Former Barradale Offices


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
5 Grey Friars, Leicester, LE1 5PH


Ordnance survey map of Former Barradale Offices
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Statutory Address:
5 Grey Friars, Leicester, LE1 5PH

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Leicester (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former architects’ office built 1878-1880 to the designs of Isaac Barradale.

Reasons for Designation

The former Barradale Offices, a former architects’ office built 1878-1880 to the designs of Isaac Barradale, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is a very early example of the Domestic Revival style which was unique in Leicester at that date;

* it is by an influential architect who became the leading proponent of the Domestic Revival style in Leicester and the East Midlands;

* it has a bold composition that is distinguished by the varied yet beautifully balanced treatment of each floor. The loss of the original plan form and almost all the internal fixtures and fittings is extremely regrettable but this is overcome by the distinction of its elevational design and its significance in the history of the Domestic Revival movement;

* it is associated not just with Barradale but with his pupil Ernest Gimson, the renowned Arts and Crafts designer, who also practised there in the 1880s.

Historic interest:

* it is located within a significant historic townscape, developed along the eastern edge of the precinct to the C13 Franciscan friary known as Greyfriars and making a notable contribution to its rich architectural character and historic evolution;

Group value:

* it is surrounded by many designated assets with which it has strong group value, especially the scheduled Greyfriars to the west; and to the north, 4 St Martin’s (a former bank built in 1874 to the designs of Edward Burgess) and the Conway Buildings at 7 Greyfriars (offices built in 1878 to the designs of Stockdale Harrison), both Grade II listed commercial buildings by prominent local architects.


Leicester is one of the oldest settlements in England and its origins can be traced back at least to the Iron Age. There is significant remaining evidence of the Roman settlement particularly on the east bank of the River Soar where the bath house and palaestra at Jewry Wall represent the only standing remains of Ratae Corieltauvorum and one of the largest standing pieces of Roman civilian building in the country. However, there is little known of the settlement between the Roman departure and the medieval period.

In the Middle Ages, Leicester became an increasingly important urban centre. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of the first motte and bailey castle in the late C11. This was later rebuilt in stone and the great hall survives containing one of the finest medieval interiors in the country. The city became closely associated with Simon De Montfort who became the Lord of the Town in 1281, and one of the city’s two universities is named after him. The town also became closely linked to the royal family through the earldoms of Leicester and Lancaster, which were joined under one person, Robert Beaumont, in the late C14. This led to further expansion and prosperity in the late-middle and early-modern periods.

The town also became a focus for religious devotion, with an area next to the Castle known as the Newarke being the location for a collegiate church as well as other religious centres. After his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the body of King Richard III was brought to the town and buried in the church of the Greyfriars, a Franciscan abbey which tradition has it had been founded by De Montfort in the late C13. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey died at Leicester Abbey in 1530 on his way to face trial in London and was buried there. Other major individuals to be associated with the city include Robert Dudley, who was made Earl of Leicester by Elizabeth I.

The church of Greyfriars was destroyed in 1538, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The site was sold and a manor house built with an associated estate. Both the monastic buildings and the location of Richard’s tomb were lost by the late C17. The manor belonged to Alderman Robert Herrick and remained in the family until the early C18 when it was sold to Thomas Pares. The former Greyfriars precinct was then divided with a new thoroughfare, called New Street laid north to south across it. The street plan more generally continues to resemble that of the medieval borough, although street names have changed, with the boundaries of the precinct on the whole respected.

Throughout the early C18 the two parts of the estate were gradually parcelled and sold for development. It was in the Georgian period that the wider Greyfriars estate was developed, primarily as residences for the professional and polite classes. Many of the remaining buildings date to that period and are domestic in both scale and character. Industry did encroach at the fringes and commercial activities and industry such as hosiery appear on the 1888 map of the area. Latterly the area became the legal centre for Leicester and many of the buildings were converted into offices. The manor house was demolished in 1872 although its garden remained unencumbered of development, as did that of 17 Friar Lane. Both became car parks in the C20.

