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The Stone House and associated gate piers

A Grade II Listed Building in Castle, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2107 / 52°12'38"N

Longitude: 0.1082 / 0°6'29"E

OS Eastings: 544141

OS Northings: 259032

OS Grid: TL441590

Mapcode National: GBR L78.B5D

Mapcode Global: VHHK2.TPKP

Entry Name: The Stone House and associated gate piers

Listing Date: 22 December 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422019

Location: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB3

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Cambridge

Electoral Ward/Division: Castle

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Cambridge

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Cambridge The Ascension

Church of England Diocese: Ely

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Two-storey house, built 1896, designed by Edward Doran Webb, with later dormer windows, in use as office accommodation since the early C21.


This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 05/01/2015.

Two-storey house, built 1896, designed by Edward Doran Webb, with later dormer windows, now in use as office accommodation.

MATERIALS: Weldon limestone with clay tile roof covering.

PLAN: the house is rectangular in plan, with a single-storey rectangular-plan projection to the west. The house faces south to the gardens, away from Madingley Road to the north.

EXTERIOR: the house is constructed solely of Weldon limestone, with a continuous platband over the ground floor and a plinth course. All windows throughout the house are mullioned and transomed, with bottom-hung casements above, and side-hung casements below the transom, unless otherwise stated. The roof of the house and single-storey projection are hipped, with dormers added to the house in the late C20.

The principal entrance to the building is sited on the south, garden elevation, which is composed of five bays, with a single-storey projection to the west. The west bay of the two-storey house has five-light windows to both the ground and first floors. To the east is a replacement glazed camber-headed door in a carved ogee arch, with an ornate carved ogee hood moulding and ‘tudor rose’ style decoration to the lugs either side. A curved 1930s wall-light is placed to the right of the door. Above the door is an ornately carved balcony in two sections of four trefoils, divided by and flanked by engaged pilasters. Above the balcony are Ionic pilasters supporting an ornately carved lintel, depicting a coat of arms in the centre, flanked by rectangular panels of scrolled foliage. The balcony, which is part of the original building, is accessed on the first floor by a replacement 1930s metal-framed glazed door and is overlooked by a round window inserted around the same time.

To the right of the main entrance door is a three-light window which is mirrored on the first floor. The east bay of the south elevation is composed of a full-height canted bay, having a vaguely crenellated parapet and eight-light windows to the ground and first floors. The single storey projection to the west end retains a four-light window.

The east elevation has a projecting chimneybreast and two window bays, of two and three lights respectively. The north elevation to Madingley Road has a projecting chimneybreast spanning the ground and first floors, but was truncated at roof level with the introduction of dormer windows in the late C20. The north elevation has two door openings representing the original construction in 1896 and later modifications in the 1930s. To the west is an original camber-headed door opening in a recessed rectangular frame, with a camber-headed timber door. To the left of the door, a curved wall light and door bell were introduced in the 1930s. To the east, a camber-headed arched opening was punctured through in the 1930s, and contains a recessed metal-framed glazed door and doorbell. The first floor fenestration is comprised of two two-light windows either side of a single window. The ground floor has a three-light window to the left of the 1930s door, and a single and a two-light window to the right of the 1890s door.

The west elevation is composed with a three-light window to the first floor, over a single-light and a two-light window. The windows flank an original camber-headed door surround, containing a replacement glazed door. The west elevation of the single-storey projection has a camber-headed arch, containing a double-leaf timber door, with a single-light window to the right.

INTERIOR: Stone House retains a range of original features dating to 1896, including plain cornices and skirting boards, carved door and window surrounds, raised and fielded timber-panelled doors, windows with decorative window handles, and staircases. The house was redecorated internally in c1930, and all fireplaces were replaced. These fireplaces survive, including one which has an early electric heater.

There are two main entrance halls: the stair hall created in 1896 and entered from the south elevation; and the 1930s entrance hall, accessed from the north. The stair hall has a camber-headed limestone arch to the south window, and an L-plan stair rising to the first floor. The stair, exhibits high-quality craftsmanship in the delicately carved, spiral balusters and corner posts. In the 1930s, an entrance was broken through from the northern side of the house to provide access to the stair hall which was previously only accessible from the south. To the east of the stair hall is a large room, now in use as a meeting room, which has a finely panelled door, set in a camber-headed arch. The meeting room has a carved camber-headed limestone arch to the canted window bay, and the windows retain original furnishings including exquisite scrolled handles. On the east wall, a fireplace was replaced in the 1930s, and is the largest of all the fireplaces in the house. Throughout the building the fireplaces comprise a plain segmental-headed marble surround, with grey tiles to the firebox. To the left of the entrance hall is a replacement glazed door, leading to an office containing a 1930s fireplace, with a basket-headed arch to the single-storey projection. To the north of the entrance hall, a plain service stair gives access to the upper floors.

On the first floor, the landing is arranged in a rectangular plan encircling the open stair well. To the east of the first floor landing is a bedroom suite containing a former bedroom, library and dressing room. The former bedroom contains a large 1930s fireplace, with a contemporary electric heater containing two rods operated by switches, set within a blue surround. Two other rooms at the west end of the first floor contain smaller versions of the 1930s fireplace (without electric heater).

To the north to Grange Road, are two pairs of square-plan rusticated limestone gate piers, with large ball finials.


