Former Christian Association and Literary Institute


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
38 Spring Gardens, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 2XL


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Statutory Address:
38 Spring Gardens, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 2XL

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

South Holland (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former Christian Association and Literary Institute built in 1871.

Reasons for Designation

The former Christian Association and Literary Institute, built in 1871, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it has a visually arresting composition with the entrance bay assuming the appearance of a square tower which is beautifully balanced by the gabled end bay lit by two sets of tripartite windows in different styles; * it is unified by finely detailed ornamentation carried out in stone, moulded red brick and vitrified brick, creating a textural richness and demonstrating a high level of craftsmanship; * internally, the first-floor lecture hall remains as an impressive open space, and overall the original configuration is legible with a good proportion of the historic fittings surviving, including the staircase, moulded window surrounds, panelled doors and ceiling roses.

Historic interest:

* it is illustrative of the cultural provision that was made for communities as well as the dominance of the church during this period. Its impressive elevations were clearly intended to make a statement about the importance of literary and religious activities, and to attract new patrons.

Group value:

* it has group value with the Sessions House (1843) and the Police Station (1857) which are both Grade II listed and visible from the rear of the Institute to the north.


Spalding is an old established market town situated on the River Welland some ten miles from its outfall in the Wash. The town was once a thriving port and a former seat of a powerful monastic order. The former Christian Association and Literary Institute (the Institute) bears a date stone of 1871. It was described in Kelly’s Lincolnshire Directory as ‘a building of red brick, in the French Gothic style, and contains lecture hall, reading and class rooms, with a library of 1,351volumes, and a residence for the caretaker’. The architect is not known. Institutes were often modest buildings but they could sometimes acquire architectural pretension and reflect confident working communities. They frequently served various functions and it is possible that the Institute was associated with the nearby Methodist Church to the north-east (since demolished). During this period many parish churches acquired a suite of ancillary buildings to accommodate a range of non-liturgical activities for which the main church was deemed unsuitable.

The Institute is depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1889 as a long rectangular building with a narrow rear projection which may have been the caretaker’s residence. The footprint of the building does not change on the second and third editions of 1904 and 1931 but by the 1968 edition the rear projection has been rebuilt and enlarged. By the 1974 map it has again been extended to the rear. At some point around the 1930s the Institute was used as the Geest Social Club for the next fifty years and was then acquired by the Spalding Fitness Company in the late 1980s. It has been vacant for the past few years.


Former Christian Association and Literary Institute built in 1871.

MATERIALS: rich red brick laid in English bond with dressings in red brick, vitrified brick and limestone.

PLAN: the building has a narrow frontage facing south-east onto Spring Gardens and a long rectangular plan with rear extensions added in the second half of the C20.

EXTERIOR: the former Institute is in a flamboyant Venetian Gothic style with two storeys and an irregular three-bay facade. The floors are demarcated by a mixture of stone bands, brick cogging, and rows of sunken brick panels or square panels of vitrified brick which give the impression of coffering. The building has a pitched roof across the frontage with fleur-de-lis ridge tiles and a parapet at the north-east gable. The roof running at right angles along the rear is plain, although the eaves on the side and front elevations are embellished with brick machicolations.

The first bay is in the form of a three-stage square tower with an elaborate entrance on the ground floor. The double-leaf six-panel door has chamfered edges to the panels and is positioned under a kneelered stone gable with stone coping and a fleur-de-lis finial. The gable has a carved floral design in the gable head and waterleaf enrichment along the bottom. Set within the gable is a pointed arch resting on stone columns with Corinthian capitals and annulets. The recessed tympanum of the arch contains a circular date stone with the date 1871 surrounded by foliate carving; and the bottom edge is carved in a delicate chevron. The second and third stages of the tower have a recessed central panel. The second stage is lit by a four-pane window with wooden glazing bars set under a semicircular brick arch of rubbed red brick with a pointed arch of vitrified brick above. The third stage of the tower contains a blind oculus with a double circular surround of brick headers. The second bay is lit on the ground floor by a tall window (not original) with a cambered top and gauged brick arch, under a band of vitrified brick which continues across the third bay. The first floor is lit by a semicircular arch window under a pointed arch of vitrified brick which also continues across the third bay to form the window arches. The third gabled bay has tripartite windows on both floors in a slightly different design. Both have two mullions in the shape of stone columns (like those flanking the front door) but the ground floor windows have cambered upper sections whilst those on the first floor have pointed arches. The kneelered gable head is pierced by a blind oculus. It appears to have been originally surmounted by a finial but this has been removed.

The left return (south-west elevation) is divided into five bays by brick piers. On the ground floor the window in the first bay has been bricked up and a small horizontal window inserted in the C20. The second bay was originally bricked up and the next two bays are lit by one-over-one pane horned sashes with cambered upper sections. The first floor is lit by four-light windows with semicircular upper sections, except for the third bay which is blind. Above all the windows are vitrified brick arches which continue across the elevation. The fifth bay consists of the tower which has the same treatment as on the front elevation, except the ground floor is lit by a semicircular arch window.

On the right (north-east) return the gable end forms the first two bays which are divided by brick piers and lit by four-pane windows with semicircular overlights under gauged brick arches. The position of the internal staircase is articulated by a diagonal line of stepped brick. Following this the elevation becomes plain in detail and is faced in inferior brick probably because it would not have been visible when first built due to the close position of an adjacent building (since demolished). It is divided into three bays by brick piers and lit by a combination of sash windows with cambered upper sections and fixed light, semicircular arch windows. The rear C20 single-storey brick extensions are of standard construction and have flat roofs and are not included in the listing. INTERIOR: this retains numerous historic features including skirting boards, dado rails, picture rails, cornices and four-panel doors with chamfered edges to the panels. The small entrance lobby has a geometric tiled floor and leads into the entrance hall which provides access to the ground floor rooms and the staircase to the first floor. The closed well, quarter turn stair has a balustrade on the lower end with two balusters per tread that extend below the tread ends. The handrail twists at the end and is supported by a circular newel post with numerous annulets.

The first floor is one open space which presumably was the lecture hall. The high ceiling has a coved cornice and three intricately patterned ceiling roses where gas lights would previously have hung. The moulded window frames have recessed panels. The ground floor presumably contained the reading room, classroom and library but there are no surviving fixtures to indicate their former usage. The room in the south-east corner has been partitioned to create WCs but retains its cornice and two ceiling beams supported by pairs of shaped brackets.


Books and journals
Harris, John, Pevsner, Nikolaus, Antram, Nicholas, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (2002)


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

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

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