Thursday, September 8, 2011

Compton Wynyates, Warwickshire

Compton in the Hole

At last, from the hill that’s home to the windmill in the previous post, I got my glimpse of Compton Wynyates. This north front is not, I have to say, the most spectacular side of the house, but still gives a good impression of the character of the place – the mostly Tudor brick walls, the tall chimneys, the dormers in the roofs, the purely ornamental crenellations, the different levels. Above all, this cluster of brick wings and pitched roofs gives an impression of the way the house must have grown over the years with bits added here and there before a major revamp of the eastern part of the building – the part of the left of the picture is an addition of 1867 by Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt in a style in harmony with rest of the house.

Looking at the house in its tree-lined valley one can understand what has usually made people enthusiastic about it. John Russell, in Shakespeare’s Country, noticed how the surrounding hills and trees rise up around so that ‘the house is seen as if in the bowl of an enormous spoon’. W H Hutton, in Highways and Byways in Shakespeare’s Country, called it ‘a wonderful picture of rose-tinted restfulness’. Pevsner, with his eye more focused on the ball, found in it the picturesque mode that so attracted him: ‘the perfect picture-book house of the Early Tudor decades, the most perfect in England of the specific picturesque, completely irregular mode’.

Writers are apt to get lyrical about this place, but Hutton reminds us that Camden, referring to its setting, called it ‘Compton in the Hole’ and records a local ‘rustic’ showing a visitor around, remarking, ‘Did ye ever see sich a hole?’ Some hole.


Vinogirl said...

What a house! I love the way houses are added onto over the decades (centuries), as is the case with my brother's home (Thud) which has it's origins in the Jacobean period.
Great picture too.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, VG. There's something very satisfying about houses that grow organically, like this one.

Anonymous said...

I followed the links on this post and ended up on a post from July 2010 on Green Street. I posted a comment but don't know if you will find it, being an old post. I immediately recognised the carved doorway as I lived there briefly in 1991/2

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anon: Thank you for this. Yes, I did pick up your comment on Green Street, and I was very pleased to receive it, as I'd been fascinated by that doorway for years, having passed it a number of times, and of course have never been inside the house. Thanks again.

Catherine said...

I just discovered your blog and enjoy all things architectural. Your book looks like something I need to add to my library.

I wanted to share with you a recent blog post I wrote about a house in the United States built by my greatgrandparents in 1912-1915. Stan Hywet in Akron, Ohio drew heavily on influences from Compton Wynyates and Haddon Hall, in particular. While I spent a college year abroad in the early 1980s I never got to either (is Compton Wynyates privately owned?).

All best to you,

Catherine Pond

Philip Wilkinson said...

Catherine: Thank you for your appreciative comment, and the link to your post. The Akron, Ohio house certainly looks as if it was influenced by Compton Wynyates. Compton Wynyates is indeed privately owned and is not normally open to the public. Haddon Hall is open, though.