Battenhall Mount (former St Mary's Convent School)

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1359585

Date first listed: 18-Feb-1999

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Mar-2015

Statutory Address: Battenhall Avenue

Statutory Address: Battenhall Avenue, Worcester, WR5 2BS

Map

Ordnance survey map of Battenhall Mount (former St Mary's Convent School)
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

Statutory Address: Battenhall Avenue

Statutory Address: Battenhall Avenue, Worcester, WR5 2BS

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

County: Worcestershire

District: Worcester (District Authority)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: SO 85999 53654

Summary

A large suburban house of c.1867 built for William Spriggs, which was considerably extended in the 1890s for the Hon. Alfred Percy Allsopp MP by John Henry Williams and Robert Alexander Briggs, maintaining an Italianate style across the exterior of the building.

Reasons for Designation

Battenhall Mount, Worcester, is statutorily listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the house has a series of fine late-C19 interiors which exhibit craftsmanship of exceptional quality; * Intact survival: the house, including its service quarters and reception rooms and a private chapel, all survive in a very complete state with their original fittings; * Group value: Battenhall Mount forms a group with St Mary's Convent Infant School and attached walls and gate piers (Grade II) and Gatehouse to St Mary Convent School and attached wall to north (Grade II).

History

Battenhall Mount was built 1865-9 as a house for the Quaker clothier William Spriggs on the outskirts of Worcester. The architect is unknown and the house, which was described in sales particulars in 1889, had a dining room, drawing room and breakfast room, with six bedrooms and service quarters. In the 1890s this suburban house and the land surrounding it were considerably aggrandised for the Hon. Alfred Percy Allsopp, MP, the son of a local landowner, Lord Hindlip. Allsopp was chairman of the family brewery, as well as owning the Star Hotel in Worcester and other investments. He was MP for Taunton from 1887-95 and mayor of Worcester on three occasions, in 1892, 1894 and 1909. Allsopp bought and then demolished a neighbouring property called Fair View, which is shown to the south-east of Battenhall Mount, on the 1888 Ordnance Survey map. Having considerably enlarged his plot of land, he extended the house and undertook a lavish refitting of the interior. In addition, he built a new stable block north-east of the house, a new gate lodge to the north-west and the Gardener’s Cottage, which stands to the south-east of the house. Although Allsopp's additions to the main house followed the Italianate style of the original building, the stables, lodge and cottage were all designed with references to west midlands timber-framed vernacular architecture.

Allsopp employed two designers for this work. One was the Worcester architect John Henry Williams who added an extension to the south-east of Sprigg’s house which included new service rooms and a substantial new dining room, as well as a conservatory and glass house. The work also involved the combination of the drawing room and former breakfast rooms to create a larger drawing room and the extension of the staircase hall. Williams continued to work for Allsopp, and drawings by him for the stables, the lodge on Battenhall Road and the Gardener’s Cottage are variously dated between 1891 and 1896.

The second architect was Robert Alexander Briggs, and undated drawings by him show the designs for the music room and sculpture gallery which were added to the south-eastern side of the house, adjoining the drawing room, and which considerably extended the garden front. Briggs was also responsible for the southern tower and the chapel at first-floor level, which backs onto the north-eastern street front. The chapel was illustrated in The Builder in May 1896 (see SOURCES), when it was nearing completion. The present footprint of the house had certainly been established by the time of survey for the Ordnance Survey map published in 1901.

Percy Allsopp was a director of several companies and bad investments led him to file for bankruptcy in 1913. The house was offered for sale and then leased from 1915-19 as a Red Cross hospital, run by the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD). At the end of the war it was sold first to a Herefordshire jam manufacturer and then a director of Worcester Porcelain, without further alteration. In 1933 Battenhall Mount was sold to the nuns of St Marie Madeleine Postel and this Roman Catholic teaching order established an independent school on the site which lasted until its closure in 2014. It was vacant at the time of survey (November 2014).

Details

A house of 1865-9 built for William Spriggs, which was considerably extended in the 1890s for the Hon. Alfred Percy Allsopp MP by John Henry Williams and Robert Alexander Briggs, maintaining an Italianate style across the exterior of the building. The interiors use a variety of styles. Builders were Joseph Woods and Sons; marble work by Farmer and Brindley; some plasterwork by Jackson and Sons; ironwork by Starkie, Gardner and Co.; woodwork by Graham and Banks, and Walker and Sons; the tiles to the music room are thought to be by William de Morgan; the chapel, of 1896, was designed by Briggs. William Forsyth and his former apprentice, H.H. Martyn of Cheltenham are reputed to have worked on the interior decorations of the house including the plasterwork and woodwork.

MATERIALS: yellow Gault brick, laid in Flemish bond, with stone dressings and a slate roof.

PLAN: the house is arranged around a T-shaped courtyard and has two stories with basements and two belvedere towers which rise to three storeys.

