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Archbishop's House and Cathedral House, Southwark

Description: Archbishop's House and Cathedral House

Grade: II
Date Listed: 24 March 2014
Building ID: 1418437

OS Grid Reference: TQ3137879384
OS Grid Coordinates: 531378, 179388
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4982, -0.1087

Locality: Southwark
County: Greater London Authority
Postcode: SE1 7HY

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Listing Text


1886-87 bishop's house and clergy house designed by the architect Frederick A Walters in Gothic style, but incorporating parts of an 1840s clergy house and schools by A W Pugin. Some 1930s and 1950s refurbishing.

Reason for Listing

The Archbishop's House and Clergy House, both 1886-87 in Gothic style designed by the architect Frederick A Walters but incorporating parts of an 1840s clergy house and schools by A W Pugin, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: Archbishop's House is a good quality well-articulated asymmetrical design decorated with black brick diaperwork, its two sections separated by an impressive staircase tower and decorative main entrance. Cathedral House is plainer but of good quality with gables, a staircase turret and three arched doorways enlivening the exterior;
* Interiors: include original panelled ceilings, panelled doors with elaborate architraves, a number of wood or stone well or winder staircases, elaborate fireplaces, built-in settles and window seats, stained glass windows and a built-in library staircase and gallery;
* Intactness: virtually unaltered exteriors and the plan and most interior fittings survive apart from the loss of some fireplaces in Archbishop's House;
* Comparators: comparable in quality with other residential type commissions for the Roman Catholic church by F A Walters, such as religious houses, seminaries and schools, which have been listed elsewhere;
* Group Value: part of a complex of ecclesiastical buildings with the adjoining Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. George (Grade II).


This building occupies a triangular-shaped corner site at the junction between St. George's Road and Westminster Bridge Road adjoining St. George's Roman Catholic Cathedral.

In the 1830s a committee was set up to build a large Roman Catholic church to accommodate a great influx of Irish catholics into the area in the first quarter of the C19. In 1838 A W Pugin, who had been informed of this project by the Earl of Shrewsbury, provided elaborate and detailed plans for a cathedral with chapter house, cloisters and conventual buildings but walked out when the committee enquired about the cost. The north-west view of this scheme is illustrated in Benjamin Ferrey's 'Recollections of Pugin'. The following year four architects, including Pugin, were asked to provide designs for buildings to include a church with accommodation for 2,500 on the ground floor, a house for four clergy, and schools for 300 boys and 200 girls, not to exceed an estimated cost of £20,000. A W Pugin's new simpler designs were selected. In April 1840 the City of London agreed to sell the triangular plot of land opposite Bethlem Hospital for £3,200 provided that the buildings were erected to Pugin's design, were completed within six years and had no 'ecclesiastical ornament' on the outside. The south-west elevation of Pugin's winning 1839 scheme, which also shows part of the north side and the plan, are preserved in the Cathedral Archives and illustrated as Plate 46 in the Survey of London: Volume 25. The schools are shown located along St. George's Road in this plan and a house, probably the clergy house, on the north-east side.

The Builder of 17 June 1843 stated that 'An episcopal palace, a convent for the Sisters of Mercy, with spacious sacristies, houses for the clergy, and parochial schools for both sexes are also in course of erection' (1843, 228).

The buildings are shown on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map, which was surveyed in 1872. Schools for boys and girls are labelled in this position, erroneously called National Schools. Trade directories from 1854 include 'St. George's Catholic Church and Schools' in Westminster [Bridge] Road. In July 1869 Provost Doyle reported that the Cathedral Boys' School comprised two kitchens and a coal cellar.

