Please Wait - Compiling Details.

<< Back to Query / Map page

Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Water Tower, 135m north-east of Lytes Cary, Charleton Mackrell
Civil Parish: Charlton Mackrell
Grid Ref: ST 5343 2662 (ST 52 NW)
  Show site on map (Requires Flash)
Image: Image of HER 51504 - Photo by Somerset County Council (22 June 1984)
  HER 51504 - Photo by Somerset County Council (22 June 1984)

Public access:

The public accessibility of this site is unknown or has not been checked. Please ask locally and do not visit without permission. [Information last updated on 27 January 2005]


The HER is currently being transferred to a new system. Please ask about this changed entry. {0}

Dovecote. Possibly C18. Local lias stone cut and squared; stone slate conical roof, with timber and stone roof upstand for birds; horse weathervane. Circular plan; plinth, four offset buttresses to near full height, eaves course: east side boarded and studded door and 3-light casement with ornate leaded-lights, both set in voussoired segmental arched openings. Interior not seen. {1}

English Heritage Listed Building Number: 262839. First Listed on 30/09/1985. English Heritage Unified Designation System Asset Number: 1056765 {2}

The building is, in fact, Sir Walter Jenner's 20th century water tower, built as a copy of the old dovecote at Avebury Manor where one of his relations lived. {3}

Shown as 'pump house' on modern Ordnance Survey mapping. {4}

List description amended to reflect accuately the building's date and purpose. {5}

Summary of Building

Water tower, c1934 for Sir Walter Jenner.

Reasons for Designation

The c1934 water tower at Lytes Cary is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is a picturesque structure of good-quality local materials which reflects the approach to design advocated by the Arts and Crafts movement of the time;

* Design: it is an aesthetic building which was conceived to mask its more primary, utilitarian function as a pump house;

* Group value: it has a strong spatial and visual relationship with the Grade I listed house and the Grade II listed gate piers on the east side of the Apostle Garden. It also stands within the Grade II Registered early-C20 formal gardens and park.


From the mid-C14 the courtyard house known as Lytes Cary was gradually constructed by successive generations of the Lyte family, and it was completed in the early C16. By the mid-C18, however, due to financial difficulties the family relinquished their interest in the house and it was let to a succession of tenants, but by 1835 it was in considerable disrepair. Lytes Cary continued to be let throughout the C19, and was sold in 1907 to Sir Walter Jenner, the son of Queen Victoria's physician, Sir William Jenner. His brother Leopold had recently acquired and begun restoring Avebury Manor, Wiltshire. Influenced by Arts and Crafts philosophy, Sir Walter commissioned the architect C E Ponting to undertake the restoration and some rebuilding of the manor house. At the same time, they began to develop formal gardens around the house, comprising a series of compartments and inter-related vistas.

Within a paddock beyond (north-east) the formal Apostles Garden is a stone-built water tower that was constructed c 1934. It is prominently situated on an axis with the entrance porch of the house and its outward form is modelled on a dovecote, probably so as not to detract from the vista from the house. The idea of a dovecote in this location is first mentioned in a letter to Sir Walter from his wife Flora in 1915. It is believed, however, that the final design for a water tower was inspired by and replicated the mid-C16 dovecote (Grade II*) at Avebury Manor in Wiltshire which was owned by Sir Walter's brother, Leopold Jenner. The building houses a water tank which supplies the main house, three cottages at the entrance to the estate, the outbuildings and all the drinking troughs on the estate. It is marked on the modern Ordnance Survey map (2013) as a pump house.

At his death in 1948 Sir Walter bequeathed the Lytes Cary estate to the National Trust.


Water tower, c 1934 for Sir Walter Jenner.

MATERIALS: it is built of local lias stone which is cut and squared, with an internal facing of brick, under a conical roof of stone slates.

PLAN: the structure is circular in plan.

EXTERIOR: it has a base plinth, four offset buttresses rising almost to the full height of the wall, and an eaves cornice. Each buttress has two capping stones of dressed Ham stone. On the east side, facing away from the house, is a boarded and studded oak door, to the right of which is a three-light casement window with leaded lights. Both are set in voussoired segmental-arched openings. The roof is surmounted by a timber and stone conical upstand for birds which is supported by timber columns forming an opening into the roof. It is crowned by a weathervane of a galloping horse.

INTERIOR: not inspected (2013). The walls are faced with limewashed brick and the floor, which is concrete, has several holes and channels. The roof space has a timber boarded floor. It houses a 30,000 litre concrete water tank which is supported on two concrete beams and is supplied from a borehole. The roof structure rests on an oak wallplate and consists of principal rafters, purlins and common rafters.

Selected Sources

J. and P. McCann, The Dovecotes of Historical Somerset, 2003, 184

The National Trust, Lytes Cary, 2001

Teasdale Environmental Design, Lytes Cary Manor, Somerset. Conservation Management Plan for the Buildings, Garden and Landscape, 2010 {6}


0 Compiler comment - Webster, CJ (Chris). Somerset Historic Environment Record (12/02/2016). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained.
1 Superseded entry in Statutory List - Sixty-sixth List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic interest: District of South Somerset (Somerset) (30/9/1985) Location: HER collections.
2 Data transfer - Listed Buildings database, English Heritage. Record ID: 262839 (2005)
3 Correspondence - Langmaid, N (Nancy),, email to Somerset County Council Historic Environment Record (17/8/2007). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
4 Map - Ordnance Survey 1:2500 National Grid Series map Sheet: seamless digital mapping (2007)
5 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council Historic Environment Record. (12/12/2013) Location: HER file. HER digital source: 38017.
6 Statutory List - English Heritage Unified Designation System. Record ID: 1056765 Paper copy with map in HER file. HER digital source: 38016.

Record created in September 1984

© Copyright Somerset County Council 2016