Church House Farm

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II*
List Entry Number:
1179793
Date first listed:
15-Jul-1985
Date of most recent amendment:
15-Jul-2019
Statutory Address:
Wellington, Hereford, HR4 8AZ

Map

Ordnance survey map of Church House Farm
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Location

Statutory Address:
Wellington, Hereford, HR4 8AZ

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

District:
County of Herefordshire (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Wellington
National Grid Reference:
SO4980448221

Summary

A C15 hall house, modified in the C16 with the construction of a cross wing. Modified again in the C17 with the insertion of a first floor in the hall, later rebuilt as a two storey hall. Substantially rebuilt in the late-C18 or early-C19 and subsequently modernised.

Reasons for Designation

Church House Farm is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* for the exceptional survival and quality of the late-C16 painted decoration in the Antiquework style; * for the survival of the early-C17 plain painted scheme; * for the survival and quality of the early-C17 counter-change ceiling over the former high end of the hall; * for the degree of historic fabric and architectural interest which survives throughout the building and which contributes to our understanding of its evolution.

Historic interest:

* for the attribution of the cartouche design in the antiquework scheme to Benedetto Battini's 1553 work 'Vigilate quia nescitis diem neque horam'; * for the evidence the building presents to reveal the social, religious and intellectual status of the society of the time.

Group value:

* with numerous neighbouring listed buildings and the Wellington Conservation Area.

History

The early history of Church House Farm is not known in detail, although it appears that it may have been in the hands of the order of the Knights Hospitallers in the early-C16. A 1936 account of Dinmore Manor by Richard Hollins Murray states that at the time of the suppression of the order in 1540, Dinmore held 'the Church House (farm), a water mill and Adford's Meadow' in Wellington. It is not clear when, and under what circumstances, this property came into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller. As an order they were founded in the late-C12, and are particularly associated with the Crusades. On the suppression of the Knights Templar in the early-C14, they received a great deal of property from the other order, although there is no evidence to suggest that their land at Wellington was from that source. The accounts of Dinmore may provide further evidence about the nature of the Hospitallers' holding at Wellington.

A further account in 1888 of the manor of Wellington states that 'the Church House belonged to the Hospitallers of Dynmore, and was granted by Queen Elizabeth to Peter and Edward Grey and their heirs in 1577'. He cites Thomas Blount as a source for this statement; Blount was a late-C17 antiquary who compiled two manuscript volumes of history on Herefordshire. Blount's information stems from a grant recorded in the Patent Rolls of land at 'Wyllington' in Herefordshire. This is part of a large grant of land to 'the Queen's servant Peter Greye' and his son Edward, which includes parcels of land all over England. Given the scale of the grant to Peter and Edward Grey, it is unlikely that they had any direct involvement in Wellington. By the early-C19 and the time of the tithe survey in 1842, Church House Farm was in the ownership of John Harris, and tenanted by John Meats.

The present house at Church House Farm is a multi-phase building which appears to have begun as a hall, probably in the C15, likely to have been two bays with a single bay solar at the west end and a single service bay at the east end. Evidence for this single storey hall is supported by the shadow of a roof pitch now at first floor level, in the timbers of the adjacent cross wing, and the lack of first floor doors in that wing. The cross wing itself seems to have been added in the early-C16, replacing the solar wing of the hall, which had been axial with that range. As constructed, the cross wing appears to have been of two storeys with a single four-bay room at both ground and first floor levels, and roofed at right angles to the axis of the presumed earlier hall. Access between the two floors is thought to have been at the northern end of the wing, where there is evidence suggesting the location of a stair. The cross wing appears to have been unheated originally, and there is evidence in the surviving fabric of the west elevation that it had a garderobe tower, and oriel windows on its west and north elevations. Some timber framing survives in the south elevation, although its original external appearance is not known. As it was almost certainly the principal facade of the house, it is possible that it had close studding or more elaborate framing, as is frequently seen in surviving examples.

