A country house with an early C20 garden, set in a park with woodland and formal features laid out from the C17 onwards.
For much of the C17 Culverthorpe, or Thorpe, or Hatherthorpe as it was variously called, was held in the ownership of the Lister family, from whom it was purchased in c 1679 by Sir John Newton. The building of the present Culverthorpe Hall was started in c 1679 by Sir John, on the site of an earlier, C16 house, and incorporating some of its fabric. To accompany the new house he began to lay out a formal landscape around it. Sir John was succeeded by his son, Sir John II who continued work on the house, probably to designs of his masons William and Edward Stanton (Pevsner et al 1989), and carried on the planting of the grounds, adding a wilderness to the east of the house. On his death in 1734 Sir John II was succeeded by Sir Michael Newton, his son by his second marriage to Susannah Warton of Beverley. Sir Michael was responsible for a third phase of development to the Hall, adding a new south front with projecting pavilions between 1734 and his death in 1743 and continuing the work of planting the grounds. An engraving by Badeslade of c 1740 (reproduced in CL 1923) shows the elaborate formal scheme for both Hall and grounds. The architect for the additions to the Hall may have been Roger Morris, who is known to have designed the London house for Sir Michael (Thorold 1999). Sir Michael and Lady Margaret Newton's only son died in infancy and so in 1743 the estate passed to the Archer-Houblon family. They had family seats elsewhere and for much of the time Culverthorpe was let. Between 1804 and 1810 Catherine and Philip Blundell, distant relatives of the Archer-Houblons, owned Culverthorpe and are said to have cut down many of the oldest trees and sold much of the fine furniture (CL 1923). Thus after Susannah Houblon-Newton succeeded to the estate in 1819 the estate was often let. By 1900, whilst in the ownership of Colonel George Archer-Houblon, the Hall lay unoccupied (Kelly 1900) and soon afterwards it was sold to General Adlercron. According to Pevsner (1989), the architect Reginald Blomfield carried out unspecified alterations to the Hall at this time, and the garden was rearranged in 1912 (designer unknown). Culverthorpe has passed through the hands of several private owners since then, during which time the kitchen garden has been demolished and the formal garden simplified. Up until the 1990s much of the estate, including the Hall and grounds together with the main body of the park, was owned by Mr G Emerson, who subsequently sold to Mr R Clark in 1995. The site remains (2000) in divided ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Culverthorpe lies c 8km to the north-east of Grantham, in a rural part of Lincolnshire. The c 30ha site is bounded to the east by Culverthorpe village and a minor country road to Rauceby, to the south by the road between Heydour and Culverthorpe, and to the west and north by farmland. The Hall sits on high ground towards the north of the site, the land falling gently to the 'fishpond' lakes along the southern boundary. The park is enclosed by perimeter woodlands but there are views out from the Hall, looking south over the lakes to the surrounding countryside.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main approach to the Hall is from Culverthorpe village on the eastern boundary, through elaborate iron gates hung on gate piers beside the early C19 Manor Farm (outside the area here registered). The drive runs west through parkland, skirting to the south of the site of the former walled kitchen garden, and continues to the south of the Hall to arrive at Park Farm, situated c 150m to the south-west of the Hall within the park. A branch off the drive turns north to enter the entrance court below the south front and sweeps in a circle around a central lawn. Steps up from the drive lead to a gravel terrace running along the base of the south facade, with further steps up to the entrance porch. Two farm tracks enter the park, one from the western boundary and the other from the north-west corner of the park, along West Walk; both tracks lead to Park Farm. A late C20 gateway on the site of an C18 entrance (Armstrong, 1779) has been erected on the south boundary, with a drive crossing the dam between the two lakes and running north through the park to Park Farm.
Culverthorpe Hall (listed grade I) is a large country mansion built of limestone ashlar with slate roofs and lead dressings. The three-storey building, erected in the Palladian style, has a rectangular central block with flanking two-storey pavilions. The central core is late C17, built by Sir John Newton who began its construction in 1679 as soon as he took possession of the property. It was completed in c 1700 by masons William and Edward Stanton for Sir John II while the entrance porch and pavilions were added by Sir Michael Newton between 1734 and 1743. Sir Michael's plan to link the service courts to the Hall with colonnades, as depicted on the Badeslade engraving, was never completed.
