Wimpole Hall 3529

Cambridge, England, Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire

Brief Description

The estate and parkland that surrounds Wimpole Hall is an overlay of the work of some of the most prominent 18th and 19th century landscape designers and gardeners. The house was built in 1640 and replaced an earlier moated manor house. The gardens were developed by Charles Bridgeman, Robert Greening, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton. The gardens feature a wide variety of separate areas reflecting the work of the many designers involved with the creation of the landscape. The site includes a lake, folly, walled garden and Chinese bridge in over 200 hectares of designed landscape.

History

A deer park was created on the site in the 14th century. The site as it appears today began in about 1640 when Thomas Chicheley began to build a new hall. The new house was surrounded with a formal garden and an architectural landscape. Charles Bridgeman prepared a grand landscape scheme after 1713. In about 1750, Robert Greening began the process of removing the formal landscape, replacing straight walks and parterres with sweeping lawns and a pleasure garden near the hall and softening the formal planting in the park. The park was then re-designed by Lancelot Brown after 1760. This work was consolidated by William Emes after 1790.

Visitor Facilities

The park is open daily throughout the year. The gardens are open daily from 10.30 between February and October, with more restricted opening in the winter months. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/place-pages/375/pages/opening-times-calendar

Terrain

The landform in the park varies but is markedly more undulating than the surrounding landscape, with a general fall from north to south.

Detailed Description

Wimpole Hall is Cambridgeshire's largest Georgian mansion. Built in 1640 it replaced an earlier moated manor house on the site. Three villages, Bennall End, Thresham End and Green End, were cleared during the 18th century and the parkland was developed between 1740 and 1895, firstly by Charles Bridgeman followed by Robert Greening, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton.

Bridgeman created the formal grand avenue that sweeps away from the front of the house for two and a half miles in stark contrast to the remainder of the park which was later 'naturalised' by Brown. The Park to the north contains belts of woodland and an undulating landscape in which are lakes and the Gothic Tower. From the north park walks meander through the landscape to the folly with views to the open Cambridgeshire countryside.The majority of the parkland is now in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) meaning that no inorganic fertilisers or pesticides are used.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

19th century formal gardens on the site of late 17th century gardens, with 19th century pleasure grounds originating in the mid-18th century, set in an extensive park first enclosed in 1302. Successive designs for the park were prepared by Charles Bridgeman, Robert Greening, Lancelot Brown, William Emes and Humphry Repton, who produced a Red Book for Wimpole in 1801.

DESCRIPTION

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

Wimpole Hall lies about 14 kilometres south-west of Cambridge off the A603 and 10 kilometres north of Royston. It covers an area of about 200 hectares and is surrounded by the generally flat Cambridgeshire countryside. The boundaries of the site are formed by continuous belts of trees dividing the park from the farmland beyond. The exceptions to this are the south-west boundary which is formed by Arrington village and the end of the South Avenue which is terminated by the old A14 Ermine Street Roman road. The landform in the park varies but is markedly more undulating than the surrounding landscape, with a general fall from north to south. The South Avenue gives focus to an extensive view out of the site over the surrounding countryside.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

The main Arrington Gates (no longer in use, 1999) lie about 1 kilometre to the south-west of the Hall, in the village of Arrington. The grand gateway (Listed Grade II) consisting of wrought-iron gates and railings with Portland stone piers was erected by H E Kendall in 1851 to replace lodges designed by John Soane in the 1790s. It leads to an 18th century drive which runs north-east through the park. Level with the south front the drive divides, one drive leading directly north to the gravelled entrance court between flanking rectangular lawns and the other continuing east to the stable block. A second drive enters off the Cambridge road about 2.4 kilometres to the east of the Hall. The drive, now a track, was laid out in the mid-19th century, against advice given by Repton in the Red Book, and runs through Victoria Plantation until it enters the park about 700 metres east of the Hall beside the site of the 19th century North Lodge (demolished). A second turn off the Cambridge Road about 1.8 kilometres south-east of the Hall passes the mid-19th century Southern Lodge and meets the east drive at the point where the two enter the park.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

Wimpole Hall (Listed Grade I) is a substantial neo-classical mansion house built of red brick with limestone dressings under a hipped and balustraded slate roof. The ground plan has a double-pile central block with lower flanking wings. The symmetrical south front has seven central bays and wings of five bays each and looks onto the curved forecourt which is enclosed by a mid-19th century low wall topped by railings (Listed Grade II). In the centre is a double staircase of brick with limestone arches, leading to the main entrance. This front was remodelled by Henry Flitcroft in 1742, with a chapel of about 1720 in the east wing by James Gibbs, who also added the library wing to the north-west. The west front, looking onto the gardens, was erected by Sir John Soane and remodelled in the mid-19th century by Henry Edward Kendall. Below all the later work on Wimpole Hall stands the core of Thomas Chicheley's 1640s house.

