Minley Manor, 1858-62 to designs by Henry Clutton modelled on the chateau at Blois, for Raikes Currie. Extended and altered in 1885-88 by George Devey, and in 1898 by Arthur Castings. Adapted for use by the military in the mid-C20.
Reasons for Designation
Minley Manor, 1858-60 by Henry Clutton, extended and altered in 1886-87 by George Devey, and in 1898 by Arthur Castings, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Historic and architectural interest: one of the first C19 country houses to be built in England in the French Renaissance manner, modelled initially on the chateau at Blois, and adapted and extended into a less formal and more picturesque composition preferred by Devey, drawing on elements of the original design;
* Architectural interest: in the ordered asymmetry of Clutton’s external composition, a roofline of tall pitched roofs and stacks and regularly placed windows, linked by pierced arcades and balustrades, later diffused by Devey’s flowing composition set round the forecourt and its approach, and in the added chapel to the rear;
* Materials and detail: a restrained palette of red brick and limestone enhanced by blue brick diaper work, enriched with exuberant, repeated motifs in moulded stone;
* Interior: includes a series of elaborately decorated classically-inspired principal rooms and their fixtures and fittings, most notably the drawing room, reflecting the revivalist tastes favoured by later C19 country house architects and their clients;
* Commemorative interest: the house includes memorials to members of the Currie family and to the architect Devey;
* Historic interest: the principal mansion, together with the other associated buildings and landscape illustrate the evolution of a mid-C19 to early-C20 landed estate that comprises buildings by two significant and influential C19 architects, Clutton and Devey, and latterly Devey’s draughtsman Castings, laid out in collaboration with a major horticulturalist;
* Group value: Minley Manor exemplifies a landed estate set in a registered designed landscape, marked by a number of listed buildings of note which together form an exceptional and very complete group.
In 1855 the manor of Minley was bought by Raikes Currie (1801-1881), a wealthy banker and Liberal politician. He immediately commissioned Henry Clutton to build a country house on the site.
Clutton (1819-1893) began his career under Edward Blore and toured Italy, France, Belgium and Germany before beginning his own practice in the mid-1840s. Supported by private means from the Walworth Estates, Clutton was able to pick and choose his commissions, and favoured churches, schools and private houses. He became a fellow of RIBA, wrote for the Ecclesiological Society and published widely on the subject of French Gothic and Renaissance architecture. His design for Minley was initially modelled on the corps de logis at the chateau at Blois (Hunting 1983, 98) and was one of the first C19 country houses to be built in England in the French Renaissance manner, though under the influence of the English Gothic Revival. Typically for the period, Clutton rejected uniformity and symmetry in favour of ordered but irregular elevations, which, later augmented by Devey's alterations, were noted by Girouard for their ‘aggressive anarchy’. Although the original drawings have not been identified, Clutton's facade is evident in his sketch of 1871 for a 'proposed alteration' of a design for a loggia in front of the entrance.
At minimum Clutton’s first phase consisted of a roughly rectangular block to the south, now containing the main entrance hall, drawing room, library, the Green Room, Night Bar and the ante room to the dining room. A service range running north-west of the dining room is believed to have been built at this time. The 1871 drawing indicates that by this time the dining room wing was clearly in place and could have formed part of the original design.
Clutton designed further buildings on the estate, including the Church of St Andrew (NHLE 1258200) and a number of lodges, before his eyesight failed and he ended his practice.
When Raikes Currie died in 1881 the estate was passed to his son Bertram Wodehouse Currie (1827-1896) who did not favour Clutton’s design and in 1885 employed George Devey (1820-1886) to make extensive alterations to the house and grounds. Devey, an architect and painter began his own practice in 1846; he became a fellow of RIBA in 1856 and by the mid-1860s had established a busy country house practice. He worked for Bertram Currie in the 1870s at Coombe Warren, Surrey (NHLE 1080098) and at Minley remodelled the external elevations as well as interior spaces. He added a new entrance and vestibule, clock and stair towers, and the chapel and cloister. Devey created a new east drive, with an entrance lodge and gates (NHLE 1092280) at one end of an axis, a carriageway arch and Arch Cottage (NHLE 1421381) forming a secondary entrance to the manor house forecourt, and an orangery and loggia (NHLE 1339884) enclosing the forecourt, with gates to the north terminating the axial vista and continuing to the west drive. He also built a new stable block (NHLE 1258067), replacing stables that were previously located within the service wing. Devey died in 1886 and his designs were executed by his chief draughtsman and successor, Arthur Castings (1853-1913).
