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Castle Hill House, including attached garden wall with gatepiers to south-east

A Grade II* Listed Building in Dover, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1263 / 51°7'34"N

Longitude: 1.3174 / 1°19'2"E

OS Eastings: 632220

OS Northings: 141572

OS Grid: TR322415

Mapcode National: GBR X2Z.9W0

Mapcode Global: VHLHB.SY9F

Entry Name: Castle Hill House, including attached garden wall with gatepiers to south-east

Listing Date: 30 June 1949

Last Amended: 22 September 2014

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1069524

English Heritage Legacy ID: 177728

Location: Dover, Dover, Kent, CT16

County: Kent

District: Dover

Civil Parish: Dover

Built-Up Area: Dover

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

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Summary

Castle Hill House was built in 1760 by the Stringer family in classical style. In the early C19 a curved bay was added on the south-west side and some internal refurbishing was carried out.

Description

Castle Hill House was built in 1760 by the Stringer family in classical style. In the early C19 a curved bay was added on the south-west side and some internal refurbishing was carried out.

MATERIALS: of brown brick in Flemish bond with red brick voussoirs and stone bands and a cornice. It has a tiled roof with end brick chimneystacks.

PLAN: of two parallel ranges and seven bays over three storeys attics and basement. It has a central doorcase and staircase.

EXTERIOR: Castle Hill House has a symmetrical north-east entrance front of seven bays, the central three bays projecting slightly under a pediment containing an oval window in the tympanum. There is a parapet with a stone bracket cornice, a stone band under the ground and first floor windows and a wider stone band above the ground floor windows. Windows are sashes with horns; three-over-three to the second floor and six-over-six to the ground and first floors. The central entrance is pedimented with a bracket cornice and Ionic half-columns with panelled reveals and an eight panelled door. The south-east side has end chimneystacks, a small first floor extension and an attached section of garden wall enclosing a forecourt, ramped up near the house, incorporating a blocked carriage entrance with square brick gate piers with stone caps. The south-west side has at the south end a full-height curved bay over two storeys, of three windows, with six-over-six sash windows on the first floor. It originally had identical windows on the ground floor but these were shortened probably in the second half of the C20 leaving the upper half of six panes. Adjoining is a three bay section with a mansard roof, three flat-roofed dormers and three six-over-six sash windows. Beyond it is a section of two bays under a roof hipped at the north end with similar six-over-six sash windows and a further section of two bays with six-over-six sash windows. The north-west side is rendered.

INTERIOR: the entrance into Castle Hill House from the north-east leads directly into the central staircase hall. This has a staircase with mahogany handrail, alternate spiral and plain turned balusters, finely carved tread ends and column newel posts. The walls of this central room are panelled with a bracket cornice, moulded dado rail, a deep skirting board and six-panelled door. The adjoining room to the north has a cornice with alternate brackets and paterae, panelling with a dado rail and a plastered rococo ceiling. This has a central moulded ceiling rose and four corner panels with wheat ear drops, cornucopiae, caduceus (the staff of Hermes who gave protection to merchants), and incorporates grapes in the design (symbolising the source of the wealth of the Stringer family, who were wine merchants). The wooden Gibbs surround fireplace is finely carved with a central shallow basket of flowers, and has a Delft tiled interior. Above is a finely carved wooden surround, now containing a mirror but probably originally designed for a painting. The original window shutters survive. The ground floor south-east reception room has early C19 panelled double connecting doors into the large south-west reception room with curved bay, which has a mid-C19 marble fireplace and a dumb waiter.

The central first floor staircase-hall has a moulded cornice and a series of early C19 reeded door architraves with paterae to panelled doors. A short early C19 flight of stairs, with three slender turned balusters, finely carved scrolled tread ends and a column newel post, leads to the large south-west reception room. This has a curved bay window, and is called the Churchill Room after one of its most notable speakers. It has an early C19 fireplace of three colours of marble, with paterae, pilasters and a cast iron fire grate, a moulded cornice, dado rail and skirting board. The first floor south-east room has a plastered rococo ceiling with a ceiling rose and four panels of similar character to the ground floor north room; also a moulded cornice, dado rail and skirting board. There is a powder closet leading off on the south side.

