Ripley Grange, outbuildings and glasshouses to the south-west and garden buildings

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II*
List Entry Number:
1469761
Date first listed:
06-Mar-2020
Statutory Address:
Debden Lane, Loughton, Essex, IG10 2PD

Map

Ordnance survey map of Ripley Grange, outbuildings and glasshouses to the south-west and garden buildings
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

Statutory Address:
Debden Lane, Loughton, Essex, IG10 2PD

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

County:
Essex
District:
Epping Forest (District Authority)
Parish:
Loughton
National Grid Reference:
TQ4433198454

Summary

Country house in the Tudor style, built 1928-1930 for Charles Frederick Clark, to the designs of Wallis Gilbert and Partners with later alterations in the 1930s by K S Beken and E J Warne.

Reasons for Designation

Ripley Grange, a country house in the Tudor style, built 1928-1930, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as part of the trend for houses built by owners with antiquarian tastes that started in the late C19 and continued into the C20, it is an interpretation of a Tudor house inspired by some of the most significant and impressive buildings of the Tudor period, combining their typical architectural trappings with the conveniences of modern living; * it is a highly accomplished and meticulously detailed house, every element of which demonstrates craftsmanship of the highest order; * it is exquisitely detailed, from the intricate carving of the window tracery and bargeboards, to the richly appointed interiors with their finely crafted joinery and ornate plasterwork, copied with scrupulous care from genuine Tudor decorative schemes; * its highly distinctive elevations and magnificent suite of principal rooms remain in an almost completely original condition. Historic interest:

* it represents a dominant trend in the architectural taste of the inter-war years for recreating Tudor houses, part of the wider craze for Tudor architecture and the perennial myth of Elizabethan ‘Merrie England’ that was symptomatic of a nostalgia for pre-industrial society.

History

Ripley Grange was built for Charles Frederick Clark, the millionaire industrialist whose fortune derived from the manufacture of carbon paper and typewriter ribbons at his Caribonum factory in Leyton. This Art Deco factory (demolished), which opened in 1918, was one of many iconic industrial buildings designed in the inter-war period by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners. The architectural practice is associated with 16 buildings on the National Heritage List for England, many of them listed structures on the site of the Grade II* listed Hoover Factory (1932-1935) on Western Avenue in Ealing. After touring Essex and Hertfordshire for two years looking for a suitable site, Clark bought 40 acres of farmland at Loughton on which to build the house which he regarded as the crowning success of his life. Loughton is located between Epping Forest and the River Roding in a picturesque and hilly situation which, combined with the ready access to London provided by the railway from 1856, resulted in a large number of good late C19 and early C20 houses for discerning commuters. Clark commissioned Wallis, Gilbert and Partners to interpret and replicate examples from vernacular English architecture to create a perfect reproduction of a grand Tudor mansion, inspired by Clark’s meticulous study of great English houses such as Hampton Court. Work on Ripley Grange, named after the town in Yorkshire where he was born, commenced in 1928 and took 15 months. The posts that form the timber-framed exterior are said to have been salvaged from a French galleon. Once the house was completed, Clark was not satisfied with it – having learnt a great deal during the process of its construction – and proceeded over the next decade to make extensive alterations. He was advised by KS Beken and EJ Warne, both of whom had considerable knowledge of domestic period styles. Warne trained in Belfast under JA Hanna and emigrated to Australia at the time of the Great Depression. Ripley Grange may be the only building he worked on in this country. Neither he nor Warne are associated with any other listed buildings.

In addition to the internal alterations, which were all inspired by existing grand historic buildings, the Great Hall copied from Ockwells Manor was built between the two projecting wings at the rear of the house. The two wings either side were then brought into conformity with this design. Clark belonged to the Plymouth Brethren and held services in the Great Hall, which doubled as a chapel in his time. The façade was also altered by the addition of an overhanging gable copied from Ford’s Hospital in Coventry, with oak braces copied from Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire. After Clark’s death in 1945 his former colleagues produced Charles Frederick Clark: A Brief Biography of a Great Character which gave an account of Ripley Grange and included a set of photographs of the exterior and principal rooms. In the book, Clark is described as a ‘purist’ who desired the architecture and decoration to be ‘copied or reproduced exactly’. Ripley Grange was set in 18 acres of spectacular gardens to which Clark allowed the public free access. As the number of visitors grew he had seven thatched summer houses built, making the drawings for them himself and supervising their construction. During the Second World War, Clark ploughed up the grounds in order to grow vast quantities of vegetables which he sent to the Voluntary Hospitals and other charitable institutions free of charge.

