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Date Listed: 20 October 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 160635
OS Grid Reference: TL3153610448
OS Grid Coordinates: 531536, 210448
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7773, -0.0948
Explore more of the area around Bayford, Hertfordshire at Explore Britain.
TL 31 SW BAYFORD LOWER HATFIELD ROAD
Country house. 1759-62 for Sir William Baker a rich London merchant,
altered to present appearance 1809-12 for William Baker II MP to designs
by Francis Aldhouse, leased to Dr. Barnado's after death of Admiral
Sir Lewis Clinton-Baker in 1940, sold to John Innes Horticultural
Institute 1945, bought by Hertfordshire County Council 1967 and used by
Hatfield Polytechnic, for sale in 1985. Originally red brick house and 2
separate service pavillions, gaps infilled 1809-12 and house entirely
faced in stucco (Parker's cement). Portland stone porticos and string
courses. Low pitched hipped slate roofs in graduated courses hidden by
parapets. Upper slope of Mansard roof on each pavillion in copper. Very
long Neo-Classical house set in parkland on the brow of a hill, facing
N. 7 windows wide centre part of 2-storeys basement and attics is the
original house. Symmetrical lofty single-storey links, 4 windows wide,
raised on basements, project slightly to front and rear, and are higher
than the 2-storeys, 5 windows wide pavillions, set back at each end from
N front. Double-pile plan to centre with a room in each corner, and
central projection from entrance hall to stair hall (axial passages
going off to E and W) and large saloon with canted projection on S front
echoed in its N wall. Service pavillions originally stables (W) and
kitchens etc (E). Alterations of c.1812 infilled the W link with the
Great Library facing S, 2 small rooms facing N, and an arcaded and top
lit domed passage between. Similar passage in E link with new Dining
Room facing S designed to hang the Kit Kat Club portraits (now in
National Portrait Gallery, London) in 2 rows. 2 small rooms to N front.
The W stable pavillion was appropriated to domestic use and a new stable
block built some way to W (q.v.). Architecturally the transformation is
striking. Symmetrical N front with alternating projection and recession
of parts. 7 windows middle block has its slight 3-windows central
projection repeated in the parapet or high blocking course pierced by 3
windows in wide segmental recesses. Lower, 5 windows end pavillions are
set back with slight 3 windows central projection with triangular
pediment and cupola to each (at E end a bell in cupola and clockface in
pediment: at W a wind-vane with wind-dial in pediment). The added infill
blocks stepping up to centre each project a little to front of main
house, continue its base, and have a cornice level continuing that of
the outer pavillions which is also continued across the main house at
1st floor level and breaking forward as a deep single-storey,
pedimented, tetrastyle Greek Doric portico, approached by 10 steps, with
fluted columns and paired columns flanking the centre. Echoing this the
infill blocks have tripartite fronts in elongated triumphal arch motif,
the centre a tetrastyle Greek Doric screen in antis with wide segmental
opening above (with bust) and a central round-headed niche in a recessed
wall, flanked by windows. The outer elements are wide niches with
windows at the back. Recessed sash windows, with square heads, and 6/6
panes generally, but 3/3 in end pavillions. The garden front simpler
with same wide segmental recesses at attic level in main house echoed in
wide segmental shallow recess to centre of each 3-windows infill block.
Segmental full height bay to middle of main house and single-storey
hexastyle Ionic portico with central flight of 8 steps, and upper level
extended by railed balcony on short iron columns along front of Great
Library and Dining Room, ending in swept stairs down to garden.
Unemphasised rear of each pavillion. Garden front extended by colonnaded
conservatory to E and blind colonnading of wall to service yard at W.
Original C18 interiors survive in entrance hall (vigorous plaster
ceiling and carved stone chimneypiece in baroque taste, and diagonal
chequered black and white marble floor) and small NE room (deep coved
ceiling with vigorous plasterwork). Heavy mahogany doors general in
main house, with egg-and-dart carved enrichment around 6 fielded panels.
Simpler moulded panelled doors in 1812 work. Cantilevered wooden
semi-circular staircase with ironwork balustrade rising in toplit,
domed, cylindrical shaft to upper landing. Fixed at W end of saloon a
large pietra dura table with foliate gilt supports and mirror below.
Enriched plaster cornices and moulded architraves skirtings and dados.
Polished hardwood plank floors. Egyptian style chimneypiece in red
granite for Great Library presented to William Baker II by Robert Fagan
British Consul in Palermo after his daughter married Baker's son.
Displayed wings motif on crosspiece and opening flanked by 2 standing
male ancient Egyptians acting as caryatids supporting the moulded shelf.
Chimneypiece dismantled in NE room when inspected. Also there, are:
(1) a large marble classical plaque of a warrior on a couch with shield,
a female seated leaning over kissing his arm, and a male figure in
background turning away; (2) a plaster copy of (1); (3) two marble
stands originally supporting busts in the Great Library; (4) two carved
stone tripods of differing heights. Enriched moulded window shutters
have been re-used on N front at basement level. A collection of small
oval relief plaques is set in wall in passage backing onto Great Library
within a tripartite arrangement of grey scaglioli columns (unfluted
Greek Doric) with central segmental arch. (VCH (1912)419: Kelly
(1914)50-1: Pevsner (1977)90-1: RCHM Typescript: Country Life 17.1.1925,
92-9; 24.1.1925, 124-133).
Listing NGR: TL3153610448
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.