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Rushmere Hall School, Ipswich

Description: Rushmere Hall School

Grade: II
Date Listed: 25 July 2013
Building ID: 1415661

OS Grid Reference: TM1862346220
OS Grid Coordinates: 618623, 246166
Latitude/Longitude: 52.0707, 1.1885

Locality: Ipswich
Local Authority: Ipswich Borough Council
County: Suffolk
Postcode: IP4 3HF

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Listing Text


Primary school of 1947-49 by Johns, Slater and Haward.

Reason for Listing

Rushmere Hall School, Ipswich, a primary school of 1947-9 by Johns, Slater and Haward, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: an innovative design, given a Festival of Britain Merit Award in 1951, combining a simple, but thoughtfully applied palette of materials, bespoke light-weight steel frame and distinctive elevational treatment;
* Historic interest; the first primary school by Johns, Slater and Haward whose educational buildings provide a snapshot of the evolution of primary school design from 1947 to the 1970s. Birkin Haward became known as one of the foremost post-war school architects, and has two listed buildings to his name;
* Interior: the plan-form is largely intact and continues to be fit for purpose in the C21, thoughtfully combining interconnectivity and separation between infants and juniors and reflecting the post-war educational philosophy in the provision of two interior and two exterior interlinked teaching spaces per class;
* Intactness: the school has a high degree of external and internal intactness, including windows and doors.


The village of Rushmere to the north-east of Ipswich is recorded in Domesday Book (1086) as Riccesmere and possessed a manor from the early medieval period. In the C17, Rushmere Hall was constructed some 500m to the east of the school’s location and was surrounded by an extensive designed landscape. The 1882 Ordnance Survey (OS) map indicates that the estate’s kitchen garden was located on the site of the school, enclosed by four walls and containing a bothy and a small orchard, the remnant of which survives within the school grounds. Specimen trees within the school grounds were once part of the hall’s parkland. The hall, the walled kitchen garden and the bothy later known as Ross Cottage are shown on the 1927 OS map. It is uncertain when these structures were demolished but the grounds and surrounding fields were developed for housing after WWII, a process continuing in 2013.

Birkin Haward (1912-2002) was a talented young architect first articled to H. Munro Cautley (the Ipswich Diocesan surveyor and antiquarian) in 1929, then graduating from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London whence he joined Mendelsohn and Chermayeff as an assistant working on the detailed design of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill (1936, Grade I). After war service he joined the architectural practice of Johns and Slater, becoming a partner in 1949. Between 1948-1974 the firm of Johns, Slater and Haward designed 44 new primary schools in Ipswich, Hertfordshire, Essex, the North Riding of Yorkshire and Leeds. Haward also designed Castle Hill Congregational Church and his family house The Spinney, both in Ipswich and listed at Grade II.

Haward was the job architect for Rushmere Hall School, the practice’s first school design built between 1947-49 which received a Festival of Britain Merit Award in 1951. It is little changed externally; the canopies at the south-facing elevation of the infants’ teaching rooms have been removed and some door openings in the junior range have been blocked. The windows of the school reception block have been replaced with powder-coated aluminium alternatives. Internally the plan form survives well, designed so that each school year is served by a pair of classrooms, each with its own internal lobby, external patio and rear open space. There have been some alterations to the internal spaces of the junior’s range and some localised refurbishment in recent years.

A swimming pool was constructed to the east of the south end of the junior’s hall in the late C20. Two separate classrooms were added at the eastern boundary of the site between the infant and junior ranges in the 1980s which now serve as reception classes. In the C21 a separate, timber-clad Children's Centre was constructed adjacent to the nursery classrooms at the north boundary of the site, and is owned and managed by the Education Authority. In 2012 a demountable classroom was positioned to the east of the junior's hall. None of these structures have special architectural and historic interest.


Primary school of 1947-49 by Johns, Slater and Haward for the County Borough of Ipswich.

A lightweight steel frame, with cross walls of traditional brick work, concrete panel cladding and asphalt-coated roofs.

An asymmetrical zig-zag plan with separate linear teaching ranges extending eastwards (for the infants) from the north end of a central, north-south aligned block, and westwards (for the juniors) from its south end. Each teaching range comprises long corridors from which classrooms, teaching lobbies and other facilities are accessed.

The exterior treatment is consistent throughout the school, comprising exposed brick walls, some clad with concrete panels, flat and pent roofs and Crittall casement windows with brass fittings; the top, south-facing lights of the classrooms have a hopper opening.

The central, north–south block contains the main reception, head teacher and staff rooms, kitchen, canteen and storage facilities. At the north end of the block is the infant’s hall and lobby, from which a linear teaching range extends eastwards, including, at the far east end, a two-classroom nursery at a cross angle. The junior range lies at the south end of central block, extending westwards. The junior hall lies at the rear of the main reception: two classrooms are located to the east of the hall and four to the west. Two additional classrooms for the eldest pupils are attached at a cross-angle to the west end of the junior range.

Both of the teaching ranges share the same arrangement. The north elevations have near continuous bands of fenestration above concrete-clad walls, punctuated by pairs of boys and girls entrance doors with porthole openings, beneath flat-roofed porches, which lead out to small, diminished gardens and hard-surfaced playgrounds. On the south elevations, classrooms project to the south, each with pent roofs accommodating north lights. Each classroom has full-height side doors leading to individual small patios, beyond which an open grassed space gives an open teaching area. The classrooms have brise-soleil, possibly introduced later, comprising steel joists with concrete panel or asbestos sheet coverings; many of the concrete panel coverings to the infants range have been removed.

Both the junior and infants halls are consistent in treatment. The double-height halls have blind rear elevations flanked by lower brick porches with external doors; the north elevation of the infant's hall has the Festival of Britain plaque attached to it. The return elevations have lower and top lights on one side, and on the other, pairs of double-doors leading to the hard-surfaced playgrounds.

The interior is generally functional in appearance. All elements are served by long corridors. On the north side of the corridor in the teaching ranges are storage, toilet facilities and cloakrooms. On the south side are shared teaching lobbies leading directly to each classroom. The aspect and design of the classrooms provides a naturally lit space; each has exposed steel joists to the roofs, intact fenestration and doors to the exterior patio. The halls have exposed steel roof trusses, a stage flanked by two storage and changing rooms and parquet flooring.

Elsewhere, there has been replacement of doors and fixtures and fittings in general. There has been some reconfiguration to some rooms north of the corridor of the junior teaching range and the main reception and ancillary rooms in the north-south block have been refurbished.

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