Leicester itself became an industrial centre following the construction of the Grand Union Canal, which linked the town to London and Birmingham at the end of the C18. By 1800 the population had reached over 17,000 and continued to grow throughout the C19. The first railway arrived in the 1830s and Leicester was linked to the mainline network by the 1840s, which allowed for significant industrial expansion. The major industries were textiles, hosiery and footwear. The size of Leicester increased dramatically at this time and many surviving medieval and early-modern buildings in the Greyfriars area were either replaced or refaced in brick. The C19 also saw the construction of several large schools in the area.

Although the city faced significant economic and social challenges in the C20 it remains a vibrant urban centre and is now known as one of the most culturally diverse cities in Britain. The Greyfriars area has been the focus of international attention and economic investment since the remarkable discovery of the remains of Richard III under a council car park in 2012 and his re-burial in the Cathedral in 2015. Resultant extensive research and archaeological investigation led to the Scheduling of the former monastic site in December 2017 (Schedule entry 1442955) and the renaming of the Guildhall/Cathedral Conservation Area to Greyfriars.

5 Greyfriars was built in 1878-1880 to the designs of the Leicester-based architect Isaac Barradale FRIBA (1845-1892). Barradale was articled to William Flint and set up his own business in 1870. He produced some commercial work but was mainly engaged with domestic designs in a confident Domestic Revival style that influenced the character of the affluent south-eastern suburbs of the city. One of his pupils was Ernest Gimson, the renowned Arts and Crafts architect and furniture maker, who worked in these offices between 1881 and 1885. Barradale has numerous listed buildings to his name, including 36-40 Market Place in Leicester (1880-1883) and the former library in Hinckley (1888).

Barradale built 5 Greyfriars as offices for professional men, including himself. An illustration of the façade was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1878 and included in The Building News (September 13 1878). This article described the building materials and mentioned that the roof tiles were from the works of Mr G W Lewis of Broseley. By 1968 the building was the property of Leicester City Council who used it as part of a complex of offices which occupied the site of 1-3, 5 and 7 Greyfriars. It currently has internal access to 1-3 Greyfriars to the south and 7 Greyfriars to the north. The building was subject to alteration and remodelling during this change of use.


Former architects’ office built 1878-1880 to the designs of Isaac Barradale.

MATERIALS: thin red Surrey bricks laid in English bond with rough-cast render and Ketton stone dressings with clay tile roof covering.

PLAN: it has a rectangular plan and is located in a terrace facing east onto Greyfriars.

EXTERIOR: the building is in the Domestic Revival style. It has three storeys and an attic, all given a different treatment with the upper windows being built out as bays to obtain a side light at the end of the desks. On the ground floor the central chamfered ashlar doorway has a rectangular overlight with a coat of arms in the middle. This bears the words SEMPER EADEM which is the city’s motto and means ‘always the same’. On either side of the front door, which is not original, are four-light ashlar mullion and transom windows with shallow fillets and glazing bars to the top lights. The first floor is dominated by a single continuous canted oriel window with mullions and transoms forming ten lights, the whole under a tiled pent roof. The oriel is supported on ornate carved wooden brackets decorated with oak leaves, acorns and a lion’s face. The second floor is lit by two canted oriel windows with three lights each and glazing bars, supported by brackets. The jettied attic has two rough-cast gables supported on curved wooden brackets with plain bargeboards and drop finials. Each gable is lit by a four-light casement window and has a moulded wooden lintel.

INTERIOR: this has been remodelled and retains almost no historic fixtures, fittings or joinery except for the dogleg staircase which rises through all the floors. This has stone steps and a moulded handrail which terminates in a large scroll and supports an iron balustrade consisting of stick balusters punctuated by decorative panels. On the lower flights the panels have uprights in a diamond pattern with a roundel at the top, and on the upper flights they have wavy uprights with scrolls and an urn above.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Morris, M, Buckley, R, Richard III The King under the Car Park, (2013)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (2003)
S, Butt, Leicester Through Time, (2009)
A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 2 , accessed 19 February 2019 from
Archiseek , accessed 19 February 2019 from
Greyfriars Conservation Area Character Appraisal , accessed 19 February 2019 from
Greyfriars townscape heritage initiative, accessed 19 February 2019 from
The Building News, September 13 1878


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 30 Aug 2004
Reference: IOE01/12917/35
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Peter Graham. Source Historic England Archive
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