In 1885 Bishop Butt wished to expand the number of priests by enlarging the Clergy House. In 1887 the schools were removed to a new site and the old site used for a new episcopal residence and a clergy house, also including a seminary and convent, designed by Frederick A Walters. However parts of the existing north and north-east wings in particular have a different character so it is likely that some elements of Pugin's earlier design may survive. Walters' St. George's Road elevation and plan of the ground floor were printed in 'The Builder' of June 23 1888. The archbishop's residence was mainly situated fronting St. George's Road, with nuns originally occupying the top floor, and the attached clergy house and seminary was mainly situated along Westminster Bridge Road and in the north-east wing attached to the cathedral. However there were connecting doors between the two buildings and some vertical mingling of functions between the two buildings. The footprint of Walters' building, shown on the 1896 Second Edition Ordnance Survey map, is similar to the first edition map, including an internal triangular-shaped courtyard, but a garden area between the cathedral and the new building is shown much reduced in size on the second edition map.

The property is now called Archbishop's House and Cathedral House.

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) needs no introduction as the founding architect of the Gothic Revival with numerous works listed, including the adjoining St. George's Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Frederick Arthur Walters (1849-1931) was a prolific Catholic architect who was articled to his father, Frederick Page Walters, and then worked for Goldie & Child for nine years before setting up his own practice in 1880. He was responsible for more than 50 Roman Catholic church or building commissions, including this one, Buckfast Abbey (Devon), Ealing Abbey (London) and the Southwark diocesan seminary at Wonersh in Surrey. His son, Edward John (1880-1947), was taken into the practice in 1924, when it became F A Walters and Son. The practice was continued after F A Walters' death by his partner S Kerr Bate under the name of Walters & Kerr Bate. Currently a numberof buildings wholly designed by F A Walters are listed, three of them, Buckfast Abbey Church and main block and the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon (London) at Grade II*.


DATE: 1886-87 bishop's house and clergy house designed by the architect Frederick A Walters in Gothic style, but incorporating parts of an 1840s clergy house and schools by A W Pugin. Some 1930s and 1950s refurbishing.

MATERIALS: stock brick in English bond, with plinths and some diaper decoration in black brick, and stone dressings. Ornamental iron rainwater goods. Slate roofs, mainly concealed by parapets, with a series of tall channelled and moulded brick chimneystacks.

PLAN: the bishop's, now archbishop's residence, stretches mainly along St. George's Road with the clergy house, now Cathedral House, mainly along Westminster Bridge Road. In the archbishop's house the public rooms are on the ground floor, the archbishop's private rooms and some offices are on the first floor, originally nuns occupied the third floor and there were service rooms in the basement. The Clergy House has a complicated plan which includes four staircases. It comprised service rooms to the basement and ground floor, accommodation for clergy on the first and second floors, including two communal reception rooms, and originally there was seminary accommodation on the third floor.

EXTERIOR: the principal front of Archbishop's House faces south-west along St. George's Road. It comprises a south-west block of four storeys and basement and two bays, divided from a lower three-storey and basement seven-bay north-west block by a taller set-back tower behind the main entrance. The south-west block has a crenellated parapet and bands between floors. The third floor windows are triple mullioned casement windows. The other floors have triple mullioned and transomed casement windows with relieving arches above the ground and second floor windows, but the first floor windows additionally have three blank stone panels with cinquefoil carved heads. The south-east return has a tall two-storey canted bay window over two storeys, an external channelled chimneystack and projecting gable. Adjoining the south-west block is the main entrance with gable flanked by buttresses and an arched doorcase with the archbishop's arms and the date '1886' above: this is flanked by small arched windows with leaded lights. The double door has ornamental iron hinges. The recessed tower behind the main entrance is of five storeys and one bay, with a crenellated parapet, arched windows to the two upper floors and narrow mullioned and transomed windows below. The north-west block is of seven bays with a crenellated parapet and two external channelled chimneystacks. Second-floor windows are two-light mullioned windows with drip moulds. First-floor windows and the two northern ground floor windows are mullioned and transomed with relieving aches, and the five southern windows on the ground floor have more elaborate mullioned and transomed casements and are divided by buttresses. Archbishop's House terminates in a corner full-height canted bay of three windows, with arched heads to the second floor windows, blank stone cinquefoil-headed panels above the first floor windows, and relieving arches above the ground-floor windows.

