Glenfall House

Overview

Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1426494
Date first listed:
23-Jul-2015
Statutory Address:
Glenfall House, Mill Lane, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, GL54 4EP

Map

Ordnance survey map of Glenfall House
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

Statutory Address:
Glenfall House, Mill Lane, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, GL54 4EP

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

County:
Gloucestershire
District:
Cheltenham (District Authority)
Parish:
Charlton Kings
National Grid Reference:
SO9805221847

Summary

A regency villa with Picturesque park and pleasure ground dating from the early C19 and laid out in a steep-sided valley. The terraced gardens to the west were added in the 1920s, and attributed to Sidney Barnsley and Norman Jewson.

Reasons for Designation

The early-C19 Picturesque park and pleasure grounds and the early-C20 terraced gardens at Glenfall House, are included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: as a good, representative example of both a Picturesque landscape and an Arts and Crafts garden; * Intactness: they retain their layouts and reflect their original design and character; * Architectural interest: the early-C20 terraced gardens are attributed to two of the most accomplished and prolific designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Sidney Barnsley and Norman Jewson, whose works are well-represented on the List; * Group value: for their strong group value with Glenfall House (Grade II), Glenfall Lodge (Grade I), the Gate Piers, Gates and Walls to Glenfall House (Grade II).

History

There is evidence of the pre-enclosure landscape in the parkland of Glenfall House and the surrounding fields, with ridge and furrow, old pollarded trees and the ridges of abandoned field systems. The field system which largely survives today was created in the C18; hedgerow oaks and ash survive from this time, as well as field oaks planted on the underlying ridge and furrow.

There is known to have been a farmhouse, named ‘The Gutterfall’, on the site since the mid-C18. By 1808 this had been rebuilt in brick for the then owner Charles Higgs, and by 1817 the house had been renamed ‘Glenfall’. In 1819, the house and the surrounding farmland were purchased by Edward Iggulden, a wealthy brewer from Deal, Kent and agent with the East India Shipping Company. Iggulden improved the grounds and created a Picturesque landscape, which included pleasure grounds within the coppices either side of the valley. It was during his ownership from 1819 to 1828 that tourists were able to visit these pleasure grounds to view ‘The Glen’ and its waterfall. In 1826, S Y Griffiths described it as ‘a most romantic spot’ and added, ‘[t]hough not on an extensive scale, this truly fascinating retreat combines within its precincts the local charms of hill, vale, wood and water. Nature seems to reign here in her primeval simplicity and beauty and the soft sound of the waters from the miniature cataract, formed by rude rocks, breaking upon the stillness of the solitude, has the most imposing and soothing effect. The views from the lawn in front of the tasteful cottage residence are luxuriant beyond description’. By 1827 some of the springs on the estate which fed Ham Brook were capped and piped to the covered reservoirs at Hewletts, reducing the amount of water and affecting the impressiveness of the waterfalls. In 1828, the estate passed to Iggulden’s daughter, Mary, and her husband Lieutenant General John Molyneux who remodelled and extended the house in 1830-40. In 1890 the estate was sold to the Willis family and it is thought that many of the surviving estate trees date from this period. In 1920 the estate was purchased by the brewer Arthur Mitchell of Birmingham’s Mitchell and Butler. Mitchell was an admirer of the Arts and Crafts Movement and he employed Sidney Barnsley, Norman Jewson and Peter Waals to extend and furnish the house, and to create the terraced gardens to the west of the house, with the orchard beyond. The decorative iron gates are attributed to Norman Jewson. In 1929 the south wing was added to the house by Healing & Overbury (Sidney Barnsley having died in 1926) and the adjacent paddock was included in the garden as a sloping lawn with vegetable garden beyond. Mitchell owned the house until his death in 1965, after which the house was sold to a Martin Crabbe, who sold much of the Arts and Crafts furniture, and removed the top storey of the house and remodelled the hall and staircase. In 1980 the house and part of the grounds were bought by the Community of St Peter and St Paul, and in 1991 the community gifted the estate to the Diocese of Gloucester. The house and the gardens were subsequently restored by the Glenfall House Trust. The house was opened as a conference centre in 1992.

