Ravenslaw House


Currently unprotected. Listing has been rejected. Previously demolition has been proposed.

There are records that state Ravenslaw House was built in 1870 for Mr James Heatley, by a local builder - Mr George Armstrong to a design by the well-known architect, Frederick Richard Wilson. Contracts were given to a range of tradesmen for different aspects of the building work – Mr John Richardson joiner; Mr J. Wood slating and roofing; Messrs Adam Robertson and Sons painting and glazing; Mr Thomas Pickard plastering, and Messrs Wilkins and Dickman plumbing.This is an error. It is based on a newspaper article describing work on Ravensmede, that used the wrong name.

The design of Ravenslaw was influenced by the fashionable Scottish Baronial style and it stood within extensive grounds (9.10 hectares) between the North Eastern Railway Alnwick branch line and South Road, on the south-eastern outskirts of the town, to the south-east of Belvedere Terrace. Access to the property was by a gateway off the western side of South Road, flanked by a pair of rusticated gate pillars with ball finials. The gateway was widened during the C20 and the gate pillars have been re-set to allow the passage of pavements to either side of the drive. The carriage drive approached the house from the east, giving a view of the turreted eastern elevation, before curving round to the main entrance.

The most notable owner of Ravenslaw House was William Hardy who bought the house in 1896. William was one of the Hardy brothers, who established the world-famous Hardy Brothers (Alnwick) Limited – fishing rod and tackle manufacturing and retail company in 1872. William died at the age of 65 on the evening of 6th July 1917, while having a conversation with a friend sitting in his garden at Ravenslaw House.

Map evidence indicates that no major changes were made to the house and grounds until 1972, by which time, it had become a horticultural centre equipped with two free-standing greenhouses. By 1982, the house was no longer labelled as a horticultural centre and one of the greenhouses had been demolished. The appearance of the house was changed in 2007 when all of the original timber windows were removed and white uPVC double-glazed windows were installed. Since the late 1980s the grounds have been built over and the house itself, has been split into nine ‘sheltered housing’ flats (although now empty and awaiting demolition).

Ravenslaw House is, a late-C19 two-storey square plan villa in a subdued Scottish Baronial style, built in coursed quarry-faced stone with ashlar dressings, hood moulds and window reveals. The hipped Welsh-slate clad roof has a central valley, with lower projecting side gables to the main and east elevations. The projecting south-west range has a gabled roof that terminates in crow-stepped gables, capped with semi-open pediments. There are two stepped masonry chimney stacks in the ridge of the roofs of both the southern and eastern ranges, and an external stepped chimney stack is built against the west wall of the projecting south-western range. Cast-iron gutters are used on all elevations, carried on chamfered ashlar cornices supported by corbel tables. A tall ‘L’-plan fair-faced brick wall extends out from the south-west range that has out-buildings beneath a mono-pitch slate clad roof on its northern and eastern inner sides, which encloses an open side courtyard. The western side of the wall once had a lean-to greenhouse built against it, and the southern face of the wall had a conservatory that was accessed directly from within the south-west range. The original conservatory has been demolished and replaced by a modern uPVC example. A former single-storey service range with a hipped roof is situated against the west wall of the northern range, and a yard is formed between it and the northern wall of the projecting south-west range.

The main (southern) elevation is asymmetric. The south gable of the south-west range breaks forward from the line of the main elevation and has a two-storey canted bay with a crenellated parapet set within the re-entrant angle. A single-storey bay window with a low crenellated parapet wall, capped by a pair of ball finials, is situated between the canted bay and the main entrance. The main entrance is approached by a flight of steps and is situated in a narrow bay that breaks forward slightly beneath a crow-step gable. The main entrance has a graduated eight panel timber door, set in an ashlar transom and mullion door case, with a plain rectangular fan light and narrow side lights. A projecting circular-plan two-storey turret with a conical Welsh-slate candle-snuffer roof with ball finials is situated against each of the two corners of the eastern elevation. The central bay of the east elevation has a crow-stepped gable and breaks slightly forward of the line of the wall. Apart from the ashlar cornice and corbel table, the irregular three-bay northern elevation is unadorned.

The applicant has been unable to gain access to the interior; however four photographs of the interior have been taken from outside; one shows a secondary timber encased Arts and Crafts style fireplace within the ground-floor room of the south-west range; the second shows a classical style grey marble fireplace, the third a mock 17th century plaster ceiling, and the final photograph shows a timber-framed porch screen, with stained glass leaded panels decorated with classical motifs. It also shows a scroll bracket within the hallway supporting a beam and that the frieze above the picture rail is adorned by classical inspired swags.

The House was assessed in accordance with the Principles of Selection for Listed Buildings (March 2010) and the English Heritage Listing Selection Guide-Domestic 3: Suburban and Country Houses (October 2011) suggests a number of factors should be taken into consideration when assessing suburban housing; these can include – Date, Selectivity, Aesthetic Judgement, Alteration, Regional Variation, and Historic Associations.

Ravenslaw House is not recommended for listing for the following principal reasons:

  • Architectural interest: the design of the house is very restrained indeed and lacks the bold playful quality seen in most Scottish Baronial style houses;
  • Historic interest: being a late-C19 suburban villa, the house lacks any particular historic interest;
  • Date and rarity: the house was built in 1870, at the time of a large scale expansion in numbers of detached suburban villas being built for the so-called - ‘nouveaux riches’ across the whole of the country, and as such, it cannot be considered as rare;
  • Alteration: the interior has been sub-divided into nine flats and the external appearance has been altered by the replacement of the original timber windows and the loss of the attached conservatory and greenhouse;
  • Historic association: the house does have a strong association with William Hardy; however, the house was not built for him and he was one of a series of owners of the property.

CONCLUSION: Whilst Ravenslaw House has as strong local interest due to its association with William Hardy, it is too altered and of insufficient interest in a national context to merit listing.








Ravenslaw - non designation decisionLink