The Spinneys


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Brand Lane, Woodhouse, Loughborough, LE12 8TY


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Statutory Address:
Brand Lane, Woodhouse, Loughborough, LE12 8TY

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

Charnwood (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Arts and Crafts house built in 1901.

Reasons for Designation

The Spinneys, an Arts and Crafts house built in 1901, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is a finely crafted and thoughtfully designed example of an Arts and Crafts house by an assured architect immersed in the ethos of the movement;

* the use of timber framing, tall chimney stacks, mullioned windows and internal panelling all combine to evoke the vernacular whilst providing easeful accommodation for a later age;

* the locally quarried Swithland slates, finely laid in diminishing courses, firmly root the house in its locality and blend beautifully with the stone dressings;

* the interior has a similarly high standard of design, demonstrating the fine craftsmanship and use of good quality materials that is typical of Arts and Crafts houses;

* the suite of reception rooms is almost wholly intact, and the plan form which clearly demarcates the family and servants’ areas is also still legible, even retaining the original fitted furniture in the butler’s pantry, altogether providing a well-preserved example of an Arts and Crafts interior;

* the decorative scheme gains effect from the use of exposed timber joinery, oversized chimneypieces, and subtly detailed brass door furniture, with the most elaborate treatment being reserved for the handsome principal staircase, the panelled hall, and the drawing room with its inviting window seat alcove and delicate plasterwork on the ceiling.

Historic interest:

* it is associated with one of the most illustrious names from Leicester’s manufacturing past, a director of the firm of R Walker and Sons whose Wolsey trademark became the best-known hosiery and underwear brand of the C20. In the 1914 edition of Who’s Who in Business, they are described as ‘one of the oldest and most celebrated firms in the trade [whose] name is known all over the world.’

Group value:

* it forms part of an important cluster of Arts and Crafts houses in Charnwood Forest designed by Ernest Gimson for members of his family between 1897 and 1908. Lea Cottage and Rockyfield Cottage are both listed at Grade II, whilst Stoneywell (owned by the National Trust) is listed at Grade II*.


The Arts and Crafts Movement had a profound effect on domestic design, and it revolutionised middle-class taste. In the three decades from 1880 to 1910 the Movement produced some of the finest and most original architecture and artefacts ever produced in Britain, and it is one of the few native architectural styles to have achieved fame and influence across the world. Inspired by the teachings of AWN Pugin, John Ruskin and William Morris, Arts and Crafts architects designed houses from the inside out, resulting in informal, irregular and picturesque compositions, characterised by the honest use of building materials (often local), the unity of handicraft and design, and the evocation of the vernacular. A whole generation of architects, artists and craftsmen was inspired by their ideals of truth to tradition, to materials and to function to create architecture of freedom and originality. In addition to the architects who achieved international reputations, there were many local architects who designed exceptional buildings that made a distinctive contribution to late Victorian and Edwardian towns and suburbs.

The Spinneys was built in 1901 but the identity of the architect is not currently known. The first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1884 shows the site as an empty field on the east side of Brand Lane. By the second edition OS map of 1903, the house is depicted towards the eastern end of the field at the end of a long drive with a coach house on its south-east side. On the third edition map of 1929, the house is labelled ‘The Spinneys’ and a small building labelled ‘Lodge’ is located on the north side of the drive, just off Brand Lane. The names of some of the residents of The Spinneys in the first half of the C20 have been uncovered in the British Newspaper Archive. The Reverend J Farnworth resided there in 1905, and Mr & Mrs Kenneth Walker from at least 1908 to at least 1916. Kenneth Ralph Walker (b 1876) was a director of the firm of R Walker and Sons, Leicester, whose Wolsey trademark became the best-known hosiery and underwear brand of the C20. James E Pilgrim was residing at The Spinneys in 1920; and Mr & Mrs Charles Mothersole in 1940.

In more recent years, the lodge and the coach house have gone into separate ownership, the latter being converted into a dwelling in the mid-1970s. The open service courtyard on the south-east side of the house has been roofed over to create a garage and the opening on the south side has been widened for access. A conservatory has also been added on the west side of the courtyard in the late C20.


Arts and Crafts house built in 1901.

MATERIALS: brick, rendered or painted, all in white, with roughcast render between the sections of applied timber-framing. The dressings are of ashlared stone, and the roof covering of Swithland slate laid in diminishing courses is from the nearby Swithland quarry.

PLAN: The Spinneys is a large detached house situated in grounds at the end of a long drive off Brand Lane. It has an irregular shape on plan consisting of the family rooms at the north end and the service rooms at the south end, partly arranged around an open yard, now enclosed, with a late C20 conservatory adjoining the west side.