The service courtyard and St Andrew's church lie on the east side of the Hall. On the north wall of the courtyard, facing north is the mid-18th century rusticated game larder (Listed Grade II) while the parish church (of 14th century origin apart from Chicheley chapel, replaced in 1749 by Flitcroft, Listed Grade II*) stands beyond the east wall.

The mid-19th century stable block (Listed Grade II*) stands about 200 metres east-south-east of the Hall. It is constructed of red brick with stone dressings and is ranged around four sides of a courtyard, with a substantial arched entrance, topped by a Doric entablature and turreted clock tower with a domed roof. The block was designed by Henry Kendall and built in 1852 to replace the original late-17th century stable which stood just to the south of the church.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

The gardens lie to the north and west of the Hall. A gravel terrace runs the length of the north front, backed by a clipped yew hedge which links the projecting east and west wings. A flight of stone steps leads down from the Hall to a central gravel walk, flanked by lawns cut into a formal parterre using box-edged borders filled with roses and clipped yews. The area closest to the Hall, the so-called Dutch Garden, was laid out in the 1980s, the remainder being a recreation of the mid-19th century parterre, planted in the 1990s. The garden is bordered to the north by a mid-19th century clairvoie (Listed Grade II) with a low red-brick wall topped with iron railings. Its piers are surmounted by urns and include a large pair flanking the gateway aligned on the gravel path which leads into the park, framing a vista towards the Tower. A cross-walk runs the length of the boundary and is edged by clipped yews. Steps lead down from the west front to a straight gravel path bordered by roses and mixed shrubs planted (late 20th century) on the site of Kendall's glasshouse. Across the ha-ha bordering the garden is the recently replanted west avenue (1980s) in the park beyond (replacing an elm avenue lost in the 1970s). The present gardens lie on the site of the late 17th century formal parterres which were removed by the succession of 'naturalistic' designers working at Wimpole before being partially put back by Humphry Repton. They were again substantially remodelled in the mid 19th century and have been laid out in their present form by the National Trust since 1976.

The pleasure ground lies to the north-east of the Hall where grass planted with many varieties of trees and flowering shrubs flanks a serpentine walk which leads to the walled garden about 350 metres to the north-east. The pleasure ground was first planted by Robert Greening in the 1750s to connect the Hall to his walled garden, but it was substantially altered by William Emes when he rebuilt the walled garden in the 1790s.

PARK

Wimpole Hall sits just to the south of the centre of its park with views radiating from it on crossing north/south and east/west axes. The north park retains many of the features given to it by Lancelot Brown who greatly extended it in this direction. He came to advise the second Earl of Hardwicke from the mid 1760s to the mid 1770s and in addition to extending and laying out the North Park he removed much of the work previously completed by Charles Bridgeman for the second Earl of Oxford and by Robert Greening for the first Earl of Hardwicke. A second serpentine ha-ha (partly by Brown, partly mid 19th century, Listed Grade II) crosses the north park about 250 metres north of the Hall, just to the south of which, close to the western boundary stood an icehouse, no longer extant, built by Flitcroft on Mill Mound. North of the ha-ha lies a string of serpentine lakes, created by Brown out of Lord Radnor's late-17th century fishponds. These are crossed by a wooden Chinese Bridge (of late-18th century design, rebuilt in the late 1970s, Listed Grade II) which leads to a grass slope scattered with trees at the summit of which stands the Gothic-style Folly Castle (Listed Grade II*), designed by Sanderson Miller and built under Brown's supervision by James Essex in 1768-1772. A short length of lime and chestnut avenue, a surviving portion of Radnor's north avenue altered and thickened by later planting, frames the vista to the folly. Park or Home Farm (buildings Listed variously Grade II and II*) lies on the edge of the north park, about 200 metres east of the walled garden and is an unaltered survival of a late-18th century model farm, designed for the third Lord Hardwicke by Sir John Soane.

