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The Former Tennis Court, Hewell Grange

A Grade II Listed Building in Tutnall and Cobley, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3185 / 52°19'6"N

Longitude: -1.9886 / 1°59'18"W

OS Eastings: 400874

OS Northings: 268936

OS Grid: SP008689

Mapcode National: GBR 2G7.N2D

Mapcode Global: VH9ZM.HZ2H

Entry Name: The Former Tennis Court, Hewell Grange

Listing Date: 16 July 1986

Last Amended: 30 August 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1348584

English Heritage Legacy ID: 156220

Location: Tutnall and Cobley, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, B97

County: Worcestershire

District: Bromsgrove

Civil Parish: Tutnall and Cobley

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Tardebigge

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

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Summary

A covered real tennis court of c.1820, by Thomas Cundy Snr. in a Neo-Classical style, adapted c.1891, probably by Bodley and Garner.

Description

A covered real tennis court of c.1820, by Thomas Cundy Snr. in a Neo-Classical style, adapted c.1891, probably by Bodley and Garner.

MATERIALS: brick with colourwashed stucco render and a slate roof. At the western end are four Coade stone statues.

PLAN: the court is laid out to the normal jeu dedans pattern, with the serving end to the west. The three former penthouses around the east, west and north sides have been removed, but the tambour (buttress-shaped playing surface) is still at the south-east corner. The upper walls have large windows with a maintenance balcony to the exterior. At the western end is a portico above the entrance and changing rooms.

EXTERIOR: the western end has three projecting bays with relieving arches which have a continuous band at the level of their springing and keystones. The left hand two bays have blank doorways, but the right bay has an entrance. At first floor level is a balustrade with vase-shaped balusters and square piers which support the four Coade stone caryatids based on those of the Erechtheion. These support a flat-roofed porch with a wooden entablature which has a dentiled cornice and projecting, plain paterae to the frieze. Above this projection, the gable end wall has a circular opening with moulded surround and plain barge boards. Both flanks have plain walling to their lower body, above which is a continuous row of eleven large windows, each of 7x9 panes, divided by square pilasters which have moulded caps and bases. In front of the windows is a continuous walkway formed of cast iron brackets with a decorative handrail with lattice pattern panels. The brackets support a platform of planks, and the walkway continues around the north, south and east sides of the building. The east gable end also has a circular opening to the gable. Projecting in front of the eastern end of the lower body of the southern flank wall and continuing east beyond the tennis court building is a late-C20 brick retaining wall.

INTERIOR: the windows in the upper wall are divided by wooden pilasters with moulded bases and caps, similar to those on the exterior. The ceiling above the long flank walls takes the form of a generous quadrant to each side, formed of wooden boarding. The central section of the ceiling has suspended flat boarding, but was formerly open to allow illumination from a pitched, central skylight at either side of the roof ridge. The tambour at the south-east corner ends at the height of the continuous, projecting window ledge which continues along the east and west walls and marks the limit of play.

Persuant to s1 (5a) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the buttressed brick retaining wall along the south east flank of the building is not of special architectural or historic interest.

History

On the death of the 5th Earl of Plymouth in 1799, the estate at Hewell Grange passed to his son, Other Archer, who came of age in 1810. The estate at that time had at its centre a house built c.1712, incorporating parts of an earlier house, and said to have been designed by William or Francis Smith of Warwick. The house sat in a park which had evolved over the course of the C18, with advice from the landscape architect William Shenstone in the 1850s and Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in the 1860s.

Following his inheritance, the 6th Earl consulted Humphry Repton on improvements to the park at Hewell, and in 1812 Repton produced a red book for the estate. In 1815, the Earl chose Thomas Cundy as his architect for much of the work taking place at Hewell at this time, and improvements continued until the Earl's death in 1833, including some remodelling of the house itself.

The tennis court was designed by Thomas Cundy Senior for the sixth Earl of Portsmouth c.1820. Although some part of the building may originally have been used as a riding school, it was referred to as a 'tennis court' in an article in the Gardeners' Chronicle of 1843. The tennis court was altered in 1891 when the roof was raised to twenty feet, and the dressing rooms remodelled (see SOURCES, Redditch Indicator). The building was again altered to serve as a gymnasium for the remand school at Hewell Grange in 1946 and continues as such to the present. A photograph taken at the end of the C19 shows one, or perhaps two small classical kiosks attached to the south side of the tennis court building. It is not clear if these were just garden ornaments or if they also served as entrances to the larger building.

Two of the four Coade caryatids were ordered in 1821. Eleanor Coade's manager at her Lambeth factory was William Croggan, following John Sealy's death in 1813 and until her own in November 1821. His Order Book for May 1821 records '2 cariatides [sic] with baskets on their heads 6 ft. 6 ins. high 45 guineas each.' Similar Coade stone caryatids were used in some number by Soane at the Bank of England, his own houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields and Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing as well as Buckingham House, Pall Mall, London (see SOURCES, Kelly).

Reasons for Listing

The Former Tennis Court at Hewell Grange is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the building, which was apparently turned from a riding school to a Real Tennis court by Thomas Cundy sen. c.1815-16 retains the essentials of its early-C19 appearance with a portico of Coade stone caryatids and its original fenestration and wrought iron galleries to the exterior;
* Intact survival: the loss of the penthouse around the wall of the interior is regrettable, but sufficient of the original structure survives to give a clear indication of the purpose and functioning of this rare building type;
* Group value: the building blends well with its architectural and landscape setting, and is placed in a significant landscape by Lancelot Brown and Humphry Repton (Grade II*) and placed close to the Ruins of the former Hewell Grange (Grade II).

Selected Sources

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