Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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

Worcester (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SO 84907 55372



SO8455SE FRIAR STREET 620-1/12/270 (East side) 05/04/71 City Museum and Library with gates (Formerly Listed as: FRIAR STREET (East side) City Museum and Library (Formerly Victoria Institute))


Museum and library with gates. 1896, by JW Simpson and Milner Allen at a cost of around ,25,000. Red brick in Flemish bond with moulded terracotta tiles and plain tile roof; brick left end stack, banded and with cornice; cast-iron gates and balustrade. Free Renaissance style. Irregular plan. 2- and 3 storeys with attic, 3 bays plus tower: from left are 2 tall storeys, 2 bays with 3-lower-storey bay at right with attic in gable set back, then corner octagonal 5-stage tower. Central gable contains clock in elaborate cartouche. 'Victoria Regina' on cartouches; 'THE VICTORIA INSTITUTE' to central frieze; 'Library and Museum' over entrance.

FACADE: the central, entrance bay breaks forward and has quoins to angles; flight of steps to cambered-arched opening and chamfered jambs with hollow- and roll-moulding to head, with three-quarter engaged Ionic columns and dentil pediment broken by elaborate royal arms in high relief. Double entrance gates have 'VR' motif and crown, 2 levels of bars and scrolled crest. Within are 2 sets of double, part-glazed and panelled doors. Windows are leaded lights in metal frame casements throughout. To either side of entrance are 2-light mullion windows with moulded, eared surrounds and scroll pediments. To left bay on ground floor a wide 'Elizabethan' mullion and transom window in quoined surround with 3:3:3 lights, the middle lights have semi-circular light over containing scroll pediment, and with scrolled central apron. Above entrance at first floor a large 2:4:2 window and to left bay are two large 4-light windows, all with mullions and transoms and segmental-arched lights and on continuous egg and dart sill band; quoined surrounds and composite pilasters between windows embellished with 'VR' motto. Continuous modillion frieze, and pediment to gabled entrance bay with crown at apex surmounted by figure of Victory. Arcaded balustrade with urns at left. Right bay: plinth with moulded band surmounted to ground floor by 5-light mullion window with cornice. To first floor are two 2-segmental-arched-light mullion windows in eared surrounds and with central segment. Second floor: three 2-light mullion windows in tooled surround with egg and dart sill band continuing from first floor of left and centre bays; banded pilasters between windows rise to moulded cornice. Recessed and gabled attic storey has 3-light mullion window with tooled surround and central pediment. Tower: on wine-glass stem has inscription plaques to lower stage (see below) then three single-light transom windows in scrolled cartouche surrounds; to third and fourth stages a single light; fourth stage surmounted by decorative band with swags and cherub heads. Upper stage has 2-light mullion windows with semi-circular lights over in pilastered surrounds and with swags over, three-quarter-engaged Doric columns between and ovolo cornice. Broached spire with cupola surmounted by cornice and weather vane. Right return to Taylor's Lane has similar, but less elaborate treatment. 5 unequal bays, 2 and 3 storeys. First bay of 2 storeys has to first floor a large, 5-light mullion and transom window with 2 levels of transoms. Then a gabled bay breaks forward and has entrance: double 6-panel doors in quoined surround, the shaped hood acts as a balcony to 2-light mullion and transom window with stick balustrade and further 2-light window; 2 segmental arches over on pilasters; gable has 5-light mullion window. Third bay has five 2-light mullion and transom windows with pilaster strips to upper band. Fourth bay similar to second bay. Fifth bay with further entrance and mainly 3-light mullion windows. Left return: 5 unequal bays, 3 with gables, 2 storeys and attics to gables. Ground floor has mullion and transom windows of 2 and 5 lights. First stage has three oculi to first bay, 2:3:2 light mullion and transom window to third bay and two 3-light windows to fourth bay. Second bay is blind; fifth bay has 2 small 2-light mullion windows. Gables have 2-light mullion windows, except at right in ornate, broken pedimented surrounds and with aprons. Open arcaded balustrade and finials to gables. INTERIOR: main feature a 2-storey entrance hall with square pillars and Doric frieze at first floor with balustrade around square well; Ionic pillars to first floor and compartmentalised ceiling with dentil frieze and modillion cornice. Stone cantilevered dogleg staircase at right has squat, squared balusters and wide, shaped handrail. Renaissance motifs continue to stairs. Mosaic floor. HISTORICAL NOTE: datestone to right at base of tower inscribed, 'The Lady Mary Lygon Mayoress opened this building October 1 1896 The Rt Hon Earl Beauchamp Mayor.' During the C18 Foregate Street was known as 'the mall' and Tymbs' Worcester Guide of 1802 notes, 'the Foregate Street itself, by being well paved and sufficiently broad to admit a full circulation of air seems to be generally resorted to as a fashionable promenade.'

Pevsner: describes this as 'a resourceful and animated, totally asymmetrical composition in a mixed Tudor and Baroque style'. Simpson and Allen had, earlier in the decade, won the competition for the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum. This is an outstanding example of late C19 municipal architecture of this type, in its eclectic use of style redolent of the municipal libraries of H.T. Hare, such as Wolverhampton (1902).

The Shire Hall, Statue of Queen Victoria, City Museum and Library, and Nos 15, 19, 22, 23, 24, 28, Nos 33-46 (consecutive) and No.49, Foregate Street (qqv) form a significant group. The City Museum and Library also forms a complimentary group with Worcester College, Sansome Walk (qv). (The Buildings of England: Pevsner: N: Worcestershire: Harmondsworth: 1968-1985: 324; Worcestershire Historical Society Occasional Papers: Whitehead D: Urban Renewal and Suburban Growth: The Shaping of Georgian Worcester: 1989-: 12; Tymbs: Worcester Guide: Worcester: 1802-: 60).


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

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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (1968), 324
Tymbs, , Worcester Guide, (1802), 60
Whitehead, D, 'Worcestershire Historical Society Occasional Papers' in Urban Renewal And Suburban Growth: The Shaping Of Georgian Worcester, (1989), 12


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

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