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30-36 Bridge Street

A Grade II* Listed Building in Louth, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.3675 / 53°22'3"N

Longitude: -0.0085 / 0°0'30"W

OS Eastings: 532605

OS Northings: 387478

OS Grid: TF326874

Mapcode National: GBR XYCH.YK

Mapcode Global: WHHJS.VM47

Entry Name: 30-36 Bridge Street

Listing Date: 2 November 1954

Last Amended: 12 December 2013

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1063266

English Heritage Legacy ID: 194896

Location: Louth, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, LN11

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey

Civil Parish: Louth

Built-Up Area: Louth

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Louth

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Summary

Neo-Classical terrace of six houses built in the mid-1820s.

Description

MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond with stucco and stone dressings and Welsh slate roof covering.

PLAN: the terrace is rectangular on plan and consists of four houses, the smaller central two of two bays and the larger outer two of three bays.

EXTERIOR: the imposing neo-Classical terrace has three storeys over a rusticated basement, and a shallow pitched roof with four wide ridge stacks and deep modillion eaves. It has a symmetrical frontage divided into nine bays. The central three bays project slightly and are surmounted by a pediment. The rusticated half basement has tripartite vertical sliding sash windows with original panes. Above this is a platform-landing giving access to the piano nobile which is reached via a central perron flanked by straight flights. The iron railings to the balcony and stairs date to the 1970s, whilst the low iron railings with cast-iron finials at the front of the terrace appear to be original. The central bay of the piano nobile has a double doorcase with three-quarter Doric columns on rendered bases, supporting an entablature with a modillion cornice and triglyph frieze. The soffit and reveals are panelled, and the rectangular fanlight has bordered glazing. The doors have three panels of different geometric shapes. Single doorcases of the same design are in the third and eighth bays. Above the double doorcase, the central bay is lit at first-floor level by an elaborate tripartite window consisting of a six-over-six pane sash with slender glazing bars flanked by vertical two-over-two pane sashes with decorative panels either side. The window has a segmental arch fanlight and a rusticated segmental arch above. The second-floor window has the same design but is shorter in proportion with the narrow second floor. The rest of the fenestration is regular, consisting of six-over-six pane sashes on the piano nobile and first floor, and horizontal three-over-three pane sashes on the second floor, all with rusticated, keyed stucco lintels. There are stone bands at sill level on all three floors. The subsidiary rear elevation has the same fenestration as the façade and long staircase windows corresponding to the position of the doors. The brickwork shows signs of disturbance and repair, and some original doors and windows have been removed at basement level.

INTERIOR: this was not inspected and the description is based on information in the Assessment of Architectural Significance produced by Elizabeth Mayle (2011). The original plan form of each house is still legible, despite later alterations, and comprises a long entrance hall with reception rooms on one or both sides, and a principal stair at the end, lit by a tall narrow window. Some original features and fabric have survived although few rooms retain a full complement of fittings and joinery. The stone flagged floor of the entrance hall remains in all four houses, as do the principal cantilevered dog leg stairs which have two stick balusters per tread, carved tread ends, and a wreathed mahogany handrail. Three of the houses have an arch at the end of the hallway leading to the stair, whilst the hall of no. 30 retains a fine cornice of lion masks and rosettes. Many of the original reeded doorcases with corner roundels survive, as do the six-panel doors, although the mouldings were removed from one side when fire boards were applied. The front windows on the principal floors have panelled jambs, and a number of the rooms retain cornice mouldings, some of which are deeply reeded.

