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Description: Nuneham House
Date Listed: 18 July 1963
English Heritage Building ID: 248315
OS Grid Reference: SU5406598072
OS Grid Coordinates: 454065, 198072
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6788, -1.2194
Explore more of the area around Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire at Explore Britain.
NUNEHAM COURTENAY NUNEHAN PARK
12/78 Nuneham House
18/07/63 (Formerly listed as Nuneham
Country house, now conference centre. 1757 by Stiff Leadbetter for the 1st Earl
Harcourt, interior by James Stuart; altered 1781 by Lancelot Brown and Henry
Holland for the 2nd Earl; extended 1832 by Sir Robert Smirke for Archbishop
Harcourt. Limestone ashlar; Welsh-slate roofs with ashlar stacks. Double-depth
main block with quadrant links to pavilions; south pavilion enlarged. 3 storeys
plus attic and 3-storey pavilions. Symmetrical 7-window front breaks forward in
the middle 3 bays below a triangular pediment enclosing an oculus, now flanked
by a balustraded parapet of 1904. Original cornice survives. Second-floor
windows have moulded architraves and are probably enlarged. Lower-floor openings
were destroyed by a 2-storey projecting extension of 1904 built above Smirke's
rusticated 3-bay entrance arcade. Hipped roof has added dormers at sides.
2-storey quadrant links have an arcaded ground floor. Pavilions, of 3 by 3 bays,
have, at first floor, a plain storey band, a moulded sill band and moulded
architraves; the upper floor and cornice was added by Brown and the plain
parapets by Smirke. The left pavilion is extended. 5-window return wall to right
of the main block has 2 floors of architraved sashes over a projecting arcaded
ground floor added by Brown. 3-window left return wall has a similar terrace
above which a Venetian window is flanked by arched sashes, originally shown as
square-headed. The garden front has a projecting middle section with sashes in
its canted sides but with 3 Venetian windows in the central and flanking bays.
These have arches breaking through the frieze and cornice in the manner of
Hadrian's Aqueduct at Athens and have Greek-Ionic columns - "the first direct
quote from Ancient Greece in English architecture" (Worsley) and the first use
of that order. The 9-window garden front of the extended south pavilion breaks
forward twice in a 4:1:3:1 arrangement, with a triangular pediment above the
3-bay section which also has cornices on its first floor architraves. Interior:
Holland's oval 3-storey staircase has a cantilevered stone stair with a
wrought-iron balustrade, and has plaster panelled walls with fruit-and-flower
drops. The ceiling has large festoons in the cove and an oval domelight. It was
built to give access to the piano nobile after the removal of Leadbetter's
external double staircase. Stuart's Great Drawing Room has a compartmented
ceiling, modelled on the Banqueting House, and the windows have fluted Ionic
columns and pilasters. The marble fireplace, traditionally ascribed to the
artist Paul Sandby, has a frieze of medallions and festoons, matching that of
the room, and has recently been attributed to Stuart. The Octagonal Salon, with
its high coved ceiling, also has rich decoration by Stuart, later embellished by
Holland. The C18 fireplace is a recent addition. The Dining Room, as re-modelled
and enlarged by Holland, retains Stuart's fine marble fireplace which has an
eared egg-and-dart architrave, a large dentil cornice supported on lion-mask
consoles, and a deep frieze containing medallions and crossed torches. The
compartmented ceiling has lost Holland's festoons from the cove. The extension
to the room is marked by 2 scagliola Composite columns in antis. Many other
rooms, including Smirke's extension, have fine doorcases, fireplaces and coved
ceilings. Leadbetter's design was illustrated in Vitrivius Brittanicus. The
house, conceived as a villa in a Classical setting, became the focus of one of
Brown's first landscapes.
(Nunehan Park is included in the HBMC County Register of Gardens at Grade I;
V.C.H.: Oxfordshire, Vol.V, p.234; Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, pp.726-8;
G. Worsley, "Nuneham Park Revisited I"; Country Life: Vol.177, 1985, pp.16-19;
M. Batey: Nuneham Courtenay, 1970).
Listing NGR: SU5406598072
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.