thu04jun10:00 amEvent CancelledSOLD OUT - Cambridgeshire Visit: Farm Hall and Island HallVisit led by Andrew Wells10:00 am Book now

Event Details

£90 (inc. lunch)

Members will visit two enchanting early Georgian houses in Godmanchester, possibly by the same local builder for prominent and prosperous public servants who belonged to influential local families which provided many bailiffs of Godmanchester.

Farm Hall ‒ Charles Clarke, Recorder of Huntingdon, MP and Baron of the Exchequer, rebuilt much of his family’s house in 1746.  His sons included Gen Thomas Clarke of Farm Hall  and Field Marshal Sir Alured Clarke, Governor-General and C-in-C of India. In 1945  German scientists were interned at Farm Hall to establish whether Nazi Germany had been constructing an atomic bomb.  Their recorded conversations suggested this had not been the case.  Farm Hall is not open to the public and since the late 1970s has been the home of Professor Marcial Echenique OBE and his wife Maria Louisa who will kindly welcome members.

Commanding a remarkably rural aspect to N and S, this red-brick 3-storey house has similar 5-bay elevations N and S (garden), the central 3 projecting under pediments with closer-set windows. To the N is a pedimented Doric porch and to the S an arched central first-floor window making a Venetian statement with its neighbours. The W wing, built by Clarke’s father Alured c 1710, is set back one bay from the N front and projects into the garden, the tall parapet of the main block continuing round the wing.  Internally there are two fine staircases with matching detail, and chimneypieces and panelling contemporary with the two building phases.  The N-S axis of the house is marked by a lime avenue leading S from the garden and a poplar avenue framing a canal leading N to the Great Ouse.

Island Hall was built in 1749 for John Jackson, Receiver-General of Huntingdon, and like his father, Original Jackson, a bailiff of Godmanchester. In 1804 the estate was bought by Jacob Julian Baumgartner, a merchant of Huguenot Swiss extraction, whose wife Tryce Parrat inherited Godmanchester and Cambridgeshire property from her Tryce (Godmanchester bailiffs since 1600) and Percy forbears.  Her Baumgartner heirs changed their name to Percy during the first World War.  Later decline from RAF requisition, conversion to council flats and a fire was reversed when Island Hall was bought in 1983 by a sixth-generation descendant of J J Baumgartner, Christopher Vane Percy, the leading interior designer, and his wife Lady Linda as their family home.

The striking feature of each red-brick, 7-bay E and W elevation is the slightly projecting pedimented 3-bay central block, its taller first-floor windows accentuating its height.  Each front has a Tuscan porch and stone dressings. Internally the oak staircase with twisted balusters links the hall and first-floor gallery, each with Doric screens of fluted columns; contemporary chimneypieces and carved overdoors abound. Outside the lawn sweeps from the house to Jackson’s Chinese bridge, rebuilt in 1988 and linking it to the island in the Great Ouse and borrowed view of the extensive Portholme water meadow beyond.

Lunch will be at Island Hall. Andrew Wells leads.

Transport is likely to be provided from a nearby station – details will be provided closer to the time.

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This event is for members only.


(Thursday) 10:00 am

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