Rayners House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Penn, High Wycombe, HP10 8LZ


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Statutory Address:
Penn, High Wycombe, HP10 8LZ

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

Buckinghamshire (Unitary Authority)
Chepping Wycombe
National Grid Reference:


A country house of about 1847, possibly designed by Edward Buckton Lamb, with additions built in the 1850s and from 1867-1868 by David Brandon with further additions dating from the 1960s.

Reasons for Designation

Rayners House is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the house is a richly detailed example of picturesque Tudor revival design blended with French Renaissance elements, near seamlessly evolved from 1847;

* the series of interconnecting reception rooms at ground-floor give a good example of a Victorian house designed for entertaining.

Historic interest:

* Sir Philip Rose, for whom the house was built, was a man of some distinction in Victorian England, the founder of Brompton Hospital, Disraeli's 'confidential man of business' and the first agent of the Tory party, who helped to bring about political and legislative reform in the mid-C19 and whose handling of sensitive government business and role as Disraeli's executor, is reflected in the planning of the house with its joined study and secure strong room for storing documents.

Group interest:

* with Rayners Lodge and Gardeners' Bothy, both Grade II.


The estate around Rayners House was originally two farms which were bought by Philip Rose in 1845; Rayners Farm and Colehatch Farm. The owner and builder of the house, Sir Philip Rose, came from a family of established local solicitors with an office in London. His partnership was responsible for the legal work on behalf of the Great Northern Railway, and Rose himself invested in the company. At the age of twenty four he was responsible for founding the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest, later known as the Brompton Hospital. He found it impossible to gain admittance for one of his clerks who had tuberculosis to any hospital in the London region as the disease was considered so contagious, and so he started 'without rank or fortune to give weight and strength to the cause he had undertaken'. Within a year Queen Victoria was patron of the new hospital, members of the aristocracy and bishops were on the committee and Disraeli, Dickens and Prince Albert had all been persuaded to help the cause. Rose remained Secretary to the hospital board for the rest of his life.

In 1846 Benjamin Disraeli suggested that Rose become his 'confidential man of business' (See SOURCES, Oxford DNB). Rose was considered a 'virtuous bourgeois' and ‘type-A’ personality whose efficiency, probity, and absolute discretion were exactly what was needed to make Disraeli respectable. Without Rose's management (and personal loans), Disraeli's debts would have slowed his progress. Gradually Rose stabilized and managed the creative financing which established Disraeli as a Buckinghamshire landowner at Hughenden with a secure parliamentary seat. In return Disraeli provided Rose with social and professional stepping-stones; he recommended him to influential friends, nominated him to the Conservative Club, and joined other prominent figures in publicizing the Brompton Hospital.

As chancellor of the exchequer in 1852 Disraeli appointed Rose chancery taxing officer at £2000 p.a. This allowed Rose to work on Disraeli's reorganization of the amateurish Conservative Party machine following the defeat of Lord Derby's first administration. In 1853 Rose became election manager and 'Principal Agent'. The detailed dossiers he compiled on every constituency between 1855 and 1859 were the basis for an improved Conservative election strategy in the 1860s. He also undertook party liaison with newspapers and was general manager of Disraeli's own paper, The Press. The Conservative government of 1858 made him county court treasurer because, as Disraeli told Derby, 'No language can do justice to the labors of Rose for our party'. He then worked closely with Disraeli and Derby on their 1859 Reform Bill.

In addition, Rose became Treasurer of the County Courts of Derbyshire, Deputy-Lieutenant of Middlesex and first Magistrate and then in 1878 High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire. He was created a Baronet in 1874 for his work as legal adviser to the Conservative Party. Following Disraeli's death, Rose was his joint executor, together with Nathaniel Rothschild, and was responsible for editing his many papers, some of which he destroyed.

The essentially bare farmland at Rayners was gradually turned into an estate with gardens and the planting of belts of trees during the latter part of the C19. The first part of the house was built in 1847 with additions made in the 1850s and a substantial remodelling in 1867-1868 by David Brandon. the last addition to the house in the C19 appears to have been the conservatory added shortly after 1868 and shown on the Ordnance Survey map published in 1876. Garden buildings including the greenhouses to the north-west of the house (now without their glazing or wooden frame) were added by the second baronet. Bricks were made using clay dug from the estate.

The house was initially used as a summer retreat from London by the family, but it became a more conventional country estate which eventually extended to 550 acres. The second baronet died in 1919 and the estate passed to his grandson, whose trustees decided to sell. The house and land were sold off in thirty-seven lots in 1920. The house and twenty-two acres were bought by the London County Council who turned the house into a school for deaf children. It remained as a school, with a large classroom block and gymnasium added to the east in the mid C20. The school closed in 2016.


A country house of about 1847, possibly designed by Edward Buckton Lamb, with additions built in the 1850s and from 1867-1868 by David Brandon with further additions dating from the 1960s.

MATERIALS: red brick with diapering and stone and tile dressings and a plain tiled roof.

