Fawkham Manor and a pair of gates to the west of the house
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- Manor Lane, Fawkham, Longfield, DA3 8ND
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1472809.pdf
The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.
This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2021 at 10:02:58.
- Statutory Address:
- Manor Lane, Fawkham, Longfield, DA3 8ND
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Sevenoaks (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
Former country house, built 1866-1867 to designs by E B Lamb and originally intended for himself.
Reasons for Designation
Fawkham Manor, 1866-1867 by E B Lamb, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as a striking example of Victorian domestic architecture, reflecting a transition from the Gothic revival to a style informed by vernacular building traditions; * for its quality of materials, detail and craftsmanship applied to picturesque massing; * as a work which both typifies the idiosyncratic creativity of E B Lamb, and demonstrates his continuing inventiveness into the late stages of his career; * an externally little-altered work by a significant architect of the C19
* as one of E B Lamb’s last architectural works and a highly personal one designed for his own occupation.
Fawkham Manor was built in 1866-1867 to designs by Edward Buckton Lamb. Lamb designed the house for himself on a site within Parkfield Wood, Fawkham. The land was owned by London banker Henry Booth Hohler, who granted Lamb a building lease for the new house.
In December 1866 a drawing of the house, titled ‘The Plaisence’, was shown in an exhibition of contemporary architecture at the South Kensington Museum. Lamb had sought tenders for bricklayers and flint wallers in the Maidstone and Kentish Journal in June that year and several sources confirm that by December construction was well underway. Unfortunately, the project over-stretched Lamb financially and in August 1867 he was made bankrupt. Fawkham House, as it is referred to in Perry’s Bankrupt Weekly Gazette (10 August 1867), was sold to Hohler. It is not known whether the shell of the house was complete by the time of the sale, but there is nothing in the architecture to suggest it was not completed to Lamb’s original design. This is not the case with the interior however. As discussed further below, this was probably never fully executed to Lamb’s intended scheme.
Hohler was in residence at Fawkham Manor, as it became named, from at least 1871 and it remained in the family until 1949, when the estate was divided into multiple plots and auctioned. The house was bought by the Billings family but sold again in the early 1960s, after which it seems to have been in some type of clinical or institutional use. Advertisements appear in Tatler magazine in 1964 and 1965 offering slimming treatments and convalescent/nursing care respectively at Fawkham Manor. Planning permission was granted in 1979 for change of use to a nursing home with surgical facilities and in 1986 for a new medical wing. The building remained as a private hospital until 2019 when it closed and has since remained vacant (2020).
Aspects of the building’s architecture are typical of Lamb’s work: polychromatic materials, projections thrown out at angles, distinctive brick mouldings and a style of mullion and transom window particular to Lamb. However, at Fawkham, Lamb layers these familiar devices with clear vernacular references; motifs include heavy, hipped roofs, external chimney breasts and flint walling, as well as the timber-framed oriels which are believed to be the only realised example of framing in Lamb’s oeuvre. Lamb is principally known for the vigorous High Victorian Gothic found in his churches and buildings such as Eye Town Hall, 1857 (listed Grade II*) but Fawkham demonstrates that even into his sixties Lamb continued to innovate, and that he was in step with the wider nascent shift in contemporary domestic architecture towards an interest in vernacular building traditions.
Fawkham Manor appears to have undergone relatively little external alteration. Mapping suggests a small extension to the service area of the house at around 1900, but the main changes came with the building’s conversion to a hospital and the addition of a large L-shaped clinical wing to the east, affecting the service area rather than the footprint of the main house. Internally, little of Lamb survives, or ever existed, but the original plan is likely to have been laid out as the building was erected. The large central hall with rooms arranged round it has parallels with the pinwheel-type plan popularised by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852), but at Fawkham this is unusually combined with a strong linear axis which passes through the centre of the house.
