Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005292
Date first listed: 02-Nov-1970
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Malvern Hills (District Authority)
Parish: Great Witley
National Grid Reference: SO7696564883
Witley Court and gardens.
Reasons for Designation
Country houses of the late Tudor and early Jacobean period comprise a distinctive group of buildings which differ in form, function, design and architectural style from country houses of both earlier and later date. Built after the dissolution of the monasteries they are the product of a particular historical period in which a newly-emerged Protestant elite of lawyers, courtiers, diplomats and other officials, mostly with close contacts at court, competed with each other to demonstrate wealth, taste and loyalty to the sovereign, often overstretching themselves financially. Their houses are a development of the medieval hall with flanking wings and a gatehouse, often looking inwards onto a courtyard; later examples tend to be built outwards, typically on a U- or H-plan. The hall was transformed from a reception area to an entrance vestibule and the long gallery and loggia were introduced. Many houses were provided with state apartments and extensive lodgings for the accommodation of royal visitors and their retinues. Country houses of this period were normally constructed under the supervision of one master-mason or a succession of masons, often combining a number of designs drawn up by the master-mason, surveyor or by the employer himself. Surviving country houses of the late Tudor and early Jacobean period stand as an irreplaceable record of an architectural development which was unique both to England and to a particular period in English history characterised by a flourishing of artistic invention; they provide an insight into politics, patronage and economics in the early post-medieval period. All examples with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance. Despite partial destruction by fire and the insertion of roads and path surfaces, Witley Court and gardens survive well and contain a number of architectural features of considerable interest. Witley Court is a good example of a multiphased country house and has accurate historical records and documented remodelling that greatly enhance the importance of the monument. The elements of earlier structures and features will remain concealed behind later stone and brickwork and will provide important information on its construction and rebuilding.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 21 May 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.
This monument includes a country house and gardens situated in a shallow valley on the southern side of Shrawley Brook, west of its confluence with the River Severn. The monument survives as the freestanding walls of a country house, stables, coach house, orangery and formal garden that was medieval in origin and rebuilt of brick, sandstone, ashlar and Bath Stone between 1610 and 1620, remodelled in 1695, 1725, and 1806. The house and gardens were extensively extended and remodelled during the mid 19th century and the house was devastated by fire in 1937. The medieval house is denoted by a 15th century barrel vaulted undercroft beneath the 17th century building. Witley Court is ‘U’ shaped in plan with linking wings and square stair towers. At the end of the forecourt on the northern façade, is a wide portico entrance with broad access stairs between square towers. The main range and wings are two storeys high with basement and attic floors with semi-circular headed windows with bands of rusticated quoins, decorated tympana, sills and spandrels. Gadrooned balusters decorate the balconies and attic parapets. An eastern entrance with stairs provides access to the ballroom and dining room and is flanked by two large bow windows. The southern elevation has an entrance to the drawing room with a high portico on stone columns that overlooks the garden to the south. A courtyard, coach house, stables, conservatory and an orangery are situated on the western side of the house. The entrance to the courtyard is flanked by two single story lodges with double pitched roofs and pedimented gables. A two story range has a large central carriage entrance arch with a segmental head and a double pitched roof surmounted by a central wooden cupola and clock. The stables are situated on the southern and eastern sides of the courtyard. South of the courtyard is a conservatory and pavilion with a curved linking range and arcade to the main house. The curved wing has two storeys and is constructed on a rusticated plinth with a balustraded parapet. The windows are semi-circular headed with keystones on the basement floor. A five-arched arcade connects to the orangery overlooking the garden to the south. The orangery is built on a rusticated plinth with a dentilled cornice and has arcades on columns with balustraded aprons and decorated spandrels. The principle southern façade has a central portico and quadrant steps down to the garden.
The formal gardens are situated predominantly to the south and east of the house and are sub rectangular in plan with projecting apsidal sides. The formal garden is up to 180m long and 140m wide enclosed by stone balustraded wall with an external ha-ha. A large formal iron entrance gateway with stone gatepiers is situated on the northern wall and a second iron entrance gateway is located on the southern wall. The garden contains many pavilions, balustraded walls, statues, steps and stone piers with linking railing and iron gates. Two large rendered brick ornamental pools are located to the south and east of the house with central stone statues and fountains. The shaped southern pool is 52m long and 36m wide and contains the Perseus and Andromeda fountain. The circular eastern pool is approximately 40m in diameter and contains the Triton Fountain.
The formal gardens were constructed between 1854 and 1860 and include designs by William Nesfield, the prestigious garden designer.
Many of the features of Witley Court and Gardens are listed at Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II. The garden is a Grade II* Registered Park and Garden.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WT 306
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Gray, R, Witley Court, (1997)
Page, W, Willis-Bund, J W (editors), The Victoria History of the County of Worcester: Volume IV, (1924)
Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007)
White, R, Witley Court and Gardens, (2003)
PastScape Monument Nos:- 114182, 661649, 661636, 661656, 661659, 661646, 661640 & 661638
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing