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Cornbury House, Cornbury and Wychwood

Description: Cornbury House

Grade: I
Date Listed: 27 August 1957
English Heritage Building ID: 252455

OS Grid Reference: SP3503118126
OS Grid Coordinates: 435031, 218126
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8606, -1.4927

Location: Cornbury and Wychwood, Oxfordshire OX7 3HA

Locality: Cornbury and Wychwood
Local Authority: West Oxfordshire District Council
County: Oxfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: OX7 3HA

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!

Listing Text

SP31NW, SP3518
5/15, 13/15 Cornbury House


Large country house. Late C16, enlarged in 1632-3 by Nicholas Stone for Henry
Danvers, Earl of Danby and further altered and altered in 1663-77, by Hugh May,
for Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon. Alterations and addition of c.1850, mostly
removed in 1901-6, when John Belcher carried out further alterations and
additions for Vernon Watney. Most of the Belcher work was demolished c.1972. C16
work of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings, C17 and later work of
limestone ashlar.Stone slate roofs, hipped over south-east range, chapel and
north-east range. Irregular rectangular courtyard plan, partly open to
north-east; C16 ranges to north-east and north-west (Leicester wing), Danby
range by Stone (1632-3) to south-west with later C17 chapel (possibly by May)
projecting to rear, and Clarendon Wing by May (1663-B) to south-east. Courtyard
formerly closed off by Belcher's hall, vestible and porch, mostly now
demolished and the hall much reduced. Belcher's work was in a free Queen Anne
revival style. Mostly 2 storeys and attic, with some 2-storey parts to C16
ranges. Clarendon wing (south-east front): plinth, frieze, and carved stone
modillion cornice with blocking course. Central 3-bay break with unfluted Giant
Corinthian order of pilasters supporting entablature and triangular pediment.
Inscription to frieze: "DEVS.NOBIS.HAEC.OTIA.FECIT". Six flat-topped dormers
with glazing bar sashes and 4 irregularly-placed stacks. 4:3:4 bays; glazing bar
sashes, each with moulded rill, moulded architrave, and those to first floor
with pulvinated, frieze and moulded cornice. Central pair of small-paned glazed
doors with moulded architrave, pulvinated frieze and moulded cornice. Right-hand
return front of 2 bays with central round-arched niche to each floor. North-west
return of 3 bays with cill string courses, central blind windows with moulded
architraves, that to first floor with frieze and moulded cornice, and flanking
round-arched niches. South-west range: 1653, by Stone. First-floor fenestration
and roof-line altered by May c.1663-77. Moulded plinth, plat band, moulded
cornice and parapet with coping. Three flat-roofed dormers with 2-light
casements, and various irregularly-spaced ashlar stacks. 1:3:1:3 bays; glazing
bar sashes. Ground-floor windows with moulded architraves and triple keystones.
First-floor windows altered c.l664-77, each with moulded architrave, pulvinated
frieze and moulded cornice; central window also with shouldered architrave and
consoles supporting triangular pediment. Central porch with plinth, impost band,
plat band continued around porch as string course, and balustraded parapet with
moulded coping. Round-arched entrance with pair of 3-panelled doors, fanlight,
keystone, and flanking pilaster strips with round-arched niches. Short left-hand
bay (1632-3 and probably formerly matched by similar bay to right-hand end) has
blind (or blocked) first-floor window with moulded architrave, blind (or
blocked) oval mezzainine window and 2-panelled door with moulded architrave and
glazed oeil-de-boeuf with moulded architrave above, C16 Leicester wing
projecting to left: coped parapeted gables and stone stacks; first-floor stone
cross window to right with hood mould, 2-light first-floor window to left, and
ground-floor 4-light mullioned stone window to right with hood mould.
First-floor 3-light mullioned and transomed stone window with hood mould to
right-hand return front. North-west and north-east ranges with mullioned stone
windows throughout. Chapel: completed after 1677. Moulded plinth frieze and
carved stone modillion eaves cornice. Three 3-bays. Staff-moulded round-arched
side windows with moulded cills and diamond-leaded wooden cross windows. Three
staff-moulded blind (liturgical) east windows with moulded cills, the centre
rectangular and the outer round arched with blind panels beneath. Interior of
house: much altered c.1850, 1901-6 and c.1970. Some late C16 or early C17 work
survives in Leicester wing, including south-west bedroom: panelling, with
lozenge ornament in frieze and dentil cornice; fireplace with lugged stone
architrave and moulded cornice. Remodelled C17 staircase with closed string,
drop balusters and moulded rail. Danby range much altered, including horizontal
division of former full-height hall to right of entrance. Hall still retains
huge canopied stone fireplace, probably by Nicholas Stone, with scrolled
brackets supporting moulded frieze, moulded cornice and hood. Now also with
compartmented ceiling, niche at right-hand end, and 6-panelled doors with lugged
architraves and pulvinated friezes. Dining Room to left of entrance with fluted
Doric columns at each end (one pair probably C18, the other of c.1901) and late
C18 fireplace with Ionic columns (probably introduced as an old photograph is
said to show a C17 fireplace). Two bedrooms (not inspected at time of resurvey -
April 1987) have c.1633 ceilings divided into compartments by moulded ribs.
Clarendon wing interiors altered c.1850 and c.1901-6 but retaining remodelled
late C17 staircase with moulded closed string, drop balusters, moulded handrail
and square newel posts with globe finials and turned pendants. Drawing room to
south-west has late C18 marble fireplace with Ionic half columns. Library to
south-west at rear by Belcher, incorporating bookcases with carved drops,
enriched plaster ceiling, and bolection-moulded marble fireplace with overmantel
consisting of niche, broken segmental pediment and carved drops to sides. Little
of Belcher's galleried hall survives, except for a huge marble fireplace (now in
a cloakroom) with Ionic columns supporting entablature. C20 three-flight
square-well principal staircase, possibly by Belcher or later. Interior of
chapel: complete rich late C17 fixtures and fittings. Enriched plaster ceiling
with coving, central oval with wreath of palm fronds and other foliage, and end
panels with further foliage ornament. Oak fittings, including reredos with
paired fluted Corinthian pilasters, entablature with cornice, flanking panels
with carved festoons and drops, and urns above with festoons to central shield.
Altar rails with drop balusters. Oak panelling to walls. Pews with carved drops,
facing each other across chapel. Three-bay screen and gallery to (liturgical)
west with unfluted Corinthian columns, carved wooden gates, and entablature with
carved frieze and panelled front above. Central 6-panelled door to rear of
gallery with lugged moulded architrave, pulvinated frieze and moulded cornice;
flanking glazing bar sashes. Central brass chandelier. Pair of 3-panelled west
doors to chapel leading to semi-circular vestibule. The house Contains (April
1987) a series of old photographs showing the building in the late C19 and early
C20, including the porte-cochere and tower added to the south-east front c.1850
and removed by Belcher. Cornbury was a hunting lodge in the Royal Forest of
Wychwood and there is known to have been a house here in 1537. The ranger ship of
Cornbury Park was granted to prominent and deserving courtiers, hence the
employment of Stone and May, both members of the Office of Works in their time.
Stone's wing was one of the earliest classical country house fronts in the
country. Although the Forest of Wychwood is much reduced Cornbury House still
stands in an extensive wooded deer park, with lakes and further woodland beyond.
(Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: pp553-5; Country Life: CVIII (September
1950), pp922-6; Oliver Hill and John Cornforth: English Country Houses, Caroline
1625-1685, pp131-6; Mark Girouard: Life in the English Country House: p3ll)

Listing NGR: SP3502018149

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.