A mid-C19 Italianate villa with a rear service wing. Late C19 alterations and additions to the east range designed by architect Henry Crisp. C20 alterations.
Reasons for Designation
The Hermitage is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* built in about 1850, it is a relatively early example of a suburban Italianate villa that retains a significant proportion of its original fabric;
* for its compositional design, use of good quality materials and architectural detailing, as well as its contribution to our understanding of Italianate domestic architecture in the mid-C19;
* for the planning interest of its late C19 remodelling of the east range by known architect Henry Crisp which emphasises the division between family and servant, and female and male domains.
* for its illustration of the influence of architects such as Charles Barry and Osborne House on the popularisation of the Italianate Renaissance style among the middle classes and the development of the suburban villa.
* for its visual relationship with St Ursula’s High School (Grade II) a mid-C19 former house with a four-storey campanile tower.
The Hermitage is a mid-C19 detached Italianate villa set on a raised mound within generous gardens with characteristic picturesque perimeter planting, specimen trees, and a pulhamite rockery as well as rubble stone boundary walls, iron entrance gates, and a former stable and coach house. It has been known as The Hermitage since at least 1851 and is clearly marked as ‘The Hermitage’ on the 1st edition OS map (1881). The service wing to the east appears to be contemporary.
In the late C19 the architect Henry Crisp was employed by James Gibbs of Clifton to re-design the east range and as a consequence the first floor of the service wing was rebuilt, and the whole of this range extended to the south. The first-floor fenestration to both the north and south end differ from Crisp’s plans and may be later alterations. A two-storey block (now demolished) was also added to the east elevation providing an earth closet to the ground floor and a housemaid’s closet to the first floor. The ground floor of the belvedere tower was extended to the north.
The house underwent some minor remodelling in the mid-C20 with a further extension to the ground floor of the tower and the insertion of partition walls. Additionally, a photograph dated 1945, shows that to either side of the west windows was blind arcading with horizontal banding. This has since been rendered over.
Henry Crisp (1826-1896) was a Bristol architect who formed a partnership with the architect Edward Godwin between 1861 and 1871, and then in 1888 with Sir George Oatley. Oatley had been working with Crisp for a number of years prior to this and had been his assistant since 1884.
A mid-C19 Italianate villa with a rear service wing. Late-C19 alterations and additions to the east range designed by architect Henry Crisp. C20 alterations.
MATERIALS: built of stone that has been rendered. Both ranges have hipped roofs with bands of plain and scallop-shaped slate tiles to the outer pitches. There are some clay chimney pots to the rendered stacks and mid-C19 hornless sash windows to the west range and late-C19 horned sash windows to the east range, some with margin lights. The north elevation of the east range includes a late-C18 or early-C19 eight-over-eight hornless sash window. Iron weather vane to belvedere tower.
PLAN: two, two-storey, parallel ranges of differing floor levels. The principal mid-C19 Italianate west range (with cellar) is accessed via a porch to the south elevation and contains the entrance hall with the principal staircase, the four-storey belvedere tower to the north, and the principal reception rooms and bedrooms. The east range houses the kitchen, scullery, larder and store, and to the south of the service rooms is the late-C19 former billiard room, now subdivided. There is a late-C19 staircase inserted between the kitchen and the billiard room providing access to the former servant’s bedrooms.
EXTERIOR: the principal west range has deeply bracketed eaves, a heavily moulded cill band, and quoins with shaped ends; the quoins and plinth have a stippled effect. Accessed from the south elevation the central entrance porch has a six-panel C19 door with a semi-circular fanlight. An elongated keystone rises to the deep eaves of the shallow pyramidal roof that is supported on scrolled stone corbels. To either side of the doorway are console brackets on low walls. The gable end stack to the left has quoin work to the ground floor and a round-arched niche with an elongated keystone and pilasters to the first floor.
Both the west and north elevation of the principal range have first-floor tripartite sash windows with horizontal glazing bars set beneath round-arched heads with elongated keystones that extend up to the eaves. The left-hand bay of the west elevation forms a garden seat with a pair of short Tuscan pilasters to either side, and above, a pair of sash windows set within a recessed niche with a segmental head. The right-hand bay is stepped forward with a ground-floor bow window with three full-height windows. The cill band above steps forward and is supported on stone corbels. The arrangement of the right-hand bay is repeated to the north elevation, which includes the four-storey belvedere tower with a sweeping pyramidal roof topped with an ornate weather vane. The tower has one-over-one horned sash windows and tripartite round-arched windows with elongated keystones to the fourth storey.
The late-C19 east range is plainer. The south elevation denotes the private rooms with three sash windows to the ground floor and a tripartite window to the first floor.
INTERIOR: the porch has a mosaic floor and Lincrusta (a deeply embossed wall covering invented in 1877) wallpaper to dado height that continues into the entrance hall and mimics wall panelling. The entrance hall also has a Lincrusta ceiling and frieze in the style of C17 plasterwork; beneath is egg and dart moulding. The open-well staircase has an open string, stick balusters and a curtail step with wreathed handrail. The ceiling of the stairwell has a barrel-style vault, with bolection moulding beneath with decorative stops. To the north end of the first-floor landing is a stained glass window with a central wreath motif that divides the stairwell from the tower.
The principal reception rooms all have panelled window shutters, decorative plaster cornices and re-used early-C19 Regency fireplaces; the grates have been removed. The first-floor bedrooms in the west range also have early-C19 Regency fireplaces. Throughout there is a mixture of six and four panel doors. The east range, apart from the former billiard room, is plainer and the fireplaces have been removed.
The east range has a late-C19 tie-beam roof with some C20 renewal and repair of timbers. The roof to the west range was not inspected.