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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 13532 48665


TL14NW 348/3/19


(Formerly listed as PARK HOSPITAL) 31-OCT-66


Country house, later hospital, now conference centre. C18 core, refurbished by Sir John Soane 1790-99 for Godfrey Thornton and further altered by Soane for Thornton's son, Stephen, between 1806 and 1811. Restored from 1995.

MATERIALS: Brick, faced with Parker's metallic stucco, originally coloured to imitate stone. Mansard roofs with slate coverings.

PLAN: Rectangular plan, formed by a three-storeyed central range, with two-storey and attic blocks to the southwest, southeast and northeast sides, and a single storey bock to the northwest. Single-storeyed service wing of stock brick adjoins to southwest.

EXTERIOR: Generally restrained design to the exterior, but with typically Soanian use of developed Classical motifs, and unusual spatial arrangements.

The north elevation (entrance front) has two outer wings; each have one window per floor. The ground floor windows are set within a central three-storeyed block with five windows to the first floor and three to the narrower top floor, which is surmounted by a Coade Stone balustrade. The central single-storey vestibule bay with single window to flanking porch has a similar balustrade. The 1811 semicircular hexastyle Doric porch with partly fluted columns has part-glazed double doors flanked by single lights. All windows apart from dormers are sashes, many with semi-circular heads, glazing bars and crown glass. There are modillion eaves cornices and string courses to this and other elevations.

The south elevation (garden front) has 2:3:2 glazing bar sashes to the ground and first floors; those to the former are full-length and there are six box dormers with sash windows to the attic. The slightly-projecting central bay with paired pilaster strips is surmounted by a shallow pediment with antifixae. The full-width verandah on openwork supports to ground floor breaks forward at the central bay. The east elevation has a two-storey verandah of wood and cast iron and the west elevation has three blind windows and a semi-circular headed sash and an early C20 canted bay. The service wing to the west has three semi-circular headed windows and a six-panel door within a door case set below semi-circular fanlight at the rear elevation. To the south a projecting bay has a large six-over-six semi-circular headed sash window with shoulders and two massive three-stage chimney stacks, each with stone pilasters and semi-circular headed blanks at the base.

INTERIOR: The entrance hall has a C20 replica ceiling, contemporary stone fireplace with Greek Key decoration, and four six-panel doors. To the south is the stair hall, with shallow cantilevered staircase to master bedrooms, has elongated S-shape ironwork balusters and a stone floor. The old library to the east has a cornice, six-panel doors, window shutters, shallow recess and chimneybreast of c.1790. The adjoining room, formerly the entrance hall of 1791, extended in 1811, has a c1790 cornice. The drawing room and music room of the C18 house retains a modified and debased coved cornice, two 6-panel doors and a C20 replica of the 1791 marble fireplace with Tudor Rose (moved from Library in 1806) and another with pilaster strips of 1811, both with mid-C19 mantle shelves. The dining room to the west has restored moulded plasterwork to the coffered ceiling, four Ionic columns, alcoves to the corners and a replica chimneypiece in the original design, and in an adjacent room, three cupboards with original shelving. The service staircase with iron balusters is further to the west. A ground floor corridor with full-height arched openings leads to the service wing. The layout of the butlers pantry, servants' hall and kitchens of 1811 remains, the latter with a high barrel vault ceiling, now in use as a restaurant.

The first floor with semi-circular landing to the stair has a restored occulus, beaded cornice and four curved doors. Mrs Thornton's oval boudoir has restored paintwork and decorative features and built-in cupboards with shelves to three cornices and a C20 replica of Soane's chimneypiece in the remaining angle. A balcony, added in 1811, has 'S' shaped balusters. The ceiling, with restored plasterwork, is subdivided by beaded ornament. The connecting bedroom to the south has wallpaper fragments of c.1820. One bedroom has a contemporary marble fireplace with reeding and floral paterae and a cymated cornice. Another bedroom retains a marble fireplace with pilaster strips. The bathroom has an egg and dart cornice.

Servants' accommodation was formerly located on the second floor, accessed by the service stairs at the west side of the house. The bedrooms on this floor have been converted into guest accommodation with ensuite facilities. The service stairs lead down into the basement, where a well was discovered during restoration; a bar and toilet facilities are now located here.

HISTORY: In the early C18, a building known as 'Almonds farm' and later 'Morhanger or Muggerhanger Lodge' occupied the site of the current House. It appears that this earliest structure was a red-brick doubled fronted villa with a main entrance facing south. In 1777, Robert Thornton inherited the house from his uncle, but considering it unsuitable for his needs, sold it to his brother, Godfrey Thornton. Godfrey became Director of the Bank of England in 1791, and commissioned Sir John Soane to remodel and extend the Lodge between 1791-1799. Soane's early alterations moved the entrance to the east side of the house, giving it an Ionic portico, and considerably enlarged the property, adding a new hall, drawing room and additional accommodation. At the same time Humphry Repton visited Moggerhanger and in 1792 completed a 'Red Book' outlining his designs for the park, which he revised in 1797. Thornton's son, Stephen, inherited the estate in 1805 when minor alterations to the drawing room and dining room, and the construction of additional stables, were implemented by Soane. In 1811, significant reworking of the house took place, again by Soane; the entrance was moved to its current position on the north elevation and given a semi-circular Doric portico, a verandah was added to the east and south elevations and the kitchen block added to the west. The estate remained in the Thornton family until 1859, thereafter passing to a number of owners until 1916, when following some renovation, it was used by a college and then as a TB isolation hospital from 1919. In 1960, it was renamed Park Hospital, finally closing in 1987. During its use as a hospital, a ward was built to the right of the entrance and an electricity substation added to the front of the kitchen; these have now been removed. Additional wards were added to the west and south of the house; all but one were demolished as part of the restoration, the remaining ward is now the garden room.

The house remained vacant until 1995, when the Moggerhanger House Preservation Trust took on the restoration of the building for use as a conference centre, opening the building to the public in 2005.

SOURCES: Boutwood, J 'Mogerhanger Park' Bedfordshire Magazine (1956) Vol 5 No. 38. Cooper, J 'A Guide to Moggerhanger House' (2005) Inskip P and Jenkins P, 'Mogerhanger House, Bedfordshire, a historical summary with illustrations' (1994) Stroud D, 'The Architecture of Sir John Soane' (1961)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION Moggerhanger House, Bedfordshire, is designated at Grade I for the following principal reasons: * It has exceptional special interest as a country house carefully planned and designed by the internationally renowned architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) and remodelled by him for the Thornton family in several phases between 1791 and 1811. * It has exceptional architectural quality for its restrained design with Classical motifs, its use of materials, symmetry and lighting, typical of Soane's work. * The restoration of the building from 1995 has revealed previously covered interior features such as the occulus to the east landing, and original paintwork and decorative plaster which contributes to its exceptional interest. * Additional research associated with that restoration has added to our understanding of the development of the house, and in so doing, sheds further light on the development of Soane's architectural style during a long period of his career.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Inskip, P, Jenkins, P, Mogerhanger House Bedfordshire a Historical Summary with Illustrations, (1994)
Stroud, D, The Architecture of Sir John Soane, (1961), 84,108,159
Stroud, D, The Architecture of Sir John Soane, (1961), 165
Boutwood, J , 'Bedfordshire Magazine' in Moggerhanger Park, (1956), 249-252


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 07 May 2001
Reference: IOE01/03794/08
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Norman D Chappell. Source Historic England Archive
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