In 1954 Ripley Grange was sold to a Greek shipping magnate whose family lived there until 2000 when the house again changed hands. At this point, the four or five rooms comprising the kitchen quarters were opened up to create an open plan kitchen, and the former servants’ rooms on the second floor were made more accessible by the addition of a new staircase and bathrooms. A luxury leisure complex was also built as a rear extension to the south range of the house which appears to have originally been a garage.

Details

Country house in the Tudor style, built 1928-1930 for Charles Frederick Clark, to the designs of Wallis Gilbert and Partners with later alterations in the 1930s by K S Beken and E J Warne.

MATERIALS: timber frame and brick with a roof covering of plain clay tiles.

PLAN: the house stands in grounds of around 18 acres at the end of a long drive in an elevated position on the edge of Epping Forest. It has an approximately rectangular plan consisting of a principle range with crosswings at both ends, facing south-east towards the gardens. Adjoining the south-west gable is a smaller south range, probably built as the garage, with a large rear extension added in the early C21 as a leisure complex.

EXTERIOR: Ripley Grange is a spectacular house in the Tudor style with a timber frame of close studding and curved braces between sill and post which is typical of the vernacular style prevalent in the eastern counties. The infill panels are rendered and the ground floor is of brick on a stone plinth. The house has two storeys plus an attic under a complex roofscape enlivened by a profusion of gables and tall chimney stacks of ornately moulded brick.

The central bay of the three-bay, south-east façade has a recessed ground floor and overhanging gable resting on square timber piers, supported by moulded timber braces with drop finials. This provides shelter over the front door which has vertical fillets within a Tudor arch surround. Above, the first floor is lit by a six-light mullion window with ornate Gothic tracery and diamond leaded lights, some bearing shields in stained glass chosen by Clark owing to their special significance to events and places in his early life. All the windows are in the same style. The gable is embellished with intricately carved bargeboards incorporating cusped quatrefoils, as are all the gables. It is flanked by three-light windows, and the attic above is lit by two dormer windows wholly within the roofspace, with the same mullion windows and bargeboards already described. On either side of the central bay are the taller gabled bays of the crosswings which are lit by double-height canted bay windows. Decorative carved wooden panels are positioned below the first-floor windows. The attic is lit by four-light oriel windows in the gable heads.

The north-west elevation is very similar with the same gabled bays at both ends and a centrally placed door in the same style in a Tudor arch surround with carved spandrels and a quatrefoil panel above. The central bay, which contains the great hall, consists of three gables, the middle one taller and slightly projecting. The entire ground and first floor consist of mullion windows filled with tracery and leaded lights with stained glass, giving the impression of a timber frame infilled with intricately detailed glazed panels. The adjoining south-west range, presumably built as a garage, is timber framed in the same Tudor style. It has one and half storeys under a hipped roof with a projecting central bay and wide timber doors, flanked by similar doors.

INTERIOR: a series of photographs in Charles Frederick Clark: A Brief Biography of a Great Character (1945) shows the principal reception rooms and bedrooms in Ripley Grange, upon which this description is based. Apart from the changes to the service areas, the fabric of the interior is almost entirely original, including the stone fireplaces, the oak panelling, and the decorative ceiling mouldings.

The Library, also known as Clark’s ‘den’, was the first room undertaken during the alterations of the 1930s. The walls are lined in linenfold panelling, based on some panelling in the Victoria and Albert Museum, with a carved frieze of a fluid and vigorous scroll design copied from Thame Park, near Oxford. The intricate plasterwork ceiling, copied in minute detail from the ceiling in Cardinal Wolsey’s Closet at Hampton Court Palace, has a geometric pattern of small interlaced squares and elongated hexagons in shallow relief, infilled with circular motifs and pendants.

