28 October 2015

Pool House and the schoolmaster’s house …
two parts of Lichfield’s architectural heritage

Pool House, Dame Street, once home to the Mott Sisters and part of the architectural heritage of Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

Each return visit to Lichfield draws my attention to new architectural riches in the cathedral city, and I regularly post my photographs to the architectural archives site, British Listed Buildings.

Two houses that I photographed last weekend and have posted to the site are Pool House or No 30 Dam Street, and the former house of the Headmaster of Lichfield Grammar School at No 45 Saint John Street, now part of the offices of Lichfield District Council.

Pool House and the attached former stable block are Grade II buildings at the north-east end of Dam Street, and a good example of Lichfield’s Georgian architecture. It is close to the entrance to the Cathedral Close and looks out across Minster Pool.

The house and stables have been divided into apartments and offices, although many people still remember it when it was a veterinary surgery and hospital. In recent years.

In the late 19th century, Pool House was the home of the sisters Emily Mott (1822-1886) and Georgiana Mott (1823-1908). As children had lived in the Cathedral Close, and they were nieces of both Canon Fredrick Oakeley, translator of the popular version of the Christmas carol O Come, all ye faithful and Chappel Woodhouse. They were probably the last members of the once politically-important Mott family to live in this part of Lichfield.

Pool House looks out across Minister Pool in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The house was built in the mid-18th century and there were extensive alterations and renovations in the 20th century. It is built in brick with ashlar dressings; a hipped tile roof with brick return lateral stacks.

This Georgian-style house has a double-depth plan, is three-storeys tall and has a four-window range. The features include a plinth, ground and first floor sill bands and a top cornice. The round-headed entrance to the left of centre has a doorcase with pilasters, entablature and pediment, and an early fanlight with thick wooden glazing bars – of a type that was common in Lichfield – over the six-panel door.

The windows have rubbed brick flat arches, over 12-pane sashes to the ground floor, plate glass sashes to the first floor, over six-pane sashes with sills to the second floor.

The left return has an entrance with a six-fielded-panel door and a round-headed stair window with sash. The rear has a hipped wing and various two-storey and single-storey flat-roofed additions.

I understand that inside Pool House, the windows have shutters, the rooms have cornices, and one room has a big segmental-headed fireplace. The stair to the left of centre has cut string, column-on-vase balusters, clustered to foot, and a moulded ramped handrail.

The stable bock has a 20th century connection to house and a 20th century lean-to out-shut, a modillioned brick cornice and a hipped tile roof. The first floor has a blocked segmental-headed opening and a boarded pitching hole. The left return has a segmental-headed pitching hole. There is a lower rear addition.

No 45 Saint John Street, the former house of the Headmaster of Lichfield Grammar School, is now part of the offices of Lichfield District Council (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

No 45 Saint John Street is on the north-east side of the street, and forms part of the offices of Lichfield District Council. The house and the attached wall and gates have Grade II listing.

The Grammar School was founded as part of the Hospital of Saint John in 1495, and moved to this site in 1577. Many famous people from Lichfield went to school here, including Samuel Johnson, David Garrick and Joseph Addison.

The schoolroom was built on the site of the one built in 1577.

No 45 Saint John Street was the schoolmaster’s and boarders’ house for Lichfield Grammar School, with the former schoolroom to the rear. It was built in 1682 with an 18th century rear wing, school room and front wall built around 1849 by Thomas Johnson and Son of Lichfield, with an 18th century wall to the right return.

The house is built in the Early Georgian style in brick, with a hipped tile roof with two brick stacks. It has a double-depth plan, is two storeys high with an attic and a symmetrical five-window range. There is a plaster plinth, two brick platt bands and a top modillioned timber cornice.

The entrance to the house has a big moulded doorcase with a pulvinated frieze and cornice, and a battened door. The windows have rubbed brick flat arches over plate glass sashes to the ground floor, and small-paned cross casements in moulded frames to the first floor.

The two hipped dormers have two-light casements with iron opening casements.

The right return is similar, with two platt bands and a modillioned cornice, an entrance with a rubbed brick flat arch and overlight to a half-glazed door and flanking blocked windows, and a window to the right end of four lights with four-centred heads. A stucco wing to the right has two four-light windows as to left, one altered for entrance. There are cross-casements to the first floor.

Inside, the house has a central open-well spiral staircase with turned balusters. The first floor has exposed timber-framed partition walls and ovolo-moulded beams, and two-panel doors.

The attic has exposed trusses with curved principals.

The former schoolroom of Lichfield Grammar School (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The school room is of brick with ashlar dressings. The tile roof has coped gables. There is a single-storey, three-window, range with a cross wing to the right end. There is a sill course and top cornice, and a shaped gable with finial to the wing.

The entrance in the wing has a four-centred head with foliate spandrels, and a battened door. There are three-light double-chamfered-mullioned windows with elliptical heads and label moulds; two of these have two upper lights with shaped gablets. The wing has a first floor oriel with 1:3:1-light transomed window. There are three rainwater heads.

The return and rear are similar with later alterations and additions.

Inside, I understand the school room has a hammer beam roof and two fireplaces with four-centred heads, one fireplace has timber surround with paired Tuscan columns.

The furniture in the later council chamber includes a canopied seat and wrought-iron scrolled chandeliers.

The boundary wall at the south side of the former Grammar School follows the line of the mediaeval town ditch and the parish boundary (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The front wall, which extends for about 31 metres to the right of the house and returns for about 47 metres to the rear, has stone coping and cross-slits with gablets. The gateway in the wall has an elliptical head and coping and an enriched wrought-iron gate.

To the right end of the wall, there is a pair of wrought-iron gates and piers that are of a later date.

The return wall of brick is in two phases, following the mediaeval town ditch and marks the boundary between the parishes of Saint Mary’s and Saint Michael’s.

The buildings became the offices and council chamber of Lichfield Rural District Council in 1920.

A sign tells the story of the boundary wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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