The Conduit House at Cowdray, Midhurst

The moon rises above the Conduit House on the grounds of the Tudor Cowdray House, Midhurst, England. Often referred to by locals as the ‘Round House’ this ancient and intriguing building has not always been a residence.

The Conduit House

As the evening sun glints off of the distant clouds I captured this photo of a building that has always intrigued me. For a while, my grandmother lived (by virtue of working as a guide at the Tudor Cowdray House ruins). That was long before I was my time though. Despite its popular local name the Round House is not round at all, it’s octagonal.

According to my father, the unusual construction of the building takes a little bit of getting used to with the inner walls forming triangular rooms. Along with its name, the unusual construction of the building gives us clues as to its original purpose.

Built on the land raised above the floor level of the adjoining Tudor Cowdray House the Conduit House supplied running water to Cowdray’s laundry and kitchen. Water was drawn from the nearby River Rother and stored in the building until it was needed. Wooden, and then later lead pipes were used to supply the house with running water. Being a little distance from the main house this was one of only two parts of the Tudor Cowdray House that survived the 1793 fire that destroyed one of the grandest houses in England. Ironically the other part was the Kitchen which having been designed to protect the rest of the house from the inherent dangers of having ovens, protected the kitchen themselves when the fire started elsewhere.

The Conduit House was eventually converted into a residence and then between 2005 and 2007 underwent extensive conservation work. The conservators removed the death watch beetle infestations and replaced the rotting timbers with local oak. The building is right next to the Midhurst Cricket Ground and can be easily viewed from the lane that passes next to it.

This is image was created from three exposures taken at -2, 0,2 intervals on my Pentax k-r. The exposures were manipulated using Photomatix and adobe lightroom software.

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