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Ashburne Hall (Lees, Mary Worthington, Ward and Central Block), Including the Alice Barlow Memorial , Manchester

Description: Ashburne Hall (Lees, Mary Worthington, Ward and Central Block), Including the Alice Barlow Memorial

Grade: II
Date Listed: 8 June 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1401670

OS Grid Reference: SJ8573794382
OS Grid Coordinates: 385761, 394386
Latitude/Longitude: 53.4460, -2.2158

Locality: Manchester
County: Manchester
Country: England
Postcode: M14 6JB

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Listing Text


A purpose-built women's hall of residence by Sir Percy Scott Worthington, 1910-1933, including the Alice Barlow memorial gates, 1924, and Ashburne Hall Lodge, 1926, both by Sir (John) Hubert Worthington.

Reason for Listing

Ashburne Hall, a hall of residence by Sir Percy Scott Worthington, 1910-1933, including the Alice Barlow memorial gates, 1924, and Ashburne Hall Lodge, 1926, both by Sir (John) Hubert Worthington, are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an early example of a purpose-built Hall of Residence and one of the first women’s halls of residence in England, it also has interest in the history of women's higher education;
* Architectural interest: as high quality examples of the work of both Sir Percy Scott Worthington and Sir (John) Hubert Worthington, two of the most successful architects of this prolific and renowned architectural dynasty;
* Group value: the halls, gates and lodge form a functional group, the separate parts of which have been designed to complement each other, as well as the pre-existing Behren’s House (c.1830, Grade II);
* Historic association: the hall has connections with historic figures of note including Viscount Morley of Blackburn, whose collection of books is housed in the library, and celebrated children’s author Alice Uttley.


The origins of Ashburne Hall began in 1899, when a public meeting was held at Manchester Town Hall to discuss the growth in the number of female university students and the lack of accommodation for them. It was decided that a hall of residence for women should be established and a constitution was drawn up. Ashburne House, located in Victoria Park, was opened for this purpose on 27th January 1900. The Halls moved to the present site in Fallowfield in 1906 when Edward Behrens and his wife Abigail left their house The Oaks to the University on Edward’s death (now known as Behren’s House, c1830, Grade II). The purpose built halls were placed to the east of The Oaks. The first to be constructed was the Mary Worthington Wing, to designs by the renowned Manchester architect, Sir Percy Scott Worthington (1864-1939). It was officially opened on the 22nd October 1910, making it one of the earliest women's Halls of Residence in the country. Mary Worthington was the daughter of a Derbyshire mill owner and a great contributor to the cause of education for women; she regularly donated money following the establishment of the Women’s Department of the University.

When the liberal politician Lord Morley of Blackburn (University Chancellor 1908-1923) died in 1923, he bequeathed his book collection to Ashburne Hall. The Central block was erected in 1924 to include a library which housed this collection and also a large dining hall; this was opened on the 20th May 1925. The Ward wing was constructed at the same time, providing some symmetry to the group. The single-storey projection to the north end of Mary Worthington wing, housing the nurse’s room and surgery, was also erected during this period. Lees wing was constructed in 1933, replacing the ‘tin tunnel’; a makeshift hallway which connected Behrens House to the remainder of the buildings. The addition of Lees necessitated the creation of new openings to connect this block with Behren’s House and the Mary Worthington wing. A modern detached block, Sheavyn House, was added in 1994 to complete the original vision of a quadrangle; this does not form part of the listing.

Noteworthy residents of the Hall include Alice Jane Uttley (1884-1976), author, who in 1906 became the second woman to graduate with honours in Physics at the University.

In 1924 memorial gates were given to Ashburne Hall by Annie E. F. Barlow in memory of her sister, Alice Barlow MA, of Girton College, Cambridge. These were designed by Sir (John) Hubert Worthington (1886-1963) of Thomas Worthington and Son; Percy’s half brother. An entrance lodge was added in 1926; this was also designed by Hubert Worthington. It is in the Regency style, matching Behren’s House; this was originally the Manager’s house. For some time it was rented out to the Greater Manchester Police, however it has recently been refurbished to become a staff training academy.

The Halls were renovated during the 1990s. This included the insertion of a reception area to the north section of the Central block. The ceilings to the ground and first floor corridors in Lees, Mary Whitworth and Ward wings were dropped; it is not known whether features survive above. Bedroom doors were also replaced due to fire regulations, although some have re-used handles.


Materials: Brick with stone and clay tile detailing and slate roofs.

