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West Court

A Grade II Listed Building in Finchampstead, Wokingham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.3685 / 51°22'6"N

Longitude: -0.8921 / 0°53'31"W

OS Eastings: 477221

OS Northings: 163848

OS Grid: SU772638

Mapcode National: GBR C6X.38H

Mapcode Global: VHDX7.HV7T

Entry Name: West Court

Listing Date: 26 January 1967

Last Amended: 28 July 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1118093

English Heritage Legacy ID: 41556

Location: Finchampstead, Wokingham, RG40

County: Wokingham

Civil Parish: Finchampstead

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Finchampstead and California

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Crowthorne

Summary

West Court, a former manor house with a C17 core and substantial additions and rebuilding in 1800, 1835, 1901 and 1964, latterly used as an officers’ mess.

The 1964 northern extensions, excluded from the listing, include a single-storey range with a very large dining room and ceremonial corridor and the adjoining three-storey bedroom wing and service accommodation.*

Description

A former manor house with a C17 core and substantial additions and rebuilding in 1800, 1835, 1901 and 1964, latterly used as an officers’ mess.

MATERIALS: the older parts of the house are red brick laid mainly in English Bond with tiled roofs and brick chimneystacks.

PLAN: the building is situated in large grounds with its main entrance following the line of the Roman road to the west. To the south is an avenue bounded by a row of trees to each side, and to the north the remains of a kitchen garden.

The names of the rooms are taken from the 1947 sales particulars. The C17 building occupies a roughly rectangular area on the south of the current building plan, within which are a large entrance hall, drawing room, stair hall and a parlour, known as the Oak Room. The porch dates from 1835. The 1901 east wing contains a library and lounge.

The 1964 northern extensions, in neo-Georgian manner, excluded from the listing, include a single-storey range with a very large dining room adjoining a three-storey bedroom wing and service accommodation.*

EXTERIOR: the principal elevation of the C17 building is set on a terrace, facing south onto the former gardens and avenue; it is a strict symmetrical composition and is plain in its detailing. It is arranged in five bays and two storeys and an attic; the ground floor has full-height nine-over-nine pane sash windows recessed from the façade in plain reveals beneath flat red brick arches, and with plain - probably C20 imitating 1835 - chamfered glazing bars. The first floor has six-over-nine pane sashes in flush frames, and in the attic there are three-over-six pane sashes in dormer windows set in the hipped roof. It has a brick string course and painted quoins.

The east return uses the same proportions and features in three irregularly spaced bays.

The 1901 extension to the east follows the style of the earlier building on the south elevation; the sashes have single lights to their bottom sashes. The north elevation of the wing is mostly blind and to the right is a gable to a truncated range of the C17 building, removed for the 1964 extension.

The west elevation faces the principal driveway to the house, but is far less formal than the south. The two-storey 1835 porch projects from the façade. The entrance has a pair of doors, each with three raised moulded panels, beneath a fanlight within a gauged brick arch, above which a plaque with the REME crest has been applied. The porch has six-over-six pane sash windows on the first floor front elevation and on the ground floor returns, the sash windows to which have been replaced in the late C20. The porch has a hipped tiled roof. To the right of the porch is a wide chimney stack, also dating from 1835; the string course continues from the south elevation as far as the porch. To the ground floor, left of the porch, is a Gothic Revival six-light window with stone mullions and transoms and a wide brick relieving arch; above this are two adjoining six-over-six pane sash windows. There is a recessed two-bay section to the left with sash windows which was rebuilt in the mid-C20; there is a wide stack at the junction with the earlier building.

INTERIOR: the entrance is into a baronial hallway decorated in a Jacobean-revival style, fully panelled, with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed, timbered ceilings. The Gothic Revival window on the west elevation lights the space, and there is another, reused Gothic window with stained glass to the east, overlooking a light well. The internal double doors of the porch are half glazed and leaded with some coloured glass in 1835 Gothick manner. The hall, the Oak Room and the principal rooms to the first floor are panelled in oak, with relief panelling, heraldic devices, and decorative motifs some of which is reused from the Jacobean period, but with later embellishment and additions. The hall panelling includes incised moulded pilasters and strapwork panels with a recurrent decorative motif, reused carved overmantels and sections of carved panels. The hall has a deep inglenook fireplace lined with seating and with a balustraded rail to the front. It has a chimneypiece with carved grotesque figures supporting the mantelshelf, the overmantel is of square panels interspersed with figures and decorative panels. The fireplace is lined in Delft-style tiles. The Oak Room is lined in plain oak panelling to cornice height, with a moulded frieze. It has an elaborately carved chimneypiece, much of which appears to be C19 work, and is lined in blue Delft tiles.

