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The present house was built in 1864 by T Roger Smith


July 1,1864

SHEPHALBURY, NEAR STEVENAGE. (With an Engraving.) seen above.

This mansion, of which we give a perspective view showing the north or entrance front, and the west front, is in course of erection for Unwin Heathcote Esq., to replace a somewhat decayed and less convenient house, built probably early in the last century.  The general arrangement of the plan presents, on the ground floor, the usual living and reception rooms grouped round a large hall, which itself will serve to some extent the purposes of a room; and east of the block so formed a series of rooms for more strictly household purposes (nurseries, school-room, private room of the master of the house, &c;), with the usual offices in a wing stretching northward.  These rooms have been carefully arranged with regard to aspect.  The dining‑room, which may also serve as morning‑room, having an east and south aspect.  The ante‑­room looking south only; the drawing‑room, south and west; and the library, west.  The garden front lies just a point or two east of due south, so as to throw a little west into the aspect of the north front, and thus secures a little of the evening sun.

There is throughout one story of bed and dressing rooms over the ground‑floor, and in the main house and some parts of the wing of offices there is a story of attics.  Extensive cellars are formed under part of the ground‑floor.  The clear heights of stories are, ground‑floor best rooms 13 feet, in other rooms, 11 feet; first‑floor best rooms, 11 ft. 6 in., other rooms, 10 ft. 6 in.; attics, 9 ft. 6 in.

The materials employed are red brick, with box ground stone dressings, and for the roofs Staffordshire tiles. The bricks have been made on the estate, and are of excellent colour and quality.  All the more important smoke‑flues are carried up through tubes of unglazed earthenware.  The windows throughout are fitted with sashes hung in boxed frames, not casements; and glazed with plate glass.  The bay windows are fitted with Bunnett's patent iron shutters, elsewhere ordinary folding shutters are employed.

 In the treatment of the architectural features it has been attempted to make them correspond to the uses to which the portion of the house where they occur is to be applied.  Thus the windows of the offices and of the chambers over them are all square‑headed and uniform in character, those of the reception rooms and the chambers over (of which only a small portion is seen in the view) have carefully studied pointed heads, and are as much varied as is consistent with propriety and breadth of effect; while those in the strictly household part of the building have a character somewhat between the two, with less variety.   The same thing has been done with doorways and other features.

The works are being satisfactorily carried out by Mr. R. F Roberts, of Islington, and are to be completed in the autumn of this year; the clerk of works is Mr. Joshua Lewis.  The architect is Mr. T. Roger Smith, F. R. I. B. A., of 57 Strand, London.

The architect.......

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 1900 - 1911

    SMITH, THOMAS ROGER (1830­ - 1903), architect, born at Sheffield on 14 July 1830, was only son of the Rev. Thomas Smith of Sheffield by his wife Louisa Thomas of Chelsea.  After private education he entered the office of Philip Hardwick [q. v.] and spent a year and a half in travel before beginning independent practice in 1855.  Mr. A. S. Gale was in partnership with him until 1891, and from 1888 his son,  Mr. Ravenscroft Elsey Smith, who co‑operated in all his subsequent works.

     Having been selected to prepare the design for the exhibition buildings in Bombay, Smith proceeded thither in 1864.  The erection was abandoned after the contract was signed owing to the cotton famine, but several important buildings were erected in India from his designs, including the post office and British Hospital at Bombay, and the residency at Ganersh Kind.  In England his work included the Technical Schools (and Baths) of the Carpenters' Company at Stratford ; the Ben Jonson schools at Stepney (1872), as well as other schools for the London school board; Emmanuel church and vicarage, South Croydon; the Sanatorium at Reedham (1883); the North London Hospital for Consumption at Hampstead (built 1880, enlarged 1892, completed 1903) ; laboratories at University College (opened 1892), forming part of an uncompleted scheme for the Gower Street front of the large quadrangle; many City warehouses; and, besides other domestic work, Armathwaite Hall, Cumberland; Brambletye House, East Grinstead ; a house at Taplow for Mr. G. Hartbury, and Beechy Lees at Otford, Kent.

     Smith, who devoted much of his energies to lecturing on architecture and to official duties external to actual professional practice, became in 1851 a member of the Architectural Association, a body to which he delivered an extensive series of lectures; he was president in 1860‑1 and again in 1863‑4.  At the Royal Institute of British Architects he was elected an associate in 1856 and in 1863 a fellow.  He took a prominent Part in its debates and committees, was for several sessions a member of its council, and  became chairman in 1899 of the statutory board of examiners (under the London Building Acts) which the institute appoints.  In 1874 he was made district surveyor under the Metropolitan Board of Works for Southwark and North Lambeth, and was transferred in 1882 to the more important district of West Wandsworth.  Smith's other official appointments were numerous.  At the Carpenters' Company, for which he acted as examiner in carpentry, &c., as a frequent lecturer, and as surveyor, he attained in 1901 the office of master.  He was an examiner in architecture to the Science and Art Department, South Kensington, as well as to the City mid Guilds Institute, and surveyor to the licensing justices of Wimbledon and Wandsworth; but the most important of his posts was the professorship of architecture at University College, London which he held from 1880 to his death.  His wide practical experience in questions of rights of light brought him frequent engagements as an expert and arbitrator, and in 1900 he served (as chairman) on a joint committee of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Surveyors' Institution appointed to discuss the amend­ment of the law of ancient lights. Smith was often an architectural assessor in competitions.

     Smith prepared many papers on professional and artistic subjects, but his only published books were the manual on 'Accoustics' in Weale's series (1861), and two handbooks, one on ‘ Architecture, Classical and early Christian' (1882; new edit. 1898); the other on 'Gothic and Renaissance Architecture' (1888, 'Illustrated Handbooks of Art History'), of which Mr. John Slater was joint author.  Though afflicted with serious lameness for many years, Smith continued his professional labours till within three months of his death on 11 March 1903 at his residence, Gordon Street, Gordon Square, London.  His office was at Temple Chambers, Temple Avenue, E.C.  He married in 1858 Catherine, daughter of Joseph Elsey of Highgate, and was survived by his widow, one daughter, and three sons, one of whom, his partner.  Mr. Ravenscroft, Macy Smith, became in 1899

Professor of architecture at King's College, London.

[R.I.B.A. Journal, 3rd series,x276; The Builder, 1903 Ixxxiv 289; Building News 1903, Ixxxiv. 369 ; information from Professor R. Elsey Smith.]

 P. W.

 Source National Dictionary of Biography

West side of the house about 1900

North Front about 1900

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