Formal gardens around the house, kitchen gardens and pleasure grounds were laid out during the first phase of building, between 1858 and 1861, by Messrs Veitch. The Veitches were a notable family of horticulturalists, based in Chelsea from 1853, who were employed again, during Devey’s period of alteration. Drawings by Castings for the sunken garden and walling survive, suggesting a collaboration with the Veitches.
Bertram Currie’s son Laurence inherited the estate in 1896 and continued to develop it, employing Castings again. The upper two storeys of the service wing were added to provide extra bedrooms and nurseries, and a servant’s hall was added in 1909. Additional garden and ancillary buildings and landscape features were also added, including a water tower (NHLE 1258232) and summerhouse (NHLE 1339847).
Laurence died in 1934 and his son, Bertram Francis sold the entire estate to the Army in 1936: initially it was used to house the senior section of the staff college, and latterly the Royal Engineers. Internal reordering, principally to the first floor, occurred following the change of use. Additional accommodation was added within the estate grounds.
Minley Manor, 1858-62 to designs by Henry Clutton modelled initially on the chateau at Blois, for Raikes Currie. Extended and altered in 1885-88 by George Devey, and in 1898 by Arthur Castings. Adapted for use by the military in the mid-C20.
MATERIALS: red brick with blue brick diaper work, limestone dressings and carved and moulded ornament, and knapped flint infill. Roofs are slate and lead and have brick and stone chimneystacks. The roof to the servant's hall is clad in copper.
PLAN: the building is situated on a plateau with land dropping away to the south, the principal rooms and terraced gardens overlooking open parkland framed by wooded pleasure grounds. The entrance front faces north-west into the forecourt, flanked by the service wing to the east that terminates in Arch Cottage (qv LE 1421387), and is approached from the north-east through an entrance arch between the cottage and the service range. The forecourt is enclosed to the west by the orangery loggia (qv LE 1339884 ) and looks out northwards onto to an avenue of limes and wellingtonias, contemporary with Clutton’s house.
The roughly rectangular southern-most block, that comprised Clutton’s house, contains the entrance lobby and hall, the main stair, the principal rooms and the ante room to the dining room to the east of it, all reordered since Clutton, dated and initialled interiors indicating work for BW Currie in the mid- to later 1880s. The dining room overlooks a cloister which links the house to Devey's chapel, which extends at right angles to it and has a towering octagonal eastern end. In the angle between the main house and the service wing is a prominent octagonal water and stair tower.
A large country house in a ‘wildly asymmetrical French Gothic’ manner (Girouard 1979, 414) modelled initially on the Loire chateaux and particularly Blois - tall roofs, in the French manner, and ordered banks of windows terminating in dormers, although apart from the dining room colonnade, which may indeed be later, without the ground floor arcade that distinguishes Blois. The entrance front in particular was altered by Devey to form an asymmetrical, picturesque composition, a considerable remove from the restrained Gothic Revival elevation depicted by Clutton in 1871. Throughout the house recurring architectural devices and detail are used with subtle variations, Devey’s additions determined by the character of the existing house.
Characteristically it is of one to three storeys punctuated by towers with tall roofs. Chimneys are similarly very tall groups of octagonal stacks that widen at the head, built from brick with broad, flush bands of limestone, and are strikingly placed centrally against a tower. Windows to the principal rooms generally have C19-early C20 metal-framed casements set in stone, hollow-chamfered architraves with mullions and/or transoms; the service range has timber-framed sashes to the ground floor in plain chamfered openings. Narrow moulded stone cill and impost bands unite elements of the facade. Steep gabled full dormer windows in stone with brick cheeks, with an inverted, truncated, triangular panel in brick in the apex, rise from eaves levels. On the entrance front the apices are plain, elsewhere most have a carved stone medallion with a floral motif or heraldic cartouche, some emblems repeated across the house; most have ornate finials. Arcades of cusped Gothic arches form balustrades and parapets, blind variations of these forming corbel tables at the eaves.