EXTERIOR: the house is in the Arts and Crafts style and is characterised by irregular elevations with gabled bays, half-timbering and horizontal fenestration. The entrance is on the east side which presents an L-shaped elevation consisting of a tall range projecting forward on the left, containing the service rooms, and a long principal range containing the reception rooms. This two-storey range is under a steeply pitched roof with a red brick ridge stack just left of centre, and a taller, faceted stack with an oversailing cornice rising through the right (north) gable end. On the main range, from the left, a projecting gabled bay with a parapet and kneelers has a diagonal buttress on the outer edge. The front door is reached via a set of five splayed stone steps, forming a segmental arch shape which is echoed by the deep, moulded stone arch above the front door. This has six panels with three vertical glazed panels above and an original decorative bell plate with ‘VISITORS’ in raised lettering. The stone surround of the front door flows seamlessly into the three-light stone mullioned window to the left. This has straight-edged mullions and leaded lights. The first floor of the gabled bay is lit by three small casement windows in stone surrounds with dripmoulds. All the fenestration has leaded lights, some of which have been replaced. The gabled bay is balanced at the other end of the range by a two-storey canted bay window with a stone-coped parapet, lit on both floors by five-light stone mullioned windows. In between, the ground floor is lit on the left by a two-light wooden casement, whilst the first floor is decorated with close studding and is lit by a flat-roofed, four-light dormer positioned above the eaves. On the right return (north gable end), is the projecting chimney stack, on either side of which is a close studded jetty pierced by single windows. The projecting range on the left of the principal elevation, which contains the servants’ rooms, is gabled with a stone-coped parapet and kneelers, and a wide brick ridge stack. The first floor is lit by a canted oriel window with four-light timber mullioned windows, below which is a leaded panel embossed with a Tudor rose motif. Directly underneath is a three-light casement. The right return has a gabled bay at the right end, lit by three irregularly placed casement windows in wooden frames with dripmoulds.

The west-facing garden elevation has, along the left half, a jettied first floor with close studding, and a four-light, flat-roofed dormer positioned above the eaves. The ground floor is lit by two four-light casement windows divided by a stone-capped buttress, and a small single-light window in a stone surround. Next to this is a projecting gabled bay which has plain timber bargeboards and close studding in the gable head, underneath which is a canted four-light oriel window supported by wooden brackets. The ground floor is lit by a four-light casement window with a drip mould. Following this is a recessed staircase bay with an entrance and paved area, reached via a straight flight of five stone steps, sheltered by a flat canopy. The door has a single horizontal panel with glazed panels above, and to the left, a large twelve-light window lights the lower landing inside. Above the canopy, a four-light window lights the upper landing. The elevation terminates in a projecting gabled bay that rises above the roof line. It is dominated by a two-storey, flat-roofed segmental bay window which is lit on both floors by narrow casements with a continuous wooden sill. The ground-floor windows are taller and have small wooden canopies, above which is a continuous lintel.

The south elevation has a simpler treatment which befits its status as the service quarters. An L-shaped single-storey range under a steeply pitched roof forms two sides of what was originally an open service yard with plank and batten doors. The yard has been roofed over to create a garage and the opening on the south side has been widened for access. Adjoining this to the west is a C20 conservatory. The elevations above are gabled and lit by casements with mostly two-lights. INTERIOR: the plan form and many of the decorative elements survive with a high degree of intactness. The ‘polite’ (family) rooms retain cornices and skirting boards of simple design, along with picture rails/ plate shelves. The remaining joinery – the wide nine-panelled doors and wall panelling – is unpainted and has a rich, warm hue. The doors have brass lock cases and finger plates adorned with a circular design of a female profile within a wreath-like border.

The front door opens into the L-shaped entrance hall which has a parquet floor laid in a herringbone design and wall panelling of small square panels which incorporates the plate shelf and recessed doorways into a coherent architectural scheme. The ceiling has a spine beam and joists; the only one in the house to be given this treatment. Three reception rooms are arranged in a sequence along the west side overlooking the garden; the drawing room is also lit on the east side by the canted bay window which looks out over the drive. This room has a panelled window seat, and plasterwork on the ceiling forming an intricate interlaced pattern in shallow relief. The fireplace is situated within a wide, stone-lined recess with a wooden surround which extends to the plate shelf and has a panelled overmantel. The grate opening now holds a gas fire, as do the fireplaces in the other two reception rooms. These have a similar design with slight variations: the fireplace in the dining room has tapered jambs and that in the smaller room has built-in shelves on the right hand side.

The principal staircase has a bay to itself. Four steps lead up to the balustraded lower landing which provides access to an outside patio overlooking the garden. The stair has a wide closed string, square newel posts with flat caps, and a moulded handrail supported by alternate paired stick balusters and splat balusters pierced by a heart motif. The balustraded upper landing is supported by square piers in the same style as the newel posts.

The first floor has a more simple decorative treatment. None of the fireplaces remain but there are eight-panelled doors, panelling beneath bay windows, some built-in cupboards, and possibly an original wash-hand basin.

The service rooms, grouped in the south-east part of the house, consist of the kitchen, pantry and what was most likely the former scullery which is lined from floor to ceiling in tiles with a blue and white pattern and has a wide opening with a wooden surround. The separate butler’s pantry also survives, complete with one wall of built-in cupboards and shelves. The nearby dining room retains the serving hatch. The back servants’ open well stair has a panelled soffit, closed string and splat balusters pierced by a heart motif. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: on the north side of the house are two flights of stone steps with low red brick walls which have a band of vitrified brick along the bottom edge. The walls and low brick piers have stone coping and are surmounted by large stone ball finials.


Books and journals
Davey, P, Arts and Crafts Architecture, (1995)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (2003)


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

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