A manor house constructed in phases with fabric dating from the C16-C19 and with some C21 additions.
Reasons for Designation
Northwold Manor, constructed in phases with fabric dating from the C16-C19 and with some C21 additions, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* as an exceptional example of a large multi-phased structure developed over five hundred years, providing examples of English architectural tradition covering half a millenium of history in a single site;
* for its consistently high quality of craftsmanship;
* for its historic plan form, foregoing corridors in favour of an enfillade of interconnected rooms.
* as a well-preserved example of a traditional manor house in a village high street location.
Northwold is a medieval linear village. The manorial seat is likely to have originally been located to the north of the church, roughly where the old rectory stands. At some point in the C15 or early C16 it was moved to the south side of the High Street, opposite the Church of St Andrew (Grade I). This late-medieval manor house no longer survives, though the mortared flint foundation of a (probable) solar stair-tower was discovered close to the C17 range of the present manor house in 2016.
The present manor house has a long street frontage that has developed over four centuries and can be broken down into a primary C17 block at the centre, an early C19 extension at the west end, and a C16 outbuilding at the east end that became incorporated in its later history. Beyond the street frontage the assemblage of outbuildings, small yards and an extensive walled garden combine to form nearly an acre of land at the centre of the village.
Set back at the centre of the long street frontage is the historic core of the manor house. It dates from the mid- or late-C17 and originally had a T-shaped ground plan. It was constructed with cellars that erased much of the archaeological remains of the earlier building. Facing the street was a hall and kitchen either side of a central chimney stack with a staircase to the rear, beyond which was a parlour. There were three further chambers each on the first and attic storeys. In 1721-22 this range was partially reconstructed. Sash windows with chunky ovolo-moulded glazing bars were introduced. The parlour's original three-quarter height oak panelling was replaced at that time with full-height painted pine panelling. From around 1760-1770 the principal first floor rooms were decorated with fine wallpapers. In around 1814, the street frontage was refenestrated again with narrow Regency glazing bars.
In 1714 the manor house was extended to the west. A high quality reception room was constructed out of red brick to adjoin the hall. Parts of the foundations survive, along with a date stone at the apex of a gable, and evidence of a plaster ceiling. The date stone is medieval in origin, once part of a C13 pier or font, and is inscribed 'R T C 1714' (Richard Thomas Carter). A century later, in 1814, this extension was demolished and replaced with the present porch-tower, stair hall, and reception rooms, also in red brick. The reception rooms comprised a ground floor dining / ballroom, and a first floor drawing room. Adjoining these at the west end of the site was a contemporary orangery with two large sash windows in the north wall. The orangery fell into disuse later in the C19 and the ruined portions were rebuilt as a two-storey extension in 2016. Added to the rear of the 2016 extension, two-storeys of new work were constructed, with an octagonal stair-turret and prospect chamber called 'Warwick's Folly' providing vertical circulation.
At the east end of the site is an earlier building that only became physically connected to the manor house in the mid-C19. It is a multi-phase structure with gable ends of Tudor (likely C16) brickwork that originally enclosed either an open-sided building or a timber frame. In the late C16 or early C17 the inner structure was rebuilt with walls of rubble masonry to create a one-and-a-half storey cottage. In the C18 a cellared wing was added to the rear (south) side, and extended again in the C19. A dining room within this rear extension includes a heavily moulded C16 oak ceiling with some original paint that was installed in the 1930s having been salvaged from the Strangers' Hall in Norwich. The gap between this building and the C17 historic core of the manor house was wide enough for vehicles to pass through and acted as a gateway to the rear of the site. In 1847-1850 the east range and the rear courtyards were redesigned and the gap was in-filled by a linking structure containing a dairy and a larder. One of the rear yards was then fully enclosed to create a heated vine house. A new entrance with curving walls and a large gateway was constructed to the east of the cottage, along with an entrance yard and a stable courtyard.
These mid-C19 alterations marked the last significant phase of works at the manor house for almost 170 years. Its historic owners, the Carter family (a branch of the same family as the egyptologist, Howard Carter), had gradually depleted the manorial estate in Northwold by the time they finally sold the manor house at auction in 1919. By the mid-1950s it had changed hands again but was only ever lightly inhabited during this period, with little alteration taking place. Between 1951 and 1955 a small extension had been constructed to provide a first floor bath and WC. Under new ownership from 1955 the site stood empty and would remain unoccupied until 2016. It had already fallen into disrepair and was subject to vandalism by 1961. Windows and doorways were boarded up, and the entire site was proposed for demolition. While the buildings avoided that fate, they were used as storage in the meantime and for want of maintenance the site suffered badly from water ingress, dry rot and extensive decay. Some floors and ceilings collapsed. Both the dairy and the orangery were entirely ruinous.
The site was purchased by King's Lynn Borough Council in 2013 and ownership was then transferred to private hands in 2014. An extensive programme of conservation returned the building to habitable condition and has preserved the building's unaltered pre-Victorian plan form with minimal alteration. Where C21 facilities have been needed they have been accommodated in new extensions and in place of the orangery and dairy. The manor's outbuildings and its extensive sequence of garden walls have undergone extensive conservation and reconstruction as part of this process of remediation.
