Late Georgian terrace of three houses built in 1823.
Reason for Listing
16-20 Lee Street, a terrace of three houses built in 1823, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is a good example of a late Georgian terrace with a well-proportioned, slightly asymmetrical façade and high quality architectural detailing, notably the finely jointed handmade red brick, the elegant neo-Classical doorcases, and sash windows with slender glazing bars;
* Interior: the decorative treatment is typical of polite early C19 houses with its graceful staircases, simple roll mouldings, reeded fireplace surrounds and moulded six-panelled doors. One of the most significant elements is the remnant of the wall painting scheme in the hall, staircase and landing of no. 20, a rare surviving feature that provides important evidence of what was once a relatively common practice;
* Intactness: the internal layout of the terrace has been preserved almost in its original state (with the exception of the rear wings) and a high proportion of the good quality fixtures and fittings remain in the principal rooms. The contemporary features in the service areas also help to provide a meaningful picture of the original use and function of the various spaces;
* Historic interest: the terrace contributes strongly to the extremely well-preserved pattern of housing development representative of the peak of Louth’s C19 economic prosperity.
The town of Louth in Lincolnshire, often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Wolds’ has Saxon origins, and at the time of the Domesday survey was one of Lincolnshire’s 7 market towns, with a population of 600. Its medieval core is still discernible in the town’s street pattern, and was bounded by the River Lud, the streets of Gospelgate and Kidgate to the south and Church Street to the east. Street names including the suffix ‘gate’ abound in the medieval core, which is signed from a great distance in every direction by the spire of St James Church, completed in 1505, the tallest such spire of any parish church in England. Louth’s medieval prosperity was derived from exporting wool and grain, and its magnificent parish church is testimony to the wealth generated by agriculture in the region, and by Louth’s relative proximity to the east coast.
The town’s population was reduced by three-quarters by outbreaks of plague in the 1630s, and by the early C18 economic prosperity had understandably waned considerably. However, the opening of the Louth-Tetney canal in 1770 heralded a new era of prosperity, and the growth of industries related not only to the region’s agriculture such as malting and grain processing, but also activities such as tanning, boatbuilding and warehousing. Much of this development took place around the canal terminus at Riverhead, and the growth of the town eastwards, along Eastgate, James Street and Walkergate. In 1848, the East Lincolnshire Railway came to Louth, extending trade and communication links beyond those of the canal, and further enhancing the town’s economic strength. An expanding population stimulated the development of terraced housing and villas, churches, chapels, schools and a range of public buildings all graphically captured in the remarkable ‘Louth Panorama’, a two section painting produced by a local man, William Brown in 1844. The Panorama presents a view of the town from high in the spire of St James’ Church. It portrays Louth at the height of its development and prosperity, shortly after the arrival of the railway, set in its surrounding rural landscape, with the east coast seascape in the background. The structure of the town has changed remarkably little since the Panorama was created, and Louth has mercifully escaped the large-scale post-war redevelopment experienced by many communities in England. Louth remains a thriving historic market town with a high proportion of well-preserved C19 buildings.
The earliest houses on Lee Street were laid out between the mid-1820s and the mid-1830s. The road was named after Robert Lee of Thorpe Hall who had owned a large garden on the site. Nos 16-20 (even) were built in 1823 forming one property which belonged to Mr Johnson, an apothecary and surgeon, who had his surgery there. The property was clearly built as three separate dwellings, all with similar detailing and joinery, and it is likely that Mr Johnson rented out the two he did not occupy. It is thought that an early tenant of no. 16 was Mr Pridmore who was a taylor in the town. In 1861 Edwin Wright, a Free Methodist Minister, is recorded as residing at no. 18, and Elvin Wood, a cowkeeper, at no. 20. This last is surprising given the rather genteel character of the houses. In 1891 Frances Bingham, a lodging-house keeper, is recorded as living at no. 20. Since then, nos 16 and 20 have continued as private dwellings, whilst no. 18 has been occupied by the Women’s Institute since 1968.
