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Bawdsey Manor Pulhamite Cliff structures

A Grade II Listed Building in Bawdsey, Suffolk

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Latitude: 51.9897 / 51°59'22"N

Longitude: 1.4013 / 1°24'4"E

OS Eastings: 633626

OS Northings: 237825

OS Grid: TM336378

Mapcode National: GBR WRN.73F

Mapcode Global: VHM8S.78P1

Entry Name: Bawdsey Manor Pulhamite Cliff structures

Listing Date: 7 November 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1406805

Location: Bawdsey, Suffolk Coastal, Suffolk, IP12

County: Suffolk

District: Suffolk Coastal

Civil Parish: Bawdsey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Bawdsey St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich

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Pulhamite rock cliff and associated structures to the east and north of Bawdsey Manor, constructed between 1901 and 1903. World War II defensive structures were inserted at the centre and northern end of the cliff.


MATERIALS: artificial structures constructed with early-C19 yellow stock brick (probably from the demolished Martello tower) rendered with Pulhamite, a cement mixed with shale, shingle and, in this case, shell inclusions gathered from the beach below.

PLAN: the cliff measures approximately 45m high and 121m in length along a naturally occurring red crag cliff. The Pulhamite structure continues westwards from the top of the cliff to form the southern boundary of the round garden established on the site of Martello tower 'V'.

EXTERIOR: the structure incorporates a path midway between the top of the cliff and the beach, accessed at the southern end. Most of the path is accessible, except at the northern end where there has been some slippage. The Pulhamite structure is designed to create crags and planting areas, folding rock-like contours, seats, a waterfall traversed by a bridge, two small caves and a grotto near to the centre. The grotto has a belvedere, punctuated with viewing holes and seating areas within. At the rear, it is accessible from the round garden through an ornate timber door; on the cliffside, steps from the grotto lead down to a lower path near the beach.

On the top of the cliff, three tunnels access the round garden through the Pulhamite rock bank. Another tunnel at the east side of the garden leads to the back of the grotto. West of the round garden, a Pulhamite tunnel leads back to the house and another heads west to the current car park.

INTERIOR: the grotto is supported on central pillars formed from ceramic pipe with a concrete render. There are Pulhamite seats within.


Bawdsey Manor lies in a coastal position overlooking the north sea to the east and the estuary of the River Deben to the south. The medieval manor probably was sited nearer to the village, north of the present building, and historic mapping suggests that in 1840 the only buildings on the site were a Martello tower, built in the early C19, and a small farmhouse to the west. The present Manor (Grade II*) was built in the 1880s as a holiday home by Sir Cuthbert Quilter, a wealthy stockbroker, whose seat was Hintlesham Hall to the west of Ipswich at the time. In the 1890s, Bawdsey Manor became the principal family residence and was subsequently enlarged in a piecemeal fashion. As well as acquiring the lordship of the manor, Sir Cuthbert amassed a considerable estate. Lady Quilter created the pleasure gardens in a variety of styles, including Italianate terraces and lawns to the south and more sheltered, intimate gardens to the north of the Manor, the main focus of which was, and remains, the round sunken garden on the site of the Martello tower. The Gardeners Chronicle for December 1903 records that Sir Cuthbert first had to blow up the tower with explosives before creating the secluded, sunken garden linked by underground, Pulhamite-covered tunnels and banks to the gardens to the north and west and the Pulhamite grotto and cliff gardens to the east. The artificial cliff was intended to provide a habitat for alpine plants, pleasant cliff-side walks and limited shelter for the rest of the gardens.

Pulhamite rock was the creation of James Pulham (1820-1898) who had commenced his career with Lockwoods, a family of builders in Woodbridge,who manufactured cements. Based at his Hertfordshire works, he formed rock gardens, ponds, ferneries, grottoes and other garden buildings by using bricks and rubble to create an artificial structure which was then covered with Pulhamite - a cement render mixed with other materials, such as shale and pebbles, to reflect the local geological character as closely as possible. At Bawdsey, shingle and shells from the beach were added to replicate the form and texture of natural rock. James Pulham and Sons went out of business in 1939, but at their height they produced extensive landscape structures for private and public gardens including those at Ramsgate, Folkestone and Tunbridge Wells, all listed at Grade II.

Bawdsey Manor and grounds were taken over by the RAF in 1936 and were used as a radar station during the war, when two gun emplacements were inserted into the cliff structure, resulting in local remodelling. The military vacated the site in the 1980s and the Manor was opened as a language school in 1995. The grounds are maintained and although there has been some collapse at the northern section of the cliff, the rest of it and the grotto survive well as do the tunnels leading to the sunken garden and the Pulhamite bank which demarcates the western boundary of the pleasure gardens.

Reasons for Listing

The Pulhamite cliffs and structures to the east and north of Bawdsey Manor, constructed between 1901 and 1903, are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: they are comparable in interest to other designated examples of Pulhamite structures and representative of the Pulhams' innovative design and construction of garden and park structures;
* Intactness: although some World War II structures have been built into the cliffs, the structures as a group have a high degree of intactness;
* Rarity: they are rare examples of such extensive Pulhamite structures in a private garden;
* Group Value: the cliffs benefit from Group Value with Bawdsey Manor and the registered garden there, both designated at Grade ll*.

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