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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List Entry Number: 1081758



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County of Herefordshire
District Type: Unitary Authority
Parish: Downton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: I

Date first listed: 11-May-1987

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 150195

Asset Groupings

This List entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List Entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


DOWNTON CP SO 47 SW 3/16 Downton Castle and adjoining stable 11.6.59 courtyard GV I Country house and adjoining stable courtyard. Circa 1774-8 by Richard Payne Knight, altered and extended 1860-70. Sandstone ashlar. Roofs con- cealed behind embattled parapets, main ones of which project above prominent corbel tables; others have strings at base; parapets to main south-east front partly have loopholes beneath the merlons (some of which are cruciform in shape). There are groups of ashlar stacks concealed from main elevations. Assymetric plan; the eastern end, the north-west tower, north porch and chapel are C19 additions. Mainly two and three storeys with cellar. Picturesque style. Windows were originally lancets and were replaced in C19 by mullioned windows and traceried lights. Main south elevation (originally the main entrance front): composed of roughly central large square tower which housed the main entrance, to the left of which are two three-bay ranges terminated by a large octagonal tower and to the right of which is a 2:1:2 range, a square tower and a two-bay addition. From left to right: the octagonal tower is of three stages and has a traceried rectangular window with a hoodmould on the lower stage of its south-east face. The adjoining three-bay range projects slightly and has large ground floor mullion and transom windows with four-centred heads, hoodmoulds and block stops; on the first floor are 2-light traceried windows with hoodmoulds and returns. The next three-bay range is narrower and recessed and has a central ground floor canted bay window with an embattled parapet flanked by inserted double doors; on the first floor is a rectangular traceried window and two mullion and transom windows with hoodmoulds. There is a small turret to the left side of the parapet. The projecting large central tower is of two stages and has the former main entrance which is approached by a flight of steps and flanked by battered buttresses. It has a four-centred arched head of two orders, double doors and a transom light. Above is a corbelled canopy decorated with a central blank shield flanked by loopholes. There are two rectangular lights beneath the parapet which has corner buttresses. The 2:1:2 range to the right has a central slightly projecting small square tower with two ground floor traceried lights which have hoodmoulds with block stops; on the first floor is a semi-circular oriel window; it has a foliated corbelled base, springing from an attached shaft situated between the ground floor windows, and an embattled parapet. On the second floor is a group of three cusped lancets. The flanking ranges have lean-to two-bay arcades with four-centred archways of two orders on the ground floor. within the left arcade is a 2-light window with plate tracery, a mullion and transom window and, between them, a door with a four-centred head. Above on the first floor is a 3-light window with plate tracery and a mullion and transom window. Within the right arcade are three mullion and transom windows and a rectangular light with a traceried head and there are three mullion and transom first floor windows. To the right of this range is a square tower of roughly four stages with a battered plinth in which is set a rectangular light. A string above the lower stage forms a hoodmould above a lancet window and also a 2-light window on the right side. The second stage has an oriel window on three corbels with a hipped roof and there is a loophole on the third stage and a 2-light window on the fourth stage. In the left side is a doorway and in the right angle is a stair turret. To the right of the tower is a two-bay C19 range with ground floor mullion and transom windows with four-centred heads, a 3-light and a 2-light first floor window and a group of three and two cusped lancets on the second floor. There is a bartisan-style projection at the parapet corner. The main entrance was moved to the north-west side in the C19. It is flanked by two circular three-stage towers and the linking wall has a stepped parapet above a large four-centred arched recess containing a window. The porch is canted, has buttresses with offsets and a blind pointed archway with a blank shield in the central embrasure of the parapet. The entrance archway is of three hollow-chamfered orders, the central one of which is shafted and enriched with rosettes. The stable courtyard adjoins to the north-east and has a hipped slate roof. Two storeys with dentilled eaves cornice with roughly eight bay sides and four bay ends. Windows have cambered heads. At the centre of the north-east side is a square two-stage clocktower with an intermediate two-course band, large four-centred archways on the lower stage and a brick quadripartite vault within. Interior: principal room in south tower is a copy of the Pantheon with a circular, coffered dome and has columns supporting an elaborate entablature and screening niches in the walls containing statues of Coade stone. The drawing room has doors and windows flanked by porphyry columns with white marble capitals and bases and an entablature enriched with a peacock frieze. The fireplaces are of ornately carved white marble, that in the library having porphyry panels deocrated with swags, masks and garlands. Richard Payne Knight was the grandson of Richard Knight of Madeley (1659-1749) the Shropshire iron- master, whose fortune he inherited. At the age of 17 he travelled to Italy and was soon regarded as a scholar and aesthetician of considerable distinction. He built Downton Castle as an early expression of his beliefs in the relation- ship between architecture and landscape, later expounded in his Analytical Enquiry into the Principles of Taste of 1805. His intention was to unite the "different improvements of different ages in the same building" providing an irregular castellated building with a classical interior, and the medieval castle architecture of Wales together with the landscapes of Poussin and Claude Lorraine were probably sources of inspiration. The style and the assymetric plan first emerged in 1717 in Vanbrugh's house at Greenwich and at Walpole's Strawberry Hill begun in 1748, but at Downton these ideas were to achieve their first true expression and inspired the castellated designs of the Picturesque movement for the next fifty years. (Country Life, XLii 60, p 36-42; BoE, p 117-8; Summerson, J: Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, 1970, p 473-5; Beasly, Pauline: A Brief History of the Knight Family, 1958).

Listing NGR: SO4451374740

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Beasly, P, A Brief History of the Knight Family, (1958)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire, (1963), 117-118
Summerson, J , Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, (1970)
'Country Life' in Country Life, (1917), 36-42
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 20 Hereford and Worcester,


National Grid Reference: SO 44511 74733

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This copy shows the entry on 30-May-2020 at 12:33:15.