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 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

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.

The architectural details of Repton House include a romantic turret and an arched entrance (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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.

The arched entrance leading into a rear courtyard is a reminder by Edward Swinfen Harris that Stony Stratford was once a coaching town (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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.

the date A.1883.D on on the bressumer or supporting beam on the first floor of the jetty marks the date Repton House was built (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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.

Repton House is part of Richmond Fellowship’s Supported Housing Service (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Praying in Advent with Lichfield Cathedral
and USPG: Wednesday 30 November 2022

Saint Andrew the Apostle … a sculpture on the west front of Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Advent began on Sunday (27 November 2022), the First Sunday of Advent. In the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship, today is the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (30 November 2022).

Although Saint Andrew is named among the apostles in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, it is in Saint John’s Gospel that most is learned about him. Andrew was a Galilean fisherman, mending his nets, when Jesus called him to follow him, which he promptly did. He then seems to have remained with Jesus until the end. He was there at the feeding of the 5,000 and then later, when some Greeks in Jerusalem wanted to see Jesus, Philip brought them to Andrew who told Jesus of their desire.

Tradition has him travelling on several missionary journeys and eventually being martyred by being crucified on an X-shaped cross. He became the patron saint of Scotland because of a legend that his relics had been brought there in the eighth century.

Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

During Advent, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, The reading suggested in the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced by Lichfield Cathedral this year;

2, praying with the Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

Saint Andrew’s Cross (centre) on a hassock in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Matthew 4: 18-22 (NRSVA):

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake – for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Saint Andrew’s Church in Great Linford, one of the ancient churches in Milton Keynes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

The Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar:

Reflect on what made Jesus’s disciples drop everything to follow him. Ask for grace that we may hear and see freshly and vividly what each of us is called to and how we are to follow Christ.


Almighty God,
who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew
that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ
and brought his brother with him:
call us by your holy word,
and give us grace to follow you without delay
and to tell the good news of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Almighty God,
who on the day of Pentecost
sent your Holy Spirit to the apostles
with the wind from heaven and in tongues of flame,
filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel:
by the power of the same Spirit
strengthen us to witness to your truth
and to draw everyone to the fire of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘World Aids Day.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a report from the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for a greater awareness of the prejudices we carry. May we be open to one another and change our way of seeing.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘The Call of the Disciples’ … a window designed by the Harry Clarke Studios in Christ Church, Spanish Point, Co Clare, depicts the ‘Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew’ (see Matthew 4: 18-22) – although only one disciple is present (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org