E B Lamb (1805-1869) is described by David Farrington as ‘one of the most daringly original Gothic revivalists’ (ODNB, see sources). He was apprenticed to Lewis Nockalls Cottingham and was practicing independently by his early twenties. From around 1831 he worked producing designs and essays for the publications of John Claudius Loudon, principally the Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture (published 1833, revised 1842). In lectures and writings Lamb promoted his view of architecture as a progressive art. The output of his practice was diverse, but he is known mainly for his churches and remodelling country houses. His career was founded on the patronage of the aristocracy and one of his best known secular commissions was the remodelling of Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire, for Benjamin Disraeli between 1862 and 1863. An elected fellow of the Institute of British Architects, he was a well-known figure amongst his contemporaries and received critical praise, as well as attracting the enmity of the Ecclesiologists who espoused an academically pure form of Gothic, which Lamb’s was certainly not. Eighty years after his death he became one of the subjects of a 1949 paper by architect and writer H S Goodhart-Rendel entitled ‘Rogue Architects of the Victorian Era’. These ‘rogues’, which Goodhart-Rendel characterised by their lack of architectural followers or subsequent influence, were much overlooked in academic study of C19 architecture until the later C20, when a more open-minded re-evaluation of the period emerged. Despite being the subject of academic study in the form of several student theses, very little has been published on Lamb and his oeuvre.
Country house in a picturesque Gothic revival style; most recently a hospital (closed 2019). Built 1866-1867 to designs by E B Lamb and originally intended for himself.
MATERIALS: the walls are of knapped flint with buff and red brick dressings and the roofs are covered with horizontal stripes of red and black clay tiles with decorative ridge tiles and finials. The windows are iron-framed multi-paned casements.
PLAN: the house is built over three levels: it has a lower ground floor sunk within a moat-like depression, a slightly elevated ground floor, and a first floor, the ceilings of which encroach into the roof space above. The footprint is compact but irregular, a dense composition of multiple projecting bays and intersecting ranges. A clear north-east/south-west axis runs through the plan of the house, connecting two sets of entrance doors, one to the north-east, one to the south-west, each with an inner lobby and meeting at the centre of the plan in a double-height stair hall with galleried landing. The carriage drive approaches the south-west front of the house but it is the garden front to the north-east which is the grander.
The original floor plan is difficult to interpret fully, institutional use has led to subdivision and the eccentric footprint makes speculation less easy. On the ground floor perhaps four large reception rooms led from the central stair hall, and leading from it to the south-east is the former service range from where the 1980s L-shaped range * continues. On the first floor the survival of Gothic-styled door architraves helps distinguish original room arrangements from likely later partitions.
EXTERIOR: the house is in a blend of domestic Gothic revival style and vernacular motifs; it uses polychromatic materials, gabled and hipped roofs, prominent chimneys, timber-framed and jettied oriel windows and skewed bays. Each elevation has a picturesque formal composition enriched with bands of brick, cut and laid to create colour, texture and pattern which breaks down the walls panelled with knapped flint. Windows and doors have variously styled openings, including corbelled brick and elaborate stepped cut brick arches.
The irregularity and asymmetry of the elevations defy traditional notions of hierarchy, but the north-east garden front is the most formal. This is centred on a tall, narrow doorway on the raised ground floor which opens onto a small terrace from which a curved double stair leads down to the lawn. Above the door is a jettied, timber-framed, hipped-roof oriel with in-fill panels of red and yellow brick laid in a patterned formation of vertical and horizontal bricks. Part of the window has been extended downwards to form a door and a metal fire escape stair now links it to the terrace below. To either side of the entrance arrangement is an external chimney stack, each of different configuration. To the left is a projecting half-hipped bay with three-over-one ground-floor window with carved stone mullions and a transom carved so its underside forms a shouldered arch. This window design appears to be particular to Lamb, a study of it exhibited in an exhibition of 1863 is commented on in The Builder (11 April 1863, p.255). Above is another jettied timber-framed oriel and on the lower-ground-floor, three lancet-like windows. To the right of the entrance the elevation is largely blind and steps away to the north-west.
