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Description: High Down House with Buildings and Walls Around Courtyard on North Side
Date Listed: 9 June 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 163166
OS Grid Reference: TL1439530544
OS Grid Coordinates: 514395, 230544
Latitude/Longitude: 51.9616, -0.3365
Explore more of the area around Pirton, Hertfordshire at Explore Britain.
PIRTON HEXTON ROAD
TL 13 SW (North side)
1/156 High Down House with
9.6.52 buildings and walls around
courtyard on N side
Manor house. E range c.1600 (probably 1599 from plaque reset in S wing)
for Docwra family on occasion of marriage of Thomas Docwra with
Jane Periam in 1599 (VCH (1212)49), N range in courtyard has their names
and '1613' on plaque over entrance gateway. Enlarged in mid/late C17 to
a double-pile plan with new staircase. Alterations when sold to
Ralph Radcliffe 1726 (but scheme by Robert Adam 1768 to rebuild as a
Palladian mansion for John Radcliffe MP never carried out - plans framed
in house). Probably in early C19 house 'turned round' by altering S wing
to a spacious entrance porch and closing off the stair access from the N
courtyard with panelling. Armorial and date panels set into new S 'porch'
at this time, and probably also the plaque of unknown provenance set into
the E gable of the N courtyard range with date 1504 and name of Sir
Thomas Docwra, Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and a shield
with his arms with in chef the arms of the order, and their motto below.
Squared chalk rubble largely concealed by render, the upper floor walls
of mixed construction with timber framed inner walls like Aston Bury and
Rothhamstead Manor. Steep old red tile roofs. N courtyard range has
timber framed S wall to courtyard now roughcast. A picturesque irregular
Jacobean courtyard house standing isolated on a hillside site. Taller 2-
storeys and basements E range has kitchen below the hall, is entered at
the half level from courtyard to N, and stair continues up to great
chamber on 1st floor. 2-storeys S service crosswing has 2-storeys and
attic short wing projecting to S, possibly a stair tower originally but
now converted to main entrance porch giving access at the level of the
principle rooms. Lobby in the angle of the wings extended to W as a
parallel range with staircase and new parlour in mid C17 making the S
range double-pile. Oak studded entrance door; and the E wing has 2 two-
storeyed projecting gables of unequal size, the N one with full-height
bay window, both gables with original pierced and moulded barge boards;
at the N end of this wing is a large original chimney stack with rebuilt
diagonal shafts. The N elevation to the cobbled courtyard has a ground
floor bay window at the W end, stone, moulded, mullioned and transomed
on the E elevation. The windows of the S elevation are C17-C18
insertions, leaded lights in wood frames. The E elevation is the most
important one. There is another original chimney stack on the W side of
the house, also with rebuilt shafts. The interior has a number of C17
features and some C18 and C19 alterations; there is a quantity of C17
panelling used as dados, 2 original stone fireplaces in the upper storey
E rooms, and an archway with Tuscan columns at each end of the passage
from the entrance porch. The back staircase has some original features.
Great chamber spanned by an arch-braced collar-beam truss and ceiled at
collar level. Lofty basement kitchen lit through base of canted bay
window has wide 4-centred arched fireplace with relieving timber over.
Water Cistern to RH of fireplace and brick cooking stove in base of
window bay. Stone moulded 4-centred arched fireplace in dining room. NE
room on ground floor has cast iron fireplace exhibited at 1851 exhibition
with scallop surround to circular opening. 2-storeys ranges on W and N
sides of courtyard with wall on E. N range older and pierced by entrance
carriageway near W end, has lodgings or dormitory accommodation on 1st
floor reached by stair at W end in courtyard. 2-bays ground floor room
at W entered from carriageway and with original W gable fireplace. 5-bays
stable to E of carriageway. Upper floor has 3-lights casement leaded
windows, clasped-purlin roof with curved braces to tie-beams from jowled
posts in S wall. Wide 4-centred chamfered brick entrance archway in
rectangular frame with shield plaque over and panelled double gates.
(RCHM (1911)163-4: VCH (1912)46: Pevsner (1977)271: RCHM Typescript).
Listing NGR: TL1439530544
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.