Plan: Irregular. The hall buildings form a roughly reverse L-shaped ensemble with blocks arranged around a grassed quadrangle. Lees wing sits to the north aligned west-east, its south-west corner attached to Behren’s House. It has a projection to the centre of its north elevation. The Mary Worthington wing is attached to the east side of Lees, running north-south with a reverse L-shape projection to the north. The width of the north part is slightly greater than that to the southern half of the north-south section. There is a block to its south end which is aligned west-east, which projects eastwards from the remainder of its building line; this is connected to the Central block on the east side of its south elevation. The Central block also runs north-south. Its central section is stepped forward to the west, flanked by recessed sections to the north and south. Ward wing is attached to the south of the Central block. It mirrors the footprint of the Mary Worthington wing almost exactly, aside from at its south end where it has a block running east-west projecting on either side of the building line. The memorial gates sit to the west side of the site, aligned north-south along Wilmslow Road. The lodge sits to the north-west corner of the plot; it is rectangular plan with a small rear projection.


The accommodation blocks are of two storeys plus attic, in the Arts and Crafts style with Georgian and Tudor motifs. The composition is roughly symmetrical to the east side, with the Ward wing constructed to mirror the Mary Worthington wing either side of the symmetrical Central block. The Lees wing and the southernmost section of Ward wing break the symmetry, although the east section of Lees is similar in style to that of the corresponding section of Ward wing. A subtle variation in the size of gables, chimneys and rooflines means the arrangement is not formal. Thin bricks have been used to face the buildings throughout, and the use of brick string courses and tile detailing has been used to all wings in differing effects. Almost all windows are original multi-paned sashes, and almost all half-glazed multi-paned external doors remain in-situ. All flat-headed openings have brick wedge-lintels.

Central block:
The library and dining hall form the central section of the Central block; this has a double-height second storey with tall windows. The ground floor has rusticated brick bands and rusticated brick wedge lintels to the windows; these details continue to the returns. The central five bays project slightly. Brick quoins have been used to these and the peripheral corners. The roof is hipped and flat in parts, with a projecting hipped roof to the central section.
This section is flanked by two recessed wings with flat roofs and parapets. The ground floors are pierced by three round-headed entrances with multi-paned double doors and fanlights. The second floors are set back to provide a balcony; these house flat-headed windows (one to the south is blind) and decorative brick roundels.
The rear elevation has a curved, full-height entrance bay with parapet to the centre, incorporating a tall round-headed recess with a multi-paned door, tall 16-over-16 window and a date stone reading ‘AD 1924’ above. Flanking wings have numerous flat-headed windows. Access to the cellar is via stone steps with an attached hoist.

Mary Worthington:
This incorporates numerous flat-headed and half-hipped dormer windows and large chimney stacks; the south stack has decorative round-arched recesses and stone banding. There are two entrances recessed behind large arches with tile detailing, in order to create a covered seating area. This incorporates hexagonal floor tiles and fixed wooden benches to the north and south. The south section aligned west-east has a stone plinth. Two paired gables face the quadrangle and there are two full-height stone polygonal bays to the south return. The rear elevation has numerous half-hipped dormers, chimney stacks and flat-headed windows and doors. A gable with segmental-arched window and attached stack sits to the centre of the southern block, overlooking the north-south range. To the north end there is a single-storey, flat roof block with flat-headed windows.

The form of Ward wing mirrors that of Mary Worthington, with replicated details such as the full-height stone bays, paired gables and large arches. Where it differs is in the southern east-west block. Here the east gable end incorporates two windows recessed behind a round-headed opening, while the west gable end has a round-headed recess with multi-paned door and window with a date stone reading ‘AD 1924’ above. The south elevation incorporates two full height brick polygonal bays with flat tops which rise above eaves level to its west side. These have tile detailing between the wedge lintels at first floor level. Round-headed niches with tile detailing sit between them at ground and first floor level. The roofs incorporate slate tile-hung half-hipped dormers and substantial stacks with tile detailing.

This has full-height brick polygonal bays with flat tops which rise above eaves level to its south elevation. The gabled roof is punctuated at regular intervals with slate tile-hung half-hipped dormer windows and large stacks with clay tile detailing. The rear, north-facing elevation has numerous flat-headed windows and half-hipped dormers in a similar style to the front elevation. There is a three bay square projection to the centre with parapet. The east end of the building has been subsumed into the later rear extension to Behren’s House.


All bedroom doors are renewed, although the multi-paned fanlights survive above those with round-headed openings. A number of original internal doors remain in-situ to other areas. The flooring is mainly parquet, although some areas have wooden boards and the service areas are tiled. Original flooring is thought to survive in most places aside from in the dining hall, although carpeted over in places. Window seats and stair landing benches have been incorporated sporadically within all wings.

