from Victorian County History
The entrance or north front consists of three parts. The central portion is the hall with a modern doorway and porch dated 1832, and a large transomed bay window above which are panels containing a crowned rose and obliterated shields of arms ; the bay is carried up as a window to the floor above, and is finished with an embattled parapet having a band of traceried panels below the merlons and a string-course ornamented with roses, portcullises, falcons, etc., and a badge of two sprigs issuing from a piece of armour.
The eastern portion (the gable end of the eastern range) has a fine bay window of two stories ornamented with similar badges to those on the other bay, the panels between the windows having a shield of arms supported by two angels, and a portcullis on one side and a crowned harp between the letters E.R. on the other; the side panels have shields of arms; the whole of these panels have been much modernised, and are largely of Roman cement ; this window is also carried up with a larger transomed window above; and the gable behind, which is entirely of 1832, incorporates an earlier panel carved with a rose-en-soleil; the previous gable, a classical pediment, has been set upon a wall eastward of the gate-house.
The western portion is a tower added by Blore, having a two-light
window in the ground storey, a projecting oriel-window above, and a two-light
with ogee label- moulding in the next storey. The east front, also in
three portions, has at the northern end two three-light windows with transoms,
lighting the yellow drawing room (at one time the dining room) and flanking
a large modern chimney stack, and above them are two smaller windows further
south are two shorter three-light windows with two transomed three-light
windows above them. This portion represents the original long gallery,
and a large part of it was occupied by the bow-window of 1602 flanked
on either side by a transomed five-light window above and smaller windows
below, while at the south-east corner was a small projection, perhaps
a garderobe, but now entirely gone.
The present front is entirely by Blore, who has increased the
height of the yellow drawing room so that the floor above cuts across
the lower part of the northern bay window of the long gallery.
The south front of the present library is faced with ashlar and
is entirely Blore's work, who rebuilt the great semi-circular bow-window
of 1602 at the eastern end. This window, which is entirely of ashlar,
has five round-headed windows (originally there were seven and they were
open arches) ; in the spandrels of the arches are shields representing
the Cromwell, Warren, Bromley and Hooftman families. In a band of stonework
above there are three shields, viz.: in the centre Williams alias Cromwell
with ten quarterings, and on either side (1) Williams alias Cromwell and
(2) Warren. The upper storey has a two-light transomed window with square
head over each of the arches below, and above these is a frieze and cornice
inscribed `ANNO DOMINI 1602'and "o.c." and EAC" for Sir
Oliver and his two wives, surmounted by a parapet partly balustraded and
partly panelled with Elizabethan strapwork ; on the parapet are four obelisks
and a large shield of arms of Queen Elizabeth with a lion and dragon as
The western wall of the library is of rubble and may be part of
the church of the nunnery, but two 16th-century windows have been inserted
in it, and these have now been blocked by a chimney stack added by Blore.
At the south-west corner stands a low tower of three storeys, built chiefly of reused stonework but partly of red brick; all the windows are modern, and on the west face a large two-storied porch projects to the west, and there is a small modern balcony to the first- floor room. The ground floor room called the Oak Room has 16th century beams and the room at the top of the tower has beams and curved braces of the same date. The main wall of the west front is of stone below, of 16th-century date, in which are large four-light windows with transoms, but the two upper stories are of brick, built in 1661, and the windows are three-lights and two-lights. The return wing at the north is similar, and in the angle is part of a large stone chimney, possibly belonging to Sir Henry's kitchen.
Projecting to the west from the north-west corner of the house is a wing built by the 8th earl in 1894-1896 for servants' quarters. It is of red brick with stone dressings, and in front of it is a covered walk fronted with seven semi-circular arches on circular columns. The ancient wing projecting northward from the north-west corner of the house is commonly called "The Nunnery," but was doubtless built by Sir Henry Cromwell as servants' quarters. The lower part is chiefly of red brick, but the upper storey, apparently a later addition, is of reused stone. On the east front, about the middle, are four four-centred wall arches carried on five buttresses, and there are five 16th-century windows and a sixth now blocked, and two blocked doorways of similar date ; above these, the first floor has seven windows of 17th-century date much altered, and the whole is surmounted by an embattled brick parapet.
The west front has been much altered and is largely of reused stonework ; the lower parts of two large chimney stacks remain, but all the windows and doorways are modern. The building was originally roofed with eight parallel roofs running across with gables over the two side walls; six of these remain, rising from behind the parapet on the east front but fully exposed and finished with half-timber and plaster on the west. The two western bays were apparently destroyed by the fire of 1830.
Internally the house has been much altered. The hall and drawing rooms are practically of 1830, arid the billiard room presents no ancient features. The present library has been formed by uniting the old drawing room on the east to the library on the west, and the northern wall separating them from the rest of the house is thick and was probably the northern wall of the nuns' church; in the length adjoining the billiard room is a narrow cupboard which may have formed part of the night-stairs from the nuns' dormitory, and on the floor above is part of an early doorway, perhaps the upper door of the stairs. Not far from the latter is a 16th-century doorway opening on to the staircase.
The chimney piece of the library which is dated 1580, was brought
from Holland, and some ancient panels of various dates have been worked
into the doors and bookcases of the same room.
The old north-west wing contains a large kitchen fireplace and chimney and two doorways of 1661. The outbuilding consisting of bake-house, brew-house, etc., as regards the lower part is of stone, and was doubtless built by Sir Henry Cromwell, but the upper part was rebuilt in 1894-1896.
The gatehouse on the north side of the entrance court-yard was evidently built by Sir Henry Cromwell; it is of reused stone chiefly of late 15th and early 16th-century date. The northern side has a large central and two smaller archways ; the former has a two-centred moulded arch with a crocketed label; immediately above the arch is a band of subcusped quatrefoils and carved paterae, the middle part of which projects as for an oriel window ; the spandrels between the arch and the ornamental band are richly panelled with tracery, and on either side of them are corbel-shafts supporting large figures of wild-men holding uprooted trees. The smaller side archways have moulded arches with labels ornamented with carved paterae; that on the east opens into a footway separated from the carriage-way by an oak balustrade, and that on the west is a modern sham. The southern side has one large arch similar in detail to that on the north and having a similar ornamental band above it and wild-men on the sides. The gate-house originally extended farther to the west, having a porter's room on that side, and it had an upper storey with projecting eaves and five timber gables over the two main fronts.