An early C18 country house with contemporary garden, surrounded by a later C18 park.
The Orlebar family acquired the Manor of Brayes in Podington c 1620, including a manor house, the remains of which are represented by the existing Turret House and attached outbuildings. Richard Orlebar (1671-1733) built a new house close by to the east, from 1708-14, shown with its surrounding garden in an undated painting of the early to mid C18 attributed to van der Hagen (Harris 1979). William Orlebar acquired Hinwick Hall (qv) in 1834, running the two estates in tandem until the Hall was sold at the end of the C19. Hinwick House continued in Orlebar ownership until the property was sold in 1995 and remains (1997) in private hands.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Hinwick House lies close to the west boundary of Bedfordshire with Northamptonshire, on the north edge of the hamlet on Hinwick, 1km south-west of the village of Podington. The c 18ha site is bounded to the north largely by the lane to Wollaston, beyond which lies the Hinwick, and on the remaining sides by agricultural land. The south park is bounded to the south and much of the east along the Hinwick to Podington lane by a stone wall which gives way at its north end, c 75m south-east of the House, to a deep ditch and bank leading north to a stone ha-ha separating the east garden from the lane. The land is gently undulating, with two small valleys running through the site; one slopes down from east to west across the south park, joining at right angles to that which runs from south to north close to the west boundary. An avenue of closely planted mature limes (outside the area here registered) runs south from Hinwick for 1km along the Slade, the lane giving access from Odell, Bozeat and the south.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance lies 50m north of the House, set back off the lane to Wollaston. It is flanked by wrought-iron gates, probably by Thomas Warren of Cambridge (Collett-White 1995), and ashlar gate-piers (c 1710, listed grade II), each pier with a moulded cornice surmounted by a stone phoenix. The straight gravel drive leads south along the east front of the C19 service buildings, broadening to a gravel sweep by the east, entrance front of the House, flanked to the east and south by a level lawn. A service entrance lies north-west of the main entrance, giving access from the Wollaston lane to the stable court and beyond to the service court lying adjacent to the west, service front of the House. From the lane the short drive runs south to a pair of limestone gate piers and flanking stone walls (C19, listed grade II), and lane C20 wooden gates, which screen the stable court and link the stable block on the west of the court with the service wing on the east side. Within the gravelled stable court (with areas of small stone cobble remaining) lies a central grass panel, to the south of which a stone wall separates it from the service court. The latter is largely laid to gravel, with several small, rectangular flower beds. A spur off the service drive, north of the stable court gateway, runs west and south down the west front of the stables, giving access to the Turret House.
Hinwick House (1708-14, listed grade I) lies close to the north boundary of the site. It is a small country house of three storeys with a U-shaped ground plan, built of limestone rubble with ashlar dressings, with a two-storey stone service wing in Georgian style to the north added by C F Penrose c 1860. The two main fronts face east and south, overlooking the main garden and park areas, bounded by stone paths in which the flags are set in diamond pattern. The remains of a C19 conservatory (largely demolished in the mid C20) lie at the south corner of the west front, including low walls, a central path and steps down to the south lawn. On the west side of the stable court, facing the service buildings, lies the C19 range of stables and associated adjacent outbuildings (listed grade II), built of coursed limestone rubble. South of the stables, opposite the west front of the House, lies Turret House, the remains of the earlier manor house dating from the C16; the wooden cupola on the flat roof bears the date 1710. A small stone extension in Romanesque style (with ruinous interior, 1997) lies at the south-east corner of the building, projecting into the service court; this contains ornamentally painted wooden panelling, possibly a four-seater lavatory (G Peck pers comm., 1997) or a small gazebo.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The gardens lie close to the south and east fronts of the house. Largely laid to level lawn, on the east side are the remains of two crescents of mature lime trees standing opposite each other on either side of the axis aligned on the east front, this planting possibly being contemporary with the building of the House (CL 1960). The limes frame the view east from the House across the stone ha-ha 75m to the east, on the east edge of the lawn adjacent to the Hinwick to Podington lane, over the lane to the parkland beyond, a view now (1997) obscured by saplings on the east side of the lane.
