Terrace of houses built in the early C19.
Reasons for Designation
18-28 Friar Lane and 2 Wycliffe Street, a terrace of houses built in the early C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* it is a good example of terraced housing with a unified design and a relatively austere elevational character, as is typical of this form of housing during this period. The interest of its design lies in the carefully proportioned composition and the rhythm created by the repetition of the apertures, the whole unified by neo-classical stucco detailing in a simple yet elegant form;
* the basic plan form of numbers 20 and 22 has been retained, as have a good number of the internal fixtures and fittings in those houses available for inspection, offering an overall illustration of the original decorative treatment of the terrace;
* surviving features include the plain yet graceful staircases, moulded joinery, window shutters, and fireplaces of marble or polished stone which add a touch of grandeur, all of a high standard of materials and craftsmanship. The interest of the terrace is enhanced by the survival of certain elements associated with the service areas, notably three C19 kitchen ranges and a shallow stone sink.
* it is located within a significant historic townscape, developed along the south-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.
* it is surrounded by many designated assets with which it has strong group value, especially the scheduled Greyfriars to the north-west; and, on the opposite side of the street, 19-23 Friar Lane, 25 & 27 Friar Lane, and 2 New Street, all C18 houses listed at Grade II.
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.
18-28 Friar Lane and 2 Wycliffe Street was built as an early C19 terrace forming one design. It is thought that it could possibly have been by William Flint (1801-1862) although he did not commence his practice until 1826. Six years later he did move from King Street to 18 Friar Lane however, where he remained for the rest of his career. Flint became architect and surveyor to the new Corporation. Amongst his works were shop fronts for Leicester tradesmen, the Midland Railway Station (1840; demolished 1892) and the Leicestershire and Midland Fire and Life Insurance Company in Welford Place (1838 or 1842; listed Grade II). He is associated with seven buildings on the List.
Little is known about the history of the other houses in the terrace except for numbers 24 and 26 as the current owner has undertaken archival research. The Leicestershire Post Office Directory List of Gentry for 1850 has the Reverend John Foster living at number 24. In 1859 John A Wykes moved in and established a firm of accountants, Wykes & Co who remained there for 70 years, expanding into number 26 in the early 1900s. In 1860 the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce was established at number 24 with John Wykes as the Secretary. He had moved out with his family by the 1871 Census but it appears that Wykes & Co rented out rooms as James Hinkinbottom, a policeman, is recorded as living there in 1878, and William Deboo, also a policeman, in 1881. The 1901 Census records that William and Eliza Glover resided in the house, and the 1911 Census records that they occupied four rooms.
During the same period number 26 had significantly more occupants. Miss Elston is recorded as living there in the Post Office Directory of 1855. By 1859 it had become the premises of the Leicester Stamp Office where Inland Revenue taxes and duty was paid, and by 1862 it was also home to the Leicestershire Rifle Volunteers, as well as having private tenants. In 1873 it was advertised to be sold or let, and subsequently had a number of occupants, mostly solicitors. By 1906 numbers 24 and 26 were unified as the premises for Wykes & Co. It is now (2019) occupied by a digital marketing agency. Number 18 is being converted into flats; number 20 is a solicitors’ office and number 22 is a private dwelling. Number 28 and 2 Wycliffe Street was formerly a solicitors’ office and was converted into flats in 2004. The terrace has C20 rear extensions.
Terrace of houses built in the early C19.
MATERIALS: gault brick laid in Flemish bond with stucco dressings and a roof covering of slate.
PLAN: the terrace consists of seven houses and faces north onto Friar Lane. Rear extensions have been added incrementally during the C20.
EXTERIOR: the terrace is in a late Georgian classical style. It has three storeys under a shallow hipped roof with a modillion eaves cornice and wide red brick stacks with oversailling brick courses. The symmetrical façade has a stucco plinth and is thirteen window bays wide. The ground floor is lit by six-over-six pane sashes with margin lights and has stucco sills and keyed wedge lintels. On the first floor the windows have round heads under moulded semicircular arches, the imposts of which extend into a continuous string course, as do the sills. The second floor is lit by nine-light top-opening windows with stucco sills and wedge lintels. The recessed four-panel doors in alternate bays are set within stucco architraves which have a moulded cornice supported by console brackets and a two-light rectangular overlight.
The right return, which faces onto Wycliffe Street, has three bays with the same style of fenestration, followed by a two-storey range which is four window bays wide. On this range the front door, which is wider than those on the façade, is in the first bay, and is followed by two flat-headed sashes. The fourth bay contains a wide opening under a stucco lintel supported by console brackets. This has double-leaf panelled doors, with a grille in the upper half, which provide access to the rear. The first floor is lit by five semicircular arch sash windows, the end two arranged as a pair. The fenestration is consistent throughout the building.
The subsidiary rear elevations are of red brick with a dentilled eaves cornice, and the windows are mostly sashes with glazing bars. C20 extensions of various storeys have been added.
INTERIOR: internal access was gained to numbers 20, 22 and 24-26. Numbers 20 and 22 retain their basic plan form consisting of an entrance hall leading through a semicircular arch opening to the staircase, with two reception rooms along the side. The dogleg stairs have a panelled spandrel and open string course with carved tread ends. Stick balusters support a mahogany handrail which terminates in a curtail. Other typical surviving early C19 features include moulded door and window surrounds, four-panel doors, moulded cornices, and numerous fireplaces with unadorned jambs and lintels. Some are in grey marble and others in a limestone full of fossils that is so highly polished it gives the impression of being marble. Most of the grates are boarded up but a few survive in number 20, including a hobgrate and a segmental arch grate embellished with foliate detail.
In number 20 a room added at the rear around the turn of the C20 has a hipped ceiling and casement windows with a central semicircular arch and decorative stained glass. The fireplace has a plain surround with a tripartite overmantel and moulded cornice.
In number 22 the polished stone floor in the entrance hall is laid in a diamond pattern, and the original floorboards remain in the front reception room and in one of the bedrooms. Some of the windows have vertically sliding shutters (also known as sash shutters) which are housed below the window in panelled boxes. An original shallow stone sink survives in the basement as does a C19 kitchen range with an oven and boiler in a wide timber surround.
The plan form of numbers 24-26 has undergone considerable alterations and few of the original fixtures, fittings and joinery survive, except for some four-panel doors, vertically sliding shutters, and a grey marble fireplace with a hobgrate. There are two kitchen ranges in the basement: one is the same as that in number 22 whilst the other is smaller and has a hood with an Art Nouveau design.