Aldermaston Court - architectural historians' comments on the building

Aldermaston Court was designed during the period architectural historians refer to as the Early Victorian (1837-55), when Gothic Revival was popular and references to Tudor and Elizabethan styles were more commonplace, and before continental European influences were more widely adopted.

The building has been mentioned in various architectural history books; here are some extracts, starting with comments from Ferriday:

‘ALDERMASTON COURT, nr Reading, Berkshire

By P. C. Hardwick, 1848-51, for Higford Burr, MP. Hardwick’s first country house (but see Hall, Devon). A large and ambitious building of brick with stone dressings, in an over-elaboration of the Pugin manner, with much diapering and restless chopping-up of roofs. Altered and enlarged, 1894, by Brightwen and Binyon. The grand tower, boldly patterned in brick and stone, is the most memorable feature. (P. Ferriday, Victorian Architecture (London,1963), Fig XII; CL VI, 240-4, ID.)’1

The next, more lengthy, commentary is courtesy of Nikolaus Pevsner:


The house of 1636 was destroyed by fire in 1843. In illustration it looks, with its hipped roof, rather 1660 than 1636, but 1636 is the date on a preserved tablet, and it fits the preserved woodwork. This consists of the splendid staircase running through two storeys and some additional figures. These figures, all allegorical or mythological, are still as Mannerist as in 1610, besides being very good for their date. The staircase itself is memorable as being one of the earliest to have a pierced parapet instead of banisters. The parapet moreover is no longer strictly strapwork, but in a state of transition from strapwork to broad-leaved foliage and to gristly forms. The staircase is now inside P. C. Hardwick’s mansion for Daniel Higford Darvall Burr. He built it in 1848-51, and it cost over £20,000 (GS). Tudor style, completely asymmetrical on the main (entrance) side. Brick with blue diapers. Mullioned and transomed windows, with and without arched lights. Further back, i.e. part of the back elevation, a slender tower with close ‘flushwork’ of stone and brick and a kind of steep pavilion-roof top. Very spiky chimneystacks. Large rooms inside. The STABLES are C17, see e.g. the doorway with the steep open pediment. Of c.1636 also the grand LODGES, two-storeyed with semicircular gables. They were originally the two wings of a house.

The lodges look down the almost straight village street, which is closed visually at the bottom by the C18 inn. L. and r. all brick cottages, varying in date and shape, but none an intrusion. Behind the inn the village LOCK-UP, brick, with a shallow dome.

In the grounds of Aldermaston Court the buildings erected in 1949-61 by the Ministry of Works for the ATOMIC ENERGY AUTHORITY, impressive and architecturally well-designed structures by the Ministry of Works architects.’2

1. Girouard, M. ‘The Victorian Country House’, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990), p.343

2. Pevsner, N. ‘The Buildings of England: Berkshire’, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966) , pp. 62-63

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