The John Roan School (Upper School), Greenwich
Description: The John Roan School (Upper School)
Date Listed: 12 May 2009
English Heritage Building ID: 504217
OS Grid Reference: TQ3947677425
OS Grid Coordinates: 539476, 177425
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4786, 0.0071
Location: Maze Hill, Greenwich, Greater London SE3 7UB
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786/0/10189 MAZE HILL
12-MAY-09 The John Roan School (Upper School)
School, 1926-28 in a Neo-Georgian style to the designs of the architects Percy Boothroyd Dannatt and Sir Bannister Fletcher. Constructed by Bovis Ltd. Alterations and additions of the mid and late C20, and early C21.
MATERIALS: Red brick with stone detailing; tiled roofs. PLAN: E-shaped main school of two storeys, the spine of the 'E' forming the Maze Hill façade with a central entrance bay. Classroom wings to north-west (housing the science laboratories on the first floor) and south-east, with central hall range. Detached gymnasium to the rear (east). Attached modern rectangular science block to the north, which is not of special interest.
EXTERIOR: Main façade runs parallel to Maze Hill road. Central and elaborate projecting classical entrance bay with hipped roof: flanking fluted stone columns and raised brick quoins, with dentilled cornice and stepped pediment above. Within the columned entrance the main doorway (panelled double-doors) is surmounted by a broken pediment decorated with the Roan coat of arms (three stags rampant topped by a stag's head holding an acorn in its mouth and the motto, "Honore et Labore"); above this pediment a bay window at first floor level. The entrance bay further enhanced by a clock tower with a cupola flanked by tall brick chimneys. Slightly projecting end bays to this facade, also hipped, with dentilled eaves band and an oculus lighting the first floor. Between these decorative bays the façade is heavily fenestrated with fake sashes to both floors (of 24 panes; they are actually metal-framed casement windows, both side and top-hung) and have flat brick arches. Returns are in a similar idiom, highly fenestrated, but without the elaboration seen on the principal façade and with side doors with simple stone surrounds. A different shade of red brick is used to highlight the window surrounds and there is a continuous tile band beneath the windows. Rear elevation is more altered by inserted accommodation, but where original it continues the Neo-Georgian style with some good details, including two hipped corner classroom blocks and surviving elements of the original linking covered arcade. A two-storey attached red-brick science block to the north-west, now linked to the main building by a covered bridge at first floor level. Neither the science block nor the bridge is of special interest. Detached gymnasium building to the north-east in red brick. The main block has a hipped tiled roof, roof dormers, shallow brick piers and tall metal-framed, multi-paned windows. It is flanked by attached single-storey flat-roofed entrance blocks to north and south, also in red brick.
INTERIOR: Main entrance opens into a generous entrance/staircase hall. Although subject to some recent remodelling to create a reception area it is largely as designed with columns supporting the upper landing and staircases with decorative metal balustrading providing access to the same. Entrance hall decorated with commemorative plaques including a war memorial to old boys who lost their lives in the First World War; also plaques from the former boys' and girls' schools. Two pairs of double doors provide access to the central hall: an impressive space, equivalent to two storeys in height with a stage and prosenium arch to the east; herringbone woodblock floor; shallow arched and ribbed ceiling; full height windows (metal multi-paned windows); green-glazed tiles behind the radiators and inscriptions on the wood panelling. Similar ground and first floor plans with corridors overlooking the two courtyards, flanked by classrooms and offices arranged on the exterior of the building. Some corridors retain original wood block flooring and part-glazed partitions, providing separation from the classrooms. Original half-wood and half-glazed classroom doors, also occasional replacement fire-doors. Plain tiles to dado level in the corridors and panelling on the first floor landing. Two large and light first floor classrooms at the end of each wing with exposed braced ceiling trusses, originally the elementary chemistry laboratory (north wing) and the art room (south wing). Library, located centrally on the first floor above the entrance hall, has moulded pilasters, coving and ceiling ribs. Former adjacent headmaster's office retains the school's original time-clock.
ANCILLIARY FEATURES: Original railings and brick walls, with brick gate piers, surround the site. The importance of the main entrance and Maze Hill frontage is emphasised by painted decorative metal railings and a grand pair of entrance gates (also painted and gilded) surmounted by the Roan coat of arms. These are included in the listing. A section of replaced railings to the south-west are not of special interest.
HISTORY: The John Roan School was founded in Greenwich through the will of John Roan (c1602-1644), Yeoman of Harriers to King Charles I and/or Yeoman of His Majesty's Greyhounds. This endowed a school to educate poor children from east Greenwich up to the age of fifteen including money towards the childrens' clothing. It was initially known as the Greycoat School of the Foundation of Mr John Roan with the first schoolmaster appointed in 1690. A sister school for the education of girls was set up in 1814. The Roan School for Boys was the first occupant of the Maze Hill site in 1927. The school is now co-educational with a sister site at Westcombe Park. The foundation stone was laid by Sir George Hume, the chairman of London County Council in 1926 and it was opened in 1927, by the Right Honourable HAL Fisher, MP (historian and politican) who was then the Warden of New College Oxford, although curiously the building does not appear to have been completed until the following year (a further ceremony was held in 1928.) There have been some additions to the premises since then, most notably the addition of a technical block to the north and the infilling of the inner courts to provide more classrooms in the 1960s and latterly, in the 1980s, provision of external ramps and a lift to facilitate disabled access.
The school was designed by the architects Percy Boothroyd Dannatt (1879-1968) and Sir Bannister Fletcher (1866-1953) in a Neo-Georgian style. The design was published in The Builder and was commended in the Architect and Building News in 1928. Sir Bannister Fletcher was both an architect and architectural historian, the oldest son of the architect Banister Fletcher (1833-1899) to whom he was articled, becoming a partner in the firm (Banister Fletcher & Sons) in 1889. Fletcher was the surveyor to the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, a City of London livery company, and became Master of the same in 1936. With his father he wrote, in 1896, the seminal, "A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method". He received his knighthood in 1919 and was president of the Royal Institute for British Architects in the late 1920s to early 1930s. Less is known about Percy Boothroyd Dannatt but he was a Greenwich resident who later designed the western extension of the John Roan Girls School in Devonshire Drive, Greenwich (listed at Grade II). The school is probably Bannister Fletcher's most significant work after his Gillette Factory, Osterley, west London of 1936 (Grade II).
Cherry, B & Pevsner, N, 1983, London 2: South. The Buildings of England series, p252
Architect and Building News, 1928, Vol 120, 7 December 1928, pp3-7
The Builder, October 19, 1928
English Heritage, 2007 on-going, Inter-war Schools in Inner London Research Project, project database and field notes
National Monuments Record photographs, references BB032607 & 8, B032620, BB032622, BB032624 - 7
Public Monuments and Sculptures website http://pmsa.cch.kcl.ac.uk/UEL/GR091.htm
REASON FOR DESIGNATION:
John Roan School, Maze Hill, Greenwich was built in 1926-28 in a Neo-Georgian style to the designs of the architects Sir Bannister Fletcher and Percy Boothroyd Dannatt. It is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* An inter-war school which exhibits thoughtful detailing and planning including the provision of specialist classrooms, all within a scholarly execution of the Neo-Georgian tradition; this a reflection of the historicist interests of the architects responsible for the design.
* While there have been some inevitable alterations and additions, the building is relatively unaltered with its original plan-form readable and retaining many original features of note both externally and internally.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.