The Old Vicarage and Adjoining Barn, Gellfield Lane, Uppermill


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

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

Oldham (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SE 00618 05895


Vicarage, now house, and barn. Early to mid C17, with later-C17 extension, and barn built during C18.

Reasons for Designation

The Old Vicarage and adjoining barn, Gellfield Lane, Uppermill, of early-mid C17 with a later C17 extension, and C18 barn, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: the original house dates from the early-mid C17, most likely replacing an earlier vicarage building, with contributory phases of a later-C17 extension and an C18 barn; * Regional characteristics: the house, extension, and barn demonstrate the vernacular architecture of the South Pennines, being constructed of millstone grit under a single stone slate roof in the distinctive laithehouse manner; * Architectural Interest: the original house has cavetto-moulded mullion windows, with dropped hoodmoulds to the ground-floor windows, one of which terminates in a circular, stylised floral design typical of 1630s craftsmanship in the area; * Interior: though there have been subsequent alterations to the house, the chimney flue retains two stone corbels on the first floor, indicative of an inglenook smokehood, and the heavy purlins of re-used timbers survive, as do the roughly-hewn oak queen post trusses and a number of purlins in the barn.


Around 1280 Robert Stapleton, Lord of the Manor of Saddleworth, provided thirteen acres of land as an endowment for a chapel and a 'toft to provide a competent manse in this place'. This land subsequently formed glebe land centred on Gellfield Lane, the ancient route through Saddleworth. It is likely that a minister's house was built on this site from an early period.

The plan form, low proportions, character and appearance of the stonework suggest that the present building was built in the first half of the C17. A survey of Saddleworth's vernacular buildings (Smith, 1987, p26) describes it as 'probably the earliest surviving stone building in Saddleworth'. The stylised floral design of the hood mould terminals on a ground-floor window suggests a 1630s date (Smith, 1987, p26). It is apparent from records that the house was the vicarage, though it is similar in appearance to historic farmsteads in the area, as the minister himself farmed the glebeland. The hearth tax of 1664 records that the house had three fireplaces and that the occupant was the Rev John Lees, minister of the parish church of St Chad. Subsequently his widowed mother, Ann Lees, occupied the house and paid hearth tax in 1672 and 1674. The original house was of two cells with a central doorway and porch. Later in the C17 the house was extended to the south; the Glebe Terrier of 1701 described the building as 'a House with three Bays; An old Barn of three Bays one Stable one Shipon, A New Barn of two Bays which our present Minister hath erected upon his own proper Costs …'.

The present three-bay barn comprises a central threshing bay with a cow shippon and hay storage in the end bays. It post-dates the original house and the later-C17 extension against whose quoined gable wall it was built, making it highly unlikely that it is either of the barns mentioned in the 1701 Glebe Terrier, though it may well have incorporated fabric from the old barn; the house extension does not have quoins to the rear elevation and some stonework at an upper level appears to course through between the extension and the barn. It is known that during the course of the C18 alterations were made to the property. The Rev John Heginbottom became minister at St Chad's in 1721 it is recorded that the house was in poor condition and needing repair before his family could live there. He remained incumbent for the next fifty years, and it may have been during this time that the present barn was built, though its construction is not documented and precise dating can be difficult in vernacular buildings. The barn does have oak roof timbers, which were generally superseded in the area by imported softwoods after c1760. Two doorways in the cross wall linked the barn and the house extension. The house and barn have a linear plan-form that follow the laithehouse tradition characteristic of Pennine farmsteads, though it is not a true laithehouse as the two elements are not contemporary. An enclosure map dated 1794 by the surveyor James Lee shows the present laithehouse arrangement, with the agricultural building diagonally hatched and the house identified by three dots. In the later C18 the Rev Heginbottom's successor used the building as a school, which may also have accounted for changes to the house (Smith, 1987, p26).

The house, extension, and barn, labelled Parsonage, are again shown on a map of Saddleworth parish surveyed in 1816-22 and published in 1822. The house had a porch in the centre of its front, west wall, also shown in a sketch of the house (but not the barn whose position is obscured by trees) as remembered by George Shaw in 1828. By the publication of the first edition 1:10560 Ordnance Survey map the new parsonage had been built to the immediate south. A small rear extension is shown on the east side of the original parsonage and the front porch is no longer shown. The rear extension had gone by the 1890s and a small extension, perhaps a shed is shown against the south gable wall of the barn; the cross walls of the house, extension, and barn are also shown.

In 1923 the former vicarage, known as the 'Old Vicarage' was sold, with the barn remaining in church ownership together with the new vicarage to its south. The two buildings were subsequently sold by the church in 1977, when the house was renamed Kirklea.

At an unknown date the Old Vicarage had a doorway inserted in the north gable wall, on the east side of the projecting stack. During the mid-C20 the interior was modernised with the removal of the original inglenook fireplace in the housebody, apparent removal of ceiling beams and replacement with joists and removal of a spiral staircase in the south-east corner, and the insertion of a flight of stairs against the rear, east wall of the parlour. In the late C20 ground-floor windows were inserted in the blind rear wall of the extension. The window frames were also replaced with uPVC frames, some replacing earlier uPVC frames.