Within a relatively short period after the construction of the cross wing a series of modifications were made which appear to have been intended to upgrade the accommodation available. This included the construction of a chimney and fireplace to heat the ground floor room and the insertion of a cross wall on both levels to separate off the northern bay of the wing, possibly to formalise a circulation space with a stair. At this time, the main first floor chamber was provided with a painted decorative scheme. In the original hall a decorative counter-change ceiling was inserted in the upper bay, adjacent to a large inserted stack which had replaced the original open hearth and which divided the upper and lower bays. In the late-C16 or early C17, the original hall seems to have been substantially reconstructed to provide a building of two full storeys, but retaining earlier features such as the counter-change ceiling.

In the C18, there appears to have been a fire which prompted the rebuilding of the house to much its present appearance. This involved the reconstruction of the roof, removing its gables, the rebuilding of the south facade in stone, and the north facade in brick. The newly fashionable stone facade had a central doorway which was later blocked and the main entrance moved west to its present position. The interior was remodelled at this time and some internal features survive from this period.

During renovation work in around 2018, the owners revealed surviving elements of painted decoration in the cross wing at both ground and first floor levels. At ground floor level, the scheme seems to have been what is described as a 'plain scheme', with the painting of the timber studs in the room with a dark red paint, interposed with white paint used on the infill panels, creating a striped pattern running around the room. Only small fragments of this scheme have been exposed and are known to survive; there may be more which survive beneath later coverings. It is thought that this painted scheme may date from the early-C17; it is not known if it is contemporary with the decoration in the first floor room above. There is a small section of ceiling plaster in the south-west corner of this room which is contemporary with the painted decoration of the room.

In the first floor room the decorative scheme appears to have covered all the wall surfaces and comprises a series of figurative schemes and various 'antiquework' motifs set within a framework of architectural features. Antiquework style decoration was popular in the C16; its use signified knowledge of the classics and was used by members of the gentry to highlight their status. The paintings at Church House Farm have been dated to the late-C16 and use principally vernacular pigments such as red oxide, yellow ochre and red lead. The additional use of indigo and orpiment points to the execution of the scheme by a professional painter. The present owners of the property have identified a print source for the strapwork cartouches which form the frieze of the decoration: Benedetto Battini's 'Vigilate quia nescitis diem neque horam' which was published in Antwerp in 1553. No other sources have thus far been identified.

Details

A C15 hall house, modified in the C16 with the construction of a cross wing. Modified again in the C17 with the insertion of a first floor in the hall, later rebuilt as a two storey hall. Substantially rebuilt in the late-C18 or early-C19 and subsequently modernised.

MATERIALS: the pre-C18 parts of the building are largely timber framed with plaster and brick infill panels. The late-C18 rebuilding was in stone and brick with a slate roof.

PLAN: the house is orientated roughly east-west with its former associated farm buildings to the west. It stands behind a large forecourt with brick and stone boundary walls, and has a single storey outbuilding range to the east which runs roughly north-west to south-east.

EXTERIOR: the principal facade of the house faces south and in its present form is the stone facade dating from the late-C18 or early-C19 remodelling; this is a wide, stone frontage beneath a hipped slate roof with chimneys at each end and an off-centre stack. The main portion is broadly symmetrical and corresponds with the former hall range within; it is three bays wide with the former central door now blocked. The windows are casements within arched surrounds, the main door is in the left portion of this blocked in a dressed stone surround and is a timber panelled door with glazed upper section. The part of the facade west of the main block corresponds with the cross wing within. This is slightly recessed from the main block and has a sash window to each floor. At the east end is a single storey lean-to.

The rear of the house is in brick with varied fenestration. The western end, which is the rear of the cross wing, is timber framed with brick infill panels and an external access to the cellar. Adjacent to this is the projecting stair tower which is of brick but with partial stone base, perhaps from an earlier incarnation. Beyond this the facade is of brick and there is a single, full-height post which is thought to be part of the rear of the hall range as reconstructed in the C17.

INTERIOR: the historic layout of the house is discernible although now much altered. The main door opens into a hall at what was the high end of the hall. The counter-change ceiling which was inserted into the hall mostly survives; it now covers this hall and the adjacent living room which has a wide stone fireplace. The ceiling has deeply chamfered principal beams and exposed joists which are also chamfered with decorative stops. The eastern end of the house has been remodelled at ground floor level and is largely of modern character.