Cambridge is situated on the southern edge of the Fens at the highest navigable point of the River Cam. The original Celtic settlement had grown up on the north bank but the Romans established the small town of Durovigutum at the strategically important junction of four major roads. The Saxon occupation spread to the south of the river, and the Normans reaffirmed the strategic importance of the site by building a castle, which led to the expansion of the settlement. Cambridge soon became a prosperous town in which several religious houses were established, and these attracted sufficient students for Henry III to recognise the town as a seat of learning in 1231. Most of the fifteen colleges in existence before the Reformation had evolved from the cloistered world of monastic scholarship. Additional colleges and university buildings have continued to be established up to the present day and much new housing was built during the inter-war period and post-war period.

The development of the former medieval West Fields began around 1870. This land, covering approximately 200 acres, was owned primarily by the colleges, notably St John’s, which had always strongly resisted any building west of the Backs (the stretch of land which runs along the back of the riverside colleges). It was the loss of college revenue from the agricultural depression that led to their decision to lease the land in building plots. Three new institutions were established – Newnham College in 1875, Ridley Hall in 1877, and Selwyn Hostel (now College) in 1879 – and suburban houses in various styles from Queen Anne to Arts and Crafts and neo-Georgian were built piecemeal over almost half a century. The demand for such large family homes was partly fuelled by a new statute passed in 1882 that finally allowed dons to marry without having to give up their fellowships. The main arteries of development were West Road, Madingley Road and Grange Road which forms the central spine road running north-south through the suburb.

Although economic necessity had forced the colleges to allow building on the land, they were determined to keep a strict control over the residential development which consisted almost entirely of high end middle class housing, interspersed with university playing fields, without any community facilities such as churches or shops. There was no overall plan but the landowners ensured that it was restricted to an affluent market by issuing leases that specified numerous conditions, including minimum plot sizes, minimum house costs, specification of superior building materials, usually red brick and tiles, and had stringent dilapidation clauses to ensure that property values did not deteriorate. St John’s, for instance, specified one-acre plots with a minimum house cost of £1500 on its Grange Road estate, and half-acre plots with a house cost of at least £1000 on Madingley Road. To put this in context, in 1906 the sum of £1000 was considered well above the price of a substantial suburban villa.

The great majority of building leases were taken up by individuals who commissioned either local or London-based architects, many of whom are now considered to be amongst the finest of the late Victorian/ Edwardian age, notably M. H. Baillie Scott who designed nine houses in west Cambridge, E. S. Prior, J. J. Stephenson, and Ernest Newton. Most of these houses were designed to accommodate at least two live-in servants, as shown by the census returns, and some had stables; although by 1910 there were requests either to convert these to garages or to build ‘motor houses’, as they were then known.

Madingley Road runs west from Queen’s Road, and contains some mid-C18 houses. Following the enclosure of St Giles Parish in 1805, much land to the north and south of Madingley Road was in the possession of, and in agricultural use by, St John’s College. The Observatory, built in 1822 on Madingley Road, was the first major University building to be built outside the town, and a small number of houses were built along the road in the mid-C19. Following the granting of permission to resident fellows to marry in 1882, large family homes were built in close succession along the eastern end of Madingley Road close to Queen’s Road.

3 Madingley Road, also known as The Stone House, was built in 1896 on the south side of Madingley Road on land leased from St John’s College. The house is attributed to Edward Doran Webb (1864-1931), an ecclesiastical architect who practiced in Salisbury between 1889 and 1915. His oeuvre included a number of Roman Catholic churches in Salisbury, Finchley and Aldermaston, as well as designing Birmingham Oratory and Blackfriars Priory, Oxford. Webb was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and it may have been through the Society of Antiquaries that Webb had connections in Cambridge.

The Stone House was designed for Joseph Robson Tanner (1860-1931), who occupied the house until c1920. Educated at St John’s College, Tanner was an historian and an expert on the writings of Samuel Pepys, holding a wide range of posts over his career at St John’s College including Lecturer (1883-1921), Fellow (1886-1931), Tutor (1900-12), and Tutorial Bursar (1900-21). The house is present on the second edition Ordnance Survey map of 1903, and street directories show the house was occupied by various figures throughout the C20. One of the more interesting occupants was Sir Clive Sinclair (1940-), who lived in The Stone House in the 1980s. Sinclair is a British entrepreneur and inventor, best known for his inventions in consumer electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including electronic calculators, home computers, digital mobile phones and the C5 electric vehicle. The Stone House was converted to office accommodation in the early C21, and is now in use as barristers’ offices.

Reasons for Listing

The Stone House, no.3 Madingley Road, a Queen Anne style house built in 1896 to the designs of Edward Doran Webb, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architect: as an assured work by accomplished architect Edward Doran Webb, whose buildings are numerously represented on the List;
* Architectural interest: as a fine example of a residential house executed in the Queen Anne style, using high quality materials, and exhibiting high levels of craftsmanship;
* Interior: for the survival of original interior fixtures, fittings and joinery, as well as the survival of later Art Deco fireplaces introduced in c1930;
* Historic interest: for its association with Joseph Robson Tanner, a distinguished Cambridge academic by whom the house was commissioned, and the British entrepreneur and inventor Sir Clive Sinclair;
* Context: as part of an exceptional suburban development in West Cambridge which encompasses the work of some of the most notable architects of the day;
* Group value: for its particular group value with the nearby Grade II listed 6 Madingley Road, 12 Madingley Road, and Westminster and Cheshunt College, and the Grade II* registered gardens of St John’s College to the south-east.

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