Whewell House, including boundary walls to south and west


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Whewell House, 62 Grange Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DH


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Statutory Address:
Whewell House, 62 Grange Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DH

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

Cambridge (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TL 44028 58650


Edwardian Baroque house, built 1906 to the designs of Amian Lister Champneys, now in use as student residence of Trinity College.

Reasons for Designation

Whewell House, 62 Grange Road, built in 1906 to the designs of Amian Lister Champneys, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architect: as a building designed by architect Amian Lister Champneys, son of the acclaimed Victorian architect Basil Champneys, who has another listed building to his name; * Architectural interest: for its attractive well-proportioned composition and imaginative treatment of classical motifs, which are characteristic of the Edwardian Baroque style; * Interior: for the quality craftsmanship and high degree of survival of interior details, including staircases, joinery, and fire surrounds; * Historic interest: for its association with distinguished Cambridge academics, including LFL Oppenheim, Major-General Sir Frederick Barton Maurice, and Professor Edward Austin Gossage Robinson; * Context: as part of an exceptional suburban development in West Cambridge which encompasses the work of some of the most notable architects of the day; * Group value: for its group value with numerous listed houses and college buildings on Grange Road, notably Silbury, 60 Grange Road also by Amian Lister Champneys (1906), Cambridge University Library by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1931-4), and 48 Grange Road by Basil Champneys (c1880).


Cambridge is situated on the southern edge of the Fens at the highest navigable point of the River Cam. The original Celtic settlement had grown up on the north bank but the Romans established the small town of Durovigutum at the strategically important junction of four major roads. The Saxon occupation spread to the south of the river, and the Normans reaffirmed the strategic importance of the site by building a castle which led to the expansion of the settlement. Cambridge soon became a prosperous town in which several religious houses were established, and these attracted sufficient students for Henry III to recognise the town as a seat of learning in 1231. Most of the fifteen colleges in existence before the Reformation had evolved from the cloistered world of monastic scholarship. Additional colleges and university buildings have continued to be established up to the present day and much new housing was built during the inter-war period and post-war period.

The development of the former medieval West Fields began around 1870. This land, covering approximately 200 acres, was owned primarily by the colleges, notably St John’s, which had always strongly resisted any building west of the Backs (the stretch of land which runs along the back of the riverside colleges). It was the loss of college revenue from the agricultural depression that led to their decision to lease the land in building plots. Three new institutions were established – Newnham College in 1875, Ridley Hall in 1877, and Selwyn Hostel (now College) in 1879 – and suburban houses in various styles from Queen Anne to Arts and Crafts and Neo-Georgian were built piecemeal over almost half a century. The demand for such large family homes was partly fuelled by a new statute passed in 1882 that finally allowed dons to marry without having to give up their fellowships. The main arteries of development were West Road, Madingley Road and Grange Road which forms the central spine road running north-south through the suburb.

Although economic necessity had forced the colleges to allow building on the land, they were determined to keep a strict control over the residential development which consisted almost entirely of high end middle class housing, interspersed with university playing fields, without any community facilities such as churches or shops. There was no overall plan but the landowners ensured that it was restricted to an affluent market by issuing leases that specified numerous conditions, including minimum plot sizes, minimum house costs, specification of superior building materials, usually red brick and tiles, and had stringent dilapidation clauses to ensure that property values did not deteriorate. In the mid-1880s, St John’s College for instance, specified one-acre plots with a minimum house cost of £1500 on its Grange Road estate, and half-acre plots with a house cost of at least £1000 on Madingley Road. To put this in context, in 1906 the sum of £1000 was considered well above the price of a substantial suburban villa. The great majority of building leases were taken up by individuals who commissioned either local or London-based architects, many of whom are now considered to be amongst the finest of the late Victorian/ Edwardian age, notably M. H. Baillie Scott who designed nine houses in west Cambridge, E. S. Prior, J. J. Stephenson, and Ernest Newton. Most of these houses were designed to accommodate at least two live-in servants, as shown by the census returns, and some had stables; although by 1910 there were requests either to convert these to garages or to build ‘motor houses’, as they were then known. Grange Road originated as a laneway from Barton Road to Grange Farm, and contained no permanent buildings until the south section of the road was developed from the 1860s onwards. The first building lease granted by St John’s College on Grange Road was in 1884 for the construction of Elmside, or 49 Grange Road. Between 1884 and 1914 the college granted more than sixty building leases in St Giles to private individuals, and also leased land to other colleges for playing fields. The Grange Road Estate was opened up by the building of a new road (Herschel Road) in 1885 running west from Grange Road towards Grange Farm. As development occurred, roads branched out to the west, and Grange Road gradually progressed north until it was connected with Madingley Road in 1910.