The other entrance is to the south-west, set forward of the main body of the house and within a range continuous with the former service areas. The ground level here is higher, meeting the entrance almost at grade. The composition is more cottage-like and rambling in character: gable-ends and half-hipped roofs, small single-storey ranges and lean-tos, but sharing the same pallette of materials and detailing as the rest of the house. Over the roof to the right of the entrance is an octagonal lantern with a bell-shaped dome resting on open arches with chunky turned columns. It is possible that the lantern originally ventilated the kitchen. The most obvious alteration to this elevation is the addition of a dormer in the roof slope over the entrance; however this has been executed in broadly matching materials.
INTERIOR: the original character of the interior is unclear. Subdivision of rooms, lining-out of walls and ceilings and structural interventions to accommodate institutional use have left a fragmentary survival of the pre-existing domestic interior; as a result of these alterations, the interior is considered to have lesser interest. There are few features which may confidently be identified as primary to the house. These are principally lengths of deep skirting board and door architraves with chamfers and run-out stops, found particularly on the first floor. A similar detail is applied to exposed structural roof members in the first floor rooms. There are several simple grey marble fire surrounds in first-floor rooms which may also be original.
The large open-well, U-shaped stair and first floor galleried landing have polished hardwood barley-twist balusters. Interestingly, a full-height structural corner post on the landing has recently been opened up to reveal a solid square post with chamfers and run-out stops within. This post is untreated with either paint or stain, suggesting that it is the remains of an intended Gothic style stair which was never completed. Ground-floor features of note include a heavily-carved hardwood fire surround and door architrave; a partially obscured coloured marble feature beneath one of the windows; and three elaborate painted classical door surrounds with inset carved panels, each leading off from the inner lobby of the garden door. Above the three doorcases the ceiling of the lobby (above a later suspended ceiling) has a deeply coved cornice with applied plaster motifs.
It is only possible to speculate at this time, but given the ownership history of the house, and clues such as the disguised chamfered post on the galleried landing, it seems likely that the interior was never completed to Lamb’s designs, and that an alternative scheme was chosen by Hohler. The extent and quality of Hohler’s interior, and how many of what might be deemed historic features are part of this scheme or later interventions by his descendants, or the Billings family, is unclear. Opening-up works may reveal more, but with the exception of the first-floor joinery and fireplaces, there is little which might be identified as part of a consistent or legible interior scheme.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: to the west of the house is a pair of wide, decorative iron-work gates hung on cast-iron gate piers. These are not indicated on the List entry map.
* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the L-shaped wing added in the 1980s is not of special architectural or historic interest, however any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.
Books and journals
Brodie, Antonia (ed.), Directory of British Architects, 1834-1914: Vol. 2 (L-Z), (2001), pp. 6-5
Newman, J, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, (1980), p. 245
'Tenders sought for bricklayers and flint wallers' in Maidstone and Kentish Journal, (4 June 1866), p. 4
'The Architectural Exhibition' in The Builder, (11 April 1863), p. 255
'Kent near the Metropolis, letter to the editor' in Maidstone and Kentish Journal, (24 December 1866), p. 8
'Lamb, Edward Buckton' in Perry's Bankrupt Weekly Gazette, (10 August 1867), p. 774
'The Architectural Designs for the Paris Exhibition' in The Builder, (15 December 1866), p. 913
'Death of the Rector' in Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, (29 July 1871), p. 4
'Obituary, Edward Buckton Lamb' in The Architect, , Vol. 2, (4 September 1869), p. 114
Directory of Scottish Architects, entry for Edward Buckton Lamb, accessed 12 October 2020 from http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; entry for Edward Buckton Lamb, accessed 12 October 2020 from https://www.oxforddnb.com
Website of Fawkham Parish Council; 'History', accessed 12 October 2020 from https://fawkhampc.org.uk/history/
A N Edwards, The Architecture of Edward Buckton Lamb (1805-1869), 2010. Available online at https://ethos.bl.uk. Accessed on 12 October 2020
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