The South Park retains more traces of the earlier formal park landscape and represents the area of the early deer park. It is dominated by Charles Bridgeman's great double South Avenue which runs from the drive south of the Hall for more than 4 kilometres across the park and out over the surrounding farmed landscape. Towards the end of the South Avenue is an octagonal basin (now, 1999, dry), also by Bridgeman. A shorter and narrower South Avenue was already extant when Bridgeman came to Wimpole but he replanted and extended it using elms, which were lost in the 1970s and have since been replanted with lime. Many trees were lost in the park during the neglect of the early 20th century and the arrival of Dutch elm disease, but a replanting programme has been carried out by the National Trust since 1976, to consolidate the surviving grid planting, clumps and plantations. The South Park also contains a Walnut avenue which survives from the 1690s. Many of the enclosing belts of trees in both the North and South Park, which contain a perimeter drive by Brown and were consolidated by Repton when the park was extended to the south and west in the early 19th century, have survived.

KITCHEN GARDEN

The walled kitchen garden lies about 350 metres north-east of the Hall. An inner rectangular red-brick wall (Listed Grade II) encloses an area currently (1999) under restoration as a fruit and vegetable garden. On the north wall stands the Gardener's Cottage (Listed Grade II), built in the late 18th century of red brick under a hipped tiled roof. Encircling the inner garden is a second wall of gault brick. The main doorway to the garden is on the south wall, through a gate hung on tall piers surmounted by ball finials. A second gateway in the north wall has an early 19th century iron gate with radial bars to the head. The walled garden designed by Robert Greening in the 1750s was demolished in the 1790s when the present walled garden was constructed by William Emes.

REFERENCES

D Stroud, Humphry Repton (1962)

Royal Commission on Historic Monuments of England. Inventories: West Cambridgeshire (1968), pp 210-229

N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire (1970), p 488

D Stroud, Capability Brown (1975)

P Willis, Charles Bridgeman (1977)

G S Thomas, Gardens of the National Trust (1979)

Country Life, 166 (6 September 1979), p 658; (13 September 1979), p 768

J Phibbs, Wimpole Park, (report for National Trust 1980)

G Carter et al, Humphry Repton (1982)

Wimpole Hall, guidebook, (National Trust 1991)

G Jackson-Stops, An English Arcadia (1992), p 41

T Way, A study of the impact of imparkment on the social landscape of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire from c 1080 to 1760, British Archaeological Reports British Series 258 (1997), p 279

RCHM(E), Wimpole Park, an archaeological survey (1998)

Maps

Benjamin Hare, Survey plan of the Wimpole Estate, 1638 (R77/1, copy), (Cambridgeshire Record Office)

C Bridgeman, Proposals for the layout of the park, early 18th century (Bodleian Library)

C Bridgeman, Design for the 'Grand Parade' at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, c 1721 (private collection)

R Greening, Design for the garden at Wimpole Hall, c 1752 (private collection)

L Brown, Design for the lakes and the northern extension of the park at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, 1767 (private collection)

H Repton, Survey map of the park and farm showing proposed alterations, from Red Book 1801 (private collection)

Tithe map for Wimpole parish, 1851 (Cambridgeshire Record Office)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1886

2nd edition published 1903

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1886

2nd edition published 1901

Archival items

J Kipp, View of Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, 1707 (private collection)

Sanderson Miller, Design for the Gothic Tower at Wimpole, c 1749-51 (private collection)

H Repton, Red Book for Wimpole Park, 1801 (private collection)

Description written: May 2000

Amended: November 2000

Edited: January 2001

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Wimpole Hall is a substantial neo-classical mansion house built of red brick with limestone dressings under a hipped and balustraded slate roof.
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  • Gateway
  • Description: The grand gateway consisting of wrought-iron gates and railings with Portland stone piers was erected by H E Kendall in 1851.
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  • Drive
  • Description: An 18th-century drive which runs north-east through the park.
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  • Courtyard
  • Description: The gravelled entrance court between flanking rectangular lawns.
  • Stable Block
  • Description: The stable block is constructed of red brick with stone dressings and is ranged around four sides of a courtyard, with a substantial arched entrance, topped by a Doric entablature and turreted clock tower with a domed roof.
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  • Drive
  • Description: A second drive, now a track, was laid out in the mid-19th century.
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  • Plantation
  • Description: Victoria Plantation.
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: The mid-19th century Southern Lodge.
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  • Wall
  • Description: The curved forecourt is enclosed by a mid-19th century low wall topped by railings.
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  • Courtyard
  • Description: The service courtyard.
  • Religious, Ritual And Funerary Features
  • Description: St Andrew's church.
  • Game Larder
  • Description: The mid-18th century rusticated game larder.
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  • Parterre
  • Description: The present gardens lie on the site of the late-17th century formal parterres. They were removed and remodelled, then laid out in their present form by the National Trust since 1976.
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Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The park is open daily throughout the year. The gardens are open daily from 10.30 between February and October, with more restricted opening in the winter months. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/place-pages/375/pages/opening-times-calendar
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Wimpole
History