A manor house constructed in phases with fabric dating from the C16-C19 and with some C21 additions.
MATERIALS:building materials include red brick, flint, and some stone rubble walling. The roofs are covered in a variety of materials, including pantiles, plain tiles and Welsh slate.
PLAN: the plan has been largely unaltered since the Regency period. It does not conform to a single overarching category of plan form, but one characteristic feature is the use of interconnecting rooms rather than corridors.
EXTERIOR: the principal elevation faces north along the High Street and is around 60m in length. At the left-hand side (the east end) there is a broad gateway with brick piers and curving walls of brick and flint rubble.
Moving to the right, it adjoins a three-bay cottage with a pitched roof covered in glazed pantiles with end-stacks rising from gabled brick walls. The front wall of the cottage has a wall of coursed brick and flint rubble with some galletting, and a cogged brick cornice. There are three C21 timber casement windows with leaded lights at first floor, and at ground floor there are two similar casements and an oak-boarded door. The plinth changes character where it meets the gable ends, indicating a change in the phase of building and the possible in-fill of an originally open-sided range.
To the right of the cottage is an in-fill building of 1847-1850, originally a dairy. It is built of red brick laid in Flemish bond and has a single window beneath a gauged brick lintel. The pediment was newly constructed after 2014.
At the centre of the north elevation is the C17 manor house. It is set back from the street behind railings installed in around 1814. It is five bays wide, two storeys high with attics, and its pitched roof is covered in plain tiles. The ogee gable at the left-hand side terminates in a chimney stack. A plat band runs across the Flemish bond brickwork of the street front at first floor level. There are four windows at ground floor, five at the first floor, and three within roof dormers. All are timber framed sashes with exposed boxes and thin glazing bars. Those on the principal floors have gauged brick lintels. At the centre of the ground floor is a classically detailed doorcase with fluted jambs and consoles supporting a Corinthian modillion cornice. The six-panelled door is hung beneath a glazed fanlight, the vanes and all the details of which are carved from a single piece of oak and have not been joined together.
To the right (west) is the 1814 extension to the manor house. This two-storey red brick structure has pitched roofs covered in Welsh slate and is three bays wide. The porch tower steps forward to the street. At ground floor it has a moulded limestone archway within a gauged brick surround. It is flanked by fluted Doric columns. Recessed within panelled jambs is a six-panelled door beneath a segmental fanlight of leaded glass. At first floor is a single timber sash window with narrow glazing bars and an exposed sash box, set back within a segmental arch. A narrow plat band transforms the gable into a pediment, within which a plaque reads: AD 1814 in relief. The two bays to the right have identical openings at ground and first floor for pairs of windows beneath gauged brick arches; those at ground floor level are blocked. At first floor there are large timber sash windows with narrow glazing bars and concealed sash boxes.
At the western end of the building is a two-bay structure of red brick laid in Flemish bond. Originally a single storey orangery, it retains 1814 fabric at ground floor where there are two timber sash windows with concealed boxes. At first floor the Flemish bond brickwork is all post-2014, including the two blocked windows, the parapet and the pinecone finials.
The visible parts of the west elevation, above the pantiled roof at first floor level, are all post-2014 and include arched sash windows, and a pedimented treatment of the attic wall.
The rear elevations on the south side of the building are equally varied. At the left-hand side (the west end) is the 2014 two-storey extension to the former orangery. It has a pedimented gable and gothick windows on each storey. At the south-east corner is a three-storey octagonal stair-tower (called 'Warwick's Folly') rising to a prospect chamber with a conical roof. It has a clock on its eastern face dated 2016.
The south face of the 1814 phase has two forward bays of red brick with two large sash windows with concealed boxes at each floor, and one set-back bay in gault brick with a single sash window at first floor. Attached to the gault brick bay at ground level is a post-2014 crenelated extension with a glazed door. The roofs are covered in Cumberland slate.
The rear of the C17 manor house has a single bay a the left hand side, with C21 French doors at ground floor and a sash window at first floor with exposed boxes and chunky ovolo glazing bars. The roof is covered in unglazed pantiles. The return elevation of the southern part of this range is two bays long and has two similar windows on each floor with ovolo glazing bars and arched brick lintels. The southern gable rises from kneelers with an ogee profile and terminates in a chimney stack. There are no windows on this elevation. A small ground floor extension has a single doorway and small window, with a railed balcony at first floor accessed through a further door. Slightly set back from this gable is an adjoining crowstep gable dated 2017 with the initials WR and DG in a plaque near the apex. There are two casement windows with leaded glass and hoodmoulds at each floor of this new addition. The return elevation connects at first floor to the east gable of the C17 range (also marked with a date stone, reading TC 1721), and at ground floor to the pedimented rear elevation of the reconstructed dairy. This new work has two segmental arched sash windows at ground floor.
