St Marie's Grange
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852)
1835-7 (altered c.1839-41)
Image from a sketch by Benjamin Ferrey (Ferrey 72).
Text by Jacqueline Banerjee
[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
"To the astonishment and often undisguised mirth of passers-by, a turreted, fortified, red-brick house, apparently blown out of the pages of a book of hours, began to rise rapidly next to the main Southampton road," writes Rosemary Hill, characterising this curiosity as "the fruit of Pugin's peculiar education, a mixture of picturesque cottage and fifteenth-century house" (133). In general appearance St Marie's looks nothing like The Grange, Pugin's later home in Ramsgate, but he carried over from this first experiment such features as interconnecting rooms; a chapel (though not as high as the one at St Marie's); a tower (again, to hold the water-closets and serve as a look-out); windows arranged for convenience and view rather than regularity (instead of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, he would be able to look out from The Grange on his very own church); and its air of impenetrability. St Marie's Grange may have been highly visible from the road, but it had no windows on that side, was surrounded by a dry moat, and had a drawbridge.
The house is still there, though considerably altered:
After departing from the modern road to Southampton and passing the last few houses at Petersfinger, there is an unusual looking house at the junction of the main road and Shute End Road. This house, with its peculiar turret and ornate finish is Saint Marie's Grange, located at the edge of the Alderbury parish boundary. ("Alderbury & Whaddon")
As well as answering to Pugin's neurotic fear of burglars, this first house of course demonstrates his personal passion for the Gothic, and also his theatrical streak. It might seem to be a dead end as far as domestic architecture goes, but in those latter respects Pugin would be equalled by William Burges, whom he inspired. See, for example, Burges's Castell Coch near Cardiff, also with towers, drawbridge and oratory, built for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. The feature which really caught on was the tower. Just a few examples of houses with towers are: a house at Holly Villlage (1865), Highgate; Gunfield on the Norham estate in N. Oxford (1877); and Burges's own Tower House in Kensington (also from 1877). The end houses of late Victorian terraces, like those along Chesterton Road, Cambridge, were often adorned with pyramidal towers too.
"Alderbury & Whaddon: A General Description." (Alderbury & Whaddon Local History Research Group site). Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
Ferrey, Benjamin. Recollections of A. N. Welby Pugin. London: Edward Stanford, 1861. Internet Archive. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
Hill, Rosemary. God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain. London: Penguin, 2008.
A. W. N.