The principal front of Cathedral House faces north along Westminster Bridge Road and is of three to four storeys with a crenellated parapet, two small gables and a projecting plinth. The irregularly spaced windows are either stone mullioned or mullioned and transomed casements. There are three doorcases, the eastern one an elaborate stone doorcase incorporating an arch with blank shields to the spandrels and a fanlight with three trefoiled arches. The central and western ones are plainer arched doorcases with dripmoulds. A further section, attached to St. George's Cathedral, faces south-west and is of two storeys with stone paired trefoil-headed lights. It is terminated by a narrow octagonal brick tower with winder staircase on the cathedral side. A gabled section further north-west has taller ground floor mullioned and transomed windows with moulded stone corbel heads.

The internal triangular courtyard has a variety of stone mullioned windows including some with gabled heads, some with ogee trefoiled heads and some mullioned and transomed windows with ogee trefoiled heads. The tiled floor has alternate red and black tiles.

INTERIOR: an entrance from St. George's Road into Archbishop's House leads into a vestibule with an arched ribbed ceiling and two built-in stone settles. This opens onto the main staircase, a stone well staircase incorporating a series of stone arches. In 1935 a lift with ornamental iron grilles was inserted into the well. On the ground floor a passage to the south-west with original doors has a number of small rooms, originally waiting rooms and a large reception room at the south western end, now used as a library, and retaining original cornices and doorcases. Opening off to the north-west of the main staircase is the largest reception room, the dining hall. This is of five bays with a panelled ceiling with moulded tie beams supported on corbels, original arched doorcases and an elaborate carved stone fireplace with end pilasters, five small ogee arches with cinquefoil decorations, and the motto 'DEUS PROVIDEBIT'. The adjoining room to the north-west, designed to be part of a library and now storing archives, has a late-C19 carved wooden staircase and gallery incorporating book stands. The adjoining north-west corner room, shown as a library on the architect's plans, has an original stone fireplace with attached colonnettes and patterned tiles. The first floor has a built-in window seat by the staircase and archiepiscopal apartments which include a chapel with stained glass in one window depicting St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, inserted in 1935 to commemorate their canonisation. A number of rooms retain their original ceilings and one window has stained glass with armorial shields. The top floor formerly housed a convent. The basement, which housed the service rooms, retains original room divisions and red and white floor tiles, but the kitchen was refitted in the 1950s.

Cathedral House has an oak main staircase from ground to first floor with a rectangular well, chamfered balusters and moulded posts under a large rectangular glazed lantern. Access to the upper floors is by a smaller well staircase in the north-west corner, of similar character to the main staircase except that alternate balusters have been truncated and linked with a T-bar to adjoining balusters. There is also a narrow stone newel staircase in the north-east corner, a stone staircase in the centre of the north side, which has plain iron balusters and scrolled ends to the handrail to the basement flight, and a blocked narrow newel stair to the octagonal tower facing south-west. The semi-basement towards the north end on the St. George's Road side has a wide Baronial-style stone chimneypiece to a former kitchen, with circular motifs at the sides, one enclosing a bishop's mitre, the other the shield of St. George. The adjoining room, formerly a coal cellar, retains two elliptical-headed arches, and the corner room between St. George's Road and Westminster Bridge Road has a tiled larder with marble shelves and steel hanging racks. The ground floor of the north-east side has a tiled corridor and simple door surrounds, some retaining simple six-panelled doors probably by Pugin. The more commodious first floor accommodation is in the north-west corner with moulded cornices, late C19 wooden fireplaces, one retaining decorative tiles and a metal firegrate, and a corridor with panelled doors with battlemented surrounds. The first and second floors each have a communal room with moulded cornices and tie beams. The clergy dining room retains the original fireplace and the window onto the internal courtyard has re-constituted fragments of C19 stained glass which were rescued from St. George's Cathedral following wartime bomb damage. The upper floor bedrooms also retain their fireplaces which are smaller and simpler.

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