EXTERIOR: windows across the building are plate glass sashes and there are string courses at the levels of the first floor sills and the window heads which run along the principal fronts. Across the building are deep, bracketed eaves. The north-western, entrance front has a three-storey tower at right which forms the entrance and appears to be a feature of the original house of the 1860s. This formerly had an entrance at ground floor level which has now been partially blocked to form a round-headed window to the present entrance lobby. Above it the first floor has paired sashes on three sides, each with a stone head and stone quoins to the corners. At second floor level there are two round-arched windows to all four sides. The shallow pitched, square roof has bracketed eaves and a wrought iron finial and weather vain to the centre. At either side, at ground floor level are paired, arched openings, dating from Briggs alterations of the 1890s; those to the left forming the principal entrance to the house, above which is a stone crest, carved in relief. To the left of this entrance are two projecting, square, gabled bays which are later additions. They have ashlar walling and mullioned windows, each with three lights. Arched attic windows project into the shallow gables. To left again are the randomly-distributed windows of service rooms. The garden front has the three bays of the original house at left and three, wider bays to the additions by Briggs at right. The left-hand bays have a square bay window to the ground floor at extreme left with three, mullioned lights to both floors and a keyed oval window to the gable. The right hand bay has a canted bay window extending through both floors, with a keyed oval to the gable, as before. Recessed, and set between these, is a single bay. At ground floor level a projecting lobby to the garden entrance has ashlar walling and was apparently superimposed in the 1890s. This is bowed with two, round-arched openings and has a doorway and two, round-arched niches to its rear wall. The three-bay extension by Briggs at right of this has a two-storey, canted bay at centre, which is exactly similar to the original, at left. To either side are similar, canted ground floor windows, with wide, mullioned triple-light windows to the first floor. The south-east flank of the building has a projecting, semi-circular bay at left (which marks the orchestra stage inside the music room), and has banded rustication to the ashlar walls at ground floor level. Above this the first floor has an open, semi-circular loggia with Ionic columns and a domed roof which rises into the shallow gable above. To the right of this is the recessed belvedere tower which has a doorway to the ground floor, with hood mould and coat of arms in relief to its head. Above this is a first-floor balcony supported by deep, carved console brackets and to its left is a carved cartouche which turns the corner. The second floor has three arched openings to each side and a shallow, pyramidal roof with a metal cross as finial. The walling to right of this has service room windows and is abutted by a lengthy extension housing classrooms, a dining hall and assembly hall added at various dates in the C20. The north-eastern, street front has nine bays which have windows of differing height to the ground floor, with a doorway at right which has pilasters at either side, and a round-arched head. The first floor has a semi-circular dummy oriel to the centre, which corresponds with the apse in the chapel. At each side are four sash windows with balustraded panels beneath. Attached to the north-western, entrance front is a rectangular courtyard, whose boundaries are marked by a partial enclosure of stone, vase-shaped balusters. Evenly-spaced rectangular plinths support Roman Doric columns. Wooden cross-members of a pergola survive to the north-eastern and north-western sides, but have been lost on the south-western side.

INTERIOR: the entrance lobby has a mosaic panel to the floor which bears the wording ‘Grüss Gott, tritt ein / Bring Glück hinein.’ picked out in black Germanic letters and there is a stained glass window panel showing the Allsopp arms. Two more rich stained glass panels are in a waiting room of the lobby and the lavatory, adjacent to the entrance, also has a stained glass window. The library has fitted bookcases to two walls and a moulded fire surround with mirrored overmantel. The drawing room is in a loosely Georgian style, with swan’s neck pediments above the substantial door surround and the fireplace. The dining room, added by Williams in 1892, has moulded panelling to the lower walling and a running frieze to the upper wall, which may be relief plaster or panels of gilded leather. The richly-moulded ceiling has pendant bosses. To the centre of the north-east wall is a large, inglenook fireplace with fitted, upholstered benches at either side, and a carved, Jacobean surround. The music room and the sculpture gallery are placed back-to-back in the south-eastern angle of the garden front and are interconnecting and join with the drawing room and dining rooms to make a circuit of reception rooms, presumably for receptions or musical parties. The music room displays a mixture of styles and has a sprung floor and moulded ceiling which combines Rococo and Baroque motifs. The three, canted bay windows have fixed seating with moulded bench ends. To the south-eastern end is a stage backed by a large niche. At the north-western end of the room is a large fireplace in a Renaissance style, with panels of variegated marble and a large overthrow to the top, which incorporates the Allsopp arms. The hearth has a tiled surround which includes a frieze showing Scylla and Charybdis. The sculpture gallery is of two-storey height and has a floor of marble tiles and a tunnel-vaulted ceiling with patterns of clear glass and stained glass quarries. Crossing the room at first floor level is a marble bridge, which has coffering to the intrados and richly carved decoration to the spandrels on both sides, including stylised beasts in the manner of grottesche. The bridge supports two columns to each side, which have carved capitals. At the south-eastern end of the room is a minstrels’ gallery which has similar columns and carved capitals to both floors. A further gallery looks down into the room from a former bedroom on the south-western side and has a wrought iron balustrade. A spiral stair leads up from the minstrels’ gallery to a second floor belvedere room, and this has a shallow domed ceiling with coffered plasterwork. The dogleg staircase is in a loosely Jacobean style and has deeply-moulded newels and knops, raised and fielded panelling below the dado and panels of open strapwork forming the balustrade. The chapel at first floor level has an inlaid floor with inlay of various marbles which includes the Allsopp crest. To the north-east wall is an arched niche which contains a fixed, solid altar. Both the altar frontal and the gradine are inlayed with semi-precious stones. The tabernacle on the altar has a silver-gilt door showing the Agnus Dei in relief. Fixtures include stalls in a continental style with richly inlaid marquetry, bronze panels to the doors, stained glass windows and a metal screen to a side chapel. The Builder (see SOURCES) illustrated the chapel interior and recorded that Farmer and Brindley undertook the marble carving and that the woodwork was by Starkie Gardener.

Pursuant to s1 (5) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the C20 block of one and two storeys, attached to the south-east flank of Battenhall Mount, which contains classrooms, the kitchen, dining hall, science laboratories and the assembly hall is not of special architectural or historic interest.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 488523

Legacy System: LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Alan Brooks, , Buildings of England Worcestershire, (2007), 771
Annette, Leech, The House that William built - the history of Battenhall Mount, (1993)
'Decoration and Fittings to Chapel, Battenhall Mount, Worcester' in Builder, (May 2, 1896), Illus. 14a-c

End of official listing