Details

A regency villa with Picturesque park and pleasure ground dating from the early C19 and laid out in a steep-sided valley. The terraced gardens to the west were added in the 1920s, and attributed to Sidney Barnsley and Norman Jewson.

LOCATION: Glenfall House occupies an elevated position to the north of Charlton Kings, and two miles to the east of Cheltenham. The site offers far-reaching views west towards Gloucester and north-west to the Malverns.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES: the main approach is from Glenfall Lodge (Grade II) on a sharp bend in Mill Lane, to the north-west of the house. Glenfall Lodge built in 1855 for the Molyneux family is a single-storey octagonal building with C20 additions and alterations. From the gates, also 1855 (with gate piers and walls, Grade II), the drive runs south-east through an avenue of small-leafed lime trees, oaks and fern-leafed beech to a stone bridge over the Ham Brook, with hazel coppices to either side. The drive then sweeps round to run south-west, hiding the house from view apart from glimpses of the north elevation through a line of oak tress, one planted in c1662. The evergreen shrubbery along the drive includes several rhododendrons. The drive was re-aligned in the 1810s to its present route, previously having commenced at a lodge (now demolished) by the brook, from where it led directly south to the house. This line survives as an earthwork. There was also a south drive which ran from the road to the south of the estate up to the house.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING: Glenfall House (Grade II), mid-C18, rebuilt in 1799-1808 for Charles Higgs in the cottage ornee style. Extended and remodelled in 1830-40. The south wing was added in 1929. The house is constructed of brick with ashlar dressings; the brick has been rendered and painted white. It is of two storeys with a raised parapet and three stacks with cornices. The entrance (north) façade is arranged as eight bays. The two bays to the left-hand end are set forward and have Doric pilasters to the corners and a pediment. The entrance is towards the right-hand end and set within a 1920s doorcase beneath an acanthus modillion cornice with a broken triangular pediment above. The garden (west) façade is arranged as six bays. The ground floor projects forward and has a central canted bay, and is surmounted by a stone balustrade to the first-floor veranda. Between the first-floor windows are Doric pilasters. The east return of the south elevation has a C19 bow window to the first floor. Two, full-height bow windows with pilaster mullions flank the three window range with a balcony to the central first-floor window. Separated from the east elevation by a courtyard, the former stables and coach house have been converted to accommodation.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS: the gardens lie to the west and south of Glenfall House and make full use of the views, particularly those out to the west. The C19 gardens were simple, divided from the park by a fence. Towards the end of the C19 they were extended westwards, then, in the 1920s, during Arthur Mitchell’s ownership, the garden area was again reworked and extended to create the terraced gardens.

A decorative iron gate, known as the Tulip Gate and attributed to the Arts and Crafts architect Norman Jewson, is set in a yew hedge and provides access to the garden from the forecourt to the north of the house. At the north and south end of the upper flagstone terrace, paths lead down to the main terrace through rockeries, whilst to the centre is a flight of stone steps. The main terrace is lawned and approximately picks up the line of the western limit of the original garden. It is supported by a dry stone wall built of Cotswold stone quarried on the estate and these walls, which are slightly inclined, have square pillars along their length. From the centre point of the wall a double flight of steps lead down to the rose garden, and within the arms of the steps on the terrace beneath is an ornamental, semi-circular pool which is fed by a scallop shell fountain on the back wall, which is set with an arched recess with keystone. To the south of this is an alcove or summerhouse set into an arched recess in the wall. Above the keystone is a datestone, inscribed ‘AM 1922’. To the south again, runs the wisteria walk, with a line of dry stone square pillars. The levelled ground is set out with yew hedging and a rose garden, the southern part in front of the wisteria walk having been used as a hard tennis court in the 1930s. To the centre of this terrace, to the west of the central rose garden, a flight of stone steps leads down to the broad walk, a grass walk separated from the orchard beyond by a low dry-stone wall built in the 1920s. The orchard was built out into the park, also in the 1920s, and bounded by a stone-faced ha-ha. Its laying out required re-routing the south drive to loop round the western end of the new enclosure. The pair of blue cedars, planted around 1872 have been felled, but the two weeping willows of comparable age survive.