The C18 painting, a bird's-eye view taken from the east, shows the garden, including the site of the current limes, exaggerated onto an oval, bounded by two crescents of trees which enclose a formal lawn with a statue at its centre. A straight line of trees lies to the north and south from the west end of the oval, broken in the centre, opposite the House, by an iron clairvoie and gates. North-west of the House the service yard is shown, and to the south a formal garden, the whole garden surrounded by a wall. A series of maps relating to the enclosure of Podington parish, c 1765, also shows the site, including the garden. The maps vary slightly, but do not show a garden on the south front of the house. The area, marked as The Paddock and shown as part of the park, appears to run up to the south front, and this would accord with the absence of a door on the south front. The 1881 OS map shows the park running almost to the south front, but the 2nd edition published 1901 shows the area to the south enclosed and detached from the park.
The Grove is an area of pleasure grounds sited along the west boundary of the site, bounded to the east by the kitchen garden and south park. It is reached from the gardens by a path flanked by mature trees running west from the south lawn, alongside the south wall of the walled garden. The path leads down the valley side, across a dam and small bridge at the north end of the two informal lakes (dredged 1990s), which conceals the drop down to a narrow water course running north into the walled garden. Continuing south through mixed ornamental woodland including box and yew, the path crosses a further dam between the upper (south) and lower (north) lakes, and appears to end at the entrance to the south park, east of the upper dam. The course of the path and the water features, in various stages of formality and development, are seen clearly on the 1765 enclosure maps. The northern lake, the earlier of the two, still shows signs of its early formal shape in the almost straight, parallel east and west sides.
The small park lies to the south and east of the gardens and House. The south park, bisected by the valley running east to west down to the water features on the west side, contains several mature park trees. The east park, largely pasture, retains several park trees planted over the remains of ridge and furrow, and is bisected by the lane running east towards the Santa Pod Raceway.
The 0.5ha kitchen garden lies west of the stable court, from which it is separated by an area of derelict land which formerly contained outbuildings, glasshouses and an orchard (OS 1881), all now gone. The garden, surrounded by red-brick walls, is entered through gateways to the north, east and, most elaborately, the south. The latter entrance is flanked by tall ashlar gate piers with moulded cornices and ball finials in similar style to, and possibly taller than, those at the main entrance.
Towards the west end of the kitchen garden the water course running north from the lakes enters under the south wall, canalised into a deep, straight, narrow channel running to the north wall under which it runs to leave the enclosure. The canal is crossed at each end by an earth bridge with a small, brick-fronted, arch inset. A square, C17 limestone dovecote (listed grade II) lies outside the north-east corner, with a hipped roof and gablet above, latterly used for grain storage. The stream emerges north of the walled garden, still within a deep channel, to run north through land which was formerly orchard (OS 1881 and 1901), crossed by a small bridge with a stone parapet and polychrome brick arch. The stream leaves the grounds at the north boundary, crossing under Wollaston Lane, before emerging in the ground of Hinwick Hall. The lane is carried by the three-arched Hinwick Bridge (listed grade II), built for Mr Orlebar in 1779 of coursed limestone rubble with three small arches and several carved human heads.
Country Life, 128 (22 September 1960), pp 618-21; (29 September 1960), pp 676-9; (6 October 1960), pp 730-3; no 6 (6 February 1992), p 87
J Harris, The Artist and the Country House (1979), pl 165
J Collett-White (ed), Inventories of Bedfordshire Country Houses, 1714-1830, (Bedfordshire Historical Record Society 1995) pp 89-96
Map of Hinwick House (to show altered line of footpath), 1740 (Bedfordshire Record Office)
Plan of grounds and house for alteration of the footway, 1740 (Bedfordshire Record Office)
Plan of the Common fields and new allotments of Podington (pre-enclosure map), 1765 (Bedfordshire Record Office)
Enclosure maps for Podington parish, 1765 (Bedfordshire Record Office)
T Jeffreys, The County of Bedford..., 1765
A Bryant, Map of the County of Bedford..., 1826
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1881
2nd edition published 1902
3rd edition published 1926
OS 25" to 1mile: 1st edition published 1880