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Description: The Secular Hall
Date Listed: 8 June 1990
English Heritage Building ID: 188855
OS Grid Reference: SK5905204642
OS Grid Coordinates: 459052, 304642
Latitude/Longitude: 52.6363, -1.1288
The following building shall be included:
Nos 73 and 75
(The Secular Hall)
Hall belonging to the Leicester Secular Society. 1881, designed by Larner
Sugden. Brick with terracotta, stone faced to ground floor; tiled roofs. Plan:
central hall block (2 storeys with large basement), with attendant's apartment
ranged around small courtyard; entrance range with ancillary rooms and offices.
Free Flemish Renaissance style. 3 storeys. Lively show front to Humberstone
Gate: tower to right, regular 3-bay range to left under large interrupted gable;
tall central round-headed window rising through all upper floors with varied
pilasters and corbelled canopy with terracotta sunbursts to soffit, and a frieze
over lower lights bearing the symbols of Libertas, Justicia and Veritas. Side
bays with corbelled canted oriels set within projecting pedimented surrounds to
1st floor, and small square windows to 2nd floor, also in projecting surrounds,
with frieze of swags. Recessed porch under wide 4-centred arch, flanked by
large 2-light windows with original glazing bars; and carriage entrance under
segmental arch to left, each ground-floor element divided by pilasters with
terracotta busts in pedimented niches representing Voltaire, Thomas Paine,
Robert Owen, Jesus and Socrates. Tower with 2 and 3-light square-headed windows
to all floors above ground level; tiled pyramidal spire. Large and dramatic
external stack to right return with panelled shafts. Interior: many small rooms
with simple contemporary details. Upper hall is the most elaborate room, 8
bays, false hammerbeam roof, balconies at both ends, and a dado (now largely
obscured but probably surviving throughout) made up of panels of decorative
tiles (donated by William Morris).
Historical interest: this is the first Secular Society hall in the world and one
of the few surviving in its original state outside London. Secular societies
were established as free-thinking rationalist bodies to provide working people
with a positive alternative system to the Christian churches. Many famous
figures addressed meetings here including Kropotkin, Joseph Mccabe, George
Bernard Shaw and William Morris whose 'Art and Socialism' lecture was given here
for the first time.
Listing NGR: SK5905204642
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.