Central block:
The central section houses the library with dining hall above to the west.
The library is panelled and lined with fitted and half-height projecting shelves, all inscribed with Roman numerals. The southern end is part screened by full-height bookshelves and decorative partitions. All recessed windows incorporate window seats. A librarian’s office sits to the north; this was not inspected internally. A quote from Lord Morley dated 1923 has been inscribed above the door. The ceilings incorporate a periphery band of foliage design plasterwork.
The central corridor to the ground floor is spacious and incorporates a coffered ceiling, round-headed niches and Greek key friezes. A double return stair sits opposite the entrance to the library. This has wide, shallow stone steps and is flanked by round-headed niches and iron handrails. Spiral newels sit on either side of the half landing, at which point the returns become open string, with ironwork balustrading incorporating triple balusters and splat balusters in spiral and foliage designs; these are topped by a wooden handrail. There is a roundel top light above, surrounded by foliage design plasterwork.
The dining room has a dais with fluted Doric columns to its north end. This area is lined with panelling and the ceiling incorporates decorative geometric plasterwork, including Greek Key designs. The dining room has a deeply-coved ceiling. The cornice incorporates geometrical designs in the plasterwork, while the ceiling has bands of plasterwork with foliage designs. The bays are separated by pilasters. There are three glazed multi-panel double doors leading to the corridor and the kitchen (former servery). An honours board sits to the east.
Common rooms sit to the first floor east. The senior Common Room is to the north of the stair; this is lined with fitted shelves to the west and retains its panelled chimneybreast and fireplace with marble detailing. This gives access through to the dais area of the dining hall via small rooms and some steps to the north. The service areas for Ashburne Hall were housed to the ground floor rear of the central and south section of the Central block; these areas are mostly faced with glazed brick. The former laundry has been converted to a common room, although it retains its airing cupboards. The former kitchen retains its dumb waiter which accesses the former servery above. The north section of the Central block houses a modern reception area to its ground floor, although fitted cupboards and a recessed niche with a fixed mirrored wooden coat, hat and umbrella stand has been retained. The first floor houses a room lined with fitted cupboards and glazed bookshelves.

Mary Worthington and Ward:
These contain approximately 60 rooms each, accessed via round-headed doorways with fanlights off spine corridors to the ground and first floors. Rooms are to one side only on the attic floor, accessed via flat-headed doors. Almost all ground and first floor rooms retain their fire surrounds incorporating tiles with recessed wooden shelving above; the grates have however been lost. The attic rooms appear to have never had fireplaces. A good proportion of rooms also retain their cupboards with brass fittings; those to Mary Worthington are round-headed. Bedrooms to Mary Worthington have had vestibules inserted for fire safety. The north-west room of Ward wing houses a common room; this has a window seat to the bay and a Moderne style fireplace.
Each wing incorporates a large stair hall within its northern end. These have an open-well closed-string wooden stair, with wooden balusters grouped into alternate triple stick balusters and single splat balusters. The splat balusters are plain to Ward wing, but shaped and pierced to Mary Worthington; the latter also has ramped handrails. The ceilings are vaulted and incorporate large multi-paned skylights. Two sides of the stairwells are panelled with half-glazed wooden screens; these have necessitated the loss of some balustrading. The turned pillars to the corners have however survived. Modern glazed partitions have been added to the ground floor section of the Ward wing stair. The equivalent section of Mary Worthington remains open, aside from the highly-polished wooden Tuscan columns beneath the stair. This wing once incorporated a shop to the ground floor off the stair hall; the hatch has been blocked although it is still evident.

This is accessed internally from the Mary Worthington wing on all three floors; there is also a knock through to Behren’s House on the west end. Rooms sit to the south and are accessed via flat-headed doorways from the corridor which runs along its length to the north. The projection to the north houses bathroom and toilet facilities, accessed via multi-paned doors. This block also has cleaners’ rooms to each floor with glazed bricks, terrazzo flooring and sluices. Ground and first floor rooms have similar fireplaces to the other wings, although those to the attic rooms have been removed; cupboards do however survive.

Subsidiary features:

Alice Barlow Memorial Gates:
These are elaborate gates which sit to the centre of the boundary wall along Wilmslow Road, aligned to face the Central block. They have rubbed brick curved piers with ornamental stone urns. The gates are of wrought iron, with the insignia of the University (a snake) and the date 1924 in gold. A slate plaque with inscription is situated on the side of the southern pier.

Ashburne Hall Lodge:
This is Regency in style, of stuccoed brick with a hipped slate roof with central stack. The main elevation is to the west, of two storeys with a central entrance under a porch with chamfered columns. Windows are six-over-six pane sashes and the front door is six-panelled. It has been modernised internally, with a kitchen inserted to the ground floor. One internal door survives, although all fireplaces have been removed.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.