A pair of early C19 town houses.
Reasons for Designation
Nos. 250-252 Eastgate, Louth, a pair of early C19 town houses, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons
* Architectural Interest: the pair has distinctive, symmetrical compositions with very good detailing, particularly to the principal elevations, and a dignified prominence on Eastgate;
* Interior: the plan-form survives well and both houses retain original fixtures and fittings, including the stairs, many windows and doors, some fireplaces and plasterwork;
* Group value: the houses have group value with nos. 254 and 256 Eastgate and contribute strongly to the extremely well-preserved pattern of housing development representative of the peak of Louth’s C19 economic prosperity.
The town of Louth in Lincolnshire, often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Wolds’ has Saxon origins, and at the time of the Domesday survey was one of Lincolnshire’s 7 market towns, with a population of 600. Its medieval core is still discernable in the town’s street pattern, and was bounded by the River Lud, the streets of Gospelgate and Kidgate to the south and Church Street to the east. Street names including the suffix ‘gate’ abound in the medieval core, which is signed from a great distance in every direction by the spire of the St James Church, completed in 1505, the tallest such spire of any parish church in England. Louth’s medieval prosperity was derived from exporting wool and grain, and its magnificent parish church is testimony to the wealth generated by agriculture in the region, and by Louth’s relative proximity to the east coast.
The town’s population was reduced by three-quarters by outbreaks of plague in the 1630s, and by the early C18 economic prosperity had understandably waned considerably. However, the opening of the Louth-Tetney canal in 1770 heralded a new era of prosperity, and the growth of industries related not only to the region’s agriculture such as malting and grain processing, but also activities such as tanning, boatbuilding and warehousing. Much of this development took place around the canal terminus at Riverhead, and the growth of the town eastwards, along Eastgate James Street and Walkergate.
In 1848, the East Lincolnshire Railway came to Louth, extending trade and communication links beyond those of the canal, and further enhancing the town’s economic strength. An expanding population stimulated the development of terraced housing and villas, churches, chapels, schools and a range of public buildings all graphically captured in the remarkable ‘Louth Panorama’ a two section painting by a local man, William Brown. The Panorama presents a view of the town from high in the spire of St James Church. It portrays Louth at the height of its development and prosperity, shortly after the arrival of the railway, set in its surrounding rural landscape, with the east coast seascape in the background. The structure of the town has changed remarkably little since the Panorama was created, and Louth has mercifully escaped the large-scale post-war redevelopment experienced by many communities in England. Louth remains a thriving historic market town with a high proportion of well-preserved C19 buildings.
Nos. 250 and 252 Eastgate were constructed in 1826 by a speculative builder for rental by Louth's growing mercantile class. Thomas Allen, a wharfinger at Riverhead, is known to have lived at no.250. The first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1889 indicates that both houses had rear stabling and coach houses and that no.252 had two rear wings, one of which extended along the length of the garden; these are no longer extant, necessitating some reworking at the rear elevation.
The buildings have had other minor alterations in the past. There has been some remodelling to the first-floor former dressing rooms in both houses. At no. 250 an attic space has been created, a pair of French doors has been inserted at the rear of one of the ground floor polite rooms and the basement has been converted into a utility room and self-contained accommodation. Inappropriate window types have been replaced with sympathetic alternatives and some dado rails, picture rails, skirting boards and fireplaces have been introduced. No. 252 has lost most historic fixtures and fittings, but retains the principal stair and has some replacement fireplaces.
A pair of semi-detached villas of 1826, with minor alterations of the C20.
MATERIALS: red brick, generally laid in Flemish bond, and over-painted at the basement, with stucco details and Welsh slate covering to the roofs.
PLAN: symmetrical with a central projecting bay to the facade of each dwelling and a piano nobile arrangement with polite rooms on the ground and first floors, and the kitchen and service range in the semi-basement.
EXTERIOR: both villas have two storeys and a basement; no. 250 has an attic space at the rear. They share a hipped roof with oversailing bracketed eaves and a central stack; both have additional end stacks. The pair's facade (facing north) has pilasters midway and at each end. Each villa has a central projecting porch bay and pairs of hornless sash windows with glazing bars at each floor, with those at the ground and first floor having carved stucco lintels with keystones. They are arranged as follows; ten-over-ten small lights at the semi-basement; six-over-nine at the ground floor, and six-over-six at the first floor. There is a continuous stucco band at the first floor.
Central to the north elevation of each house are Greek Doric porches with fluted columns and pilasters, and triglyph and guttae details to the hood. The porches are raised above the entrance to the semi-basement and are approached by curving stone steps to each side with delicate, iron balustrades ending in a curtail stop. A decorative iron panel to the front partially encloses the porch; lanterns hang from pendants in the porch ceiling. Stone steps beneath the porch lead down to the partly glazed timber doors to the service basement. The timber, panelled principal entrance doors are partly-glazed, have a square fanlight with glazing bars above and door furniture which may be original.
The arrangement of the rear elevation is inconsistent. There has been some remodelling at the rear of no.252 perhaps where the rear range observed in the first edition OS map has been removed or truncated. Some windows are C20, but to the right is a pair of French doors with a six-over-six sash window above. No. 250 has a two-storey with attic gabled element with sympathetically designed, C20 sash windows and a rear door with glazing bars. Beneath the hipped roof to the left is a pair of C20 French doors at the ground floor with a sash window above. The west elevation of no. 250 has pairs of windows at the basement and ground floor, and a single window at the first floor. A repaired wall encloses the rear garden.
INTERIOR: the partly glazed, timber panelled principal entrance doors lead to halls, where wide floorboards are exposed. The plan-form is mirrored for each villa, comprising two interconnected polite rooms (with contemporary timber sliding dividing door in no. 250) on one side of the hall, and on the other side are two rooms with the principal stair in between. A third room, possibly a former service entrance from the rear, lies to the rear of the hall. In both houses, ground floor rooms have been converted into kitchens in the C20 and fireplaces and other fixtures and fittings have been introduced, but no. 250 retains deep cornices in the polite rooms and the early-C19 vertical sliding shutters to the facade windows.
The basement of no. 252 was not inspected, but in no. 250 this space has been converted into a self-contained flat and utility space; an early-C19 fireplace remains.
In both houses, the early-C19 main stairs, in a dog-leg arrangement, have hardwood handrails, elegant stick balusters ending in curtail stops at the base, and open strings. The first-floor room partitions are generally intact but there has been some remodelling to create bathroom facilities. An attic level has been added to the rear of no. 250. No. 252 is generally devoid of any historic fixtures and fittings on this floor, but fireplaces and some cupboards remain in no. 250.