A small country house of 1847 by Edward Smith of Oldswinsford for Charles Noel with coach house, stabling, and walled garden of mid-C19 date.
Reasons for Designation
Bell Hall, including coach house, stabling and walled garden, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Bell Hall is a confident and well-executed design of some considerable quality by Edward Smith of Oldswinsford, an architect of skill and distinction;
* the overall character of the main house has been retained and this pre-1850 country house survives well, despite the loss and replacement of some parts of the building;
* the interior layout remains largely as built and good quality interior features remain such as decorative ceiling cornices, staircases and joinery including doors and window shutters;
* the coach house and stables are well-built and serve as handsome companion buildings to the hall, retaining their character and the legibility of their original function;
* the walled garden is built of good quality brick and provides an associated feature of note in this Victorian country house ensemble.
* Charles Noel was a figure of distinction in the region and the rebuilding of the hall in 1847 signified the continuing presence and influence of the Lord of the Manor on this site.
* the nearby chapel of Norman origin (listed at Grade II*) is indicative of the rich and long history of the hamlet of Bell End. The inclusion of the chapel within the grounds of Bell Hall in 1847 gave it a more tangible link to the house from that time.
The hamlet of Bell End near Belbroughton has early origins in the Manor of Belne and Bell End Chapel (Grade I), which is within the grounds of Bell Hall, was built by the C12. The manor was held by the Conway and Perrott families in the C16 and C17, passing into the Noel family in the C18. A collection of buildings on the original series Ordnance Map of 1831 marked Bell Hall was probably the site of the manor house. The map shows a house constructed on an H-plan on the current site of Bell Hall, as well as a road passing between the hall and the chapel, a route which was subsequently changed, probably when the hall was rebuilt in 1847.
The rebuilding of Bell Hall involved the demolition of the earlier house and was carried out to the designs of Edward Smith of Oldswinsford for Charles Noel (1802-1877). In 1853 Noel served as High Sheriff of Worcestershire. The house and adjacent service buildings including coach house, stables and walled garden are shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1883. The manor and its house passed to Sir Neville Lyttelton in 1916 and the house was advertised as a hotel in 1922.
In the mid-C20, two floors of the servants’ quarters at the east end of the house and the attached brewery were demolished. The brewery is not shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1972. Also in the C20 other alterations have been made to the exterior of the house such as the replacement of part of the roof parapet and chimney stacks in red engineering brick, the alteration of some window openings, replacement of window frames and the repair and replacement of some failing stone dressings. The interior has been refurbished at intervals and the main stair appears to have been replaced and reoriented in the early C20. Many C19 fittings have been replaced although joinery and cornices survives to both floors.
The coach house and stabling were cleared of most historic fittings in the C20 and have been used for storage and garaging. The first floor of the coach house has had some mid-late-C20 adaptation. An orangery has been constructed within the walled garden in the mid-C20. The roof to the coach house clock tower was replaced in 2008.
In 2018 the house is undergoing refurbishment.
A country house of 1847 by Edward Smith of Oldswinsford for Charles Noel; with a coach house, stabling and walled garden of probable mid-C19 date to the east of the house, all with C20 alterations.
MATERIALS: constructed of red brick laid in Flemish bond with sandstone dressings, some replaced in stone or concrete. The roofs are covered in plain tile and have C20 parapets and stacks of red engineering brick. The interior includes some oak fittings including the main stair, some doors and flooring. The windows are timber casements.
PLAN: of two storeys (three to the east range) with basements, built on an east/west orientation. The house is set out as two in-line ranges with different first-floor heights, under a single roof. Attached to the east end a service crosswing stands on a reduced single-storey height. The central entrance hall to the main house has a main stair to the rear and principal rooms to each side. The service wing is to the east , accessed via a stair at first-floor level.
