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The Summerhouse about 10 metres South West of Compton Castle

A Grade II Listed Building in Compton Pauncefoot, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0291 / 51°1'44"N

Longitude: -2.5049 / 2°30'17"W

OS Eastings: 364689

OS Northings: 125643

OS Grid: ST646256

Mapcode National: GBR MV.HH5W

Mapcode Global: FRA 56MD.KXR

Entry Name: The Summerhouse about 10 metres South West of Compton Castle

Listing Date: 6 March 1986

Last Amended: 17 February 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1248644

English Heritage Legacy ID: 263366

Location: Compton Pauncefoot, South Somerset, Somerset, BA22

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset

Civil Parish: Compton Pauncefoot

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

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Garden building in neo-Elizabethan style, constructed some time after 1911 and probably in the 1920s, by Charles Biddulph-Pinchard for William Peake Mason.


MATERIALS: Ham stone, roughly cut and squared, with ashlar dressings. The windows have leaded lights.

PLAN: the building is essentially elliptical on plan, being formed of a rectangular block standing on a north/south alignment, with a semi-circular bay at each end, and a central projecting bay on the entrance, eastern frontage.

EXTERIOR: of two storeys, with three bays to the central, rectangular block, and an additional curved bay to north and south. Within the eastern elevation, the projecting central bay contains a doorway formed of three moulded pointed arches, the two central divisions reduced to pendentives, with foliate bosses; there is a further arch to the north and south ends of the bay. The wide double doors are carved with linenfold panels. Above the entrance, a large rectangular mullioned and transomed window with Tudor arches to each of the ten lights. To either side of the entrance, a window set in a round-headed niche with a keystone, and over, a single-light Tudor-arched window. In the side bays, irregularly placed single-light windows with hoodmoulds. A coved cornice is surmounted by a plain parapet. The rear elevation is without ornament.

INTERIOR: on the ground floor, the walls are unrendered, and the floor is flagged. To the north, a niche between two doors, the left-hand door leading to the curved stair. The walls of the upper floor are rendered, and there is a plain stone fire-surround with chamfered lintel to the south end. The interior doors are original to the building, being unpainted, with flat Tudor arches, set within moulded frames.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: the building is linked to the 1820s Apple Room, also listed, by a cranked stone wall with stone coping.

We have considered whether powers of exclusion under s.1 (5A) of the 1990 Act are appropriate, and consider they are not.


Compton Castle was constructed for John Hubert Hunt c 1820-5. The Hunt family appears to have had an estate centred on Compton Pauncefoot since the mid-C17; John Hubert Hunt inherited the estate from his father in 1807. He never married and it was not until his later years that he created the new house and park. The suggestion in the current list description that the house incorporates part of a C17 house is refuted by the map evidence of an 1800 survey of the estate, which shows the site of the castle as open farmland. Following Hunt's death in 1830, the house was rented to a succession of tenants; the 1831 advertisement notes that the house 'although of modern creation is in strict accordance with the ancient style of Architecture', and that the surrounding gardens and parkland, complete with cascades and waterfalls, are 'so beautiful as really to be an Elysium', whilst William Phelps, in his 1836 History of Somerset described and illustrated 'a castellated mansion delightfully situated in a small amphitheatre of wood'.

Hunt's architect is generally thought to have been John Finden, who exhibited drawings for the ‘Elevation of a House now building for J. H. Hunt Esq, at Compton Pauncefoot’ at the Royal Academy in 1821. Finden, who worked in both London and Somerset, was not prolific; Compton Castle is his only known extant building, and was probably his most significant commission, others including municipal buildings and more modest private houses. The similarities between Compton Castle and the work of Robert Smirke – particularly at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire – have been noted (Colvin, 2008, 375), and it is likely that Finden was aware of Smirke's designs; there were professional connections between the Finden and Smirke families. Finden is not known to have worked on landscape commissions, and it must be supposed that Hunt was closely involved in the creation of the landscape, or possibly that another designer was employed.

The house appears to have remained largely unaltered during the course of the C19; tenants generally had the building, furnished, on leases of three or five years, and presumably would not have been in a position to undertake works in their own right. However, certain garden features mentioned in 1831 but now no longer in evidence may have disappeared during that time. The Husey-Hunt family eventually sold the house in 1911; the next owner, William Peake Mason, later Lord Blackford, had substantial alterations and additions made under the direction of architect Charles Biddulph-Pinchard. This phase also saw the creation of the formal sunken garden in an Italianate style then fashionable to the south of the house, interrupting the driveway which formerly ran between the house and the 'Apple Room', with the new summerhouse enclosing the west side of the garden. Further alterations were made to the interior of the house, and to the grounds, by subsequent owners, from the 1960s onwards.

Reasons for Listing

The summerhouse at Compton Castle is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: for its simple vernacular design with restrained detailing, creating a foil for the more elaborate Gothick style of the principal house;
* Historic interest: as a significant feature in the development of the 1820s Compton Castle estate; the summerhouse belongs to an early-C20 phase of work, and is associated with the creation of the Italianate sunken garden;
* Group value: with Compton Castle, listed at Grade II*, the east curtain wall and the summerhouse, as well as the stable building, lodges, grotto and cascade, all listed at Grade II, and the registered landscape.

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