Detailed History

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

The creation of Wimpole Hall as it appears today began in about 1640 when Thomas Chicheley began to build a new hall on the estate which his family had leased since 1428. Prior to this there had been a medieval moated manor house, just to the north-west of the present buildings. According to the Hare map of 1638 this was surrounded by a deer park which had been created in the 14th century by the Basingbourn family (Way 1997). In contrast, Chicheley surrounded his new house with a formal garden and an architectural landscape with a north/south axis accentuated by avenues of trees.

Chicheley sold the estate to a city merchant, Sir John Cutler, in 1684, who was succeeded on his death in 1693 by his son-in-law Charles Robartes, second Earl of Radnor. Lord Radnor laid out extensive and elaborate formal gardens which were illustrated by Kip in 1707 and described by Defoe as containing 'all the most exquisite contrivances which the best heads cou'd invent' (guidebook). The park was also extended, new avenues planted and fishponds dug. In 1713 the estate passed into the hands of Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford, who commissioned Charles Bridgeman (d 1738) to prepare a grand scheme for the landscape which included the dramatic South Avenue.

In 1740 Wimpole was purchased by Philip Yorke, the first Earl of Hardwicke and in about 1750 he asked Robert Greening (d 1759), a professional landscape designer to produce plans for altering the landscape. Greening began the process of removing the formal landscape, replacing straight walks and parterres with sweeping lawns and a pleasure garden near the Hall and softening the formal planting in the park.

Philip Yorke succeeded as second Earl of Hardwicke in 1764 but had brought Lancelot Brown (1716-1783) to Wimpole in 1760 to redesign and extend the park. Brown's work was consolidated by William Emes (1730-1803) who was employed by the third Earl of Hardwicke following his succession in 1790, at the same time as Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was commissioned to alter the Hall. Emes removed Greening's gardens and much of his pleasure ground to open the gardens into the park landscape. Rather than complete all Emes proposals, the third Earl asked Humphry Repton (1752-1818) to prepare a Red Book in 1801 in which the reinstatement of a small garden on the north side of the Hall was proposed.

The third Earl died in 1834 and was succeeded by Charles Yorke, the fourth Earl, who in the 1840s, with the architect Henry Edward Kendall enlarged the Hall, added a stable block and planted shrubberies in the pleasure grounds to the north and east.

Charles Yorke, the fifth Earl, who inherited Wimpole in 1873, led such an extravagant lifestyle that within fifteen years his debts forced the sale of the estate. It did not, however, reach its reserve price and was taken over, in settlement of the debts, by the 2nd Lord Robartes in his capacity as Chairman of Agar-Robartes Bank. Thus, after 200 years, Wimpole was reunited with the descendants of Charles Robartes, the second Earl of Radnor.

Robartes became the sixth Viscount Clifden in 1899 and moved to the Clifden's principal seat at Lanhydrock, Cornwall. Wimpole was settled on his son Gerald, the seventh Viscount, but it was often shut up. In 1930, when his father died, Gerald moved to Lanhydrock. Wimpole was gradually stripped and let to a series of tenants, the last of whom, Captain and Mrs George Bambridge, finally purchased the estate from Clifden in 1938. They refilled the Hall and entertained lavishly until George Bambridge died in 1943. His wife Elsie (only surviving child of Rudyard Kipling) remained at Wimpole for the next thirty years and on her death in 1976 bequeathed the estate to the National Trust. The site remains (1999) in single ownership.

Period

  • 18th Century
Associated People
Contact

Telephone

0844 800 1895

Official Website

Click Here

Other websites

Owners

  • The National Trust

    Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN2 2NA
References

References

Contributors

  • Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust