06 April 2010

John Gilpin, Citizen of Credit & Renown

The Ware campus of Hertford Regional College includes the Grade II* listed Amwell House, built near the River Lea very early in the eighteenth century. It originally consisted of two storeys and just the central part of the current building. Samuel Scott bought the house in 1722 and it was likely he that added the third storey. The building retains many original features, including fireplaces, Doric columns, attic servants' quarters - there is said to be a ghost - and an early raised cistern toilet (complete with lead pipework).

In the late nineteenth century Amwell was bought by Mr & Mrs Arthur Tite. Mrs Tite commissioned the Gilpin Window, of painted glass, which features scenes illustrative of William Cowper's poem, "The Diverting History of John Gilpin," citizen of credit and renown, from which:

Says John, "It is my wedding-day,
And all the world would stare,
If wife should dine at Edmonton,
And I should dine at Ware."

In the twentieth century, Amwell House has been home to the Girls' Grammar School for Ware, the Hertford Evening Institute, Ware College and, since its amalgamation with East Herts College, Hertford Regional College. It is flanked on one side by the college's excellent new build, designed by Bond Bryan. It is to be hoped that funds will be found for Phase II, which would place the 300-year-old Amwell House in between, and thus contrast it with, two quality new builds seen through by a college with vision and determination.


abijsmith said...

Again, some brilliant photographs! I'd like to visit Hertford College to see the stained glass and also the toilets! Fab stuff!

sue said...

Come and look at the window during heritage weekend when HRC open Amwell house to the public. 11th & 12th September 2010.
sue maskell
marketing officer