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Hemswell Court, Lancaster Green, Harpswell

Reference Name MLI124853

Hemswell Court, Lancaster Green, Harpswell

Hemswell Court, former RAF Officers' Mess, now a hotel, including associated entrance walls and gate piers. The building is in the modern parish of Hemswell Cliff but in the historic parish of Harpswell.


In 1935, RAF Hemswell (PRN 53944) was built as one of the permanent bases being set up to accommodate the rapidly expanding RAF. The former RAF Officers’ Mess opened in 1936. It is built in yellow brick laid in Flemish bond and with a plain, clay-tile, roof covering. Its neo-Georgian design is typical of the post-1934 Expansion Period, especially the influence of Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was planned whereby the central dining area and recreational facilities are separated from the accommodation wings by lengths of corridors with the idea of localising the effects of bomb damage. The principal south-west facing range has an approximately rectangular plan with flanking L-shaped accommodation wings. It is in a restrained neo-Georgian style and has hipped roofs. The tall one-storey principal range has a long frontage of thirteen bays. The principal range is attached to the two-storey flanking wings by short single-storey corridors. The building appears to retain much of its original layout and internal fixtures and fittings. The principal range contains the original ballroom, dining room and lounge area which are in a restrained neo-Georgian style with plain cornices, dado rails and large delicate panels above. There are at least two surviving fireplaces which have dark grey marble insets, stone surrounds and fenders, and moulded wooden mantelpieces. The floors are laid with narrow boards which appear to be original. The kitchen retains original fittings including panelling, plate rack, sink, and possibly the Aga. In the flanking wings, the dormitories have been converted into bedrooms and are said to retain the original radiators. The entrance drive to the east is lined by brick walls with flat coping and brick piers at each end of each wall but these have been rebuilt and are not original to Hemswell Court. The tree-lined road leading to the premises served to camouflage the nature of the site. The 1954 film, The Dam Busters, was mainly filmed at RAF Hemswell. The film told the story of the raid by No.617 Squadron on the Ruhr Dams and Hemswell was used as a substitute in the film for RAF Scampton as its wartime layout was similar. Scenes were filmed in the front entrance, bedrooms, anteroom and dining room of the Officers' Mess, in the hangers and NAAFI canteen, as well as on the roadways within the base. The Ministry of Defence put Hemswell up for sale in the early 1980s. The domestic blocks were purchased in May 1985 and the Officers’ Mess was concerted into the hotel Hemswell Court. In 2015 the windows of the flanking accommodation blocks were replaced with uPVC. For the full description of this listed building please refer to the National Heritage List for England. {1}

1 Internet Website: Historic England (formerly English Heritage). 2011->. The National Heritage List for England. http://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/. 1435888

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Last updated: 02-December-2017 13:47:37

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