The staircase flight between the first and second floors has plainer turned balusters and scrolled tread ends. On the south-east side of the second floor is an early C19 fireplace with a reeded surround and paterae. The north-east room, possibly originally a housekeeper's room, has a dentil cornice, panelling, dado rail, a built-in picture surround, two-panelled doors to cupboards either side of the central fireplace and a corner laundry cupboard with shelves. A number of smaller rooms on this floor were probably used for servants' accommodation.

The cellar has stone steps and contains original stone wine bins, a larger barrel store and a Second World War air raid shelter.



History

Castle Hill House was built by the Stringer family in 1760 and was originally set in park land with a stable and a gardener's cottage. In 1782 Phineas Stringer (1730-1801) was elected Mayor of Dover. He was a wine merchant by profession and owned a wine vault situated below Dover Castle. His son George Stringer inherited the property and was the Mayor of Dover in May 1802 when peace was temporarily declared with France by the Treaty of Amiens. To commemorate, a grand illuminated transparency was hung on the front of Castle Hill showing the figure of Peace, and a lavish ball was held in Castle Hill House.

George Stringer sold Castle Hill House to John Jeken, Mayor of Dover in 1822 and master of the town's almshouses. As Dover Coroner he presided over the famous case of the death of William Cullen and three unnamed seamen of the revenue cutter 'Badger'. The estate was put on the market in 1829 when the house was described as having ten bedrooms, housekeeper and servants' quarters, stables for four horses, a knife house, poultry house, granary, washhouse, and numerous other facilities.

The whole estate was bought by Charles Lamb, but he put it up for auction in 1832 and it was sold for £7,000 to Edward Knocker (1804-1884) a solicitor and later Town Clerk and Mayor. Together with three other businessmen Knocker laid out Castle Street in Dover, the eastern part built on land formerly part of the estate. His son Wollaston, also a solicitor, was appointed town clerk in 1868 and he built an annexe onto Castle Hill House, now. 5 Castle Hill Road (Grade II), from which he ran the town council. He was also a prominent member of the Dover Antiquarian Society. When Wollaston died in 1907 his son Reginald became town clerk but in 1913 he sold Castle Hill House to Arthur Burr, a managing director of Shakespeare Colliery.

Burr was declared bankrupt in 1917 and the house fell under the ownership of the Kent Coal Concession who used the house as their headquarters until the High Court ordered them to vacate the property in lieu of debts in 1925.

In 1928 the Dover Labour and Trade Union bought the house and refurbished it but sold the property in June 1933 to Rowland and Rowland, wholesale grocers, who built new offices and warehouses in the gardens facing Maison Dieu Road. The house became briefly a nightclub known as Rennie's Club which was raided by the police in 1935 and closed in the same year.

Castle Hill House was bought in 1935 by John Jacob Astor, proprietor of 'The Times', 1908 Olympic gold medal winner and the serving conservative MP for Dover, as his constituency home. The 'office' annexe was let to Kent County Council and the Premier Dance School. During the Second World War the house was used as a welfare centre for troops. A watercolour by James Fairclough of June 1942 shows that the top floor of the curved bay on the south-west side had a balcony with tented canopy at this date. After the war Astor decided not to stand in the 1945 election and on 10 May 1946 he let Castle Hill House to the local Conservative Party. He was created Baron Astor of Hever in 1956 and bequeathed the house to the Conservative Party on his death in 1971. The Conservative Party sold the property to a private buyer in 1994.

Reasons for Listing

Castle Hill House, a large classical style brick house of 1760 built for the Stringer family, with early C19 alterations to provide more reception rooms, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: for its quality of composition, detailing, distinctive plan form and outstanding interior joinery, rococo plaster ceilings and marble fireplaces, of more than special interest;
* Intactness: little altered externally, except for the addition of an early C19 curved bay. Internally nine or ten rooms retain significant C18 or early C19 fittings;
* Historic interest: the home of numerous mayors and town clerks of Dover and the constituency home in the 1930s of John Jacob Astor, the newspaper proprietor;
* Rarity of type: it is the only large detached C18 house in Dover;
* Group Value: no. 5 was built as an annexe of the main house by the owner of Castle Hill House, who was the town clerk of Dover, to carry out his duties from there, and it is internally linked with no. 7.

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