Whewell House, 62 Grange Road was erected by William Sindall in 1906, a builder whose yards were located in Newnham, on one of five plots leased from St John’s College in 1899. The house was built to the designs of Amian Lister Champneys (1879-1951), architect and author. Amian Champneys was the son of the esteemed Victorian architect Basil Champneys (1842-1935), one of the pioneers of the ‘Queen Anne’ style, whose most notable designs include Rylands Library in Manchester (listed at Grade I) and Mansfield College in Oxford (listed at Grade II*). An alumnus of Trinity College Cambridge, Basil Champneys designed a multitude of academic buildings in Cambridge, including a number of Grade II* and Grade II listed buildings for Newnham College between 1874 and 1913, and 48 Grange Road (c1880, listed at Grade II).

Amian Champneys was a graduate of New College, Oxford, receiving a BA in 1902. He published on the subject of public libraries in 1907, offering best practice and advice regarding library construction and facilities. He also published on Irish ecclesiastical architecture in 1910, as well as a book of short detective stories in 1928 titled ‘The Incredible Adventures of Rowland Hern’ under the pseudonym Nicholas Olde.

Amian Lister Champneys is associated with two listed buildings: Silbury and Whewell House, or 60 and 62 Grange Road respectively. Both houses were executed in 1906 in the same curious Edwardian Baroque style. No other buildings by Amian Champneys are listed, but he is known to have also designed St Alban’s High School for Girls, Hertfordshire in 1908, which is locally listed. Elevations, sections and plans of the St Albans school published in The Building News, 1907, show clear stylistic similarities with Champneys’ residential houses on Grange Road, having symmetrical elevations, segmental headed window surrounds to the first floor and classical details.

Whewell House was built for LFL Oppenheim (1858-1919), Whewell Professor of International Law, a renowned German jurist regarded by many as the father of the modern discipline of international law. Whewell House was named after William Whewell (1794-1866), a Trinity College Master, scientist, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science, who was Master of Trinity College until he tragically died falling from a horse in 1866. Lieutenant Colonel William Philip Cutlack lived in Whewell House from c1925 until c1940, and the house was later occupied by Major-General Sir Frederick Barton Maurice (1871-1951), a British general, military correspondent, writer and academic. Maurice co-founded the British Legion in 1920 and served as its President from 1932 to 1947. He was appointed professor of military studies at the University of London in 1926, and taught both there and at Trinity College until his death in 1951. After Maurice’s death, Whewell House was occupied by Professor Edward Austin Gossage Robinson, a University of Cambridge economist, alumnus of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and a fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Whewell House was converted to student accommodation for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Trinity College in the late C20.


Edwardian Baroque house, built 1906 to the designs of Amian Lister Champneys, now in use as student residence of Trinity College.

MATERIALS: brown brick laid in Flemish bond, with red brick dressings and a machine tile roof covering.

PLAN: the house faces west onto Grange Road, and is approximately rectangular on plan with a single-storey range to the north, formerly used as a boiler room and store room.

EXTERIOR: Whewell House was constructed in the Edwardian Baroque style, having two-storeys under an attic storey. The hipped roof with two chimneystacks to the east slope, sits above a modillioned eaves cornice. Along the front (west) elevation the cornice rises in two symmetrical round arches, one on either side of the central attic dormer. The house is serviced by cast-iron rainwater goods with decorative hoppers and brackets.

The dormer attic has a tripartite window arrangement to the centre of the west, north and south slopes, each comprising casement windows, the central of the three being surmounted by a pediment, and flanked by recessed, casement windows with a flat roof. The east slope dormers either side of the centre are of the same tripartite configuration although with segmental pediments rather than triangular. The central dormer is a single casement with a triangular pediment.