Mitchell was responsible too for reworking and moving the boundary eastwards to create the south garden to complement the addition of the south wing. A central door from the south wing opens onto a paved terrace with Cotswold stone semi-circular steps leading up to the sloping south lawn, which includes three herbaceous beds, lime trees and a cedar planted in 1872, the other cedar has been felled. The lawn is screened from the ground to the east by a yew hedge, to the north end of which is a decorative iron gate, known as the Rose Gate. A holly hedge runs along the top of the retaining wall which forms the boundary between the south lawn and the field beyond.

During the early years of the C19 Edward Iggulden laid out a path through the hazel coppice which lined the steep-sided valley of the Ham Brook which runs east to west, approximately 100m to the north of the house. Treating these steep-sided valleys as a pleasure ground, he laid out a path through the Upper and Lower Glens, with views capitalising on the extensive horizons. Where the north drive bisects the valley, it crosses via a bridge over a waterfall. The waterfall became popular as a particularly romantic spot in the early C19, and was painted and described by visitors, despite a reduction in the volume of water over the fall from 1824 onwards as a result of extraction from the wells above by the Cheltenham Water Works Company. The form of the falls was presumably altered with the building of the bridge in the 1920s. The bridge which is constructed of Brownstone was severely damaged in 2007, and in 2008 the east side was rebuilt, as well as the top layers of the west side. A flight of steps to the west of the bridge leads down to the Lower Glen.

Further along the drive, on the sharp bend, a second set of stone steps leads down to a wooden bridge across the brook. This bridge, which is supported on the original stone pillars, replaces the 1920s timber bridge which was destroyed in 1994. Further upstream is a stone bridge carrying a date stone, ‘AM 1923’.

THE PARK: Home Ground, the field to the north and west of the house, between the drive and the gardens, and the Ham Brook, was planted up by Iggulden to provide a small park, with a scattering of limes, oaks and horse chestnuts. There are also a number of grafted standard pear trees in this area. Gutter Herne and Mill Piece, to the west between the brook and Mill Lane, were acquired by Iggulden in 1819.

KITCHEN GARDEN: the C19 kitchen garden lies to the east of the south garden. Its west wall was demolished in the early C20 to accommodate the extended south garden which is now separated from the remaining kitchen garden by the yew hedge. The kitchen garden is still bounded by walls to three of its sides. To the north of the kitchen garden are the C19 stables which have been converted to accommodation.

Sources

Books and journals
Greensted, M, Gimson and the Barnsleys, (1977), 197
Griffith, SY, Cheltenham, (1826), 97
Johnson, GP, Pictorial Cheltenham & Gloucestershire Guide, (1845), 77
Verey, D, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire 2 The Vale and the Forest of Dean, (2002), 222
Websites
Parks and Gardens UK, accessed 14 April 2015 from http://www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/site/6874/description
Other
A Bryant, Map of the County of Gloucestershire from actual survey (1823-4)
Debois Landscape Survey Group, Glenfall House: A Survey of the landscape (1994)
Glenfall House Trust, Glenfall House: The growth of a garden over 200 years (2012)
I Taylor, Map of Gloucestershire (1777)
Norman Jewson Architect 1884-1975 (1987) exhibition catalogue
The Glenfall Estate (1890) plan accompanying sales particulars
The Glenfall Estate near Cheltenham (1908) from sales particulars

Legal

This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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