Former townhouse, built in 1793 and remodelled in 1885, now a college building.
Reasons for Designation
Newnham Grange, a former townhouse, built in 1793, remodelled in 1885, and now a college building is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for the legibility and high proportion of survival of the late-C18 floor plan;
* for the high proportion of survival of historic interior features of interest including a late-C18 stair, late-C18 classical architectural detailing and fireplaces, and late-C19 fireplaces;
* for the sensitivity and quality of alterations carried out in the late-C19 by John James Stevenson, an experienced architect with a number of listed buildings to his name.
* for the evolution of the existing buildings on the Darwin College site, from private residences to college accommodation;
* as a progression of nearly eight centuries of college construction within the University of Cambridge.
* for the strong historic group Newnham Grange forms with other listed buildings on the Darwin College site, including the early-C19 granary, and the attached Hermitage, Dining Hall and Rayne Building (each listed at Grade II).
In medieval times a hermit reputedly looked after a chapel and two small bridges on what is now Silver Street (renamed in 1615), collecting tolls for their maintenance, and sometimes repairing the bridges himself. In 1549 following the Reformation, Small Bridges Chapel and the hermitage were sold and dismantled, however the plot of land west of the River Cam and on the south side of the road continued to be known as ‘the Armitage’. In 1672, the Corporation granted a 21-year lease for ‘the Armitage and void ground beyond the holt towards Newnham Mill’. Loggan’s 1688 map of Cambridge shows a house, Causey (or Causeway) House, standing approximately on the site of what is now Newnham Grange, protruding into the street. Around 1780, Patrick Beales, a corn and coal merchant with a yard on the north side of Silver Street, began leasing the Armitage site; after his death in 1792 his brother Samuel Pickering Beales constructed ‘a substantial mansion and mercantile premises’ on the site of the former Causey House in 1793. Mr Beales’ ‘House at Newnham’ (later known as Newnham Grange) is shown on Custance’s map of 1798 with a range of service buildings running east from the house.
Owing to a financial depression in Cambridge around 1850, the Beales sought to sell lots of their property at Newnham. An 1851 auction advertisement describes the Beales home as ‘a most delightful residence, suitable for a genteel family’, with a ‘basement, noble entrance hall, capital dining room, two drawing rooms, and breakfast room’, ‘four principal bedrooms, with the dressing rooms attached’, and ‘three other bedrooms and numerous servants rooms over’. The domestic offices comprised ‘two kitchens, [a] larder, scullery, and extensive cellarage’, with a range of stables and granaries to the east, providing a road frontage of 200ft.
George Howard Darwin (1845-1912), son of Charles and Emma Darwin, succeeded as Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge in 1883, and acquired the house now known as Newnham Grange as his family residence in 1885. Darwin engaged the professional services of experienced architect John James Stevenson (1831-1908), who had trained in Edinburgh and London under Sir George Gilbert Scott and built churches in Scotland, country houses in England, offices in Newcastle and London, and a number of town houses in South Kensington. At Cambridge he was later the architect for new buildings at Christ’s in 1886 and 1906; and in 1889 he built the first University Chemical Laboratory at the corner of Pembroke Street, Botolph Lane and Free School Lane. At Newnham Grange, Stevenson retained the majority of the late-C18 house; a cast-iron framed veranda was added to the rear and was documented in a historic photograph before it was infilled with an oriel window and open porch in the early C20. The two granaries fronting Silver Street were demolished and a new kitchen range erected from the materials, aligned with the late-C18 house. In 1886 Mrs Darwin wrote to her family in the USA: ‘The improvements are chiefly to be made in the kitchen apartment. This is what every English house has in that quarter. Hall or some small room for servants’ sitting room. Butler’s pantry, Kitchen, with range, no sink, Scullery and smaller kitchen which has range. A larder, a cupboard or big store-cupboard.’ The Darwin family named the house ‘Newnham Grange' in 1885. A photograph of the house and east wing taken from the north-east around 1886 (reproduced by Keynes), and a drawing by Gwen Raverat (nee Darwin, 1885-1957) in 1890 show the house and east wing from the north-east, before two canted bays were added in the early C20.
The house remained in the Darwin family until the death of Sir Charles Galton Darwin in 1962. In 1963 the Masters and Fellows of Gonville and Caius, St John’s and Trinity, announced their intention to found a new college exclusively for graduate students; they purchased Newnham Grange and the Old Granary from the Darwin family, and named the new college Darwin College. St John’s sold the neighbouring Hermitage to Darwin College in 1966, and it was soon converted into college kitchens, domestic offices, common rooms and a small dining room. A gatehouse incorporating accommodation for 34 graduate students (known as the Rayne Building), and a dining hall, both designed by Howell Killick Partridge and Amis (HKPA) were completed in 1970. An extension was added to the east side of the east wing of Newnham Grange around 1976, designed by David Roberts and Geoffrey Clarke; attic storeys were also added to Newnham Grange and the east wing at that time.