The ground floor southern room of the cross wing has a timber cupboard with alcove above and a fireplace dating from the C18 remodelling of the house. There are remnants of an earlier fireplace adjacent to the latter which appears to date from before the subdivision of the cross wing and there is evidence of an earlier plaster cornice. This room contains a surviving plain painted decorative scheme which appears to have been formed of deep red painted posts with white infill panels, creating a striped effect. Small sections of this are known to survive and it is likely that there may be more hidden beneath later coverings. A timber-framed partition divides the cross wing at both levels with now blocked doors between the rooms. In the small room beyond this there is evidence in the ceiling which suggests the location of the original stair.

Beyond the cross wing, in the projecting stair tower, a C19 timber stair with stick balusters gives access to the upper floor. There is a secondary timber stair at the east end of the house.

At first floor level, the rooms in the main block contain few features of particular note. The south-facing room adjacent to the cross wing has the exposed timber frame of the cross wing wall; this has partially weathered timbers above the shadow of a former roof line which appears to denote the roof of the original hall. This room also has deeply chamfered ceiling beams with some sections of moulded timber.

The main first floor room of the cross wing has the painted decorative scheme. Surviving elements have been exposed on the east and west walls, and on the northern inserted wall dividing the cross wing. The south wall, having been rebuilt, is presumed to not retain any decoration. As exposed, the east wall appears to have the best survival with most of the wattle and daub infill panels surviving as well as the decoration on the majority of the posts, studs and rails. It also seems likely to have been the main focal point of the decorative scheme. The elevation appears to have been divided into seven panels of varying sizes, symmetrically arranged with a large central panel. The panels are divided by columns with decorative capitals reminiscent of Corinthian heads. The central panel is occupied by a large figurative scene, largely created from simple black lines on the pale background of the plasterwork. This has two large winged cherubs, who are holding what appear to be stems of flowers in one hand and with the other supporting a large, centrally placed fleur-de-lys which they appear to be about to place on a pedestal. Flanking the pedestal are a pair of winged grotesque figures. To either side of this central panel appear to have been a pair of narrower panels containing geometric patterns of intersecting shapes.

Further to the left of the northern geometric panel a surviving panel comprises a further central pedestal supporting a vase with various fruits and leaves emerging, this is flanked by two winged creatures. The detail of the head of only one of these survives and it has a protruding tongue, and, sitting above its head is a pot which it appears to be supporting. This is largely formed of simple black lines on a dark red background. This was presumably mirrored on the southern side as the arrangement appears to have been largely symmetrical, but that panel towards the south is missing. Finally the southernmost surviving panel is narrow with the same geometric patterning as flanks the central panel with a blue background. This was presumably mirrored at the northern end, although the northernmost panel has been destroyed by a later inserted doorway.

The pattern of columns dividing the main bays of the decorative scheme rises as far as a large frieze which runs along the length of the east wall. This has strapwork cartouches running along it, in varying degrees of survival, alternating smaller panels with longer ones. The longer panels appear to have originally borne religious text. One to the south survives intact and reads 'LOVE GOD'.

On the northern and western walls only fragments of the painted scheme have been uncovered, largely sections on timberwork. This is sufficient to show that both the doorway to the smaller northern room and that to the garderobe are decorated, with columns similar to those on the east wall. The remainder of exposed fragments appear to echo similar arrangements to that on the east wall, including some suggestion that the same frieze ran along the west and north walls.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the house stands behind a wide forecourt which is bounded by brick side walls and stone walls adjacent to the road. To the east there is single storey stone outbuilding with timber roof structure.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number:
154110
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Brooks, A, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire, (2012), 645
Davies, K, Vernacular Wall Paintings in the Welsh Marches, 1550-1650, (2008)
Wells-Cole, A, Art and Decoration in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, (1997)
Websites
Hereforshire Historic Environment Record ref. SMR 855, accessed 24.4.2019 from https://htt.herefordshire.gov.uk/her-search/monuments-search/search/Monument?ID=855
Other
Davies, K., 'Church Farmhouse, Wellington, Herefordshire: Report on the Significance of the Wall Paintings', (unpublished report), 2018
James, D., 'A Brief Report Concerning Church House Farm, Wellington, Herefordshire', (unpublished report), 2019
Lane, R., 'Church House Farm, Wellington, Herefordshire', (internal Historic England report), 2019

Legal

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

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 04 Jul 2004
Reference: IOE01/12386/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr David Sheppard. Source Historic England Archive
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