02 June 2015

A fine Georgian townhouse and
a Victorian boathouse in Lichfield

No 20 Saint John Street … a fine example of a well-preserved Georgian house (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

For some years now, I have been posting some of my favourite architectural photographs occasionally to the site British Listed Buildings. These include photographs from Lichfield, Tamworth and Comberford in Staffordshire, Solihull in the West Midlands, Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, and Calne and Quemerford in Wiltshire.

After my visit to Lichfield last weekend, I uploaded a photograph of No 20 Saint John Street.

This early Georgian house, standing next to the Friary site, is easy to pass by without noticing, yet it is a fine example of a well preserved Georgian house that has survived since about 1700.

The 300-year-old house in the early Georgian style is now in offices. It is a Grade II* listed building. The house was built ca 1700 with additions from the mid-18th and early 19th century.

No 20 is a brick building with plaster dressings and a hipped tile roof with brick stacks. It has a double-depth plan with side and rear wings, is two storeys tall with an attic, and has a symmetrical four-window range.

The house has a plaster plinth and top cornice. The entrance has an architrave and bracketed canopy. The front door is a four-fielded-panel door with two glazed panels.

There are two basement lights. The windows have brick flat arches and cross-casements. There two gabled dormers with two-light casements.

The left return has a small leaded light, there is a lateral stack and a wing with a gabled first floor with a cross-casement window over the carriage way. The right return has two brick platt bands and two stair windows with flanking windows, all with cross casements and some with leaded glazing. The two hipped dormers have two-light casements and an inserted entrance to left end. There is a lateral stack and a rainwater head with a downspout.

The two-storey 18th century wing has a platt band over the ground floor, three windows with 12-pane sashes to each floor, a coped gable end and an end stack.

The 19th century wing has a segmental-headed window to each floor, one small-paned casement and a six-pane horned sash. The rear of the house has two gables. There is varied fenestration, including a tripartite sash to the return of the wing, and the rear of the side wing has a hipped roof over a sashed window.

Inside the house, the room to the left has an ovolo-moulded beam with run-out stops. The room to the right has early 18th century panelling with a dado rail, a bolection-moulded fireplace with an over-mantel with egg-and-dart moulding to the panel and scrolled relief frieze and drops. There is a similar room above.

The dog-leg stair has turned balusters and square newels with finials and pendants, and a bolection-moulded dado. On the first floor, the room to the left has an angle fireplace with Delft tiles.

Stowe Pool Boat House was built around 1890 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Having posted my photograph of this well-preserved early 18th century townhouse, I was surprised to find that there is no listing for Stowe Pool Boat House in Lichfield.

The boathouse is brick-built with hanging tile decoration. It has a pitched clay tile roof with low eaves. It has a simple rectangular plan, it is a single storey building with additional roof space. There are painted timber barge-boards to the gable ends, and painted timbers to the corners of the building and at the top of blue brick plinth. The waterside elevation has a window and a direct entrance from Stowe Pool.

Although the boathouse is not a listed building, the area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is home to a variety of birds and waterfowl as well as the rare and endangered, white-clawed crayfish. The fish in Stowe Pool include roach, perch, carp, pike and tench.

Stowe Pool along with Minster Pool and the Bishop’s Pool were formerly valuable fisheries. In the 18th century, the mill stream on Reeve Lane divided to flow into Stowe Pool as two streams.

A conduit carries Leomansley Brook and Trunkfield Brook under the Museum Gardens and Bird Street into Minster Pool. The water is then fed into a pipe under Dam Street and Stowe Fields, and then into Stowe Pool.

Many of the fields in this area were referred to as “moggs” – a word peculiar to Lichfield and meaning boggy ground.

The ground to the south of Stowe Pool was occupied by long narrow gardens belonging to the houses on Lombard Street.

South Staffordshire Waterworks Company took over Stowe Pool in 1856, and it was then built into a reservoir. This structure is around six metres higher than the original ground level.

During the building work, the waterworks company planted ornamental trees and created a new path along the top of the embankment, and the boathouse was built ca 1890, although some accounts describe it as “Edwardian.”

Before 1856, Stowe Pool existed as a mill pond, with Stowe Mill located to the west of Saint Chad’s Church. Since 1968, the reservoir has not been used to supply water, and it is now solely used for recreation. Stowe Pool is now owned and managed by Lichfield District Council.

Looking across Stowe Pool to Saint Chad’s Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)