Beaudesert Park School (also known as Highlands)6857

Stroud, England, Gloucestershire, Stroud

Brief Description

A house was built in the gothick style facing south-west overlooking a deep valley. A gatehouse and rose garden remain from this period. However as the house was built on unstable ground it was damaged in a landslip after a new owner had moved in. He built a replacement house in the half-timbered style further up the slope. His widow developed the garden. It is now a preparatory school.

History

When the grandson of financier of Sir Thomas Baring became Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol he was expected to live in a medieval house. Instead he bought several adjacent plots on the edge of Minchinhampton Common and had a house built in stone. Pointed arch tracery panels buttressing gothic style piers date from this period.Upon appointment to the Bishopric of Durham he sold the property to a London banker. However as the house was built on clay at the top of a valley it soon collapsed. The new owner had a new timber framed house built on a terrace to allow for settlement. It was completed 5 years after his death but his widow stayed and developed the garden. It was inherited by her widowed daughter then a nephew whom sold it to a school that relocated from Henley-in-Arden as it was unable to enlarge its building there.

Terrain

Valley side

Detailed Description

Entrances

At the main entrance there is a cattle grid set between a pair of large ornamental iron gates hung from stone pillars. There is a single storey stone built lodge in the Gothic style is at the head of a level approach to the 1860's house site. This original approach is flanked by Wellingtonias on each side in grassed banks that also included artistically designed borders [in 1911], flowering trees and shrubs.

The 1860's house site is separated from the approach by a quatrefoil pierced stone wall with piers topped by tazzas. It is laid out as grassed terraces with gravel paths.

As the 1873 house was built further up the site. The approach turns back on itself and climbs to a higher terrace where there are extensive unsurfaced areas for car parking on the right. Here is the vehicular exit from the school through the surrounding wall onto the road that is around Minchinhampton Common.

The upper lawn on the left at the eastern end of the house is used as a play area for some of the younger children. Its eastern edge is fringed by a mixed conifer shelter belt.

The school have built a stone wing on the original Highlands hence turning the entrance into a courtyard though the principal doorway is still in the half-timbered house.

Rose Terrace

At the northern end of the original Highlands site is a flight of steps between Gothic style piers with complex finials supported by ramped ashlar buttresses with blind pointed arch tracery. It leads up to a gravel path on the western side of a square rose terrace that is on the same level as the 1873's Highlands. The rose terrace consists of rose beds cut in the grass around a stone sundial.

At the end of the gravel path is an octogonal stair tower [described as an ivy covered watch tower in 1911 sales particulars] now topped by a weather vane but there had been a flag pole. A newel stair leads down to a terrace where there used to be 3 garden buildings in the bank of the rose terrace in 1885.

There are vestiges of most southerly as the support for the roots of a tree though its function cannot be ascertained. However the central feature is a grotto with 3 doorways built under the rose garden. The slightly domed ceiling is made of rough cotswold limestone laid circularly around an upturned bowl. In March 2009 it was being conserved.

Along the southern edge of the rose terrace is a hedge and flowering trees to provide wind protection and privacy as it is above the original Highlands site. Whilst on the western side behind the gravel path is an ashlar topped stone wall.

Besides the stair tower is a gateway which led to the path through the northern shelter belt. Originally this crossed a footpath to Pinsfarthing but the northern side had been sold off by 1911 and the southern part of the path is now blocked by dumped garden cuttings.

Walled Kitchen Garden

The 1911 sale particulars lists the following features:

  • 90 feet x 22 feet Vinery and Peach House
  • Cucumber House
  • Heated Melon House
  • Lean-to 35 feet x 13 feet Carnation House
  • Lean-to 35 feet x 13 feet Peach House
  • 2 Lean-to Orchid Houses
  • 2 Lean-to Ferneries
  • 22 Pits
  • Pear and Apricot trees protected by a glazed coping along a a long brick wall

Apart from the long brick wall, now without its glazed coping, these have all been demolished and hard tennis courts constructed.