The houses have undergone some changes since the 1820s. The long service range to the rear of no. 16 depicted on the Ordnance Survey maps of 1889, 1906 and 1932 has since been truncated with the loss of the end unit. Nos 18 and 20, which unlike no. 16 have basement kitchens, are not shown with rear service ranges until the 1906 map. The service ranges of all three houses have undergone the most alteration. The outbuildings of no. 18 have been replaced, about nine years ago, with a single-storey extension (of the same footprint); and the rear range of no. 20 shows evidence of blocked and altered openings. The roof of no. 18 has been reclad in the late C20, and at some point the party wall between the two front first-floor bedrooms has been removed to create a larger room.
In the late C20 the owners of no. 20 stripped the wallpaper from the entrance hall, staircase and landing to reveal a painted wall surface resembling large blocks of ashlared stone. Most of the hall has been plastered over resulting in the most unfortunate loss of part of the scheme. Some sections are still exposed however, and although other areas have been papered over, there is evidence that the painted surface survives underneath. Painted decorative schemes have been a feature of English interiors since the medieval period, encompassing a wide range of over-mantel, over-door and whole-wall schemes, stencilled or painted either on plaster, panelling or fabric. The typical early C19 division of the wall into cornice, field and dado was sometimes enhanced by decorative emphasis in the area of the main field which could be treated with plain or fancy plasterwork, painted with a flat coat of paint or specialist paintwork, or hung with wallpapers. These had become fashionable in the C18 but remained too expensive for many until later in the C19 and so wall paintings continued to enliven late Georgian interiors. Oil paint was typically used as it was the most durable medium in England’s particular climatic conditions. The painting of wall surfaces in imitation of stone blocks or marble was considered to be a superior treatment that was much favoured for halls and staircases. One of the earliest known examples of this pattern is in a house in Queen Square, Bath, designed by the architect John Wood the Elder around c1729, in which the stairwell was painted with faux marble ashlar blocks, although this design became more popular in the early C19.
Late Georgian terrace of three houses built in 1823.
MATERIALS: hand-made red brick laid in Flemish bond with stone dressings. No. 16 has a roof covering of pantiles and nos 18 and 20 of slate.
PLAN: the row of three houses with rear service wings faces east onto Lee Street and are set back from the pavement behind a low boundary wall enclosing a small garden. The wall has been rebuilt and is not of special interest.
EXTERIOR: the terrace has a pleasing late Georgian regularity without being symmetrical. Nos 18 and 20 have more the appearance of being a pair as no. 16 is lower down, due to the steep northward slope of Lee Street. The houses have two storeys and attics, and nos 18 and 20 have basement kitchens. The pitched roofs have brick ridge stacks, and no. 16 has a plain timber eaves cornice. The regular fenestration consists of eight-over-eight pane sash windows on the ground floor and six-over-six pane sashes on the first floor, all with slender glazing bars, a timber sill and rusticated wedge stone lintels, which have been painted white on nos 16 and 18. The elegant neo-Classical doorcases have fluted sides and a moulded cornice surmounted by a dentilled open-bed pediment. They have semi-circular fanlights with delicate glazing bars in a curved V-shape intersected by an inverted curved V. The six-panelled doors with raised and fielded panels survive on nos 20 and 16 (although the four upper panels on the latter have been replaced with glazing) but not on no. 20 which has a C20 four-panelled door with glazed upper panels.
From the right, no. 16 has two bays with the front door occupying the right hand bay. Between the first-floor windows is a decorative metal fire-plate bearing the inscription ‘ROYAL’ with a crown above and a cormorant with seaweed in its mouth below. This is the Liver Bird, the crest of Liverpool, where the fire insurance company known as The Royal was established in 1845. No. 18 has three bays with the door in the central bay, and a wide carriage arch in the right hand bay which provides access to the rear of no. 16. This has a segmental arch of rubbed bricks and a large double leaf batten door, painted black. There is a single bay between nos 18 and 20 which has a narrow opening with a semi-circular arch of rubbed bricks, providing access to the rear of both houses. Above the opening is a false window in the same style as the other fenestration, added to provide regularity. No. 20 has two bays with the front door on the left hand bay. The low boundary walls in front of all the houses have been rebuilt but are in their original positions.