EXTERIOR: in the Gothic Revival style. The symmetrical façade of the main house is of five windows and has a stone string courses and steeply gabled square bays. To the central bay the full-height porch has inscriptions to the gable: 1847 and C/ N (for Charles Noel). There are quoins and eared architraves to the openings with stopped hood moulds and decorative lancets to the outer gable ends. The double-leaf panelled door has three steps and a moulded stone case with a stopped hood mould. Above the door is a stone plaque with coat of arms. The engineering brick parapet to the roof follows the steep gables. To the left, the two bays of the service wing have plain dressings and a first-floor opening has been extended by one window and disturbed brickwork for former services nearby. Extending forward to the left is the single storey of the former service cross wing. Its gable end with deep parapet faces north.
The west flank and garden elevations of the house also have sandstone dressings to openings with some elements replaced in stone or concrete. The garden (south) front has diapered brick work to the left chimney breast. The central bay has a stone-mullioned tripartite stair window. There are concrete garden steps to each side of the central bay. The right bays (service wing) to the elevation are set back and the upper openings to the left have been altered. Attached to the C19 back porch is the truncated single-storey kitchen cross wing with scullery and dairy to the rear. To the kitchen is a wide rebuilt gabled bay and to its right a brick corbel table below a parapet extending east to the attached coach house. The east elevation of the kitchen stands below the rebuilt east flank of the service wing and faces a courtyard and a brick former coal store with coped verges to the its gabled ends and a corbel table above two large openings to its south elevation. The kitchen has altered openings with modern garage doors to the right.
INTERIOR: the entrance hall has an oak chimneypiece to the east wall and an open well oak stair to the rear, both probably of early-C20 date. The stair has large profile newels and balustrade. The ground-floor principal rooms have C19 joinery with mouldings including rebated shutters to the casements and panelled doors and reveals. There are decorative cornices and panelled ceilings. Some flooring and doors to the ground floor are of oak. The door openings to each side of the stair have been widened in the C21 and have concrete lintels.
The stair window has a C19 stained glass with Perrott and Noel family crests, and the stairwell ceiling and landing ceiling is panelled and has a decorative scheme (late C20) that continues from the ground floor. The first-floor rooms have moulded reveals to doorways and windows and C19 panelled doors. The few chimneypieces (none to the first floor) in rooms vary in style, material and date.
In the former service wing is a mid-C19 back stair with elaborate turned balustrades to the ground and first floors and stick balusters to the upper floor. There are two C19 chimneypieces in the wing and the remains of a servant bell system. The cellars are brick-vaulted. The roof of the building is of king-post construction.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: to the west of the hall are two sets of stone steps with capped piers that traverse the slope to a lower section of lawn and a ha-ha.
COACH HOUSE AND STABLE BLOCK
MATERIALS: red brick laid in a non-standard bond (four rows of stretchers to one row of alternate headers and stretchers) with sandstone dressings. Some cills are concrete replacements. The stable block has a red brick corbel table to the eaves and roofs are covered in plain tiles. The windows are timber casements.
PLAN: comprising two wings: a coach house to the west and stables to the east, attached in-line on an east/west orientation connected by the carriage arch of the stable block. There are wings of single storey and a single bay to the north, on each side of the arch. The coach house is of two storeys with a central stair tower. The stable block is of a tall single storey.
EXTERIOR: the north elevation of the coach house has a moulded stone eaves cornice and a stair tower with a clock and a tile-roofed lean-to to the right. To the left is the stables carriage arch has single-storey gabled wings. The stables and its wings have brick corbel tables and kneelers to the gables. The arch has double-leaf carriage doors with iron hinges and within the carriageway are doors to the stables and coach house. The south elevation to the coach house has a stone eaves cornice and four evenly-spaced openings to each floor under shallow arches with C20 timber casements and concrete cills. There is a door with overlights to the left. There are stone coped gables to each flank elevation. The stables has two window openings to the left and three wide door openings to the right, all under cambered brick arches with stone springers. The doors are C20 replacements re-set in new frames. The east flank has a coped gable with stone kneelers and an attached garden wall that connects with a former driveway entrance to the east.
INTERIOR: brick floors survive to the ground floor stables and yard areas. The coach house has a C19 king-post roof with iron bolts and straps and a timber winder stair with hand rail to the stair tower. The stables roof was not inspected (2018).
To the south of the coach house is a walled garden with red brick walls with stone coping. The wall has been truncated by the coach house and has some rebuilding in later brick.