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Addleshaw Tower, Chester

Description: Addleshaw Tower

Grade: II
Date Listed: 9 July 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1403484

OS Grid Reference: SJ4067466424
OS Grid Coordinates: 340674, 366424
Latitude/Longitude: 53.1916, -2.8894

Locality: Chester
County: Cheshire West and Chester
Country: England
Postcode: CH1 1HH

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Listing Text


Free-standing bell tower to Chester Cathedral, 1973-5, by George G. Pace. Reinforced concrete frame hung with Bethesda slates, pink sandstone ashlar base.

Reason for Listing

Addleshaw Tower, constructed in 1973-5 to the designs of George G. Pace, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it has a striking and unusual rocket-like form and elegant interior that successfully straddle the interface between traditionalism and modernism, and employ the use of both modern and traditional materials, including a reinforced concrete frame, Bethesda slate cladding, a red sandstone base, abstract Dalle de Verre glass, and doors clad with decorated metal plates;
* Design aesthetic: the tower's highly distinctive design respects its historic setting and context, but at the same time creates something modern and of its time;
* Architect: it was designed by the notable mid-late C20 ecclesiastical architect, George G. Pace and is a significant example of his work, exemplifying his trademark eclectic detailing and modern approach to ecclesiastical architecture to highly successful effect. The tower also represents Pace's last major work before his death in 1975;
* Historic interest: it is the first free-standing bell tower to be built by a cathedral since the C15, and revives and re-interprets this tradition;
* Group value: it has strong group value with the adjacent Grade I listed Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Chester Cathedral) for which it was constructed to serve.


In 1963 the fabric of Chester Cathedral's C15 tower was found to be showing signs of stress and it was deemed no longer capable of carrying the weight of the bells without the construction of a new bell frame. After consultation with George G. Pace, architect to York Minster, it was decided that rather than strengthening the tower it would be more appropriate to build a new free-standing bell tower, which would become the headquarters of the Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers. In 1968 the Dean and Chapter formally announced the proposal for the construction of the bell tower, and in 1969 George G. Pace's design for the tower was exhibited in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

The Addleshaw Tower, named after the tower's commissioner, Dean Addleshaw, was constructed in 1973-5 to the designs of George G. Pace with the engineer Ove Arup & Partners. It was built by A Monk & Co and Frankipile Ltd. The foundation stone was laid by the Lord Lieutenant, Viscount Leverhulme on 16 June 1973 and the tower was opened by the Duke of Gloucester on 25 June 1975. The bells from the cathedral's C15 tower were re-cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough to form a ring of 12 bells and a flat sixth for the new tower, except for two C17 bells that were left in the cathedral. When first constructed the tower's design provoked some controversy and it was locally known as the 'Chester Rocket'. The Ringing Chamber was refurbished in 2008, which involved painting previously bare sections of concrete on the walls.

George Gaze Pace (1915-75) was primarily a church architect, working on the restoration, and design of new churches and ecclesiastical structures in the mid-late C20. His work blended the traditional with the modern, believing that church architecture had to progress beyond strict historicism; one of his most significant works was the reconstruction of Llandaff Cathedral, Llandaff, Cardiff. As well as Addleshaw Tower, Pace also produced designs for Chester Cathedral's nave choir stalls (1966), the crossing ceiling (1970) and the High Altar frontal (1973).


PLAN: Addleshaw Tower is located in the south-east corner of the Chester Cathedral churchyard and is square in plan with a rocket-shaped elevation.

EXTERIOR: the tower is 85ft high and has bored pile foundations due to the presence of an old burial ground and sandstone bedrock near the surface. It has a square base constructed of local pink sandstone with chamfered corners. The base incorporates a deeply recessed, full-height window with angled jambs and abstract Dalle de Verre glass to three sides flanked by smaller, paired, multipaned metal windows. The three Dalle de Verre windows each incorporate small, circular stained glass motifs; those to the north-west window are blue, those to the north-east window are red/orange, and those to the south-east window are green. The main entrance is set to the south-west side of the base and consists of a deeply recessed doorway with angled jambs and timber double doors clad externally with metal plates of various size decorated with a leaf print. Behind are timber, inner double doors in red with pierced panels covered by mesh. To the left of the entrance is a large slate with an inscription that reads 'THE ADDLESHAW TOWER/ The Cathedral bells were re-hung in this Tower in 1975/ G.W.O. Addleshaw. Dean.1963-77'. The tower's foundation stone lies to the north-west side and has stylised, carved lettering, which reads 'LAID. BY/ VISCOUNT. LEVERHULME/ LORD. LIEUTENANT. OF. CHESHIRE/ SATURDAY. 16. JUNE. 1973/ GERALD. ELLISON. BISHOP. OF. CHESTER/ GEORGE. ADDLESHAW. DEAN. OF. CHESTER'. The main upper part of the tower is covered by a timber frame, which is hung externally with small Welsh Bethesda slates. Directly above the tower base is a reinforced concrete overhang clad in metal, from which the tower rises with inclined sides to meet a band of small, square, multipaned windows that runs around all four sides of the building and lights the Ringing Chamber. The remaining upper section of the tower is the tallest part of the tower and tapers more gently. It is capped by a pyramidal roof. The belfry is expressed as a band of small louvred windows set below the eaves.

INTERIOR: the tower's reinforced concrete frame is stiffened against the bells' ringing forces by panels of mellow red brickwork, which are visible internally on each floor. The interior consists of a meeting room on the ground floor, which is set within the tower's base and has a small, later inserted kitchenette in the south corner and toilets to the west and north corners. Set in front of the north-east Dalle de Verre window is a metal and timber spiral stair enclosed by vertical timber planks that are evenly spaced to allow light in from the window behind. The stair leads up into the almost double-height Ringing Chamber, which is lit by a high-level band of windows and has bench seating along the north-west wall. The bell ropes are arranged in a circular pattern, reflecting the arrangement of the bells, and the reinforced concrete sections of the walls, which were originally bare have been painted. Adorning the south-west wall of the chamber are older tablets commemorating peals rung by the Guild. A metal ladder stair set to the east corner of the chamber accesses the Sound Chamber above and the Belfry at the top of the tower. The Belfry contains a ring of 12 bells with an additional flat sixth, which can be used instead of the normal number six bell.

Source: English Heritage

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