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The Governor's House, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Description: The Governor's House

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 1 August 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 237364

OS Grid Reference: NT9998852566
OS Grid Coordinates: 399988, 652566
Latitude/Longitude: 55.7664, -2.0017

Locality: Berwick-upon-Tweed
County: Northumberland
Country: England
Postcode: TD15 1HR

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Listing Text

(East Side)

11/135 No 1
The Governor's House


Dwellings and attached boundary walling, incorporating gatepiers, formerly residence of the Military Governor of the Garrison of Berwick -upon Tweed.
c.1719, with C19 alterations and additions. Attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor(1661-1730),for the Board of Ordnance as part of the development of the Berwick garrison barracks commissioned in 1716. Coursed squared sandstone with ashlar detailing, painted render to most of the rear, wide gable chimney stacks and slate roof coverings.

PLAN: Symmetrical elongated linear plan, with tall principal range to centre, and lower flanking service ranges ranges to either side, from which, on the north side, the tall boundary wall to the garden extends northwards and returns eastwards to the defensive ramparts at the east end of the garden.

EXTERIOR: Front (west)elevation to Palace Green with central range of 3 storeys above a basement, 5 bays, the 2 end bays with flanking full-height pilasters without capitals. Central doorway set within C19 porch, with flanking windows openings incorporating sash frames without glazing bars set within painted stone surrounds. Above the doorway, armourials witnin a cartouche. Between the first floor openings and the smaller second floor windows is a deep cornice, and at eaves level, a second, less elaborate cornice. Flanking ranges are of 2 storeys and 3 bays, the centre bays articulated by flanking pilasters and a coped gablet. North service range now a separate dwelling, with a inserted semi-circular headed window, Venetian window and keyed circular window to ground floor and sash windows in painted surrounds to upper floor. South range, formerly stables and coach house, latterly workshop, with upper floor windows with sash frames, 3 of which appear to be original openings. Blocked former coach house doorway to centre bay, with shallow ashlar arch and keystone. Part rendered bay to right-hand end appears to incorporate the end bay of the former service range, but has been raised and extended. Rear elevations have been significantly altered and extended, but appear to retain the original projections to the centre bays.

INTERIORS: Only the interior of the north wing has been inspected. This range has been remodelled to form a separate dwelling, but retains the large full-width hearth and tall chimney which served the 'mess kitchen' shown on a plan of 1837.
Attached rubble stone boundary wall with saddleback copings extends northwards, and then returns eastwards the full length of the garden it encloses, terminating at the ramparts. It incorporates a single inserted doorway at the junction of wall and house, and a wide entrance gateway with V-jointed ashlar gatepiers with shallow pyramidal caps at the corner where the wall returns eastwards. The wall varies between 2 and 2.5 metres high, and is ramped at its southern end where it adjoins the ramparts. This section of wall incorporates quoining and part of a band course, and may be a vestige of a detched garden building shown on a mid-C18 engraving of the Governors's House.

HISTORY: The Governor's House and Garden, Berwick-upon Tweed forms a key element of the garrisoned frontier settlement which evolved throughout the medieval and post medieval periods, following its capture by Edward 1 in 1296, and the subsequent remodelling of its castle, and the construction of town walls. From 1482, the town was garrisoned, and was administered by a military governor. Documentary evidence suggests that the Governor was provided with a residence and a garden. The area occupied by that residence and garden is thought to coincide with that of the present house, at first thought to have been built in 1719 to the designs of Vanbrugh, but now attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor. In 1717, the Board of Ordnance had authorised the construction in Berwick of barracks accommodation for 600 men and 36 officers, thus ending the unpopular practice of billeting soldiers with the civilian population of a settlement. The close date proximity of the barracks building campaign with that of the Governor's House suggests that they formed parts of the same initiative, Hawksmoor is known to have been close to Brigadier-General Richards, the Surveyor-General responsible for the Board of Ordnance's buildings. Berwick ceased to be a fortified town in 1815-16, and in 1837, the pedestrian route around the ramparts was created, and the Governor's House and Garden were sold.

Forms a group with Berwick Ramparts , old citadel and medieval walls.(q.v.)Scheduled Monument ND 28532.
Source: Hewlings, R. Hawksmoor's ` Brave Designs for the Police', in ` English Architecture, Public and Private ` Essays for Kerry Downes, ed. John Bold and Edward Cheney. 1993.

The Governor's House and Gardens form a focal point within the military garrison, signalling the high status of the military governor within this most important of garrison settlements. The land occupied by the house and gardens lies close to the Elizabethan ramparts, the garden wall to the north being physically attached to the defences. Thus the unique status of Berwick in a national context, the importance of its Governor's residence and gardens within the hierarchy of the early C18 garrison imparts outstanding historic and architectural significance to this site, which has additionally influenced the developement of its civilian surroundings over two centuries.

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.