Grounds

The school has redefined the paths through the shelter belt as estate cottages have been sold off and direct access to Pinsfarthing is not now required. Below the shelter belt is an area of glades caused by ancient landslips with trees on the up lifted areas downslope . It is on the spring line.

New direct paths to the tennis courts have been constructed. However an example of the earlier paths with gutters in earthenware and steps with grilles across the path to provide drainage still exists. On the lower section it is bordered by a iron chain suspended from a row of iron poles to support trailing roses.

There are few level areas for sports indeed there is barely sufficient for one rounders pitch. Indeed the school used to play on Minchinhampton Common until they bought some fields about 1 km away.

Features

Style

  • English Landscape Garden
  • House (featured building)
  • "black And White" Elizabethan Style
  • Description: Very large 2 and a half storey "black and white" Elizabethan style house apparently timber framed with stone dressings and plaster panels by Ewan Christian. Slate and tile roofs, highly wrought spiral and otherwise chimneys in brick. Numerous interior features (fireplaces, panelled and painted ceilings, painted glass etc) survive. The initials J G F re-occur frequently. Library ceiling said to have been painted by Gambier Parry. Staircase with splat balusters. Carvings by Harry Hems of Exeter remain. Thomas Gambier-Parry painted library ceiling.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Gate Lodge, Stable Block, Balustrading, Sundial, Tazza, Grotto, Garden Terrace, Fruit-growing Wall, Approach, Steps, Terrace, Shelter Belt, Kitchen Garden, Park Wall, Entrance, Tower
Access & Directions

Directions

From Nailsworth head towards Minchinhampton and a top of road the approach is on the left
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Nailsworth
History

Detailed History

When the grandson of financier Sir Thomas Baring was appointed Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol in 1856 he was expected to live in a medieval palace. Instead he bought several adjacent plots on the edge of Minchinhampton Common and had a gothic house in stone erected. Pointed arch tracery panels buttressing gothic style piers date from this period.

Upon appointment to be the Bishop of Durham in 1860 he sold the property to a London banker and Justice of the Peace for for the county of Middlesex and Westminster. However as it was built on clay at the top of a valley it soon collapsed. The new owner had a new timbered framed housebuilt on an artificial terrace to allow for settlement. It was completed 5 years after his death but his widow stayed and developed the garden. Caroline Louisa Frith( 1809-1897) was the second daughter of Charles Edward Layard (1786-1852) of the Ceylon Civil Service whom had 26 children, of whom 16 survived infancy. Prior to her marriage her father prevailed upon her future spouse John Griffith Frith (1797-1868) of Bombay, to promise to pay 20,000 Bombay rupees within 3 years into a trust fund to provide for her if he died as she was only 19.

The timber framed house was erected against the boundary. On the opposite side of the wall was the road between Pinsfarthing and Box. A shelter belt was created on the northern side of the road. In January 1885 Caroline prevailed on the Quarter Sessions to close the original road. It is on this road and in the shelter belt that the school buildings have been constructed.

On this new northern boundary a wall listed Grade II was built. It incorporated a pedestrian gate having a lintel carved with Welcome.

His widow retained the house until her death in 1897 and was succeeded by her daughter Caroline Barbara Blackwell (1829-1909) the widow of the Reverend Robert Edward Blackwell (1804-1878) the Perpetual Curate of Amberley. Upon Mrs Blackwell's death the estate passed to Sir Robert Eaton White JP (1864-1940) - the son of her sister Elizabeth Sarah Frith (1831-1905) and Robert Holmes White ( 1834-1901). After an unsuccessful auction in 1911 he rented it out. In 1918 it housed a boys' preparatory school that relocated from Henley-in-Arden as it was unable to enlarge its building there. The headmaster had contacts in Minchinhampton who recommended The Highlands as a suitable location. They acquired the building in 1921 retaining the school's original name.

Although there has been extensions to the accommodation with permanent sports facilities built the essential character of the property has been preserved.

Associated People

Just one person associated to Beaudesert Park School

References