Gate piers and side gates to Leighton House, constructed some time between 1842 and 1886, with later alterations and additions.
Reason for Listing
* Historical: as a significant feature in the development of the Leighton House park; constructed for the Phipps family, the addition of the Laverton family arms to the quadrant walls reflects this later phase of ownership
* Design: as a handsome set of six piers, creating an imposing entrance
* Materials and craftsmanship: for its ornate cast-iron side gates, with intricate lamp-overthrows
* Group Value: with Leighton House, and its stable block, both listed at Grade II
Leighton House, at the entrance to which these gate piers now stand, was built c.1800 by Thomas Henry Hele Phipps (1777-1841). The house 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, closing 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 on the north-west side of Warminster Road, and a lodge to the north-east of the gates, which remains standing. 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 an earlier stable 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, and the stones bearing the Laverton arms which are now set into the entrance's quadrant walls are thought formerly to have been part of the original bridge.
Gate piers, quadrant walls and side gates, forming the entrance to Leighton House. First constructed between 1842 and 1886, but altered and possibly partially rebuilt subsequently.
The piers are of ashlar, the walls of roughly-coursed rubblestone. Paired inner gate piers, connected by quadrant walls to outer piers. All piers are tall, with bases, and moulded capping with ball finials. Set into the quadrant walls, stone plaques bearing the Laverton arms: three six-pointed mullets with five garbs in the first quarter, the motto being 'Basis virtutum constantia'. The park walls, leading to the outer piers, are ramped. The ornate cast-iron side gates with rich acanthus decoration and lamp overthrows were probably installed after 1888, for William Laverton. The central gates have been replaced, and the flat central overthrow, bearing the initials 'RCB' (Regular Commissions Board) is a modern addition.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.