Country House. C18 origins, remodelled in 1790 by Robert Adam for John Fenton Cawthorne M.P., though plans not fully executed, remodelled again in 1843-4 by Edmund Sharpe for Robert Garnett, with later-C19 and C20 additions and alterations.
Reason for Listing
Wyreside Hall is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: as a country house with the main house remodelled in the 1840s in a restrained classical style, a service range containing fabric of an earlier house on the site, and a late-C19 servants' block
* Architect: the respected Lancaster architect, Edmund Sharpe, refronted the main house in 1843-4 to a stripped classical design, removing all vestiges of an incomplete scheme designed by Robert Adam in 1790. Sharpe subsequently set up in practice with Edward Paley, becoming well-known particularly for their ecclesiastical buildings, many of which are listed.
* Interior: the main house retains an early-C19 decorative scheme which compliments the classical exterior. This includes cornices, doors and architraves, window shutters, some fireplaces, and most notably the main staircase.
* Layout: on the ground floor is a series of distinct, good-quality reception rooms of varying sizes, with bedrooms and adjacent dressing rooms on the first floor.
* Group Value: the main house, which stands in an elevated position overlooking parkland, forms a group with the C18 stables and coach house to the immediate north, the early-C19 Wyreside Lodge (q.v.) at the foot of the main drive, the early-C19 bridge (q.v.) over which the drive passes before curving round and up towards the house, and the late-C18 or early-C19 ice house on the south side of the drive in the small wood known as Finchcroft Woods.
The date and builder of the original Wyreside Hall is unknown. There was certainly a building present when the estate was purchased by the Cawthorne family in the late C18. John Fenton Cawthorne (1753-1831), MP for Lincoln from 1783 to 1796 and for Lancaster intermittently from 1806 until his death, commissioned Robert Adam in 1790 to remodel the old house. It was proposed to build two ranges in the shape of an L across the south-west end of the earlier house. Two schemes were prepared. One scheme was classical with a pedimented central block and domed pavilions. The other was in a castle style with a principal block of the same proportions as the classical scheme, but with square corner towers, low battlemented walls to screen the courts, and terminal pavilions with central round towers. Robert Adam is a celebrated and prolific architect who, together with his younger brother James, designed and remodelled many pre-eminent houses during the second half of the C18. In 1786 the Adam brothers had designed Milburn, at Claremont in Surrey, for Lord Delaval, whose daughter, Frances, was married to Cawthorne. It is likely that this was the reason Cawthorne commissioned Adam to undertake the updating of Wyreside.
Work began on the classical scheme, but in 1796 Cawthorne was expelled from parliament for embezzlement. The building work was halted and not resumed. The Lonsdale Magazine or Provincial Repository no.XVIII (June 1821) includes a view of the house showing the centre of the west front completed according to the Adam design, although an older house remains at the southern end where one of the domed pavilions should have been. This is shown on the 1:10560 Ordnance Survey map surveyed in the early 1840s and published in 1846, which also shows a parallel service block to the east, linked to the main house by a narrow range. It is possible that the drawing room, dining room and library in the main house were all by Adam, but no trace of their decoration remains.
Cawthorne died childless in 1831 and in 1836 Robert Garnett (1780-1852) bought the house from Cawthorne's trustees. In 1843-4 he commissioned the Lancaster architect, Edmund Sharpe, to remodel the house; this included a new west front. It is this façade, in a stripped classical style with Greek Revival touches, which remains today, complemented by the early-C19 lodge on the main drive, which is listed Grade II in its own right. There was also a comprehensive updating of the interior and the decorative scheme such as the cornices, doors and architraves, some fireplaces, and the main staircase lit by a decorated lantern, date from this period. Sharpe is a well regarded provincial architect, who from 1845 formed an ecclesiastical practice with E G Paley, together erecting nearly forty new churches, many of which are now listed.
In 1900 the journalist and local historian Anthony Hewitson said that Wyreside had been refronted with massive masonry around 1884 and at the same time the servants' hall had been built to the rear. Whilst the early-C19 appearance of the main façade does not confirm the suggestion that the main house had again been refronted, the appearance of the eastern servants' hall does indicate a late-C19 date for this range, though the map evidence indicates that it must have replaced an earlier building in this position. The 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map of 1892 shows a footprint very similar to the present day.
In 1936 Wyreside was sold by auction. It was subsequently occupied by a religious order and was later converted to a number of separate apartments. The description of the property in the auction catalogue suggests that a number of internal alterations may have been made after the 1936 sale. Most notable of these were the insertion of a corridor from the garden entrance in the south elevation of the main house, and the insertion of a second main staircase in the manner of the adjacent early-C19 staircase, to enable the main house to be sub-divided.
On the north side of the hall the stable and coach house block was built in the C18. On the east side a doorway uses a relocated lintel which is decoratively carved and incorporates the initial I C and 17 ??. There is a possibility this was relocated from the original house when the Adam scheme was instigated. The building was later altered.