Immediately to the west of the Hall, and forming the western edge of the entrance forecourt, is the stable block (listed grade II*). Built by the Newtons at the same time as the Hall, the stables are of limestone ashlar and slate, arranged in a 'T' plan, with a C19 west wing incorporating a carriage archway. To the east of the Hall, forming the eastern edge of the entrance forecourt, is the former service range (listed grade II*), now (2001) garages. These were also built by the Newtons in the early C18 and reflect the style and character of the other buildings.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The gardens lie to the east and north of the Hall; to the east they consist of lawns flanking a central path leading towards the Wilderness which was planted by the Newton family in the early C18. A wide grass path continues through this ornamental wooded area to the remains of the Culverthorpe Temple (c 1740, listed grade II*), the facade only of a temple with an Ionic portico which lies on the eastern boundary. On the ground behind the portico are the stubs of the flanking walls of a church, shown on early C20 OS maps as St Bartholomew's Chapel which was designed by William Stanton in 1691 as part of the landscape works. The layout of this garden is well recorded in an estate map of 1819 and elements of the Newtons' early C18 scheme (Badeslade c 1740) survive within it.
To the north of the Hall, a central projecting bay contains the garden door which leads onto a wide flagstone terrace below the north front. Shallow central steps either side of a low retaining wall lead down to the early C20 formal garden which comprises lawns divided by flagstone paths and bordered by mature trees. Early C20 photographs (CL 1923) show two of the lawn areas planted as rose gardens. The lawns run north for c 100m to the edge of a block of woodland on the northern boundary of the park. In the early C18 this woodland was laid out by the Newtons as a formal feature, cut through with rides and alles aligned on the north front of the Hall; the central path survived into the C19, being shown on the 1819 estate map.
The park lies to the south-east, south, and west of the Hall, with the main body of surviving parkland lying to the south and dense woodland along the south, east, and north boundaries. To the east the land is divided into fields scattered with mature trees of mixed species. From the gardens below the north front is a track leading north-west from the stable block to the tree-lined West Walk which leads to Patman's Wood, surrounded by arable land. The Walk and Patman's Wood appear to be late C18 additions to the landscape (Armstrong, 1779; estate map, 1819).
South of the Hall the central section of park is laid to grass with some surviving parkland trees, while to the west of the Park Farm complex the land has been returned to arable use. At the southern end of the south park, c 300m south of the Hall, lie two large lakes which are marked on the OS maps as 'fish ponds' and which appear on the 1740 engraving (Badeslade, in CL 1923) as a formal canal, suggesting that they are at least contemporary with the Hall and may be earlier. In 1740 the land between the lakes and the Hall was formally planted with trees, lining a wide avenue to the water. By 1819 it was shown as 'water furrows'. The lakes are fed from a stream, the North Beck, which flows into the park at the south-west corner, and exits beyond the dam at the south-east corner. Badeslade (1740), the estate map of 1819, and the 1824 OS map all show a double avenue of trees running from the stable courtyard through the south park to the edge of the eastern lake although this had gone by 1905 (OS).
The former walled kitchen garden stood c 120m to the south-east of the Hall and was built at the same time as the Hall, being shown on the Badeslade engraving of 1740. It was demolished in the second half of the C20.
Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire (1900)
Country Life, 54 (15 September 1923), pp 350-6; (22 September 1923), pp 386-91
Architectural History 5, (1974), item 4995
N Pevsner et al, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire (2nd edn 1989), pp 244-5
H Thorold, Lincolnshire Houses (1999), pp 129-30
Capt A Armstrong, Map of the County of Lincolnshire, 1779
Map of the estates of Susanna Houlston-Newton, 1819 (MISC DON 147/5), (Lincolnshire Archives)
OS 1" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1824
OS 6" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1905
Description written: June 2001
Register Inspector: EMP
Edited: May 2002