Fascinating Listings in the South West in 2019
A dispensary for women’s medical treatment, a 19th century shipwreck in the Bristol channel and sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s last public commission are some of the more unusual buildings and places that have been listed this year.
Over 500 historic places have been added to the National Heritage List for England in 2019, 83 of them in the South West. As the year draws to a close, Historic England celebrates the sites that have been protected in 2019.
England is home to many historic, iconic, and sometimes quirky sites. Protecting our heritage is of huge importance so future generations can better understand all the things that have made this nation great. I'm delighted that such a diverse range of important and interesting places were protected by Historic England in 2019
Grace House, St Christopher's School, Carisbrooke Lodge, Bristol
Grace House, built in 1966, is a rare example of a purpose-built post-war school for disabled children. Its design reflects the educational and architectural principles of the philosopher and social reformer, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925).
The school was planned with a room on each floor just for practising eurythmy, the art of expressive movement to classical music and the sounds and rhythms of speech or poetry. The rhythm in movement and in natural geometry is extended and exaggerated in the architecture of buildings influenced by Steiner, and is clear in the architectural language of Grace House.
As an architecturally outstanding school of the 1960s, Grace House combines a warm and welcoming interior with a bold and expressive external form. It was designed by Bristol architect Alec F French and Partners for the Catherine Grace Trust.
The former women's and children's dispensary, known as the Read Dispensary, 128 St George's Road, Bristol
The former Read Dispensary is a rare surviving example of a purpose-built dispensary for the medical treatment of women by female doctors.
It was founded in 1874 by Dr Eliza Walker Dunbar (1845–1925), one of the first female doctors in Britain and a leading figure in the provision of women’s healthcare by women. The dispensary, which initially operated from an existing building, was named for her friend, Lucy Anne Read.
By 1905, the original building had been demolished and in its place was a purpose-built dispensary, designed by Bristol architect Percival Hartland Thomas. The new building combined a welcoming, homely character with all the facilities required in a functioning dispensary.
The 'South Australian' shipwreck, Bristol Channel
The South Australian was a clipper ship that sailed annually between London and the state of South Australia for about 20 years, carrying heavy goods such as coal and large construction materials.
It was built in 1868 at North Sands in Sunderland by William Pile and is a year older than Cutty Sark, now docked in London. It is known to have delivered the Victoria Bridge to Australia in July 1869 which spanned the River Torrens, the most significant river of the Adelaide Plains.
It sank in February 1889 while on passage from Cardiff to Rosario in Argentina after running into a gale off Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. The captain tried to outrun the gale, but the heavy iron cargo rolled about in the hold in the tremendous seas and broke through the hull.
The South Australian is protected as the only clipper ship wrecked in English waters that was built during the first decade of clipper ship construction. The most obvious feature of the wreck is the large stack of iron rails extending some 3.8 metres above the seabed.
A fascinating range of historic buildings and sites are added to the List each year, and 2019 is no exception. A Bronze Age stone circle, a pioneering dispensary for women and children and 18th-century direction stones are among the quirkier places to receive protection this year. By celebrating the extraordinary historic places which surround us, above and below ground, we hope to inspire in people a greater interest in our shared heritage, and a commitment to pass it on.
Cheltenham House and attached 'Theme and Variations' sculpture, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Cheltenham House was commissioned in 1970 as the new head office for the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society. It was designed by local architects Healing and Overbury and its grand style showed the Society’s ambitions to be one of the best in the country.
Thomas Overbury approached Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) to produce an abstract sculpture to fill three panels of the building’s gently curving Bath stone façade. The work she created, ‘Theme and Variations’, was Hepworth’s final public commission.
Made up of three sections of large, semi-circular bronze plates stacked up and intersecting with each other, it is a work of superior aesthetic quality made when Hepworth was at the height of her craft.
The piece is a skilful demonstration of the potential for art to enhance the built environment as it changes and unfolds from different angles and combines with the rich, solid face of the building to form a key focal point on the street.
Sandford Parks Lido, Keynsham Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Sandford Parks Lido is a remarkably intact 1930s lido in the Arts and Crafts style.
It opened in May 1935 and survives unusually with its filtration plant room still intact containing its original boilers and compressors. Even the ornate turnstiles to the main entrance are still in place.
The café also has winged covered terraces, showing the 1930s enthusiasm for outdoor leisure, particularly in spa resorts such as Cheltenham.
Spa resorts were popular during the inter-war years when fresh air and fitness were widely embraced by the public. The lido was built for Cheltenham Borough Council and was designed by Borough Engineer G Gould Marsland with the advice of landscape architect Edward White.
Second World War practice bombing range indicator and observation post, Putsborough Sands, North Devon
The north Devon coast was one of the major training centres for allied troops in the run up to D-Day on 6 June 1944. Due to the increased threat of an attack on the British coastline, the Royal Air Force (RAF) also trained here.
Structures related to this are a bombing range target indicator - a concrete arrow fixed into the ground - and associated observation post at Putsborough Sands. They are considered to be the only two survivors of their kind in Devon.
The indicator and observation post were constructed around 1942 and used by RAF high-altitude bombing crews. The observation post is of the same design as one at Barricane Beach, to the north but now altered, one of three used for triangulating the accuracy of air-bombing of a floating target in Morte Bay.
The training structures are both intriguing and evocative reminders of the extensive preparations by British and American troops during the Second World War.
Direction stones near Middle Chinnock, Somerset
These direction stones are located to the north and south of Middle Chinnock village at the road junctions between Crewkerne and Yeovil. Unusually, they are artistically carved with cuffed pointing hands, which add to their special interest.
They are good examples of mid-18th century direction markers on a rural route, before alternative ways between the two towns were turnpiked under the Crewkerne Act of 1765, the Yeovil Act of 1753 and the implementation of the General Turnpike Act in 1773.
The direction stones are evidence of the routes before this, directing people on relatively well-made roads. This highlights the development of our transport network and the improvement of road infrastructure.
Leskernick south stone circle, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall
The south stone circle at Leskernick was first discovered in 1973 and is made up of 23 granite stones set in a circle of around 30 metres in diameter. It has been dated to the Early Bronze Age, making it around 4,000 years old.
None of the stones are now standing and some lie on their edges, but their positions can still be read in the landscape. It has been suggested that the circle once comprised 30 or 31 standing stones, but the site has historically been disturbed by mineral prospecting and possibly peat collection.
The tallest stones in the circle, when standing, would have faced nearby Leskernick Hill, perhaps to make it look more impressive when viewed from the Bronze Age settlements there, the remains of which were also scheduled this year.
Former Borough of Poole municipal buildings and boundary walls, Poole
Poole’s municipal offices were designed in 1926 as a new administrative centre for the Borough and County of the Town of Poole. It is a prominent and accomplished civic building with distinct quality and presence, whilst its decorative details and symbols reflect the history and natural environment of Poole.
Some of the stained glass windows illustrate Poole in its various guises, as an old town, a port and a holiday destination. There are also carvings on the outside of the building, designed by Percy A Wise, Principal of Poole School of Art, depicting scenes from Poole's history, including the granting of the Elizabethan charter, the Civil War, and the visit of Charles II in 1665.