A mid-C15 open hall and remains of a high end with adjoining C16/17 cross-wings with later alterations. The hall roof has smoke-blackened timbers with cusping to the trusses and windbraces. This was possibly the manorial residence of the Manor of Lower Bullingham. The later parts of the cross-wings, the north range and other attached structures are not included.
Reasons for Designation
The medieval hall and cross-wings at Freedom Church, 161 Holme Lacy Road, Hereford, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as a mid-C15 open hall with C15-C17 cross-wings that survives well behind a later brick front and within an extended C19 complex of buildings;
* the substantial smoke-blackened hall roof and timber frame is an excellent example of high quality medieval craftsmanship deploying a characteristic regional decorative treatment for this period with cusping above the collars and to the windbraces, and carved mouldings to the timber frame;
* the C15-C17 cross-wings are of high quality construction with moulded ceiling beams and jowled posts, and taper burns to some roof timbers;
* intact medieval open halls that retain a significant proportion of mid-C15 fabric are rare especially where they survive with elements of a contemporary high end, and pre-1700 cross-wings.
* features such as the ornamentation of the structure, including detailing to the roof and carved capitals to the central posts, indicate that this was a building of high status in the area, with probable links to the ownership of the Manor of Lower Bullingham during the medieval period.
The earliest building on the site dates to around 1458 (dendrochronological analysis of 2020) and is a timber-framed former open hall with a cusped arch-braced roof and parts of a former high end attached to the east. The hall may have been the manorial residence in the Manor of Bolynghope (or Bullinghope), which was for some time held by the Bishop of Hereford, and there was a medieval settlement close by to the east (Scheduled Monument, List Entry number: 1005320). However, the early origins of the building are not currently known.
A first floor was inserted to the hall in the C16/C17, and during this period the high and service ends were partially or completely replaced with new cross-wings, probably on a piecemeal basis. The south porch was probably also built in this period, and was later encased in brick along with the south front, probably in the late C18 or early C19. By the end of the C17 the complex comprised an H-plan building, and in the mid-C18 the east and west ranges were extended to the north, and link with a brick north range, to create a courtyard arrangement. The north range roof was substantially built using timbers from a late-C15 building, possibly one previously located elsewhere on the site. Elements of that roof structure have extensive taper burn marks indicating repeated ritualistic behaviour over a considerable period of time, which may prove to be of high significance subject to further research. The site appears to have passed into agricultural use by the C18, and other related agricultural buildings were erected.
The earliest known documentary evidence for the site relates to the Prince family, who held the house in the early C19, and had possibly done so throughout the C18. Richard Prince is identified in the 1822 valuation and the 1826 city poll as the occupant of the site. The 1835 Bryant map of Hereford depicts Lower Bullingham at this time, showing buildings in the approximate location of the main building and the barns to the west. The first detailed depiction of the site is on the Tithe map of 1842. The main building is shown as a large square structure with a slightly recessed central section on the southern side, which corresponds to the basic outline of the central courtyard range that survives in 2021. The associated apportionment identifies the owner as Charles Bodenham of Rotherwas, who was of the wealthy landowning family that had lived at Rotherwas since at least the C15. By 1851 the site appears to have formed the centre of an extensive farm estate, spreading into the neighbouring Putson Manor.
The Bodenhams of Rotherwas were a prominent Catholic family and parts of Lower Bullingham were given over to accommodate two convents from 1860. One of these, for the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, adapted and extended the buildings around the Princes’ former farmhouse to establish St Elizabeth Convent and Orphanage in 1860-1861. By the First Edition Ordnance Survey (OS) Map of 1888 St Elizabeth’s Convent (Order of St Vincent De Paul) is marked and shows additions to the principal house to the east and west. Residential ranges were built onto the school in 1889 and 1902 and the Second Edition OS (1904) shows additional ranges to the north of the chapel and an addition to the school. A new chapel was built in 1905-1906 to the south-east corner of the earlier chapel, to the design of Charles E Ware & Sons of Exeter.
The School for the St Elizabeth Convent closed at the outbreak of war in 1939, due to its proximity to the munitions factory at Rotherwas, and in the 1950s the property passed to the Congregation of the Marian Fathers, a Polish Catholic order who ran a residential home. The former school is marked as ‘Marian Fathers House’ on the map of 1968 and the area to the west of the site as ‘Builder’s Yard’. Various alterations have been carried out to the buildings on the site in the later C20 and it was sold by the Catholic Church to an evangelical church in the early C21, and subsequently refurbished.
