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University House

A Grade II Listed Building in Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.4496 / 52°26'58"N

Longitude: -1.9252 / 1°55'30"W

OS Eastings: 405182

OS Northings: 283515

OS Grid: SP051835

Mapcode National: GBR 5TM.TS

Mapcode Global: VH9Z2.LP3J

Entry Name: University House

Listing Date: 11 April 2002

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1389744

English Heritage Legacy ID: 488695

Location: Birmingham, B15

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Edgbaston

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Edgbaston St Bartholomew

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

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Listing Text

11-APR-02 Edgbaston
University House


University Hall of Residence. 1908, to designs of Herbert T. Buckland. Brick with sandstone ashlar dressings; Cumberland slate roof with brick stacks.

PLAN: Library and Dining Room in central block facing E onto formal garden, with corridor behind linked to main W entrance and stairhall and to cross wings. N wing included kitchen and offices, S wing the warden's accommodation. Beale Wing of 1913 to N.

EXTERIOR: Queen Anne style. 2 storeys with attic. Continuous modillion cornice. 6/6-pane sashes to first floor, 9/9 to ground floor and segmental-pedimented dormers with 6/6-pane sashes. Elevation articulated as 1:2:1:2:1:2:1:2:1 fenestration, there being canted ashlar bay windows to the single bays. Pedimented end bays have ashlar banding and ashlar bay windows set beneath attic windows in segmental-headed eared brick architraves. The central bay is crowned by a large Jacobethan-style pedimented ashlar dormer. Half-glazed doors with 6-pane overlights flank this central bay. All the other windows are set in full-height ashlar surrounds, with panelled aprons to first-floor windows. 3-window ranges with diaper and chequer work are linked to the cross wings, which have hipped 6/6-pane sashes to hipped dormers and 3-window east elevation: the latter have 6/6-pane sashes in projecting ashlar bays with cast-iron Art Nouveau balconies to first floor. North and south elevations in similar style, that to south having hipped dormers and pedimented projecting bays with 2-storey canted bay windows flanking 2-window range centre. The whole elevation is linked by a raise garden terrace with ashlar coping and steps to brick retaining wall with dog-tooth course.

3-storey west elevation articulated as 4:3:4 fenestration exhibits more Free Style characteristics. Continuous parapet and projecting central entrance bay with ashlar banding and a semi-circular projecting ashlar bay lighting the stairs; double-leaf doors set in rope-moulded architrave. The windows flanking this bay, comprising 4/4-pane sashes alternating with small-pane casements, are set in stone architraves with aprons. Either side are 16-pane casements in moulded stone architraves to second floor, 6/6-pane sashes in pedimented architraves to first floor which have panelled aprons extending to meet moulded stone architraves of 9/9-pane ground-floor sashes to ground floor. Similar fenestration to outer ranges, each of these having recessed bays (3 to left, 4 to right) articulated by banded brick pilasters. Bell tower, with multi-gabled bellcote, in angle of south wing, which projects in 2 storeys with attic and is in a similar style to the east elevation with modillion cornice and hipped dormers; it is linked to a 2-storey hipped-roof small block, designed as the warden's accommodation, which on the west elevation has a central half-glazed door and flanking bay windows with timber casements. The hipped block to the north has been absorbed into the Beale Wing of 1913.

Beale Wing of 1913 (named after Alice Beale, a pioneer in social reform in Birmingham and wife of the first Vice-Chancellor) to the north has an east elevation of 1:1:2:1:1 fenestration in similar style to the east elevation of the main block. Its rear elevations are relatively plain, and it was extended in 1964.

INTERIOR: cast-iron balustrade to main stair, the hall having a stylised vine frieze to the cornice that is repeated throughout the interior. Original joinery including panelled doors, and glazed-tile fireplaces in all the students' bedrooms, which are varied in size and all face south, east or west off the axial corridor. The dining hall and library are both contained in the main range, their windows facing east onto the garden. Columns with stylised Romanesque capitals support cross beams finished in plaster with rope moulded edges, strapwork decoration and vine friezes. 3 oak chimneypieces in dining hall with surrounds and Georgian-style panelled overmantles. Cast of ancient frieze, donated 1913, over chimneypiece in Library, which has original bookshelves and panelling. Double-leaf doors to ends of dining hall and to corridor, set in eared architraves with plain entablatures. Common room to first-floor centre bay window, with oak Arts and Crafts style chimneypiece to glazed tile grate surround; cornice with vine frieze as elsewhere.

HISTORY: University Hall has special interest both within the context of the development of the women's movement in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, particularly as it applied to the hard-fought right for access to higher education, and as a distinguished and characteristically Edwardian interpretation of the Queen Anne style. It was the first women's university hall of residence, as opposed to the self-contained colleges built for Oxford, Cambridge and London universities. In terms of its architectural style was clearly influenced by the Queen Anne movement which was associated with mainstream educational architecture of the period (particularly the Board Schools of 1872 onwards), but most notably the colleges which spearheaded the entry of women into higher education from the late 19th century. The first of these, Girton in Cambridge (1871, listed grade II), was soon followed by the major architectural set-pieces of Newnham College, Cambridge (II and II* buildings of 1874-1910 by Basil Champneys), Somerville (grade II, 1882 by T G Jackson) and Lady Margaret Hall (grade II, 1881-3 by Champneys). University Hall exhibits more Edwardian Baroque tendencies, mixed in with some Free Style touches, than any of these, all of the principal elevations being robustly articulated and distinguished by some fine attention to detail. Its plan was clearly based on these colleges, each room having its own fireplace and facing away from any northern aspects. A detailed specification for University Hall (deposited in the University Archives) had been compiled by Margery Fry, warden between 1904 and 1914 and former librarian at Somerville College, to which she later returned as Principal. The building was mostly funded through public subscription, and used as a military hospital in the First World War.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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