Elsecar Holy Trinity CE Primary Academy and School Master's House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Church Street, Elsecar, Barnsley, S74 8HS


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Statutory Address:
Church Street, Elsecar, Barnsley, S74 8HS

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

Barnsley (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


School and master's house dated 1852, funded by the fifth Earl Fitzwilliam.

Reasons for Designation

Elsecar Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School and master's house of 1852, built by the fifth Earl Fitzwilliam, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * a good quality and largely intact mid-C19 design, with good quality detailing; * the original plan form is legible and the interior retains internal fittings including panelled door and door cases, a Gothic style cupboard, and arched bookcase alcoves; * the survival of a contemporary master's house that matches the school in materials and detailing, enhances the overall interest of the school.

Historic interest:

* as a privately funded pre-1870 Education Act school, built by the paternalistic fifth Earl Fitzwilliam within Elsecar industrial model village.

Group value:

* an integral part of an architectural ensemble, with the Grade II-listed Holy Trinity Church, workers' housing, the large lodging house and subscription reading room.


The fifth Earl Fitzwilliam (1786-1857) had a paternalistic relationship with Elsecar, the village that formed the centre of his estate’s industrial concerns. As well as providing good quality housing for his workers, he funded the construction of Holy Trinity Church in 1842 and then a new school to replace an earlier, smaller school at Distillery Side, which had been separated from the rest of the village by the construction of the railway goods station. The Earl opened the new school with a fundraising tea and sale for the Church Missionary Society on 1 June 1852. Newspaper articles highlight a series of celebrations for the school opening. Around 200 children and teachers from both the day and Sunday schools celebrated on the 2 June with tea and plum cake; and an evening entertainment of magic lanterns and fire balloons. The next day a feast was provided for the 60 workmen who had been engaged constructing the school, with ale from Wentworth Woodhouse. The school was inspected on 6 August 1852 and the buildings described as excellent. Its classroom contained desks parallel in four groups of three rows each. Four classes of mixed boys and girls were taught by the under master, his wife, and two pupil-teachers. The school was supported by the Earl, the children's pence, a small endowment and Government Grants.

Although no architect has been identified for the 1852 school, it was clearly professionally designed rather than being simply built by a general builder. Its original plan form is complex, as is the architectural detailing. Externally it appears to be a long, east-west central range with three cross gables extending to the north and south, but it is actually two parallel north-south ranges with a westwards projecting range flanked by cross gables parallel and abutting the north-south main ranges. The two original entrance doors to the southern elevation are cleverly designed to appear to be grand double doors, however only one leaf opens, the other being fixed, this allowing the central hall to be wider than would otherwise be possible. The school was also provided with two detached houses, probably both originally for school masters, although the surviving southern house was subsequently occupied by a caretaker before it became the school’s office building. Stepped boundary walls were constructed at the same time as the school. In Autumn 1854 the Earl granted a piece of land contiguous to the school to create industrial school-gardens for the boys to cultivate. It was sited on former woodland, around 2/3rds of an acre, and surrounded by a stone wall. A portion at each end was allotted to the master and mistress with 24 allotments between.

The original building was generous for a mid-C19 village school, however rising populations saw it extended in 1870, probably with the western classroom (Classroom B) doubled in length westwards and the eastern classroom (Classroom E) extended north by a similar amount. Both of these extensions closely matched the original architectural detailing so that they could have been part of the original design. The cloakrooms that form an entrance lobby to the southern elevation were added in the 1890s, being slightly more simply detailed, but carefully designed to fit with the entrance elevation. The north-western classroom (Classroom A) was added between 1901 and 1926, again being sympathetically detailed. More expansive extension to the school building was avoided by the construction of a separate brick-built school building to the west in 1893. In 1943 the original school building underwent repairs following mining subsidence, this thought to date the insertion of some new window lintels. The utilitarian flat-roofed boiler house to the rear (north) was possibly added at the same time. C20 and later alterations to the original buildings has resulted in some loss of detail such as the replacement of window joinery, the loss of fireplaces and other fittings. There has also been some alteration to the original plan form of the school with the insertion of some doorways and stud walls and the blocking of two or three internal openings, however the original arrangement is still identifiable.


School and master's house dated 1852, funded by 5th Earl Fitzwilliam.

MATERIALS: well-dressed and finely coursed sandstone with ashlar dressings. Welsh slate roof with most faces including complex fish-scale slating. Decorative timber barge-boards.

PLAN: a central north-south hall with a parallel class room range to the east (accessed externally from the south) with a through-corridor on the west side of the hall extending between main doorways to the north and south. Extending west from this corridor is a further classroom flanked by cross wings, the southern cross-wing probably originally forming the master’s office, the northern subsequently extended to form another classroom.

EXTERIOR: the building is a tall single storey in early Victorian Elizabethan Revival style. The south elevation is of three equal gables with decorative, perforated barge boards; a small, lobed lozenge-shaped and stone-framed window with leaded glazing set high in each gable; with a large window below in a chamfered opening, the central one having a raised head, divided with stone mullions and transoms, all set below a stepped drip mould. Projecting forwards is a lower, twin-gabled cloakroom extension with cross-mullioned windows. Set back is a pitched roof appearing to form a cross-range which projects further westwards than eastwards. This roof, along with the roofs of the three gables, is decoratively slated with courses of pointed, round-pointed and semi-circular ended slates interspersed with plain slate courses, courses also varying in tones of grey. The eastern gabled roof has a ventilation gablette to each side.

The north elevation is detailed in a similar way to the south elevation (form of windows, decorative treatment to slating and barge-boards) except the western gable has a slightly lower, but architecturally matching, extension which projects forward; in place of the cloakroom extension there is a stone-roofed, gabled porch with a hood-mould with carved head stops with, to the left a utilitarian mid-C20 flat-roofed rendered boiler room extension. To the west is a hipped-roofed, stone-built early C20 classroom extension, this along with the inner roof slopes of the three gables, being plain-slated.

The east elevation is of five bays with a central gable and a blind, slightly stepped-down extension to the north forming a sixth bay. The central gable is flanked by buttresses and has a large, pointed-arched window with a hood mould with a small lozenge window above, the gable retaining decorative barge-board. The west elevation (including the extension) is decoratively slated.

The westward projecting wing, that is central to the west elevation, has a taller pointed-arched window with hood-mould, extending into the space occupied with a lozenge window with the other gables. It also retains its decorative barge-board.

INTERIOR: the original pair of southern entrance doorways are visible within the southern cloakroom extension. Both have four-centred-arched heads framing what appear to be double doors, however only one leaf opens, the other being fixed, this forming part of the wall to the central hall. The interior retains a number of Victorian features including a couple of internal doors set within panelled door cases, a Gothic style cupboard, and an arched bookcase alcove. The roof structure is thought to be ornamented and intact, but is largely concealed by C20 suspended ceilings.

SUBSIDIARY ITEM: a contemporary former school master’s house now offices constructed of matching materials and architectural detailing, including decorative slating and barge-board. It has two storeys with a westwards projecting service wing and a three-bay principal elevation facing the playground to the south of the school. The main entrance is in the central bay of the principal elevation, this breaking forward slightly as a gabled cross-wing. Window joinery to the ground floor has been replaced, the first floor retaining horned sashes. Two truncated ridge stacks remain. Internally the plan form is unaltered and retains its original staircase with stick balusters and a ramped handrail.


Books and journals
Rimmer, J, Went, D, Jessop, L, The Village of Elsecar, South Yorkshire: Historic Area Assessment. Historic England Research Report 06-2019, (2019)


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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