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Certificate in Architectural History - Early Houses and Castles (1999), Clive Wood
The Vyne

The plan of The Vyne
The Vyne was built in 1989
The plan and elevation of The Vyne
The Vyne built in 1989
Details to accompany coursework - The Vyne
Water head from Melchbourne Park

A detached dwelling house designed to the specification of the present owner, built of reclaimed red brick and incorporating a number of reused materials, the bricks of Irthlingborough manufacture circa 1800. The house is L-shaped in plan and is best described elevation by elevation since there are features included to a greater or lesser degree from each viewpoint. Involved as I am in the present course, I suffer at times from a feeling of guilt when we discuss identifying buildings by features incorporated in them, and apologise for my building, which, though it would not deceive anyone with a modicum of architectural knowledge, does fool a number of people at first impression.

The front projection is single story with a flat roof, felt covered, behind a parapet with a stone coping [reused Rushden Rectory 1860] and covered with dressed lead, in the facade are incorporated three terracotta or carved brick panels with various designs of stylised flowers and foliage, these are framed to left and right by a pattern of three bricks, two blue and one white. The parapet is divided from the lower brickwork by a stringcourse composed of two courses of old roofing tile above a course of blue bricks. Two stone balls on square bases are on the top of the parapet, one from Rushden Hall and one from Newnham Priory, the later covered with lead is heavily pitted from airgun pellets when used in its original position as a target!

The porch is entered under a stone four centred arch, previously a fireplace ex Rushden Hall circa 1560, the single light window has a Bradstone surround and hood-mould, glazed with a lead-light of multi-coloured glass of late Victorian manufacture. The floor is covered with small gazed tiles of Red and Cream in a random pattern. The down pipes are of a square section, ex CWS Shoe Factory and the one taking the water from the main roof has a newly made lead water-head incorporating the crest of Lord St John of Melchbourne Park and the date 1900.

The South Elevation [main house] has only two small windows, framed in oak and glazed with lead lights composed of new glass but incorporating a Red lozenge of 1900 and two moulded pieces circa 1820, they have flat or Camber Arches above of stone. At the base of the gable is a string course of alternating white and blue bricks and towards the top a panel of eighteen bricks, also blue and white in panels of three.

The rear or North elevation has two courses of
Window panel from B Ladds' factory detail from the panel window from the Beeches
Window panel from B Ladds Factory with bullion
used in a small opening light.
Window panel - right - the whole
window from The Beeches
diapered work below the facia of red and white bricks laid as pairs and singles, another date stone is incorporated 'J W 1763'. The brickwork throughout is stretcher bond, due to the modern insistence on cavity insulation, most windows front and rear elevations are traditional style with continuous jambs and hood moulds, North Cerney [light grey], and are glazed with lead lights incorporating some Victorian panels, on the ground floor multi coloured with small central panels of birds or flowers, from The Beeches, and the first floor fanlights from the factory of Benjamin Ladds, office windows incorporating small bullions as part of a design very art nouveau in feeling.

Clive's carving carved badger
Details from the staircase
Detail of carving on the staircase
Internally there are a number of features which might be commented on, the staircase which was made new with the house is a 'dog leg' pattern, being two small flights of six treads and a half landing leading to a two sided landing on the first floor, it was based loosely on the upper flights of the staircase at Thorpe Hall, near Peterborough, the newel posts are square with caps and 'egg and cup' finials with similar 'drop' decorations beneath the ceiling of the ground floor, there are nine newels and two halfs [against the wall], fifty four balusters of the vase pattern, late 17 century style and sixteen half balusters attached to the newels, again as in the style of the 17 century, the construction has enclosed strings and apron or joist linings, the later were made in plywood since the original plan was to paint the staircase however having seen the completed work it was decided to leave the wood plain and apply a coat of varnish stain, Dulux Georgian Oak, and cover the linings and strings with carved wooden panels in Chestnut [poor mans Oak], this work is partly done, likewise the newel post finials are being replaced, so far, two with baskets of flowers and one with a figure of an agricultural labourer.

