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Latitude: 51.9774 / 51°58'38"N
Longitude: -0.8473 / 0°50'50"W
OS Eastings: 479268
OS Northings: 231617
OS Grid: SP792316
Mapcode National: GBR BZF.W17
Mapcode Global: VHDTC.8KDH
Entry Name: Little Horwood Manor, with West Wing Service Buildings, Gardener's Cottage, and Garden Walls and Gateways
Listing Date: 5 March 2008
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1392436
English Heritage Legacy ID: 503417
Location: Little Horwood, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, MK17
District: Aylesbury Vale
Civil Parish: Little Horwood
Traditional County: Buckinghamshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire
Church of England Parish: Little Horwood
Church of England Diocese: Oxford
252/0/10008 WARREN ROAD
05-MAR-08 Little Horwood Manor, with west wing s
ervice buildings, gardener's cottage,
and garden walls and gateways
Hunting box of 1938-39 by A S G Butler.
MATERIALS: Dark buff/brown brick with stone detailing and red tile roofs.
PLAN: Butterfly plan.
EXTERIOR: In the Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire by Pevsner and Williamson (2000) the Manor is described as, 'One of the last mansions in England on such a Lutyenesque scale', and its style was characterised as 'a kind of watered-down Lutyens in the manner, say, of Nuffield College, Oxford'. It has a butterfly plan, and is built of a dark buff brick with stone detailing (some of it eccentrically placed in a way that is hard to explain) and tiled roofs, reinforced steel joists are used to support the ground floor, and possibly in other elements of its construction. Mullion and transom widows in various sizes and arrangements light the interior. To the front the Manor's arrangement is formal, essentially symmetrical and rather austere, with a central three-storey, tower-like block with pyramidal roof, flanked by short, curving wings with an outer ground-floor corridor connecting to similar tower-like blocks at their ends. Detailing is deliberately limited. The main front door on the central block has a stone surround with pylons rising off a cornice, these partly flanking a double-height window lighting the main staircase. The eastern tower-like block has a blind, ground floor door with a relief-carved boar's head to its centre, a row of single-light windows to the first floor, and a double door to the second opening off the former billiard room to a balcony. Flanking walls lead from the end towers to two-storey pavilions (each now a separate residence), one a former garage and the other once the gardener's cottage - these are included in the listing. On the garden side of the house where short wings splay out from the reception hall there is slightly more variety and ornament. Central double doors with a decorative stone surround with segmental open pediment and relief-carved horses' heads (with a hunting horn behind the ear of one) on the lintel lead from the reception hall to the raised garden terrace. Oriel windows lighting the principal bedrooms in the east and west wings overlook this; the window heads are enlivened with relief-carved hounds and foxes.
A short service range, mainly single-storey garages (that behind the western pavilion converted to a house in the 1980s) and a former lavatory block (also converted for domestic use) extends the west range beyond the former garage. These are of much lesser architectural interest although they help illustrate the historic scale and function of the ensemble.
INTERIOR: (No. 3, the central tower): the galleried, two-storey, reception hall is now subdivided but retains a ground-floor stone fireplace, the imposing staircase which splits at first-floor level, and heavy ribbed oak roof. The original joinery is almost wholly intact including a settle in the outer hall. (No. 4, extending south-east from the central tower): a door made from a lowered window leads in to the curving ground floor with heavy curving oak beam and wooden joinery including cupboards and radiator cover. The corridor continues to a large drawing room overlooking the gardens with wood panelling columns, and a large stone fireplace. A study and ante room had been contrived from the end of the drawing room before 1981. To the first floor rooms include a principal bedroom with corner fireplace flanked by pilasters and with alcove; this room connects with a bathroom with its original bath, basin and lavatory with rich blue surrounds to bath and basin. Another bedroom has a near identically detailed bathroom with green surrounds. An inserted staircase leads to 1980s attic rooms.
(No. 5, the north-west wing including end tower: not inspected): a library led off the corridor from the centre of the house; its shelving has been retained in the conversion of the room to a kitchen. Beyond, the tower had a ground-floor drawing room; first-floor bedroom; and second floor bedroom.
(No. 2, extending south-west and north-west from the central tower): to the south-west an original, secondary, back door leads into a lobby with built-in settle. Off this is the former dining room which overlooks the garden; this is panelled with carved animals' heads at intervals around the room, and has a heavy beamed ceiling, stone fireplace, and built-in cupboards. In the north-west wing is the former kitchen; this retains the original pair of electric servants' bell indicators (annunciators) which give the original room names. This property, like No. 4, is entered from the front via a door made from a lowered window which leads in to the former curving ground floor corridor with heavy curving oak beam and wooden joinery including radiator covers. An original curving staircase leads to the first floor, and on to a second-floor room. The principal first-floor bedroom has a great deal of decorative woodwork of an Arts and Crafts character including exposed studding and built-in cupboards; an oriel window overlooks the garden. It connects to a bathroom with green onyx-like detailing; another bathroom has black panels.
(No. 1, the remainder of the north-west wing: not inspected). This is a conversion of former store rooms with bedrooms above.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: To the north of the house the turning circle is bounded by angled forecourt walls with central gateway with tall piers and ball finials which, with the house, define an octagonal space. Behind the house is a small terrace retained by a brick wall 2.5m high; stairs down this to the garden have at their head a single tall brick pier with stone finial. These garden gateways and walls are included in the listing. The stable block is separately listed.
HISTORY: Horwood Manor was commissioned in 1938 by George Gee, an industrialist and partner in Gee Walker Slater (GWS), a major engineering and building firm. The architect was A S G Butler. The site chosen was relatively high ground about a mile north of Little Horwood village, alongside the existing Manor Farm complex. It was supposedly intended to be used as a hunting box, Gee being a keen supporter of the Whaddon Chase Hunt, and this tradition seems borne out by the evidence of the building itself. Reportedly Gee was challenged in the hunting field by one of the Rothschilds to get his new house up in under a year, which was achieved. When built it had a double-height reception hall; library; three sitting or drawing rooms; dining room; and study. On the first floor were eleven bedrooms (eight with en-suite bathrooms, and those on the garden side with long views across the Vale of Aylesbury to the Chilterns), with a further six bedrooms on the second floor as well as a large billard room in the east-front tower. A games room occupied a third floor formed in the roof of the central tower.
The house was apparently never used by Gee and during the war it was requisitioned by the government. Various stories relate to this period in the house's history when it reputedly served as an out-station to Bletchley Park. After the war the building was sold, and remained mothballed until 1984 when it was subdivided into five main freehold properties; the stables were similarly subdivided and converted to four residential units.
SOURCES: N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire (2000), 109, 438; Oxford DNB, sv Percy Thrower; sales catalogues in Buckinghamshire Local Studies Library; A S G Butler's obituary in RIBA Library.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION: Little Horwood Manor, with its west wing service buildings, gardener's cottage, and garden gateways and walls, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* A notable hunting box complex, akin to a small country house, by A S G Butler, a well-regarded early C20 architect and biographer of Sir Edwin Lutyens.
* A good example of the butterfly plan, coupled with a late example of a very austere classicism, largely eschewing all ornament.
* The internal detailing and craftsmanship is of a high order.
* Despite the subdivision of the building, both externally and internally it survives largely intact.
* Also little altered are its associated service buildings such as the stables (separately listed), and hard landscaping features such as the forecourt walls and the garden terrace. The service buildings, gardens walls and gateways are included in this listing.
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