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Farmhouse at Wild Farm, known as White House

A Grade II Listed Building in Aldenham, Hertfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6964 / 51°41'47"N

Longitude: -0.3015 / 0°18'5"W

OS Eastings: 517487

OS Northings: 201105

OS Grid: TL174011

Mapcode National: GBR H8Y.NLQ

Mapcode Global: VHGPX.QMGD

Entry Name: Farmhouse at Wild Farm, known as White House

Listing Date: 17 August 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1436944

Location: Aldenham, Hertsmere, Hertfordshire, WD7

County: Hertfordshire

District: Hertsmere

Civil Parish: Aldenham

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Radlett Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

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Summary

Farmhouse built in the late C18 or early C19.

Description

House built in the late C18 or early C19.

MATERIALS: handmade red brick, painted white and a roof covering of plain red tiles with bonnet tiles at the hips.

PLAN: the house has a rectangular plan with central projecting bays at the front and rear.

The two-storey extension on the west end, probably added in the 1930s, is not included in the listing.

EXTERIOR: the three-bay house is in the late-Georgian villa style. It has two storeys and an attic under a hipped roof with a dentilled eaves cornice, and flat-headed dormer windows wholly within the roof space on the east and west slopes. The principal south elevation has a central, projecting, gabled entrance bay with dentilled verges and a dentilled cornice across the gable which gives the impression of being a pediment. This is lit by a semi-circular attic window. The six-panelled door has been adapted to have four glazed upper panels and it is set within a concave moulded doorcase with a semi-circular fanlight. The semi-circular canopy above has a coffered soffit and is supported by scroll brackets. Each bay is lit by six-over-six pane sash windows with moulded architraves set flush in the wall and flat gauged brick arches. Four of the panes in the first-floor window in the central bay have been replaced by a single pane without glazing bars.

The rear (south) elevation has a similar composition except that there is a six-over-six pane sash window in place of the front door, and the flanking bays have semi-circular French windows with four panes to each leaf. Some of the glazing bars have been removed and the glass smashed. The east side is lit on the ground floor by a six-over-six pane sash window, whilst the window above is bricked up.

INTERIOR: the interior is arranged on a cross-shaped plan with each arm of the cross occupied by a room with an interconnecting door, which creates a circular access route around the central semi-circular winding stair. This rises to the attic around a closed well that forms a semi-circular recess on the north wall of the entrance hall, ground floor and attic landings. The west rooms on the ground and first floors also have a wide bow-shaped recess on the inner wall in which the fireplaces are situated.

The interior retains a good deal of joinery, fixtures and fittings. These include parquet floors in the hall and ground-floor east room, narrow wooden floorboards in most of the other rooms, pictures rails and some skirting boards. The moulded doorcases survive and those on the first floor retain panelled soffits and jambs, and four-panelled doors. The window in the ground-floor north room also has panelled jambs and tripartite panelling below. There are numerous fireplaces which mostly have relatively plain moulded surrounds and boarded up grates, some with later tiled insets. The fireplace in the first-floor south room is more elaborate with a mantelshelf supported by brackets, a three-panelled frieze, and fluted jambs which recede towards the bottom creating an elongated curve.

The four rooms in the attic have plank and batten doors with upright handles. The lath and plaster has been removed from the collar rafter roof leaving exposed timbers which retain the nails originally used to fix the laths. The small cellar retains a workbench with a slate counter.

History

The site of Wild Farm may probably be identified with the manor of Weld which was held by Geoffrey de Childwyk in the early C13. It no longer exists as a separate manor as it was incorporated into Porter’s Park to the south. The (unscheduled) moated site directly to the east of Wild Farm is assumed to have been the manorial centre. The Andrews and Dury map of 1766 depicts a cluster of buildings on the site of Wild Farm but the scale is too small for them to be identifiable. According to Historic Environment Data, both the 1766 map and the 1840 tithe map name this area 'Upper Wild'. The latter map shows a post-medieval farmstead with ranges of barns and other buildings, most of which had been demolished by the time of the first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1883. The map shows a building that has the same footprint as the current farmhouse which, based on its architectural style, was probably built in the late C18 or early C19. There is an orchard to the south, a long range of outbuildings to the east, a small private gas works to the north-west, and sheep pens to the east of the moat. The second edition OS map shows that a small conservatory has been added to the house on the east side of the south (rear) elevation, and a small building, thought to be a coach house, has been erected to the west. On the third edition map of 1924 the gas works are no longer shown and a small building has been erected in the garden to the south. By the time of the revised edition of 1939 this building has gone, as has the conservatory.

Wild Farm became the residence of the Superintendent of Harperbury Hospital (originally part of the Middlesex Colony for Mental Defectives) which first opened in 1931. It may have been around this time that the extension (excluded from the listing) was built on the west side of the farmhouse. This must have replaced an earlier extension as the footprint of the building has not changed since the 1883 OS map. The coach house has now been converted into a one-bedroom studio, and the farmhouse and the range of outbuildings to the east have been derelict for a number of years.

Reasons for Listing


The farmhouse to Wild Farm, known as White House and built in the late C18 or early C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it an unusual example of a Palladian inspired farmhouse which captures the spirit of the historicist approach to architecture that is so typical of the period;

* Plan form: this has a certain elegance in its circulation route around the central, semi-circular, spiral stair, which creates an oval-shaped hall and landing, echoed by the bow-shaped recess in the drawing room and bedroom;

* Historic interest: it was built during the most significant period of agricultural development in England which resulted in a wealthier yeoman class whose gentrification was reflected in their farmhouses;

* Historical context: it is associated with the medieval moated manorial site to the immediate east which evidently evolved over the centuries into the farmstead. Although the site is not scheduled, its vestigial remains represented by the partially filled-in moat provide an important historic context for the farmhouse.

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