The front door is a six panelled late Georgian example with a Tudor shaped top as influenced by the Gothic fashion, with raised fielded panels while most of the other interior doors are typical framed and four panelled interior pattern with beaded panels in Pitch Pine circa 1890. [Note: Discarded into the back yard at Rushden Hall and run over by a lorry. Clive purchased, repaired and restored the door.]

In the Dining Room there is a china alcove or niche, a semi-circular cupboard with a shell top, in this instance the shell falls from the top, consisting of fourteen ribbed segments but the interesting information, which of course is no longer visible is the construction of the shell, this is made of thirty six shaped pieces of wood of varying sizes that fit together exactly like a "chocolate orange", held together by rabbit glue and hand forged rusty nails. In the master bedroom a similar china alcove forms part of the panelling of the room, but in this instance the shell raises from the bottom and consists of five tapering panels divided by wooden 'ribs', the edge of the shell being scalloped, the whole piece being of a better quality, fluted flat pilasters with capitals and bases frame the interior and below is a cupboard of two doors, with fielded panels, the doors with 'H' hinges secured by handmade nails. The panelling all of raised and fielded pattern has a dado rail with horizontal panels below and corresponding upright ones above, the later being 5 feet by 3 feet, now in a stripped and waxed finish, it was originally made for painting and was a rich turquoise colour with Gold Leaf highlights. The panelling was removed from a first floor room in Newland, Northampton, circa 1740. In the lounge there is a fireplace, again based on a period style of the 15 cent, consisting of two stone columns with foliated capitals supporting a block and plaster hood, on this is fixed a cast bronze of the Royal Arms, coloured and gilded, supposedly the ‘By Appointment' plaque from the garage in north London which supplied the Royal cars for King George V.

The door from the Dining room into the Lounge has a made up lead-light of various pieces including two of the Crests of Robert Vernon, 1st Baron Lyveden, President of the Board of Control from March 1855 to February 1858, the crests were part of the staircase window at Firmyn Woods, Brigstock and were removed when the Victorian wing was demolished in the 1970's, they are 'Vernon, a boar’s head erased, sable, ducally gorged or, and Smith a cubit arm, erect in armour, ppr, charged with a battle-axe sable, the hand grasping two wreaths of laurel pendent on either side, also ppr'.

The Vyne was built to use up an accumulation of materials acquired at a time of wanton destruction; the panelled room cost me '20 Players', and that included a wing chair. Never a destroyer, it has given me a great deal of pleasure to have been around at the opportune time, when I could rescue artefacts and materials that would have been destined for the tip or the fire, and to give them a new lease of life, now of course given the fancy name of re-cycling.

Reference sources:

Sir Bernard Burke C.B., LL.D. Burkes Peerage and Baronetage Harrison of London 1878
Herbert Cescinsky & Ernest R Gribble Early English Furniture & Woodwork The Waverley Book Company 1922
George A Mitchell F.R.B.A. Building Construction and Drawing B T Batsford 1942
John Prizeman Your House - The Outside View Hutchinson of London 1975

Since Clive wrote the above in 1999, he has continued to adorn various areas of his house. The staircase now has the carved panels and the finials affixed (pictured above), and a coving in the lounge exhibits his artwork in the form of Armorial Shields of the notable families in Northamptonshire. He continues to preserve items of Rushden's heritage.

The gate from the old swimming pool has been utilised at the entrance to the Vyne, and the old
turnstile through which the swimmers entered the pool building stands forlorn in the yard.
Carved panels from the Maypole grocery
store shop front - it closed in the 1960s.
These artefacts were hand crafted, something Clive appreciates (in 2008 he is currently attending classes for carving - see
his work on his staircase pictured above). The panels from the Maypole were covered in thick layers of paint and it was
only after the paint was stripped that the true beauty of what it covered saw light of day once again. The two pieces are
mirror images but one piece has been cut down at sometime before Clive acquired it.

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