Former townhouse, built in 1793 and remodelled in 1885, now a college building.
MATERIALS: the roof has a plain tile covering, and the walls are constructed of gault brick.
PLAN: Roughly rectangular on plan, with two canted ground floor bays to the front (north) to Silver Street.
EXTERIOR: Newnham Grange is a five-bay two-and-half storey building, with a symmetrical front (north) elevation to Silver Street. The roof formerly triple-pitched, was altered around 1976 to accommodate an attic with five dormers on its north and south slopes, containing casement windows. Four gault brick chimneystacks survive, two on each of the east and west gable ends, and the roof has a plain tile covering. The walls are constructed of gault brick laid in Flemish bond, with a stone platband over the ground and first floors. The central bay is slightly recessed and the outer two bays have flat-roofed canted projections to their ground floor, added in the early C20. The window surrounds have flat-arched gauged brick lintels and stone sills; the first floor windows contain six-over-six sashes, and the ground floor canted bays have nine-over-six sashes to their outer bays, and a high-level grille to their centre bay. The central doorway has a recessed round-arched gauged brick surround with a stone band at impost level, and contains a late-C18 round-arched ornamental fanlight and six-panelled door, approached by five stone steps. Either side of the steps are plain pointed railings with urn finials on a low stone plinth.
The rear (south) elevation has gault brick walls, three late-C18 first-floor windows and a late-C19 projection to the ground floor, added in 1885. The first-floor windows each have a segmental gauged brick arch; the outer bays have a tripartite window containing a six-over-six sash window flanked by slender vertical sashes, and the central bay has a six-over-six sash window. The two western bays of the ground floor have a swept leaded roof over what was previously a cast-iron framed veranda, later infilled with a curved oriel window and a timber-framed porch around 1885. The eastern bay of the ground floor has a flat-roofed angled projection, probably added in the early C20, with two nine-over-six sash windows overlooking the gardens. The former windows on the west gable were blocked or concealed when the Rayne Building was added in 1970, and some are still visible on the interior.
INTERIOR: The front (north) room of the ground floor, formerly an entrance hall, a drawing room, and a dining room, had its internal walls removed in the late C20 to create a library and is now a function room. It retains the decorative modillioned cornices of its former three rooms, and a carved marble fireplace on the west wall (likely dating from the 1885 remodelling), with carved floral bosses in its corners, and containing a tiled surround and cast-iron grate; the fireplace on the east wall has been blocked. To the rear (south) of the Old Library, the corridor has four round arches to the north, east, south and west with plain classical detailing, and moulded door surrounds to the rooms to the north and south containing six-panel doors. The corridor has a central groin vault, decorative modillioned cornices to the east and west sections, and a stone-flagged floor. The west wall has a late-C18 cantilevered stone stair with a left-hand volute, plain handrail and plain metal stick balusters; under the stair a glazed door leads west into the Rayne Building (built around 1968-70). The east wall of the corridor has a classical door surround with a triangular pediment and a six-panel door into the former kitchen wing east of the house (remodelled as offices and student accommodation around 1976). The reading room in the south-west corner retains a decorative cornice, a late-C18 Adams style fireplace on its west wall, panelled window shutters and moulded door surrounds. The Bursar’s office in the south-east corner has a carved stone fireplace, likely dating from the 1885 remodelling, with carved floral bosses in its corners, and containing a tiled surround and cast-iron grate. Either side of the fireplace are late-C19 decorative fitted cupboards and bookshelves, and the east wall has a panelled door to the former kitchen wing east of the house.
The first floor formerly had a pair of bedrooms to the north and south of a central corridor, each pair linked by a shared dressing room. These are now offices and seminar rooms, with the exception of a guest bedroom in the south-west corner which has had an ensuite introduced. The first-floor corridor has a round arch from the stair, and another round arch to the centre of the north wall, each with a plain classical surround. Generally, the first-floor rooms retain moulded door surrounds, six-panelled doors, plain cornices, and dados throughout. All six rooms retain Adams style fireplaces, with the exception of the Seminar Room in the north-west corner, which has a late-C19 plain carved stone fireplace. The three front rooms overlooking Silver Street retain panelled window shutters. Some rooms also retain fitted cupboards to the sides of their fireplaces with moulded surrounds and panelled doors. From the east end of the corridor, a six-panelled door provides access into the former service wing east of the house. The basement retains eight brick-vaulted rooms off a central corridor.