A mid-C15 open hall and remains of a high end with adjoining C16/17 cross-wings with later alterations.
MATERIALS: the medieval building is constructed of an oak timber frame with oak roof structures, encased in C18/C19 brick on stone cills and with brick and stone detailing.
PLAN: a four-bay open hall on an east/west orientation with cross-wings forming a two-storey H-plan building. Subsequently the cross-wings were extended* and a north range* built to make a roughly square on plan building with a central courtyard.
EXTERIOR: the brick south front is of three recessed central bays (to the open hall) with gabled bays (the cross-wings) standing forward to each side, brick banding and segmental heads to the openings. The bay to left of centre has a two-storey gabled porch with labelled moulds and keystone to the door and window above, and a coped gable. There is timber framing within the porch. The gabled end-bays to each side (single-window wide to the left, and two-windows wide to the right) have storey bands, a roundel brick detail to the coped gable and corner buttresses. There is an iron bellcote to the pitched roof. The flank elevations to the east and west are partly obscured by the mid-C19 and later brick wings*. The north elevation of the hall is now within the central courtyard with an attached inserted glazed roof* at first-floor level, which is not of special interest. The north elevation has exposed timber-framing with brick infill to each storey. The cross-wings have painted brick or clad elevations facing the courtyard.
The other attached parts of the building comprising post-C17 wings*, and C19 orphanage* and C20 chapel* are not of special interest.
INTERIOR: the principal entrance from the south front leads into a corridor in the west cross-wing. To the right is the former open hall, which forms the medieval core of the building and has exposed C15 framing and a C17 ceiling. The timber framing to the east wall has been revealed and opened up to the C15 and C17 east cross-wing. It is a closed partition, part of the mid-C15 primary structure, and the sill beam, two posts, one stud and a mid-rail appear to be original. There is framing in the north wall of the hall with a possible former door to the right, and part of the south wall has been rebuilt in brick. Some medieval wall posts are in situ (with four additional C21 posts* supporting the location of a former inserted stair, which are not of special interest). The posts to the centre of the north and south walls have mouldings that are carried through to the first floor.
At first-floor level, the hall posts are part-exposed and jowled where they join the roof trusses. The moulded centre post to the south wall has a former carved capital embedded within the wall. The south-east corner post has an empty mortice, and the north-west corner post (in the west cross-wing) has a wall plate of substantial scantling that includes a possible door head.
The C15 hall roof structure comprises five complete oak trusses. The central three trusses have hollow-chamfered, arch-braced collars with protruding pegs. Above the collar the principals are cusped and there is a diagonal ridgepiece. The two outer closed trusses have a tie beam and collar arrangement with posts and red brick infill between the tie beam and collar. There are two rows of purlins and the upper row has cusped wind braces to the principals (those below have been removed). There is extensive smoke blackening to all timbers except the ridgepiece and some common rafters. There are surviving original common rafters in four of the five bays of the open roof and there has been some strengthening to the roof, including iron bracing to one arch-braced truss. Notches in the central truss may be associated with a former louvre (vent).
Both cross-wings are set forward of the hall front at the south end and extend to the north by a bay beyond the single-room hall. The cross-wings have exposed timber framing to both floors including jowled posts and moulded, chamfered and stopped ceiling beams. To the ground floor the east wing has C15 oak ceiling beams and a later stone and brick chimneybreast between the two principal rooms, with chimneypieces to each side. In the north room there are two stop-chamfered ceiling beams that are set in a substantial lateral ceiling beam that probably marks the original end wall of the wing but now opens out into the north end of the building. The original northern extent of the C15 cross-wing is uncertain.
The west cross-wing has an oak-panelled south room with ceiling beams and a chimneypiece in an angled wall. The room to its north has an opposing chimneypiece and substantial chamfered ceiling beams. Further north is the brickwork of a former porch and an inserted stair to the first floor. The stair is set north of a closed end truss, the former north end wall of the cross-wing, which has semi-circular carpenter’s marks to the outer face of timbers and the form of which in Herefordshire is typically ascribed to the late C16 or early C17. The roofs of the cross-wings are of oak and elm and include reused elements and some have taper burn ritualistic marks.
* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest. 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.