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Latitude: 51.4904 / 51°29'25"N
Longitude: -3.2123 / 3°12'44"W
OS Eastings: 315925
OS Northings: 177520
OS Grid: ST159775
Mapcode National: GBR K8H.PQ
Mapcode Global: VH6F6.8SMV
Entry Name: Howells School, Original Building with Big Hall
Location: On the west side of Cardiff Road and the first major building of Llandaff when approached from the south.
Traditional County: Glamorgan
Listing Date: 19 May 1975
Last Amended: 30 June 2003
Building Class: Education
Source ID: 13660
Built 1858-9. Outline plans - an adaption of those for Howells School, Denbigh (see below) - are said to have been drawn up by Decimus Burton who withdrew before producing final designs. Working drawings, specifications and the superintending of the execution of the work were undertaken by Herbert Williams, the Drapers Company house architect, see watercolour in entrance hall. The school originated with a bequest by Thomas Howells in 1537 to the London Drapers Company to provide dowries for orphan girls. The Drapers achieved a variation of purpose through Act of Parliament in 1852 so that orphan girls could benefit through education, and the first school at Denbigh was followed by this one in Llandaff.
A wing, including Big Hall, was added by G E Halliday in 1899-1900 but the main building is otherwise largely unaltered.
The school is built of pale grey roughly coursed and squared lias limestone, with Forest of Dean ashlar dressings, and Welsh slate gabled roofs with fishscale banding and tiled cresting. An austere Continental Late Gothic style, apparently with influences from medieval collegiate buildings, but with little decoration as befitted a charitable foundation. Original building comprises entrance wing with small quadrangle behind and with wing projecting eastward towards road at south end of entrance wing.
Entrance wing with windows to Board Room on ground floor at north end. Latter (Board Room) has two transomed and mullioned windows flanking centre 3-light window in pointed head; above, two end transomed and mullioned windows and panel with coat-of-arms in centre. To south of Board Room, entrance up steps and through base of buttressed rectangular four stage clock tower with tall pyramidal slate roof with bell-cast eaves and a small louvred belfry opening to each face. Pointed doorway with carved spandrels and headmould at base with this inscription over; ''This School for the board, clothing and education of orphan girls was erected in the year 1859 by the Drapers Company of the City of London out of funds bequeathed to them by Thomas Howell one of their members who died at Seville in Spain in Anno Domini 1537.'' Above a coat of arms and a canopied statue of Our Lady in a niche (statue by Frank Roper), flanked by small windows. Above this is a single window with a hoodmould and above that a projecting clock under a machicolated parapet. To south of entrance tower there are four bays; 2 and 3-light mullioned and transomed windows on ground floor to offices and a canted bay window for the Headmistress's sitting room. Above this is a 3-light mullion-and-transom window and a gable over. Very steeply pitched roofs with a tall ridge stack on the right hand gable.
Eastward projecting wing at south end of entrance wing; at west end, single storey Day Room with five windows of 3-trefoil-headed-lights in a pointed head, parapet over. To rear of Day Room a two storey wing with second and fourth first floor windows with pointed heads with gables over and, in between them, 3-light windows with rectangular heads to lights. To east of Day Room, a 2-storey gabled bay with 3-light pointed head transomed window on first floor and below, round-headed doorway with gabled canopy and with three round-headed windows to left hand. Octagonal belfry with peaked roof at east end of gable, louvred bell openings. To east again, two later two storey wings projecting east and with gable ends facing east.
South-east elevation; This was originally symmetrical, with wider gables in the centre and at the ends; intermediate wings between end and centre gables, still each of five bays, each with small pointed gables over second and fourth bays as in upper floor to rear of Day Room. Stacks on ridge. Centre gable now obscured by Big Hall addition of 1900 in Perpendicular style. Upper window in south-east end of Hall of 5-lights in a curved head; flanked by buttresses. Transomed windows of 3-lights on upper level in each return of Hall.
Quadrangle to rear of Entrance wing with flagged stone paving and modern metal fountain sculpture. South-west and north-west sides of one storey only. South-west kitchen wing now with gabled bay to south and a section of two storeys, with hipped slate roof, to the north. North-west side of quadrangle with single storey wing in front with later three storey wing, projecting south-west from north gable end of entrance wing, to rear. The latter is the north-west wing of the school (see item heading).
Within, at the south-east end of the entrance wing, the Stone Hall with stone staircase in straight flights with cast iron balustrade and with the pyramidal lantern over. Also, to south of this, the Big Hall with stained wood panelling and panelled ceiling, this is a later insertion which probably hides a hammer-beam roof. The walls are decorated above the panelling by contemporary murals showing scenes from Shakespeare's plays, notably ''The Merchant of Venice''. The interiors were otherwise not seen at resurvey (April 2002) except for the Board Room to the right of the main entrance, which remains unaltered.
Included at Grade II* as a very little altered mid C19 boarding school and the finest design of its type in S Wales.
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