The ENTRANCE FACADE, which ranges from a single storey to three storeys, faces onto an entrance forecourt, enclosed on the north-east by the service range and on the south-east by the orangery loggia (qv LE 1339884). An octagonal water and stair tower on the left (added by Devey), and a tall square corner tower on the right dominate the facade, in between which is a busy arrangement of steeply pitched gables and dormers, curved projecting bays, an oriel window (originally below Clutton’s stair tower) and tall chimneystacks, made more busy by Devey’s added gable with a clock set in a moulded lozenge surround, with a bellcote above it. The water tower has geometric diapering and a pyramidal lead roof surmounted by a lantern with a small ogival dome. Lower stages have ascending mullion windows. The blind upper stage has vertical stone ribs at the angles of the drum and is surmounted by a pierced stone balustrade. Clutton’s corner tower to the right has an exceptionally tall roof against which an offset, external stack rises centrally. An open-sided single-storey limestone entrance porch, again by Devey, and brick screen wall are built in front of the original facade. The porch has a central outer entrance beneath a crocketed ogival head which rises through a pierced balustrade; all openings have hollow chamfered architraves and within the side openings are moulded bases, presumably for statuary or urns. The front door has an elaborate architrave with foliate stop-moulds and a cusped head with bold twisted leaf crockets framing an angel holding heraldic shields. The roof is deeply coffered, the floor has a lattice of stone with tile infill. To the front there are limestone mounting blocks and wrought iron bootscrapers.
Clutton’s house is more apparent in the return elevations. At the western corner of the house, the square tower is set forward on the left, while a very tall banded stack and a canted bay define the junction of the south-west and south-east elevations. Providing further vertical emphasis, and derived from Blois, upper floor windows are related to windows below by a plain apron, and in the case of the dormers, a blank panel in the balustrade. On the tower such windows are placed centrally, the enriched gable treated as a dormer window, and set into the tower roof. Regularly spaced and fenestrated bays to the ground floor have four-light mullion and transom windows with chamfered architraves and to the first floor windows have two lights, while the tower and canted bay have larger windows, in line with their greater mass. Windows are enriched with hood moulds adjoining a drip course, and cills have foliate bosses, a pierced parapet uniting the features while gargoyles project at the eaves. A similarly treated entrance gives onto the garden terrace. On the southern face of the tower and on the southern elevation is a single luccum-like timber dormer with cusped bargeboards. On the southern-most, canted corner of the house a stone sundial in a moulded shield, flanked by a putto and winged hour glass and the inscription ‘TEMPUS FUGIT’, sits beneath a moulded corner bracket beneath the parapet. A rounded oriel window – probably added by Devey - defines the eastern angle of the library. On the return, tall narrow, paired, pedimented window bays serving the stair have juxtaposed window heights.
The dining room is set back. To the right in a symmetrical façade behind a six-bay cloister that adjoins the chapel, the octagonal water tower rising centrally behind it. It has plain chamfered, three-light, mullioned and transomed windows, those in the first and fifth bays are blind and contain decorative plaster panels. One depicts St Lawrence, with emblematic details relating to charity and strength, and the other St Catherine, representing philosophy and faith. The CLOISTER consists of an arcade of stone segmental arches with stone shafts with different foliate capitals, below a balcony with elaborate grotesques to dispel rainwater. The first floor has inner paired mullion and transom windows and outer single windows which alternate with three evenly spaced dormers above (presumably Devey), which have enriched pediments as elsewhere in the house, with a balustrade between.
The cloister turns through 90 degrees in line with the ground floor of the chapel and is enclosed by low stone parapet walls. It has a coffered ceiling in deeply moulded plaster in geometric patterns, also found in interior rooms; floors are tiled in sections reflecting the bay rhythm. The door between the chapel and cloister has a shell motif in the head and sits in a moulded and panelled timber architrave with foliate spandrels. Its moulded stone doorcase has an ogival hoodmould with crocketed finials. At the opposite end of the cloister a simply detailed door gives access to the house. The cloister contains alabaster and Portland stone memorials and panels depicting biblical scenes. A Portland stone memorial to George Devey erected by BW Currie and dated 1887, depicts a bust of the architect above the tools of his trade, and below them an inscription in Latin. There is a white marble memorial to BW Currie’s wife, whose conversion to Catholicism may have prompted building the new chapel. Inset in to the wall are a pair of relief panels, one depicting the Presentation of Christ at the Temple.
The external form of the CHAPEL resembles the chevet plan of a French medieval church. It is built of stone with knapped flint panels on its principal elevations and brick elsewhere. It has an elongated octagonal plan. The ground floor is blind and the first floor an arcade set with Romanesque arches with alternating casement windows and blind flint panels. Offset buttresses mark the corners, and there is a moulded corbel table below the eaves. The roof is lead-covered with hips rising to a ridge with finials at either end. A blind arcade of stone and flint joins it to the main house at first-floor level.