In the Morning Room, the lower half of the walls is lined in linenfold panelling copied from the Town Hall at Lavenham in Suffolk. The ceiling, copied from Queen Elizabeth’s Sitting Room at Plas Mawr in Conway, has a fluid design of large concave diamonds and ovals in slender moulded ribs, forming panels embellished with motifs including Tudor roses and fleur-de-lys. One end of the room is entirely taken up by a highly architectural chimneypiece with a Tudor arched stone surround and overmantel of decorative panels incorporating the initials ‘E’ and ‘R’, flanked by terms in relief.

The joinery in the long Front Hall is based on the panelling, piers and arches from Penshurst Place in Kent. It has exposed timber-framing and moulded ceiling beams forming square panels. The end wall has full-height panelling in two stages with pointed ogee trefoils and a wide depressed arch opening to the staircase with carved spandrels and flanking pilasters of slender round section. The open well staircase has a dogleg with a landing at the turn and a panelled soffit. A substantial square newel, decorated in a strapwork design, is surmounted by a large, ornate finial.

The Great Hall at the back of the house is 20ft high and is divided into bays by arched braces with decorative spandrels, supported by slender round columns. Along the upper half of the wall is a Gothic oak screen consisting of two-light Gothic windows with Y-tracery and cusped trefoils, divided by posts carrying ribbed vaulting, the whole copied from Warfield Church in Berkshire. The floor is stone-flagged, and deeply moulded beams divide the ceiling into square panels. A two-manual organ was built for the Hall with the swell organ pipes in a separate chamber above the ceiling, and the great organ pipes at one side of the Hall within a case of two stages, the upper stage with trefoil panels. The organs have since been removed but the organ loft is still there. At the other end of the Great Hall is a stone fireplace, copied from one in the Tower of London, with a depressed arch opening and large, tapering stone hood carried on moulded corbels. To the left is a Gothic niche from Harrow Church with a quatrefoil frieze and brattishing.

The Long Room, along the attic, has exposed close studding and a canted plaster ceiling of delicate raised ribs divided into round-edged rectangular panels in which large circles are placed with Tudor roses in their centre.

The principal bedroom is a reproduction of Christopher Wren’s work, and hence is in a contrasting Classical style in which the panelling, door and cornice forms a coherent architectural scheme. The panelling has Classical proportions and the deep, elaborate wooden cornice is embellished with Classical enrichments including egg-and-dart and bead-and-reel. The corner doorway has a two-panelled door in a shouldered architrave flanked by fluted pilasters with Ionic capitals. Another bedroom is reproduced from an C18 room by William Gibb in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the Ordnance Survey map shows, to the south-west of the house, a U-shaped building with a glasshouse between the two wings and a further two glasshouse ranges to the east. These are also shown on the OS map of 1939 and are thought to be contemporary with the house.

In Charles Frederick Clark: A Brief Biography of a Great Character (1945), photographs are included of an octagonal stone well in the rose garden which has Gothic carvings and a delicate metal overthrow in the form of a trefoil. Another photograph depicts one of the seven picturesque summerhouses erected by Clark in the 1930s. This has a circular plan and is constructed of timber with a conical thatched roof surmounted by a weathervane.

As a site visit was not undertaken, these structures are not marked on the accompanying map but they are included in the listing where they survive.

Sources

Books and journals
Charles Frederick Clark: A Brief Biography of a Great Character, (1945)
Cornforth, J , The Inspiration of the Past Country House Taste in the Twentieth Century, (1985)
Pond, Chris, The Buildings of Loughton and Notable People of the Town, second revised edn, p. 32, (2010)
Websites
A very fine country house in Essex , accessed 20 February 2020 from https://www.countrylife.co.uk/property/country-houses-for-sale-and-property-news/a-very-fine-country-house-in-essex-2758
History Repeated in Epping , accessed 20 February 2020 from https://www.westessexlife.co.uk/homes-gardens/property-market/history-repeated-in-epping-1-4377552
Other
Gavin Stamp, ‘Neo-Tudor and its Enemies’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, vol. 49:2006, pp. 1-33

Legal

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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