PLAN: the house consists of a two and three-storey range which extends north-south. To this a service wing was added at the northern end and an archway with clock tower to the east which connects to further service buildings. A mid-C20 addition including classrooms and a gymnasium is connected to the west.

EXTERIOR: the majority of the house is in a Tudor style blended eclectically with French Renaissance detailing. Walls have diaper patterns of blue and black headers. Openings have moulded brick surrounds with stone sills and square stones to the corners with sunken central panels. Windows are a combination of sashes and casements and old photographs show that this was always the case. Many windows have uPVC replacement fenestration but echo the original form with timber mullion and transom effect at first floor. The entrance front, which faces north-east, has a projecting single-storey, flat-roofed porch with decorative iron cresting to near-centre. To either side are two projecting wings with gables and decorative, pierced barge boards, the bay to the left-hand wing has a steeper pavilion roof. The gable to the right of the porch has a bellcote to the ridge with a pyramidal roof and weather vane. A sunken basement area extends across the right of the front protected by a decorative, pierced stone balustrade. Dormer windows are gabled except at left where the hipped roof has an arched head to the French-style dormer, with ball finial. Joined to the left is a single-storey conservatory, added around 1868 (see south elevation below). At right and projecting from the front is the clock tower range of three bays to its south face with the projecting pavilion-roofed tower to the centre which has a wide, round arch at ground level. Above this are two storeys, each with a central window and at the top is a projecting, panelled section with the gabled clock face to the centre. The hipped roof rises to a square platform with decorative iron cresting. Moulded chimney stacks are to full height.

The garden front has five bays to the centre, flanked by projecting, gabled wings. The three central, first-floor windows have gabled heads with decorative bargeboards. There is an area in front of the house with decoratively pierced stone balustrade and at left of centre is a single-storey garden porch. A metal fire escape descends from the first floor. At right the wing has a hipped roof with arched head and ball finial to the dormer, as seen on the entrance front, and at far right is the single-storey conservatory with a canted bay window, as before. A French-style circular dormer window is near the centre. Projecting at the far left is a service wing which formerly terminated in a single-storey pavilion, but this area has been raised to two storeys. Extending to the west of this is the L-shaped C20 school classroom wing of two storeys with a flat roof and near-continuous, glazed, upper walling to the centre of its south face.

The south front of the house has the conservatory at ground-floor level. This has six windows of full height, divided by pilasters with decorative tiled inserts to the central panels. A wheelchair ramp has been added to the centre. The first floor has three, symmetrical bays with prominent, shouldered and moulded chimney stacks to either side of the centre and a dormer with arched head and ball finial, as before.

The north front has the clock tower range at left, which is similar to the south front. To the right of this and attached to the house is a later C20 extension which connects the house to the stable block. At right again is the rear of the C20 classroom extension. To the left of the arch is a single-storey range of C19 outhouses.

INTERIOR: the front door leads to a later-C19 lobby with tiled floor. The original entrance doorway then gives onto an entrance hall with elaborate diaper patterned parquet flooring which also appears in several other ground-floor rooms. A tripartite arrangement of four-centred arches leads to a matching lobby on the garden side. The panelled ceiling has cusped gothic mouldings to the centre. The staircase hall also has a panelled ceiling and the staircase has moulded tread ends and turned balusters with a wreathed curtail and mahogany newels and handrail. The fire surround is of coloured marble. Secveral fire surrounds elsewhere have been removed. Original ceilings, where evident, are panelled with cusped Gothic mouldings, as before. Several are hidden by later, suspended ceilings of C20 date. Joinery to doors and windows and shutters is largely original and there are wide connecting arches which allow the ground-floor rooms to be opened out. A plate safe with metal door is in the former butler’s pantry and a similar safe door is set in a bookcase in the study and opens onto a set of stairs which lead down to a basement strong room for storing legal papers which has a cast iron cupboard on the wall and iron shutters to its area window. An extensive range of cellar rooms includes wine and meat stores and hatches to enable the sweeping of chimneys. The panelled and glazed ceiling over the staircase hall has moulded joists supported by brackets in the form of angels holding shields.

The additions to the east of Rayners House, built in the 1960s for Penn School and including classrooms with dining room and gymnasium, are not of special interest and are excluded from the listing.


Books and journals
Coleman, John , The Rothschild Dynasty, (2015), 30
Ferguson, Niall, The House of Rothschild, (2000), 301, 322
Franklin, J, The Gentlemans Country House and its Plan 1835-1914, (1981)
Green, Miles, Tiddy, Jo , Mansions and Mud Houses, (2007), 27-28
Green, Miles, Clark, Evelyn, The Rose Family, Rayners and Tyler's End Green, (1999)
Pevsner, N, Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, (1994), 702
Oxford DNB entry for Sir Philip Rose Bart., accessed 16/07/2020 from https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/41059


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine. The 1960s classroom, dining area and gymnasium additions to the north and west are excluded.

End of official listing

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