On the south side of the main drive to the south of the hall is a rectangular late-C18 or early-C19 icehouse situated in a small wood identified as Finchcroft Wood on Ordnance Survey maps. Nearby, in the same wood, is the circular brick and stone base of a gasometer. The nearby village of Dolphinholme has a very similar gasometer base associated with a cotton mill, which is dated 1811 and is possibly the earliest in the country, although the Wyreside gasometer is not marked on the 1846 Ordnance Survey map and so may be considerably later. The service drive of the hall is lit by six cast-iron gas lamps, now converted to electricity.
MATERIALS: sandstone ashlar and coursed sandstone blocks, slate roofs.
PLAN: the main house faces west, overlooking the River Wyre, and wraps round the service range to the rear. There is a central entrance hall with a separate stair hall to the rear. Either side of the entrance hall is a line of reception rooms with two large adjacent south-facing reception rooms at the south end of the building. A corridor has been inserted between these two rooms from the garden entrance, in centre of the south elevation. It leads through to a stair hall inserted at the south end of the original stair hall. On the first floor are a series of bedrooms and dressing rooms, a number now sub-divided. Beneath the north and south ends of the house are two separate cellars. To the rear of the main house is a link service range with rooms opening off long corridors on both floors. The eastern service block is of three storeys on the northern side and two on the southern side, which originally contained a separate cottage. Some of the rooms have been subdivided.
EXTERIOR: the front (west) elevation is a classical symmetrical composition of two storeys and eight bays. The façade has a plinth and entablature and is articulated by giant Tuscan pilasters. The outer bays and two central bays project slightly. The central bays have a moulded pediment and a porch with four fluted Ionic columns, entablature, and panelled balustrade. The outer bays have parapets with corner palmettes. The windows on both floors are unhorned hung sashes of six-over six panes, those on the first floor with moulded apron panels. The ground-floor window in the second bay has been altered to incorporate a French window. The central entrance doorway has an enriched stone architrave with half-glazed double panelled doors and a rectangular overlight with vertical glazing bars. It is flanked by tall fixed windows with glazing bars. The south garden elevation of the main house is of two storeys and five bays with a slightly recessed central bay. It is similarly detailed to the front elevation with plinth, giant pilasters, entablature, parapet with palmettes, and six-over-six pane hung sash first-floor windows. The ground floor has a central entrance doorway with a modern door and timber architrave. It is flanked by wide tripartite windows with pilaster mullions, a central six-over-six pane hung sash window and four-over-four pane hung sash side windows. The service range is screened by a high stone wall fronted in ashlar blocks and attached to the right-hand corner of the elevation.
The service ranges to the rear are of several phases. The link range is of roughly coursed sandstone blocks. The ground floor of the south side is obscured by a C20 lean-to extension. The north side has a rough joint towards the left-hand side, corresponding approximately to a thick internal cross wall. To the right of this were four ground-floor windows with ashlar lintels and relieving arches over, three of which are now blocked with two C20 garage doorways inserted. To the left of the rough joint is a ground-floor window without a relieving arch over, and a modern single-storey lean-to. At the right-hand end of the elevation is the tall, round-headed stair window. It is located hard against the rear wall of the main house and was originally deeper. Adjacent is a second stair window, now largely blocked. All windows are hung-sashes, some unhorned and some with later horned frames. The eastern service block, which runs north-south, is of two and three storeys with dressed, coursed sandstone blocks and hipped slate roofs. The windows are a combination of horned sash frames and modern casements.
INTERIOR: a scheme of early-C19 decoration and fixtures and fittings remain. The main ground-floor reception rooms and first-floor bedrooms and dressing rooms have early-C19 enriched cornices with the exception of the south-west reception room and the adjacent corridor, which have cornices relating to the formation of the corridor in the C20. Other early-C19 features include the majority of the doors on the ground floor and a number on the first floor, which are four panelled with moulded architraves and panelled reveals. On the ground floor there early-C19 marble fireplaces in the entrance hall and the adjacent room to the north, with a number of C19 marble fireplaces on the first floor. The windows on both floors retain their panelled shutters. The main staircase is open well, with cast-iron classically detailed balusters and a swept mahogany handrail terminating in a scroll, and carved tread ends. Above is a square lantern with moulded cornice, glazed side lights and an enriched coffered ceiling. The adjacent staircase is a C20 imitation and is not of interest. The south cellar retains the original room layout, including two barrel-vaulted rooms, all with stone flag floors.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the west side of the stable and coach house range is of coursed rubble stone with shaped quoins, kneelers and coping. The fenestration has been modified with inserted windows and blocked and altered windows. The north elevation has a three-bay, two-storey central section flanked by projecting gabled walls with Diocletian windows to the apexes, and a further three-bay section extending northwards. The south gable contains a cottage with central doorway in the south elevation. The east side of the building is irregularly fenestrated. In the right-hand gable is a doorway with a reused stone lintel which is decoratively carved with a central panel containing the relief carved initials I C and a partially lost date of 17 ?? The interior has been altered to modern usage and contains no fixtures or fittings of interest.
The ice house is a rectangular stone building sunk into a hillside in a small wood. It has an arched doorway, missing its door. The arch vaulted interior originally had a second inner door, no longer present.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.