House. Built 1849-50. Architect unknown; builder Richard Woodcock of Forest Hill. Extensively remodelled 1914-15 by WJ Kemp and WM How architects.
Reason for Listing
Beltwood House is designated for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a striking house, originally built 1849-50, extensively remodelled in the late-Edwardian manner
* Interiors: the house retains an impressive suite of rooms, most notably the entrance hall; an elegant stair, and many fittings and decorative features
Beltwood House was one of the earliest villas to be built in Sydenham Hill, predating the re-erection of the Crystal Palace (1852-4) and the arrival of the railway. The District Surveyor's return for Lewisham records that a house was built on this site in 1849-50 for a solicitor, Edward William Saxton. The builder was Richard Woodcock of Forest Hill, but no architect's name is recorded. Saxton lived at Beltwood House until his death in 1911, and the property was subsequently sold to John Edward Pickering, a company director, who undertook extensive alterations in 1914-15 to the design of Kemp & How architects. The builder was JW Falkner.
No plans or images of Beltwood House in its pre-1914 form are known to exist, but the footprints shown on the 1863 OS map and successive editions, and a drainage plan of 1879, indicate a rectangular plan villa with the principal entrance on the south side, which had a porch, a second entrance on the north, also with a porch, and bay window to the west side, and canted bay windows on the south and west elevations. These features suggest a typical mid-C19 villa in the Italianate style. Adjoining the main house to the north-east was a service wing.
In the remodelling of 1914-15 the main entrance was relocated from the south to the west elevation, the north elevation extended and the entrance removed, the service wing enlarged. A paved terrace was added on the south side. The internal plan also underwent significant alterations, including the creation of a large entrance hall - described as a ‘lounge hall’ on the plans - on the west side, a new stair, with a large drawing room on the south side. The north-east room of the main house may have become the main kitchen at this time.
From 1949 the house became the Sydenham Hill Invalid Babies’ Hospital and was occupied for a series of non-residential uses until 2001.
Brick, largely faced in render; slate roofs
The main house has a rectangular plan with an irregular service wing to the north-east. The house comprises a central vestibule to the west, a large north-west entrance hall leading through to a corridor; to the north of the corridor is a large open-well stair and a series of smaller ancillary rooms, a large kitchen to the north-east, dining room to the south-east, drawing room to the south and library to the south-west.
Beltwood House is a substantial villa standing in spacious grounds. It is two-storeys high with a low hipped roof with dormers and a timber modillion eaves cornice. Most windows are steel-framed casements with leaded lights. Elements of the 1848-9 house are perhaps discernible in the shallow roof pitch and the design of some of the chimney stacks. The predominant character however is that of an early-C20 house in the late-C17 or ‘Wrenaissance’ manner with neo-classical detailing. The three-bay west elevation has a large semi-circular hooded porch with a dentilled cornice, carried on paired Ionic columns with stylised squared volutes (a recurrent motif in the interior). A flight of stone steps leads to an open-pedimented doorcase. To the left of the entrance is a large mullion-and-transom window; the right-hand bay is blind. The upper floor has tripartite bow windows. The south elevation is a symmetrical composition of seven bays arranged 2-3-2; the central pilastered bays break forward under a pediment with an oculus and swagged Adamesque decoration. The ground floor has triple semi-circular arches with keystones and imposts, the outer arches have timber bow windows, the central one a door; each has a leaded patterned fanlight. To either side is a large bow French window with a dentil cornice, lead roof and lead patterned transom lights (the left window reinstated c1993 after fire damage). Upper windows are cross-framed. The frieze is decorated with paterae. The north elevation has a two-bay projection to the left, and irregular fenestration including a Venetian stair window. The service wing is an irregular, accretive two-storey range built in brick, largely rendered, with hipped roofs. The terrace to the south is enclosed by a stone balustraded wall, the piers embellished with urns.
The interior was extensively reworked in 1914-15 in the eclectic revivalist styles of the period, freely combining late-C17 and C18 decorative forms and the ‘Adamesque’ taste which reached its height of popularity in the early C20. The columned vestibule leads through to the entrance hall which has panelled dados, fluted pilasters with stylised Ionic capitals, a segmental vaulted ceiling with elaborate high-relief plasterwork and ceiling rose. The large window has a recess with a built-in window seat. To the north is a large alcove containing a Doric chimneypiece with a Baroque style swagged overmantel, set within a full-height pilastered surround. A pair of arches on the east side lead through to the corridor and stair. The corridor has a groin-vaulted ceiling and dado panelling. The stair is in the early-C18 style with an open string, carved tread ends, twisted balusters and square newels. Doors leading off the corridor have lugged architraves and panelled mahogany doors. The dining room has timber dados, a segmental vaulted ceiling with enriched strapwork, and a wooden chimneypiece with Ionic columns and overmantel with roundel portrait of C17 lady. A recess on the east side has wooden Ionic columns. The drawing room has panelled dados, panels of moulded plaster, a deep coved ceiling with Adamesque plasterwork. The timber chimneypiece is carved with a cherub head, and has an enriched panel and frieze to the overmantel. The door has a pilastered architrave and segmental pediment. The library has a simpler wooden chimneypiece with a Tudor arch. There is a green tiled bathroom N of stair with a grey marble washstand.
The landing balustrade supports a triple colonnade with Ionic capitals. The north-west bedroom has a marble fire surround; others retain dado rails and cornices. The 1930s bathroom is clad in white vitrolite with a grey marble panelled bath and washstand. A separate WC has green tiling matching that to the ground-floor bathroom. The service wing has a stick baluster stair and some fireplaces; these areas are generally of lesser interest.
The cottage and garage to the north-east of the house are not of special interest.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.