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Latitude: 52.0416 / 52°2'29"N
Longitude: -2.7509 / 2°45'3"W
OS Eastings: 348592
OS Northings: 238397
OS Grid: SO485383
Mapcode National: GBR FJ.FJ8J
Mapcode Global: VH85N.8YK9
Entry Name: Almshouses and Chapel at Ngr 485383
Listing Date: 22 October 1986
Last Amended: 17 December 2012
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1167068
English Heritage Legacy ID: 155343
Location: Belmont Rural, County of Herefordshire, HR2
County: County of Herefordshire
Civil Parish: Belmont Rural
Built-Up Area: Hereford
Traditional County: Herefordshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire
Church of England Parish: Hereford St Martin with St Francis
Church of England Diocese: Hereford
A group of three almshouses and hall designed by Richard Cromwell Carpenter in 1852 for Francis Wegg-Prosser
A group of three almshouses and hall designed by Richard Cromwell Carpenter in 1852 for Francis Wegg-Prosser and built of snecked sandstone with limestone dressings and a plain tile roof. The building runs north-south. The almshouses, to the north are single-storeyed. The hall, at the southern end, was originally a single, high storey which, at the time of survey (2012), had been horizontally divided to create two storeys. Below the hall is a basement housing the kitchen and service rooms.
EXTERIOR: the principal front faces west across the park towards Belmont House. It has the hall to the right with a three light mullioned window at right and a two light window to the left, each with a segmental relieving arch and trefoil heads above each light. The sunken area in front of the basement has been extended in the late-C20 or early-C21 to fully reveal the basement walling and windows which are of two mullioned lights and a single light with chamfered surrounds. Buttresses with offsets rise between the windows on both floors and to each side, and the gables have coping stones. There is an octagonal lantern to the centre of the ridge which has been partly rebuilt in the early C21. At right the row of almshouses is slightly recessed and has a shared porch with catslide roof supported on five square timber posts with angled braces. The wall behind has six lancets with tympana and three doorways with chamfered surrounds and heads with figurehead label stops. At extreme left is the start of a further door surround which ends at the corner of the building and shows where work was finished in 1853, before completion of the original design. The ridge stacks have been reduced from three to two in number.
The southern gable end has a central buttress to its lower body with offsets and is blind. The east face has the hall at left. This has a massive chimneystack to the centre with offsets to either side and a blank, square panel with chamfered surround near to the top. The chimney flue was being rebuilt at the time of survey (2012). At far left is a buttress with offsets. The lower walling of both the south and east sides of the hall has been tanked and covered with a waterproof mastic. To the right of this is a projecting bay which has an entrance at basement level with a lancet at left and a window with five mullioned lights to the upper floor. At right again is a two light, mullioned basement window and beyond this is a further projection which has been partly extended in the early C21, with a five-light window at the upper level and a single lancet. The northern gable end is of rubble stone and appears to have been intended as a temporary measure when building work stopped on site in the 1850s.
INTERIOR: the kitchen in the basement has a large stone fireplace to its eastern wall with broadly-splayed, two-centred arch. Other rooms at this level include a scullery and barrel-vaulted storage. The wooden staircase which connected to the ground-floor level has now been removed. The hall has a large fireplace to its eastern wall with deep, moulded brackets supporting the angled stone hood. The hearth has a broad, two-centred arch with rich moulding to the forward edge. The inserted floor dates from the early-C21. Above this the hall roof has arched braces with chamfered edges rising to a collar. There is a single rank of chamfered purlins and the apex of the roof is boarded above the level of the collar.
The plan for each of the cottages had two rooms, with a living room entered from the door at the front and an angled hearth to the bedroom. In every case the dividing wall has been removed.
In 1852 Francis Wegg-Prosser converted to Roman Catholicism. He was a landowner, who had inherited the Belmont estate to the south-west of Hereford, and had acted as MP for Herefordshire from 1847 until his conversion. He had already commissioned work from Anglican architects, including the restoration of the church at Clehonger by William Newman, in 1847-8, and then William Butterfield, from 1849-1850. At about the same time he commissioned Richard Cromwell Carpenter to design the group of almshouses which are the subject of the current case and they are recorded as his design in Carpenter’s obituary in the Ecclesiologist (see SOURCES). The fact that the building is incomplete may be due to the architect’s death in March of 1855, or to Wegg-Prosser’s turn towards patronage of Roman Catholic buildings following his conversion; firstly with the school chapel and master’s house designed by Edward Welby Pugin in 1853-4 and subsequently with the abbey church of 1854 onwards and the monastery buildings, started in 1857, which were also designed by EW Pugin, and proved a significant drain on his income. Whatever the reason for its incomplete state, the almshouse building was opened with a Catholic mass on 2 February 1853 (see SOURCES, O'Donnell)
The buildings continued to be almshouses until a fire in the 1980s which caused damage to the roof, and which was recorded in the listing description of 1986. The image taken for the Buildings of England photographic survey in 1999 showed large parts of the roof covering missing, together with the mullions of the hall windows on the west side. At the time of the re-survey (April 2012) a continuing campaign of restoration has restored the roof covering and windows and created a new version of the lantern over the hall as well as greatly extending the sunken area around parts of the basement.
The Almshouses and Chapel at NGR 485383 are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: the design, by RC Carpenter, shows a clear understanding of the principles of the Gothic revival in C19 England, and their practical application to the functions of this group of almshouses with its hall, service rooms and individual quarters. The building also has distinct visual interest, despite recent fire damage and restoration;
* Historic interest: the almshouses form part of a group of related buildings which were commissioned or inspired by Francis Wegg-Prosser, an important and generous benefactor of the Roman Catholic cause in the mid-C19;
* Group value: the group of Roman Catholic buildings at Belmont, which includes the abbey church of St Michael and All Angels, the Monastery, the Almshouses, the school and teacher’s house and Belmont House with its chapel, is one of the most complete surviving groups which resulted from the benefaction of a wealthy landowner in the mid-C19.
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