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Percy Cottage and wall attached to north west corner

A Grade II Listed Building in Morpeth, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.1694 / 55°10'9"N

Longitude: -1.6929 / 1°41'34"W

OS Eastings: 419660

OS Northings: 586168

OS Grid: NZ196861

Mapcode National: GBR J8MN.9Q

Mapcode Global: WHC2Q.ZB1C

Entry Name: Percy Cottage and wall attached to north west corner

Listing Date: 22 August 1986

Last Amended: 3 November 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1042744

English Heritage Legacy ID: 238770

Location: Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Morpeth

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Morpeth

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

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Summary

House and attached brick wall, c 1820, incorporating an earlier C18 dwelling as the east wing, but not the conservatory to the S elevation or the buttress and small lean-to attached to the E gable.

Description

House c 1820, incorporating an C18 dwelling as an east wing; murals to the drawing room by J Ferguson.

MATERIALS: ashlar sandstone to the main elevation with rubble sandstone to the left return; hand-made brick in English Garden wall bond with ashlar dressings. Welsh slate roof.

PLAN: L-shaped with a basement to the W end.

EXTERIOR: the building is oriented E to W on a sloping site above the River Wansbeck. The river-facing W elevation has two bays and two storeys above the basement, the latter forming the ground floor to this elevation. A stone band separates the two upper floors. The basement has a boarded door flanked by six-pane fixed windows in original openings with stone sills. The balcony above is carried on stone brackets and is accessed by a pair of French windows. The upper floor has a pair of eight-over-eight sliding sash windows, and above is a cornice and a broken pediment with a timber roundel bearing a quatrefoil, and a parapet behind; the roof is gabled on the left, with a chimney stack, and hipped on the right. The single-bay right return has a similar broken pediment and roundel and sandstone quoins. It has two storeys above a basement, the latter partially visible with a small, square opening. There is an eight-over-eight sliding sash window to the ground and first floor, the former in an original surround with a flat-arched brick head. A similar window is tucked into the rear elevation and also has a brick flat-arch head. The single-bay left return is blind.

The earlier rear range facing S has two storeys and three bays, the centre bay pedimented. There are gable chimney stacks, that to the right rebuilt in the C20. Sandstone quoins to the right end and the nature and colour of the brickwork to the upper parts indicates that this range has been raised in height. There are eight-over-eight sliding sash first floor windows to the first and second bays and an inserted casement to the third bay. The ground floor has entrances with fanlights to the second and third bays; the latter has a brick flat arch and a modern door, and the former has double six-panel doors with fielded panels. An original window opening in the first bay has been modified to form a door and there is a narrow inserted door to the left. A set of stone steps, set parallel to the S elevation, lead to the basement. The conservatory attached to the S elevation and the buttress and small lean-to building attached to the E gable are not included in the listing. The rear elevation has a small, modern single-storey extension and three inserted casement windows.

INTERIOR: the basement room has a brick-built fireplace and a few original ceiling beams, though most are replacements, and there are timber lintels to the three openings. The ground floor retains its original linear plan, and some of the fittings that are retained might have been re-sited. There are six-panel doors with fielded panels, some with historic door furniture and there is a wide boarded floorboard floor to two of the three rooms. The present kitchen has chamfered beams and a large fireplace with a stone lintel. The central room has a fireplace against the former W external wall and a six-panel door forming a cupboard to one side. The drawing room has a simple cornice and skirting boards and an inserted terracotta chimney piece of mid-C20 style, with the original hearth below. The walls of this room are divided into recessed, rectangular panels, within which are set a series of mural paintings in the Romantic style. Subjects include Claudian landscapes, ruined castles, awesome waterfalls, sea scenes and pastoral landscapes. The paintings are characteristic of their early-C19 date deriving from C17 Dutch and French artists. Some display a more Romantic sensibility such as the crashing waterfall, and the ruined abbey by a lake most clearly shows a 'Gothick' aesthetic, also seen in the tall, thin panels framed by Gothic arches with small figures below.

The timber dog-leg stair is of later-C18/early-C19 style with a ramped handrail, double moulded newel posts to the landings and simple stick balusters. A third flight rises partially into the roof space to a re-sited timber partition forming a cupboard; it has fielded panels incorporating a six-pane window. Slight constructional differences between the lower part of the staircase and the third flight suggests the latter is later in date, possibly added when the building was raised. It is understood that the original early-C19 roof structure remains above. There has been some slight remodelling to the first floor layout to create corridor access to the main (W) bedroom. Doors are mostly four-panel and two of the three bedrooms have later-C18/early-C19 timber chimneypieces, while the third bedroom has a recent stone fireplace; all have later hob grates.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the C20 partitioning to the first floor, all sanitary and kitchen fittings, and the modern balustrade to the basement stair are not of special architectural or historic interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a brick wall attached to the NW corner of the cottage, steps down the slope towards the river; this has stone flag coping stones and retains crude circular holes of a former metal railing. This structure contributes to the special interest of the principal building and is included in the listing.

History

The rear, E range of this house is considered to date from the C18. The presence of sandstone quoins at the E end of the S elevation, which do not rise to the present eaves level, combined with a change in the nature and colour of the brickwork to the upper parts, indicate that the range has been raised in height. This was part of the remodelling of the house in c 1820 when it was also extended to the W, forming a new principal elevation overlooking the River Wansbeck.

In 1822 a series of wall murals by J Ferguson was added to the drawing room. It is possible that J Ferguson may be an unknown local artist, but a James Ferguson is recorded in two national databases of artists; he was active between 1817 and 1858 and two of his paintings are in the Preston Art Gallery. Contemporary newspapers also refer to James Ferguson, one describing him as a Lake District resident. Accompanying descriptions of his style and work indicate that he painted conservative landscapes with some Gothic/Romantic influences, and these are certainly in the right vein for the paintings at Percy Cottage. However, this is circumstantial evidence, and any formal attribution to a known artist must await further research.

Percy Cottage is depicted on the 1858 1:500 Morpeth town plan with the same footprint as today. It forms the westernmost building of a terrace annotated 'Percy Court'. Subsequent Ordnance Survey mapping shows that the remainder of the terrace was demolished between 1968 and 1977 when Percy Cottage became a detached building and a buttress and small lean-to were attached to the E gable. The cottage underwent a phase of alteration in the later C20 with changes to the fenestration, the addition of an external balcony, the replacement of the asbestos roof covering with Welsh slate and a narrow lean-to single-storey extension to the N elevation.


Reasons for Listing

Percy Cottage and attached brick wall of early C19 date, incorporating an C18 east range, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Date: as an early C19 house, that survives close to its original form and whose interest is enhanced by the incorporation of an earlier, C18 dwelling;
* Architectural interest: for its design interest incorporating pedimented elevations and timber roundels and for its good quality construction and use of materials including hand-made brick;
* Interior fixtures and fittings: the earlier, east range retains good survival of later-C18/early-C19 carpentry including six-panel doors, a dog-leg staircase and early panelling, along with a pair of fireplaces of similar date;
* Wall murals: it retains a remarkable and complete bespoke collection of early-C19 seascape and landscape mural paintings in the Romantic style, deliberately painted for the drawing room by a named artist, J Ferguson.

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