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Malvern Library, Malvern

Description: Malvern Library

Grade: II
Date Listed: 14 June 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1408873

OS Grid Reference: SO7774146111
OS Grid Coordinates: 377740, 246111
Latitude/Longitude: 52.1129, -2.3265

Locality: Malvern
Local Authority: Malvern Hills District Council
County: Worcestershire
Country: England
Postcode: WR14 2TB

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Listing Text


A borough library of 1905-6 designed by Henry A Crouch in a loosely Baroque style and built by James Herbert.

Reason for Listing

The Malvern Library, Graham Road, Malvern is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural Interest: the west front of the building has an accomplished facade designed in an Edwardian Baroque style which appears to draw inspiration from the works of Sir Christopher Wren. The interior continues the theme of a Baroque design with an airy and legible design and good detailing;
* Intactness: although there has been an extension to the east side, this has only involved the partial removal of the original walling on that side of the building. The other fronts and the internal spaces have retained their layout and much of their original detailing and the original plan and functioning of the building can be read;
* Group Value: the library and the later war memorial designed by Sir Aston Webb & Sons and Richard R Goulden in 1921-3, form an intentional and attractive group.


A private library for Malvern had been established in the Exchange building at the end of the C19, but a public library without subscriptions was sought for the town in the early years of the C20. A gift towards the library was made by the Andrew Carnegie foundation, which offered £5,000, with the usual stipulation that the local council should provide the land on which it was to be built and pay for the future maintenance of the building. The land was given by Sir Henry Foley Grey, who was Lord of the Manor of Malvern and also Chairman of the Malvern Urban District Council at the time. His donation consisted of a meadow, so that the library would have space around it for a garden. The local benefactor, CW Dyson Perrins, also gave an additional £3,000 so that the building could 'be more complete and with better fittings' (see SOURCES, Lucas). Perrins’ grant also paid for a lecture hall, to the south of the entrance, to seat 200.

An open competition was organized for the design of the new building, with Henry Hare appointed as assessor by the RIBA. The winner was Henry A Crouch, and James Herbert was appointed as builder. The foundation stone was laid on 9 February 1905 and the library was opened by Mrs Dyson Perrins on 17 May 1906. An extension was added to the east side in 1936 by Maurice Jones LRIBA. The building was used as an Air Raid Wardens' post from1939-45, during the Second World War. The library was restored in 1967 and an extension to the ground floor and basement was added to the east side in 2005, which replaced and extended the additions of 1936.


MATERIALS: the building is of red brick laid in English bond with colour-matched mortar and sandstone dressings and has a plain tile roof.

PLAN: the building has an E-shaped plan, with three gabled ranges projecting east from a spinal range at west. The building is one and two storied and takes advantage of a sloping site to reveal a basement floor on the eastern side.

EXTERIOR: the western, entrance front is symmetrical, with a central pavilion of two storeys and single-storied wings at either side. The central three-bays are richly decorated with stone dressings which include Ionic pilasters on plinths. The ground floor has an arcade which was formerly open, but now has modern glazing. Each arch has a triple keystone and above the central arch is a cartouche with coat of arms and deeply-cut swags of flowers. The first floor has sash windows with lugged stone surrounds and stone aprons. Above the pilasters are sections of frieze and to the top of the wall is a deep cornice which rises in an arch above the central bay and encloses an oval window with swags of carved flowers at either side. There is a pyramidal roof above this central pavilion with chimney stacks which have banded sandstone decoration and moulded caps. At either side are wings of five-bays with banded decoration to the walls and sash windows grouped in pairs, each having a central mullion. To the roof are flat-headed dormers which each have three casement lights.

The south flank has a projecting bay at left with stone panels to each corner and cartouches to the upper wall. There is a central doorway with panelled door and canopied hood, above which is a Diocletian window, set in the gable. To right of this are five-bays with paired sash windows, as on the west front. Recessed and joined to the original building at right, is the addition of 2005 which has a metal clad juncture between the old and new, after which it is of red brick with soldier coursed heads to the windows and a simple cavetto moulding in stone to the top of the wall. The north flank is essentially similar, save that it does not have a door at its gabled, western end, but small windows to the upper wall. The east front, which dates from 2005, has a segmental bow of glass to the centre of the front, with brick walling at either side.

INTERIOR: the former arcade at ground floor level on the west side was enclosed in 2005 with glass doors. Its rear wall has a central doorway with a stone surround which has the word 'LIBRARY' in relief to the top of the frame. At either side are oval windows with stone surrounds. The right hand flank wall has a similar doorway which is inscribed 'HALL'. A corridor leads to the library and this has a barrel vault with moulded plaster ribs. The library space is divided into three main areas, with a central space, which was where the issue desk was originally positioned and reading rooms to either side. The central area has a glazed skylight, which takes the form of a lantern of three bays with a pitched, glazed roof. It has arched braces which are supported on brackets and free-standing, miniature columns. There are plaster wreaths to the panels. The ceiling is supported by square pillars with matching pilaster responds to the wall. The lateral reading rooms, approached through arcades. Both have segmental, barrel vaults with central glazed panels. Against the side walls in both rooms are free-standing Ionic columns with distinct entasis and swags suspended from the capitals. A reading room to the north of the entrance has fitted cupboards and a fireplace with wooden surround and green tiles. The staircase to the first floor has a metal balustrade and a mahogany handrail which is ramped and has a wreathed curtail. There are cast iron fire surrounds to the first floor rooms, which are now converted to offices, and a wooden surround with marble slips to a room which may have been the librarian's office or a committee room. The assembly hall has a square alcove at its northern end, which may have housed a stage, and has arched braces to the roof. Its northern flank wall has been opened to connect with the library by a series of arches and the room is now a children's library. The original rear wall of the central space has been removed to connect with the addition of 2005. This has an imperial staircase placed in the segmental bow which connects to the basement floor which has computer desks and a cafe.

The extension of 2005 is of lesser interest than the earlier structure and thus not included as part of the listing.

Source: English Heritage

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