30 November 2022
Repton House, a Victorian house
in Stony Stratford designed
by Edward Swinfen Harris
Repton House at 19 Wolverton Road is an interesting house in the Victorian architectural history and heritage of Stony Stratford, with its romantic turret, jettied gable, bargeboard, half-timbered gables, arched entrance that once led into stables, and its sash windows.
Repton House today provides supported housing for people who require assistance in all aspects of daily living skills, as a result of long-term and enduring mental health problems.
Repton House is part of Richmond Fellowship’s Supported Housing Service, which is tailored for each individual using the service with the ultimate goal of helping them to manage their accommodation and assist them with reintegration back into independent living and the wider community.
Richmond Fellowship is a national mental health charity that has been ‘Making Recovery Reality’ for over 60 years. It is part of Recovery Focus, a group of charities with the shared aim to ‘Inspire Recovery Together.’ Since 1959, its services have pioneered work with individuals, communities, and families to overcome mental ill-health and support people on their recovery journeys.
Repton House, on the west side of Wolverton Road is Grade II listed building dating from 1883, when it was designed by the Stony Stratford-born architect, Edward Swinfen Harris (1841-1924), whose works, mainly in the Arts and Crafts style, can be seen throughout the town.
Edward Swinfen Harris was a distinguished architect with a national reputation. The architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, best known for his monumental 46-volume series of county-by-county guides, describes him as ‘the only outstanding local architect working in’ north Buckinghamshire.
Swinfen Harris worked in London as well as Stony Stratford, and many of the fine houses he designed in North Buckinghamshire are still standing today, with surviving buildings also in Dorset and Northamptonshire.
He was born on 30 July 1841 at 36 High Street, Stony Stratford. His father was the clerk to the town bench of magistrates, the Board of Guardians and other bodies, and Edward was the eldest son. The family later moved to Back Lane. He began his formal education when he was 11 at the Belvedere Academy at Old Stratford, and then went to Ullathorpe House School in Leicestershire as a boarder.
He was apprenticed to the book trade around 1858, and was then articled to an architect in London. On completing his apprenticeship, he shared an office in London with two friends, but he returned to Stony Stratford in 1868 to make additions to the vicarage of Wolverton Saint Mary on London Road, Stony Stratford, and also to Calverton Limes on London Road.
After his marriage in 1870, Swinfen Harris settled in Stony Stratford at a new house at No 15 Wolverton Road. Soon after, he designed the house at No 19 Wolverton Road for a medical practitioner, Dr TS Maguire, who was also a local magistrate. Swinfen Harris retired in 1914 and died on 30 May 1924.
Repton House on Wolverton Road is a two-storey, seven-bay house built in a Victorian vernacular style. It is a long, low, red-brick building with extensive rear quarters.
The left-hand bay of the house breaks forward and has a jettied gable with a bargeboard, blind tracery on studs and the date of the building of the house on the bressumer or supporting beam on the first floor of the jetty. This gable is partly hung, and it has a two-storey, four-light bay below.
There are sash windows with glazing bars in the top sash, and a continuous moulded string at sill level. The five-panel door to the left has a depressed arch over it. The central glazed door is flanked by pairs of windows.
There are stone heads on the windows on the ground floor and half-timbered gables on the first floor.
To the right, a wide, arched entrance leads into a rear courtyard that once had stables, a reminder by Swinfen Harris that his home town had once been a coaching town.
Further to the right again is a tiled, roofed turret and a single storey extension with a foiled gablet in the roof. There is a wrought iron finial over the square bay on the south-west front of the house.
Repton House has a variety of dormers over the main part of building. The tiled roof has a crested ridge and brick chimneys.
The front of the house is covered with wisteria, and the growth at the front of the house means many people probably walk by Repton House on Wolverton Road without fully appreciating its place in the architectural heritage of Stony Stratford.