penn villa

penn villa

Home and Surgery of two pioneering dentists


In 1886 Penn Villa, a large residence in extensive grounds, was the only dwelling on the eastern side of Pen Hill. Its gardens went almost to the junction of Pen Hill with South Street and to the north it backed onto South Street School. To its southeast in 1886 were extensive orchards.

It is a villa built about 1840, built of rendered and colour-washed brick under a hipped Welsh slated roof with wide soffits. It has a two storey facade of three bays with a central projecting porch having square non-classical columns and pilasters with conventional entablature, all in colour-washed stone but having the sides filled in with margined windows. Fenestration is plain sashes without glazing bars to the ground floor and three 12-pane windows with Regency style margined sash windows to the first floor, all in plain openings. There are several early twentieth century extensions to the south and rear including angled bay windows with a balcony.  

In the 1881 census 69-year old dentist William Hunt was in residence with his spinster daughters Sarah and Elizabeth, dentist son William Alfred, and two servants.

William Hunt first used ether as a dental anaesthetic in this house at Christmas 1847, a year after its first European use by London surgeon James Robinson. Hunt's son, William Hunt junior, published the earliest English paper on the use of hypodermic injection of cocaine as a local anaesthetic in 1886. Their house is still a dental surgery more than a century and a half later. A millennium plaque, illustrated above, celebrates the Hunts.



Map based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey showing South Street at top, Penn Hill running diagonally across the lower left and Penn Villa at Centre.




Penn Villa, elevation to Penn Hill. Note the typically Regency style margined windows of the first floor. Photographed in 2013.


The porch to Penn Villa with its side windows with marginal lights - a surviving Regency architectural feature. Photographed in 2013.


The following series of internal views of an upstairs flat in Penn Villa were taken in 2009 and are reproduced here courtesy of Matt Bullock.