A large, suburban villa of c.1862-66 with later-C19 and early-C20 additions, designed and built by Edmund Wallace Elmslie for himself and added to by Dr. Archibald Weir. The sculptor William Forsyth, who did much work for Elmslie, is believed to have worked on the building.
Reason for Listing
The Grove, The Avenue, Malvern, a villa of 1862-66 designed by Edmund Elmslie for himself and including stone carving by William Forsyth, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: in its planning, massing and detailing The Grove is in advance of the majority of mid-C19 houses of its type;
* Intact survival: the plan and many of the fittings for this prosperous, suburban villa remain in their original condition, despite the use of the building as a girls’ school during the C20;
* Context: The Grove forms one part of a cluster of prominent, buildings in this part of Great Malvern which were designed by Elmslie, with stone carving by Forsyth, including Great Malvern Station (Grade II) and the former Imperial Hotel (Grade II).
The Grove (Formerly St Mungho’s), Avenue Road was designed and built by Edmund Wallace Elmslie for himself. Elmslie seems to have moved to Malvern in the early 1850s and was elected a town commissioner in 1855. A reference in the Hereford Times in June 1862 refers to Elmslie’s house in the course of erection.
The house was sold, apparently in an incomplete state, in 1866 to Dr Archibald Weir, a hydropathic therapist. Elmslie signed a debtor’s deed in late 1866, having dissolved his architectural partnership earlier that year. It was Weir who finished the building and his initials, together with the date ‘1867’, are carved on a datestone on the north front. Architectural carving appears to have been undertaken by William Forsyth, with whom Elmslie had worked on Great Malvern Station, 1860-2 and the Worcester City and County bank in 1861-2. Forsyth’s surviving account books do not start until December 1867, but in January 1868 he records that bills for carving a fireplace and for painting and decorating parts of the house including the drawing room, staircase and nursery had been settled.
It is believed that Weir added the single-storey billiard room on the north side of the house and Forsyth’s account book records payments in 1884/5 for work carving a ‘Chimney piece for Billiard Room … bosses, spandrills [sic] etc.’. The Ordnance Survey maps reveal that the raised stage to the east of the billiard room, together with its basement undercroft, were added between 1904 and 1927. The house was sold in this latter year to become part of Lawnside girls’ school, and the addition may have been an alteration to create an assembly or dining room for the school. The house was sold by the school in 1994 and it has reverted to domestic use.
A back staircase was removed at some time in the C20 and several rooms were subdivided by partition walls to provide smaller bedrooms for girls, which have now been largely removed. Other than this, the structure has been little altered since its completion and retains many of its original fixtures.
A large, suburban villa of c.1864 with later-C19 and early-C20 additions, designed and built by Edmund Wallace Elmslie for himself and added to by Dr. Archibald Weir. The sculptor William Forsyth, who did much work for Elmslie, worked on the building.
The house has rock-faced walling, with ashlar dressings and a plain tile roof.
There are two storeys with attic and basement.
EXTERIOR: the east face has three bays, of which the central one is wider and has a projecting square bay window to the basement and ground floors with ashlar walling. Columns with marble shafts and carved capitals are set between the ground floor lights and the pierced parapet has quatrefoils. The two first floor windows above this bay have alternating grey and cream voussoirs. First floor windows to either side of this central bay have paired lancets with a quatrefoil to the centre above. Arched and moulded timber posts rise from projecting brackets which form part of the string course between the ground and first floors. These, in turn, support timber arches which connect with the barge boards. All three bays have a gabled top, those at either side having half-hipped caps. The billiard room extension to the right is recessed and has an open loggia at basement level with a five-light mullioned window to the ground floor.
The basement level on the south front is partially buried. At right there is a broad, gabled bay and to its centre is a projecting bay with a semi-circular end. This is elaborately decorated with mullioned and transomed, cusped lights at either side, set in recessed panels which have nailhead decoration to their tops. Above is a running band of foliage decoration at eaves level. To the centre is a round arched doorway for a pair of curved French windows. The tiled roof is apsidal, with a cast iron finial. At either side are two-light windows at ground floor level, and there are two-light windows with striped voussoirs to the first floor. Projecting brackets indicate that this gable originally had carved wooden posts rising to connect with the bargeboards, but these have now been removed.
The drive front (west) has a projecting, gabled porch wing. At either side are buttresses with offsets and at the centre is a broad arch with heavy hood mould which has a porch door at left and a two-light window to the right. Short marble columns are set to either side and at the centre, with deeply-carved capitals and foliage to the surround. At first floor level above this is a tri-partite window with an arched centre light flanked by flat-headed lights, with banded marble columns between. Moulded posts and bargeboards, as before, rise into the gable space. First floor gabled windows with similar posts and bargeboards flank the porch bay. Other fenestration on this front is randomly distributed, with a five-light transomed window with cusped lights to the ground floor at left. The billiard room projects to far left and has two porthole windows.
INTERIOR: the entrance hall is approached up a short flight of broad steps and has encaustic tiles to the floor and a stone fire surround. A wide corridor, with a further stone fire surround, leads north from here to the billiard room. The three rooms facing east interconnect. The central one is the present dining room and has fixed seating in the square bay. The room to its north has a stone window seat which forms part of the window surround. The majority of the ground floor rooms retain their original stone fire surrounds and that to the drawing room is elaborate, with carved spandrels and marble columns. The room to the west of the corridor has wainscot panelling to the lower wall and end-stopped ceiling beams. Panelled doors are original and the entrances to the billiard room and the present bar room include glazed screens with half-glazed doors.
The staircase to the first floor has stone treads and winds around three sides of an open well. The balusters take the form of a colonnade with cusped arches connecting them and quatrefoils below the moulded handrail. Fire surrounds are of stone at first floor level and wood to the attics.
The basement has clay tiles to the floors and cooking ranges in the original kitchen and scullery. Glass screens and semi-glazed doors allow light into the centre. Larders have metal racks for hanging meat and a pantry has slate shelves and a door which retains its panels of metal mesh.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.