In contrast to the main house, the forecourt elevation of the SERVICE RANGE, remodelled by Devey and completed by Castings, is in a more ordered 1:3:1:3 arrangement, and in two storeys and an attic. It has a dominating square tower to the left, reflecting the mass of the stair tower on the right, and a symmetrical composition in between with regularly spaced windows and tall, full-height pedimented dormers linked by pierced, cusped balustrades, the motif echoed in the corbel table of the tower. Tall stacks with grouped, banded octagonal shafts frame, as elsewhere in the house rise against the tower and at the rear appear above the roofline. Ground floor windows are sashes in plain hollow chamfered architraves, and to the first floor and in the dormers windows are metal casements in richly moulded surrounds. The tower is symmetrically arranged, with a first-floor balcony supported on stone brackets, with a richly moulded balustrade. Above, a tall central panel rises though two storeys, on each floor incorporating the window, with a plain apron below it, the gabled apex treated as a dormer window, but set against the tall flared tower roof. The central entrance bay is surmounted by an ornate pedimented dormer with a pierced carved stone central roundel of foliate design and exuberant crocketed and cusped panels to each side. At ground floor a large, central round-arched opening with chamfered orders and moulded stops has an ogival head with a crocketed finial above moulded panels and the date ‘1898’ and ‘LSC’ for Laurence Currie. Set back within the brick-lined porch is a single door with moulded muntins within a pointed arched architrave.
The SERVICE WING is set around a courtyard reached by an arched entrance from the drive; it has a covered walkway at ground-floor level, beneath a projecting upper floor supported on decorative timber shafts, and linking the main service range with the two-storey wing on the west. The rear elevations show a number of phases of building and extension. Stylistic devices are continued from the principal elevations, but are generally simplified and functional.
The principal rooms are at the southern end of the building; service rooms are in the northern range. The interior was extensively remodelled in the later C19 and early C20, such that the original plan is unclear, the inner hall representing the most intact survival from the original house.
The VESTIBULE has tall, timber front doors with fielded linenfold panels. Walls have timber dado panelling and there are tall, panelled double inner doors with panelled linings beneath a moulded cornice. The ceiling has deep plaster mouldings in a geometric pattern with a central star shape.
The INNER HALL is a double-height, half cube treated as a courtyard, fully lined with plaster panelling, two bays deep and three bays wide, with fluted pilasters with composite capitals and a modillion cornice to the ground floor and Ionic pilasters to the first floor. A large chimneypiece has deeply projecting consoles supporting a moulded, dentilled frieze and mantel-shelf. The over-mantel has square pilasters with relief moulding and a framed panel with egg and dart moulding beneath a dentil cornice. There are shell alcoves to either side of the entrance. Doorways have semi-circular pediments, those on the side walls are wider due to their different proportions, suggesting the decorative scheme has been inserted into an earlier room. Blind doorways are included to retain a strict symmetry. Above the chimneypiece a narrow first floor gallery or passage with square Ionic piers has a scrolled, foliate cast iron balustrade. It is reached by a stair with square newels and turned balusters. The ceiling has geometric mouldings and the floor is covered with Minton tiles.
The GREEN ROOM, also neoclassical in manner, is lined in fielded panelling between Ionic pilasters, beneath a dentil cornice and plaster ceiling with deep geometric moulding. The chimneypiece, similarly treated, has in the over-mantel a plaster relief panel depicting a mounted Tudor cavalry officer, signed ‘M Hiolle,1887’. Windows have heraldic shields in stained glass lights above the transoms.
The DRAWING ROOM is a striking room fully panelled in Spanish walnut, using a mixed palette of classical and Jacobean mouldings with details picked out in gilt. Wall panels are enriched with low relief foliate carving. The chimneypiece has scrolled consoles with lions supporting the mantel-shelf. The over-mantel has an alcove recessed behind paired arched heads with a moulded pendant. The ceiling is a coffered geometric grid incorporating shields, emblems and interlinking ‘C’ motifs. The initials BWC recur, suggesting a date of c1885. Within the canted window bay, which is set behind a balustraded arched screen, there are alcoves at the outer angles and the enriched wall panels, which elsewhere are purely decorative, incorporate the head of a figure with a long moustache, perhaps a portrait of Currie, and horses’ heads. Two built-in vitrines have portraits and term figure busts moulded into their frames. In the east corner, a doorway with a moulded, fluted architrave, leads to the garden terrace. Windows have vertical sliding shutter boxes.
