The stable block to Leighton House, built between 1842 and 1886, with later additions and alterations.
Reason for Listing
* Architectural: as a notable example of a substantial C19 stable block, built to a restrained Classical design, which is enhanced by the distinctive late-C19 belfry
* Historical: built for Leighton House, following the expansion of the estate, the stable block has served a number of uses, being at various times a school and WWII hospital ward; consequent changes are legible, and do not obscure the building's origins
* Group Value: with Leighton House and with the gate piers and side gates marking the main entrance, both assets being listed at Grade II
Leighton House, which this stable block was built to serve, was built c.1800 by Thomas Henry Hele Phipps (1777-1841). The building sits within Leighton Park, which had been laid out around the earlier Leigh House – situated to the south of the present house – possibly as early as the C16; in the C18 the park also contained a second house, standing to the west. Phipps had inherited in 1792; the property had been bought from the Earl of Abingdon the previous year, but had been leased by the Phipps family since the early C17. The family's fortune had been made in the clothing industry, and by the end of the C18 the Phippses were considerable landowners in the parish. The estate remained in the family for the greater part of the C19 before being sold in 1888 to William Henry Laverton (d. 1925), who had recently taken over the business of his uncle, Abraham Laverton (1819-86), owner of Westbury's Bitham and Angel Mills. William Laverton immediately made extensive additions and alterations to Leighton House, employing Frank (later Sir Frank) Wills of Bristol as his architect. In 1921 Laverton sold the house, which became a boys' school, Victoria College; the school closed in 1936. In 1939, the site was requisitioned for use as a convalescent hospital, housing part of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, and in 1949 became home to the Regular Commissions Board, which selects officers for the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
Leighton Park was enlarged and developed by the Phipps family during the C19. Between the surveys for the 1842 tithe map and the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1886, the two older houses were demolished, a designed landscape was laid out around Leighton House, with a lake and boathouse to south, and a new approach from the east was created, with entrance gates and a lodge. Further east, the park was extended by the purchase of farmland to the far side of Warminster Road, where a new stable block was constructed, replacing earlier stables at the south-west corner of the park. The area was accessed by a bridge over Warminster Road to the south of the stables, which connected with a branch from the drive to the east of the house; the bridge has now been replaced. During the same period, a large walled kitchen garden was built, to the east of the site of the stables; this survives, though the associated greenhouses have been lost. William Laverton added a belfry to the stable block; Frank Wills may have been the architect for this work. Laverton's theatre, which stood to north-east of the stables, has been demolished. The stables were converted for use as a classroom block by Victoria College, necessitating significant alterations. When the Leighton House site became a wartime convalescent hospital, the stable block was used for female wards. The building now provides office space and an examination hall for the Regular Commissions Board.
Stable block, built at some time between 1842 and 1886; the architect is not known. Alterations in the late C19, with the addition of a belfry perhaps by Frank Wills. Further alterations of the early, and later, C20. Limestone ashlar with hipped slate roofs and two stone ridge stacks to the central range. Built on three sides of a quadrangle, the central coach-house range facing south-west into the courtyard, which is completed by walls and gate piers.
EXTERIOR: The principal, five-bay range is of two storeys with string course, the central bay projecting slightly, with a bracketed gable above the roof line containing a clock in a round stone frame; with this bay, a round-headed carriage arch rising through the two storeys, the side piers rusticated beneath the imposts. To either side, segmental-headed openings, with rectangular sash windows at first-floor level. The carriage arch was partially blocked in the late C19, creating a stone tympanum emblazoned with the Laverton arms: three six-pointed mullets with five garbs in the first quarter, the motto being 'Basis virtutum constantia'. Above, the late-C19 belfry recreates in miniature the form of the aedicule it surmounts, the arch housing the bell. Running above the ground floor of this range, a glass lean-to roof, probably of late-C19 or early-C20 date. The arched openings are now blocked, with timber mullioned casement windows having been inserted, a door incorporated in the central archway. This alteration probably dates from the 1920s. The two flanking single-storey wings are slightly lower than the central range, each having four tall sash windows, with moveable hopper sections above; a low doorway is situated at either end of each wing. The rear of the principal range has sash windows to ground and first floor, a fire door having been inserted to one first-floor window, giving access to a fire-escape; there is a small lean-to extension to the north-west end. The rear elevations of the flanking wings have windows like those on the inner elevations. The coped walls forming the south-west portion of the quadrangle are ramped at either end; the piers having stone brackets, as on the central gable, supporting the cornice.
INTERIOR: The interior is much altered, retaining few original features. The ground floor of the central, former coach-house range, has been subdivided, probably in the 1920s, with a passageway created by the insertion of a timber partition. The interior of the north-west wing, accessed from the principal range by a wide, panelled door, remains open, with all traces of stabling have been removed, and a false ceiling inserted. The first floor, reached by stairs at either end of the central range, is less altered than the ground floor, with some surviving original joinery, including window surrounds and panelled doorcases.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The cobbles in front of the two projecting wings survive, the central approach being asphalted.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.