The rear elevation of the cottage continues the brick and rubble walling with galletted joints as found at the front. There are two windows each at ground and first floor, all introduced since 2014, and a doorway with simple brick jambs. The roof is covered in glazed pantiles. On the right hand side the return elevation of the southern extension has been substantially reconstructed with random brick rubble walling. There are multi-light mullion and transom leaded windows with brick hoodmoulds at ground floor, either side of a blocked doorway, and a five-light first floor window with leaded glass. The southern gable end of this range is built of brick and stone rubble and has a small replacement window at first floor.
The east elevation of the extended cottage range is, to the left (south) built of coursed clunch rubble with brick dressings over a flint plinth. The roof is covered in glazed pantiles. The windows (four at ground floor and three at first in this clunch section) have been renewed with timber casements. A slim extension constructed of random brick rubble has been erected alongside the northern three bays of the cottage range. The extension has a plain tiled roof, a projecting oak porch leading to an oak boarded door, and two differently sized casement windows with leaded glass. in the upper levels of the gable wall that terminates the cottage there are two-light casement windows either side of a brick chimney stack that has been dated 2016 with the word 'RESURGAM' and the initials WR and DG. The wall at the upper level of the gable features a pattern of diapered brickwork amongst the flint rubble.
INTERIOR: Northwold Manor has a highly complex interior, reflecting the accretive form of the building. Its plan has changed very little since the early C19 so that there are no corridors and rooms are accessed in succession. The only dedicated circulation space is the stair hall in the Regency wing.
The building’s historic interior features have a very high degree of survival. Fireplaces, joinery and plasterwork survive or have been conserved like for like throughout. Many of these features are original, but there is also a history of alteration and replacement between the C16 and early C19 which can be read in the changing fabric of the building.
High status interiors of particular interest include the stair hall and (ground floor) drawing room and (first floor) bedroom in the Regency wing; and the inner hall, breakfast room (original kitchen) and dining room on the ground floor of the C17 manor house.
The Regency rooms all have tall windows with narrow glazing bars and panelled shutters. The stair hall has, around the principal entrance, a pair of panelled cupboards. At the heart of the hall is an open well containing a cantilevered stone staircase with stick balusters and a mahogany handrail. The handrail terminates in a monkey-tail newel at the centre of which is an ebony plug. At the top of the stairs a classical timber arch leads into a porch-chamber with a Carrara marble fireplace.
The ground floor drawing room in the Regency wing was originally a dining or ball room. It does not have street facing windows (though blind fenestration exists externally to maintain the uniformity of the building). Inside there is a recess for a buffet in on the street-side of the room.
The first-floor regency bedroom has a classical fire surround with fluted columns and a dentilled, egg-and-dart cornice. The windows have narrow glazing bars and panelled shutters.
The C17 manor house connects to the Regency wing with an enfilade at ground and first floor, despite the changing levels between the two blocks. Some doorways and the bressumers of fireplaces in the C17 areas show apotropaic marks such as taper burns and daisy wheels.
The inner hall has a tall late-C17 fire surround and panelled overmantle, carved with fluted ionic pilasters. An encased transverse beam runs through the centre of the room.
The original kitchen, now the breakfast room, has a wide brick fireplace with a cleaned oak bressumer. Original iron rods run within the chimney void.
The dining room (original parlour) has 1722 full-height pine panelling which at the time of inspection was undergoing conservation. The sash windows to this room have wide late-C17 or early-C18 ovolo-moulded glazing bars. Traces of painted decoration have been found within the fireplace, which sits in a C18 surround with a broken-pedimented overmantle.
The C17 staircase is made of oak from ground to first floor and winds through a closed compartment adjoining the central chimney stack. From the first floor to the attic the stair is made of pine.
The upper storey of the C17 range continues to demonstrate the high incidence of survival of historic features including fireplaces, windows with shutters, floor surfaces and joinery.
The attics of the C17 range are inhabited and retain fireplaces and historic floor surfaces (pine boards). The partially exposed oak roof structures with staggered purlins appear to be original and display carpenters’ marks, as well as indications of reassembly or repair.
The cellars beneath the C17 range are built of brick with some clunch rubble. A later set of win bins created in brick has been inserted in the C19.
The extended modern kitchen in the 1847-50 infill building (originally a dairy) between the C17 and C16 ranges houses an underground cistern, possibly for the storage of soft water.
The C16 range has an exposed timber frame within outer masonry walls. The longitudinal beam seen in the kitchen is a reused wall plate and meets a C18 chimney stack that has an inserted C19 bread oven within an older fireplace. Part of the first floor structure is missing from the principal living space, creating a mezzanine deck over the ground floor. Adjacent to the (partly-infilled) C16 fireplace is a small stair.
The rear extension to the C16 range uses as part of the structure of the first floor heavily moulded C16 beams and joists of exceptional quality that have been recycled from Norwich’s strangers’ hall. Some maroon paint remains on the surface of the beams.