The drawing room has plaster panelling, moulded cornices and ceiling roses; the walls are fully lined in fielded panelling in a C18 manner. The fireplace has a moulded over-mantel echoing the pattern of the walls, a moulded marble surround and is lined with Chinoiserie tiles. The architraves to the doors are fluted and have paterae in the corners; doors are of six moulded panels. The windows have simple chamfered glazing bars, which echo the 1835 internal front doors, and panelled shutters and linings.

The closed-string staircase has square-section newel posts, closely-spaced twisted balusters and a deep moulded handrail; the stair hall has the same plaster panelling as the adjacent drawing room.

The library is a relatively modest room; it has a carved and moulded timber chimneypiece, picture rail, plain coving, and a mid-C20 ceiling rose. There is a heavily moulded built-in bookcase with floral and fruit decoration. The lounge has plaster panelling, and a recessed alcove contains an elaborate chimney piece with heraldic symbols and figures, with a coffered ceiling above.

On the first floor there are two principal rooms on the south side of the building. They are fully lined in plain, small panelling, some of which is modern replication; there are doors concealed within it. The south-east room has a particularly ornate Jacobean chimneypiece that incorporates carved figures, moulded panels and heraldic devices, the overmantel supported on paired Ionic columns. The stone fireplace has a four-centre arched opening with moulded spandrels.

At the head of the stairs, at first floor level, are a pair of moulded C18 doorcases with two-panel doors. The C18 stair to the attic within the main range has square-section newels, turned balusters and a heavy moulded rail. The C19 rear stair has a closed string, square newels, slender turned balusters and a simple shaped handrail.

Above the entrance hall is a low, windowless room known as the ‘Priest’s Hole’, though is unlikely to ever have functioned as such. A section of stud wall is visible and it has a late C18 - early C19 fireplace with a simple timber surround and iron grate. The late C17 or early C18 side-purlin roof structure is visible in some of the attic rooms, and has evidence of replacement timbers.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.

History

Situated upon a Roman road known as the Devil’s Highway which linked Silchester and Staines, the site of West Court has been occupied since the Middle Ages; 14 generations of Sir William Banastre’s family were recorded before its sale in 1704. Built on a moated site, the earliest part of the present house dates from the C17 and was built for Charles Howard, the Earl of Arundel's youngest son. James Goodyer bought and partially rebuilt it in the early C18. It remained in the same family until 1931.

The windows to the south façade were extended to ground level in 1800. In 1835 substantial alterations were made by Reverend Henry St John, including the addition of a two-storey porch and a large chimneystack, infilling the surrounding moat, removing the drawbridge, and reconfiguring the house internally, which included reorientating the stair, reordering rooms and, records assert, inserting much panelling and a number of timber chimneypieces. Whilst certain features such as the porch and its margin-glazed inner lobby are 1830s Gothick in manner, there is limited evidence to prove that the panelled Jacobean rooms are of this date rather than later C19 or early C20 introductions, although the less formally arranged assemblage of Jacobean panelling and fittings in the hall may well date from 1835 and are thereby unusual. In 1901 (a more probable date for much of the Jacobean treatment), the east wing was added, providing a library and lounge, the latter of which contains an earlier fireplace.

The building was requisitioned in 1941 by the War Department for use as a training establishment by the Special Operations Executive; it was then purchased by the War Department in 1950, and in 1964 was greatly extended, adding a dining room, bedroom wing and service rooms to the north, while parts of the earlier building were demolished, and other parts given new decorative elements. The building was used as the officers’ mess for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). These additions were built in a neo-Georgian manner and include a single-storey range with six bays, the five to the right each have a full-height sash window. This links the earlier building with the new bedroom range to the north. It is a three-storey, 12-bay range with a sash to each floor of each bay. These ranges have stone architraves to the doors, hipped, tiled roofs, and stone drip course above the ground floor windows separating the two types of brick and are not of special interest.*

To the north of the building are the remains of the kitchen garden walls.

Reasons for Listing

West Court, a former manor house with a C17 core and substantial additions and rebuilding in 1800, 1835, 1901 and 1964, latterly used as an officers’ mess, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: accumulated fabric and alterations to a house of which the core dates from the C17 built on an earlier moated site; the south elevation is a strictly symmetrical, formal composition and designed to be visible from the long avenue leading up to it;
* Interiors: principal rooms have rich decorative treatment dating from 1835 and 1901;
* Interior fixtures: highly ornate Jacobean panelling and chimneypieces incorporating grotesques, heraldry and symbolic motifs, reused from the earlier house and elsewhere; an unusual ensemble, particularly given its reputed date of installation in 1835;
* Historic interest: the general development of the house is discernible through the building fabric and documentary evidence, and there is potential for further understanding.

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