The rear (west) elevation of no. 16 has tall, paired two-over-two pane sash windows on the ground floor, and a six-over-six pane sash under a cambered brick arch above. The two-storey wing is lit on the west side by a semi-circular arched window with radial glazing bars, and a multi-pane, shallow bow window above. The single-storey service range has modern windows and doors. The rear elevations of nos 18 and 20 are similar to each other. Either side of the central passageway is a canted bay which has a sash window with boardered glazing bars, a first-floor sash window under a cambered brick arch, and dormer windows wholly in the roof space with horizontal sliding sashes. The two-storey wings are lit on the west side by sash windows with a varying number of panes, and the north side of no. 20 has an enlarged window opening with a C20 window. The single-storey range of outbuildings at no. 18 has been rebuilt in the late C20.
INTERIOR: the houses have a similar plan form basically consisting of an entrance hall which opens into two reception rooms on one side and another room in the rear wing. The staircase at the end of the hall leads up to four first-floor rooms: two at the front, one at the side and another at the rear. One large room has been created at the front of no. 18 by the removal of the party wall between two rooms which otherwise remain intact. The attic is accessed via a secondary stair off the landing and has two rooms. Nos 18 and 20 have two rooms in the basement, formerly the kitchen and service area.
The internal fittings, fixtures and joinery in the three houses survive with a high level of intactness, and in many respects are of the same design. In the entrance hall a panelled arched opening frames the dog-leg stair which has an open string with decorative carved tread ends, slender round newel posts on square bases, and two stick balusters per tread supporting a mahogany handrail which sweeps gracefully upwards to gain height at the turn. The skirting boards are generally narrow with roll mouldings, as are the cornices where they occur, and some rooms have a moulded picture rail. The front reception room of no. 16 has a wide frieze of decorative plasterwork. Six-panelled doors with panel mouldings and narrow moulded doorframes are used throughout, except for some subsidiary rooms which have four-panelled doors with chamfered panels. Two of the bedroom doors in no. 16 have brass finger plates, one depicting a lady in flowing dress (now painted over) and the other a sinuous Art Nouveau design, both possibly dating to the turn of the C20. The original fireplaces on the ground floors have not survived, with the exception of the grate in no. 20, but the bedrooms mostly retain fireplaces of various designs, including the typical early C19 reeded and roundel type in no. 16, decorative cast iron fireplaces, and more simple timber surrounds, mostly all painted white. In some of the reception rooms and principal bedrooms the projection for the fireplace extends on one side to provide either a cupboard with panelled and glazed doors, or some form of shelving. Most of the rooms are carpeted so it is not known how many of the original floor coverings survive, although no. 16 retains a stone-flagged entrance hall, and no. 20 some floorboards.
A number of original features also survive in the service areas which illustrate their former uses. Well-worn stone steps lead down to the basements in nos 18 and 20 where there are two large rooms, one of which retains a cast iron cooking range (this is boarded over in no. 20). The basement of no. 18 has a stone-tiled floor and a well, now covered over, and the second room retains a hob grate. There is an alcove in the kitchen in the rear wing of no. 16 where the range used to be, and along the same wall a series of fitted cupboards from floor to ceiling which probably date to the first half of the C20. The attic rooms in nos 18 and 20 have original plank and batten doors with strap hinges and latches. In no. 18 one of the attic rooms has hooks in the ceiling and the wire from the service bells, whilst the other room has the original lock on the door indicating that it was a servant’s bedroom.
One of the most significant features in the row is the remnants of the painted wall scheme in no. 20. Photographs taken by a former owner, probably in the 1990s, show the entrance hall, staircase and landing painted to resemble large blocks of ashlared stone, the joints painted in thin black lines. Analysis has not been carried out but it appears to have been executed with an oil-based paint directly onto the plaster. The photographs of the landing appear also to show a wide frieze painted to resemble much narrower blocks. Much of the painting in the hall has been destroyed by the application of C20 plaster, and although most of the remaining scheme has been papered over, the slightly raised lines imitating the fine joints can be seen underneath, indicating that it still survives. Some of the painting in the entrance hall, above the front door, and along the rear hall around the door of the rear reception room, is currently exposed (2013).
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.