The door leading to the LIBRARY has an ornate classical architrave with a segmental broken pediment housing a clock. Double doors are of six raised and fielded panels. The library too is panelled, though with plain fielded panels to the height of the picture rail. Bookshelves are built into the walls. There is a substantial, panelled chimneypiece with a raised entablature with a deep moulded cornice and large supporting consoles.
The DINING ROOM, extant in 1871 but later remodelled internally, has apsidal ends with, at the entrance end, an 'in antis' screen of fluted columns with composite capitals. The room is fully lined in moulded panelling between Ionic pilasters above a dado and beneath a deep modillion cornice, and with shell alcoves in the apses. Doorcases and alcoves have broken pediments. The Jacobean-manner chimneypiece is heavily moulded, has swag, shell and acanthus mouldings to the mantelshelf, above which is a plaster panel depicting a bucolic figure in an castellated landscape, similar to the panel by Hiolle in the Green Room, but unsigned. The ceiling has shallow geometric mouldings.
The ANTEROOM to the dining room has an arched screen at either end, timber fielded panelling below the dado and less substantial pilasters, added in a later phase of decoration, above, beneath a dentil cornice. The low ceiling is coffered in a geometric pattern. Doors have fielded panelling.
The room known as the NIGHT BAR, in the north-west corner of the southern range, is a relatively plain room with an egg and dart moulding below a coved cornice. The ceiling is intricately painted in the style of Adam, with delicate scrolls, swags, urns and flora. The fireplace has a chamfered and moulded, grey-brown marble surround. The window has a vertical sliding shutter box.
Principal rooms retain their door furniture, which includes decorative brass fingerplates, door handles and rim locks.
The principal STAIR rises from a timber panelled stair hall between the inner hall, the Green Room from which it was divided in the later C19 or early C20, and library. It rises in an oval well with vertical dado panelling which continues to the landing, and a moulded hand rail. At intervals moulded plaster bunches of oak leaves augment the cornice. The windows to the stairs are leaded in a geometric pattern. The spinal wall at the centre of the stair terminates at the top in a large chest-like finial with a plaster base enriched with a blind arcade and a carved oak head resembling a sarcophagus. It is rumoured to be the tomb of the daughter of a previous inhabitant.
A secondary stair within the octagonal stair turret has turned newels and square balusters and a moulded rail. At upper level it rises as a winder stair against the water tank, providing access to the roof.
Internally, the CHAPEL has been divided laterally with an inserted first floor. Doors and window openings to the ground floor are in pointed arches, and doors have fielded panels, that to the cloister has a round head and shell relief moulding. The chapel has a vaulted roof lined with timber boarding and has timber ribs with moulded foliate pendants.
Between the ground floor of the chapel and the dining room are two rooms with similar geometrically moulded ceilings. One has linenfold panelling to dado level, the other, modern timber panelling. A timber door with fielded panels and linen-fold mouldings separates the two and appears to have been re-hung.
The landings on the first and second floors have a deeply moulded coffered ceiling. On the first floor there are two rooms of note: in the southern-most corner, a timber-panelled room with built-in bookcases and a chimneypiece with Delft-style tiles and a grey marble mantelpiece. To the north, above the library, a timber panelled room, now painted white, has a chimneypiece with Jacobean moulded jambs and a mantel-piece with foliate, egg and dart and fillet mouldings. The over-mantel has fluted pilasters, scroll moulding and a tripartite framed panel with a semi-circular keyed pediment. The ceiling has shallow relief moulding set out on a grid. Both rooms have been subdivided by C20 partitioning which is not of special interest.
Elsewhere the rooms on the upper floors are plain with simple dado rails and cornices. Fireplaces have been removed and blocked, and there is much subdivision of rooms.
The SERVICE WING is served by a number of staircases, with square newels, simple turned balusters and moulded handrails, the principal stair set behind the main entrance. The service rooms in the northern ranges have been adapted for use as offices and bathrooms and do not contain features of note. The servant’s hall, latterly used as a conference room, has a copper-covered roof lantern.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: low forecourt walls to the north-west are built in brick and have limestone copings and gauged brick dressings. Entrances to the turning circle have piers with curbing stones and shaped finials with volutes to the corners, and return walls which curve and ramp upwards to join the servants' hall and orangery loggia wall.