The front elevation to Grange Road is symmetrical in its layout, having brown brick walls with red brick quoins and surrounds, and a red brick platband over the ground floor. The front elevation features a central half-glazed door with a sunburst fanlight, surmounted by a round arched hood supported on two pairs of console brackets carved in scroll detailing. Either side of the door is a narrow three-pane fixed window followed by two oeil-de-boeuf windows and two four-over-six pane sash windows to either end.

To the first floor the fifteen bays are arranged in five groups of three windows. A central lugged window surround containing a three-over-three pane sash window is flanked to each side by a narrow two-over-two pane sash window. To the north and south of this is a double-height six-over-six pane sash window with a sunburst fanlight, flanked to either side by a four-over-four pane sash window. The outermost bays have a six-over-six pane sash window flanked by a four-over-four sash window to each side.

The garden elevation has a symmetrical composition comprising 16 windows. The windows are arranged in pairs to either side of two full-height bays, with each bay containing five windows on each floor. The bays are aligned with the tripartite attic dormers. There is a central door opening on the ground floor, consisting of a half-glazed timber door with a plain overlight, flanked to either side by a narrow three-over-three pane sash window.

The single storey projection to the north has four casement windows to its front elevation and three to its north elevation. A central, narrow, flat roofed, single-storey projection extends from the ground floor of the south elevation. Detailed with a modillion cornice the roof of the projection rises in a round arch and is flanked by nine-over-nine pane sash windows. Both the north and south elevations have a single nine-over-nine pane sash window to the first floor.

INTERIOR: the Edwardian Baroque character of the exterior is continued on the interior with well-preserved classically inspired details. The half-glazed door of the front elevation leads to an entrance lobby, which also has a half-glazed door and overlight mirroring those of the exterior. The entrance lobby grants access to an entrance hall, which continues directly east through a classically inspired round-headed arch to the garden door. This garden door is flanked by engaged pilasters, with a plinth forming a sill for the neighbouring windows. Turning right from the entrance hall, the visitor meets a grand stair hall, with a large statuary niche in the south-east corner, and doors leading off to rooms on the south and east wall. On the west side a well-lit stair elegantly rises to the first floor, with carved balusters set alternately with splat balusters and square newel posts surmounted with ball finials. The splat balusters are carved on the stair side to give the impression of a continual run of carved balusters but are simple panels on the hall side, following the line of uprights from the fine timber panelling beneath the closed string stair. The room south of the stair hall is currently in use as an academic office, and contains a plain but elegant cornice and picture rail. Engaged pilasters sit either side of the panelled fire surround (now blocked). The room to the east of the stair hall contains a canted fireplace set in an arched niche, with panelled doors revealing an integrated bookshelf overmantel. The grate is surrounded in simple tiling. To the left off the entrance hall, is a half-glazed door leading to a corridor, with smaller rooms to the east, a kitchen to the north, and a service stairs to the west.

The first floor landing has rooms leading off to the south and east overlooking the garden, having classical, carved door surrounds of engaged columns over engaged octagonal piers. These rooms contain simple cornices and simple but elegant fireplaces with splayed mantles, stepped surrounds and simple tiling. Some are blocked and some have replacement glazed tiling. From the landing a half-glazed door leads to a corridor, having bedrooms to the east and north, and a service stairs to the west, allowing access to the attic. The first room to the east off this first floor corridor has an ornately moulded frieze depicting flowers, foliage and scrolled decoration. The second floor has a range of spacious bedrooms occupying the spaces created by the dormer windows, and each bedroom contains a simple but elegant fireplace and built-in storage. The room at the south end of the corridor has a segmental-headed door surround.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Whewell House is bounded to the west to Grange Road by a red brick plinth wall with stone coping. There is a small garden to the south, which is bounded by a red brick wall.


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

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Books and journals
Bradley, Simon, Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire, (2014)
Rawle, T, Cambridge Architecture, (1993), 221
Guillebaud, Philomena, 'Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society' in West Cambridge 1870-1914: building the bicycle suburb, , Vol. XCVI, (2007), pp. 193-210
West Cambridge Conservation Area Appraisal, May 2011, accessed from https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/sites/www.cambridge.gov.uk/files/docs/west-cambridge-conservation-area-appraisal.pdf


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: 17 Aug 2005
Reference: IOE01/13192/14
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Peter Soar. Source Historic England Archive
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