The Red House, Carlton Road

From 1892 to 2011

By Rosemary Ross

We have fragments of information about the Red House in the Local History archives, but there is more to be researched about the building of the Red House. The first owner was Alfred Vaughan Stephens, who built it and lived there from 1892. While the family were on holiday in August 1896 the house burnt down, due a defective generator (mains electricity did not come until the 1920s), despite the best efforts of the fire brigade - see the full description of the fire and the recently acquired Fire Report on the efforts of the St Albans brigade, helping local people to salvage the contents.

Mr Vaughan Stephens commissioned Maurice B Adams, FRIBA, as architect for rebuilding the house, which bears the date 1896 and 'The Red House' over the front door.  An artist's impression and floor plans were published in The Architectural Review, 1898 - see below. It is not clear whether the rebuilt house used any remnants of the original Red House. 

It has better become well-known as the home of Halley Stewart when he settled in Harpenden in 1904, and bought the house at auction*, and particularly as the well-loved hospital donated to the town on Sir Halley's death in 1937.  There are articles on Sir Halley in People, and on the Red House Hospital in Topics: Charities, Health & Welfare.

Some features of its life as a family home remain.

*see the Auction brochure

Photo:The Red House, soon after it was built in 1892

The Red House, soon after it was built in 1892

Frederick Thurston - copy in LHS archives, cat.no 000385

Photo:The shell remaining after a major fire

The shell remaining after a major fire

News-cutting, LHS archive, cat.no 004066

Photo:Drawing of the house designed by Maurice B Adams, FRIBA for A Vaughan Stevens Esg

Drawing of the house designed by Maurice B Adams, FRIBA for A Vaughan Stevens Esg

Artchitectural Review, 1898, p.113

Photo:Floor plans for the Red House

Floor plans for the Red House

Architectural Review, 1898, p.102

Photo:Plaque, marking rebuilding in 1896

Plaque, marking rebuilding in 1896

Les Casey, 2000

Photo:South front, as rebuilt after the fire - with less exuberant details

South front, as rebuilt after the fire - with less exuberant details

Les Casey, 2000

Photo:Stained glass in inner doors

Stained glass in inner doors

LHS archives, cat.no. 007047

Photo:Hall and staircase - in the time of Sir Halley Stewart

Hall and staircase - in the time of Sir Halley Stewart

LHS archives, cat.no. 003416

Photo:South front in the 1980s

South front in the 1980s

Les Casey, LHS archives, Cat.no 001781

Photo:The Red House, offices and clinics for NHS Primary Care Trust, 2011

The Red House, offices and clinics for NHS Primary Care Trust, 2011

Rosemary Ross

This page was added by Rosemary Ross on 22/08/2011.

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