting and dado
rail. 4 moulded doorcases with 6-panels fielded doors and cyma frieze to
cornice over. Tall sash windows in moulded surrounds with fielded panels
to reveals and shutters. Chimneypiece by Chambers in veined and yellow
marble. Tall fluted consoles carry a full entablature breaking forward
over each in a frieze block with patera. Central block with relief
carved gadrooned urn and bedmould of cornice breaking forward over it.

Black iron inset and barred grate. Corresponding 3-windows N room, the
Drawing Room similar but more elaborate, cornice enriched. 3 6-panels
doors with enriched moulded surrounds and dentilled cornice to enriched
cyma frieze. Full dado with enriched moulding to skirting and capping
rail. White marble chimneypiece attributed to Borri. Scallop and wreath
in relief on pilasters, Greek wave moulding carved along architrave,
garlanded frieze, and enriched cornice breaking forward over central
block carved in relief with a head in a sunburst. Steel and brass inset
with paterae, and basket grate. A ceiling with papier mache decoration
had to be taken down in the 1960s. Main staircase with cut string,
scrolls to treads and twisted balusters, 2 per tread, moulded rail, and
panelled dado to wall. The large rectangular saloon of 1851-4 has an
arcaded gallery of 5 x 3 arches at 1st floor level above the plain walls
of the lower part with double doors in elaborate carved doorcases by
Barbetti on N, E, and W. 2 doors on S formerly flanked a chimneypiece
now in chapel. Elaborate plasterwork ceiling by James Annan with
rooflight. Deep enriched cornice interrupted by consoles with lion masks
supporting coved and beamed ceiling. In the tall 3-windows library the
ceiling has a deep cove springing from an egg-and-dart carved band which
probably remains from the 1740s interior. A band with scale decoration
and paterae blocks at corners has been added on the ceiling next the
cove. Above the bookcases on the wall can be seen painted decoration to
represent oak panelling. Oak bookcases with swept corners, reeded frieze
with ormolu anthemion ornament and central lozenge to each bay with
index letter. Central on E wall a grey marble chimneypiece (Pevsner
attributes it to M. Labriere) with segmental opening and fluted quadrant
convex corners. Axial double oak doors to N and S. Those to N give onto
former vestibule now the Inner Library also 1804 by Cundy with
white-painted panelling and bookcases in Empire style with ormolu
ornament of anthemion motif and acroteria. White marble fireplace on N
side with ormolu mounts. Winged-rod and serpent motif on panels. Glazed
doors to garden: mirrored doors opposite on E to corridor. Enriched
coved cornice. Doors at S end of main library give onto a panelled
passage with recesses for an outer pair of doors to close into, which
lead into a vestibule, now the English room, with detailing similar to
library, with similar bookcase, double doors on S wall to present Dining
Room, swept corners to W wall with 2 openings now a door and window,
plaster cornice of upright leaves, and 4 panels door on E with echinus
moulding and narrow reeded architrave. (VCH (1908)196: Country Life 12
and 19 Nov 1938: Pevsner (1977)91-3: RCHM Typescript: ex inf headmaster
Mr. Higgs).

Listing NGR: TL0453514478

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.

Source: English Heritage

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