One of the principal areas of special interest is the south-west room on the piano nobile of no. 30 in which the remnants of a wall painting, probably dating to the mid-1820s, were recently discovered after wallpaper was removed. Having been subdivided in 1978 and recently fitted with new doors, windows, skirting boards and cornicing, the room only retains the painted scheme on the west wall and on parts of the north and south walls, including some remains in the alcove. Analysis has not been undertaken but it is thought that the painting was executed in oil-distemper directly onto two or three layers of lime plaster. It has been skilfully painted and shows great attention to the accuracy of detail. The wall painting covers the entire height of the room and is divided horizontally into three sections. The bottom section, which corresponds to the dado, is painted in a dark red/ brown colour with a wide border in dark green/ black. The middle section has a background of dark salmon pink/ terracotta (a popular Greek revival colour of the period), upon which a multi-coloured free-hand painting has been executed. The design includes a blue and white Chinoiserie plant pot, resting on top of the painted dado band, containing orange Martagon lilies (also known as Turk’s Cap lilies), a red geranium, green foliage (possibly bamboo leaves), a peacock butterfly and various species of birds. The upper section, corresponding to a frieze, has a background of light cream/ beige upon which are painted birds resembling sparrows resting on leaf-covered branches. The condition of the painted decoration is variable throughout the room with moisture ingress, structural movement, mechanical and accidental damage all having caused some deterioration. All but a section of the painting depicting the vase of flowers has been papered over in accordance with conservation advice.

History

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.

30-36 Bridge Street was advertised in the Lincoln, Stamford and Rutland Mercury (29 April 1825) as ‘four excellent new-built and capitally finished dwelling-houses […] forming altogether a very light and elegant elevation.’ Each house is described as being approached by a flight of handsome stone steps and ornamented with an iron balcony. The two smaller central houses have a dining room and drawing room connected by folding doors, five ‘lodging-rooms’, kitchens, cellars, pumps, pantries, coal-house, yard and garden; whilst the larger two have a double-drawing room, dining and breakfast room, eight lodging-rooms, and in addition to the services already described, a butler’s pantry, stable and coach house. The advertisement mentions that ‘the plan of the interior of the houses was arranged by a very skilful architect, and no expense has been spared to render them desirable and genteel residences.’ The terrace is clearly visible on William Brown’s Panorama of 1844 which shows the ancillary buildings to the rear and walled gardens with lawns and beds laid out in geometric patterns.

Cartographic evidence indicates that the footprint of the terrace remained unaltered throughout the C19. In the 1920s the balconies and railings were lost, probably due to flood damage. The gardens were partly developed in the 1950s, and the remainder of the site was developed for a new office between 1973 and 1980. Nothing of the garden or the ancillary buildings now remains. By 1978 the terrace was in a poor condition and a major scheme of works was undertaken by the Council’s Housing Department to repair and convert it into ten separate flats and bedsits. This involved reinstating the balconies in concrete, installing bathrooms and kitchens, replacing many of the windows, adding fire doors, and inserting newel posts in the principal stairs. The internal alterations resulted in the loss of all the fireplaces, some ceilings, moulded cornices, picture rails and skirting boards. The terrace has recently been converted back into four town houses (2013).

During the restoration project, the remnants of a wall painting were discovered underneath wallpaper in one of the principal rooms of no. 30. This was created when, or soon after, the terrace was built and is typical both of the oriental style that was popular at the time and characteristic of the emulation of expensive panoramic Georgian wallpapers. It has been suggested by the fine art conservators commissioned to investigate the paintings that the wall painting also bears a strong resemblance to the techniques and colours used by William Brown, a resident of Bridge Street, who was a specialist house decorator before becoming an artist. The wall paintings share the heavy outline infilled with lighter shades that Brown used in preparing sketches of the Louth Panorama.

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 due to the excise duty on printed paper in place between 1712 and 1836, they remained too expensive for many 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.

Reasons for Listing

30-36 Bridge Street, a neo-Classical terrace of six houses built in the mid-1820s, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is an impressive neo-Classical terrace with an imposing, well-proportioned façade and high quality architectural detailing. The original plan form of each house is still legible and some finely crafted fixtures and fittings remain. The description of the terrace in an 1825 newspaper advertisement and the carefully delineated depiction in Brown’s Panorama both provide important documentary and visual evidence of its original appearance and layout;

* Rarity: the wall painting in 30 Bridge Street is a rare and important survival of what was once relatively common practice and it provides substantial evidence of the interior decoration of a late Georgian neo-Classical terraced house. The possible attribution to William Brown, famed for his Louth Panorama, further increases its significance;

* Historic interest: the building contributes strongly to the extremely well-preserved pattern of housing development representative of the peak of Louth’s C19 economic prosperity;

* Group value: its prominent location in the town accords it group value with many listed buildings, most notably the Grade I listed Church of St James.

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