C20 repairs have also been undertaken on the barn. These included the insertion of two iron rolled steel joist lintels over the cart entrance and the re-laying of the stone slate roof, with a three-course band of red bricks added on top of the original stone walls, and the incorporation of some machine-sawn softwood purlins and rafters into the original oak roof structure. The small south extension is no longer present.


Materials: hammer-dressed, irregularly-coursed millstone grit with graduated stone slate roof to house, narrow-coursed millstone-grit to front and gable wall of barn, with wider coursing to rear wall, graduated stone slate roof.

PLAN: linear plan with single-depth, two-cell house of two storeys, single-cell, two-storey extension to the south, with barn beyond, all under the same roof. The house had a larger housebody with a spiral staircase (now removed) in south-east corner, and a smaller parlour, with rooms over. There was an inglenook fireplace (now removed) built against the cross wall of the housebody and a projecting gable stack heating the parlour. The doorway was a baffle entry against the inglenook

The house is now reordered with an entry through an inserted gable doorway into the parlour, and a flight of stairs against the rear wall of the parlour.

EXTERIOR: there is a projecting plinth and quoins to the outer, north corner of the original house and the right-hand, south side of the extension. The first three bays of the house are the earliest, with a central doorway, a four-light parlour window to the left and a six-light housebody window to the right. The doorway has a basket-headed chamfered door surround with a deep monolithic lintel. The windows are double-chamfered with cavetto-moulded mullions and hoodmoulds with dropped ends; the housebody hoodmould terminates with a circular, stylised floral design typical of the 1630s. There are three similar mullion windows, without hoodmoulds, on the first floor of five-lights to the left-hand end, and two-lights to the centre and right-hand end. Between the central and right-hand windows is a shaped window sill. There are two chimney stacks; one is a projecting gable stack and the other a central ridge stack. Both have moulded dripstones.

Bays four and five were built later against the south gable. On the ground floor is a doorway with a square-headed chamfered door surround. To the right is a reconstructed three-light flat-faced mullion window. On the first floor are two two-light flat-faced mullion windows. The windows all have uPVC window frames.

The barn has narrower stone courses than the house and extension with quoins to the outer corner, but no projecting plinth. It has a central cart entry with an opposed winnowing door, now converted to a window, in the rear wall. The cart entry appears to have been enlarged. It now has chamfered monolithic stone jambs which may be reused from elsewhere and do not appear to be original; the right-hand jamb has five holes in the outer face. The lintel is a modern replacement, formed from a rolled steel joist faced with stone blocks, and the masonry immediately above has been rebuilt using blocks of differing sizes, possibly incorporating original blocks from the right jamb. While it is not possible to be certain of the form of the original opening, the reused masonry above the modern lintel contains no voussoirs which would associated with an arched opening. Flanking the cart entrance are two blocked doorways situated to the outer edges of the barn elevation. These both have deep monolithic lintels.

The outer, north gable of the original house has shaped kneelers, and an inserted doorway to the right of the projecting chimney stack of a similar design to the front elevation doorway.

The rear elevation of the house is largely blind except for later inserted windows. There are a number of joints and disturbed coursing in the stonework of the original house, and the stone frame of a blocked first-floor window to the extension. The outer corner of the original house and outer edge of the extension are quoined. The barn has a central winnowing door, now a window with projecting iron pintels on the left-hand side.

INTERIOR: the original entrance doorway has an inner lintel formed of reused pieces of curved oak, which are suggestive of sections of former cruck blades. The roof structure has heavy purlins of reused timbers and a stone cross wall rather than a tie beam. The inglenook in the housebody has been replaced by a modern fireplace, but in the bedroom above, near the apex of the chimney flue, are two stone corbels supporting the stone stack. This is indicative of an earlier smoke hood for the inglenook fireplace. The bedroom has a mid-C18 stone fireplace with a narrow mantel-shelf. On the first floor of the original house the wall in the south-east corner is curved, showing the former location of a spiral staircase.

The barn has two queen post trusses with raking struts of roughly-hewn oak with two trenched purlins to each side, a number replaced by machine-sawn pine. The rafters and battens are of machine-sawn softwood carried on the rebuilt brick wall tops. The former threshing floor has a flagged stone floor, with stone cobbles in the north and south bays. In the inner north gable wall are two blocked doorways located towards the corners, formerly interconnecting the barn and the house extension. The south bay has mortices for a former loft floor, beneath which the wall is rendered.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 04/07/2012


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

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Books and journals
Smith, W John, Saddleworth Buildings. A Guide to the Vernacular Architecture of the Parish., (1987), 21-28
The Architectural History Practice Ltd, 'Statement of Significance and Impact Assessment, Kirklea Barn, Gellfield Lane, Uppermill' November 2011,
Title: Mapping Saddleworth II Source Date: 2010 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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: 08 Aug 2006
Reference: IOE01/15235/25
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Peter Hyde. Source Historic England Archive
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