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Latitude: 52.6187 / 52°37'7"N
Longitude: -1.1283 / 1°7'41"W
OS Eastings: 459111
OS Northings: 302677
OS Grid: SK591026
Mapcode National: GBR FHR.V5
Mapcode Global: WHDJJ.MFXT
Entry Name: Freemens Cottage
Listing Date: 12 December 2005
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1391447
English Heritage Legacy ID: 494554
Location: Leicester, LE2
County: City of Leicester
Electoral Ward/Division: Castle
Built-Up Area: Leicester
Traditional County: Leicestershire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire
Church of England Parish: Leicester The Holy Spirit
Church of England Diocese: Leicester
161, Freemen's Cottages
Former row of cottages, built 1856, architect Messrs Redfern & Sawday, enlarged 1885. Further accommodation provided in a separate block of cottages built in 1893 to a design by Stockdale Harrison. This was linked to the original row in C20 and extensions added to the rear.
The original two storey block fronts onto Welford Road and is double pile in plan, in red brick with blue brick plinth and blue brick band beneath the first-floor windows, stock brick band marking the first floor, plain tile roof and four axial stacks (rebuilt). The main façade is symmetrical in design with slightly projecting central bays and gabled end wings. There is a row of ten windows on the ground-floor and six on the first-floor, all four-light casements, with stone quoins and sills and Gothic arched heads, with the exception of four one over one sash windows on the ground-floor, which may have replaced original doorways. Shield-shaped plaques in each end gable bear the date 1856. The central bay also has a pedimented gable, the brickwork below corbelled out to either side, supporting a blank arch, with stone head, over an inset stone edged circle and stone shield motif. The pediment is crowned by a slightly projecting octagonal open lantern with conical roof capped by a weathervane. The north-west gable end of the rear wing has a window with canopy over and adjacent to it a large cross mullion with stone hood mould. To the side of this is a corbelled projection bearing a slate plaque commemorating the enlargement of the cottages in 1885.
The rear elevation has a range of six casement windows on each floor. These have wooden lintels and sills and brick dentils below the sills. The central porch with round-headed arch detail below a pediment is partly obscured by a later extension. There is a single storey extension to the north-west of the porch. The stock brick band as seen on the main façade continues around all sides of this building.
The 1893 building to the south-east is now connected to the original cottages but when built was separated from it by a passage. It comprises a two storey three bay range, double-pile in plan with porch and stair block off the north-west gable, in brick with a plain tile roof and two tall brick stacks flanking a central bay. The main façade fronting Welford Road is Jacobethan in style: symmetrical with a projecting central section with gabled pediment and three slightly projecting six-light timber mullioned and transomed windows to each floor. An oval inset in the gable bears the date 1893. The brickwork, predominantly in English bond, is lifted by simple polychrome design in single bands of blue brick and diaper pattern in the end gables. The porch block is set back from main facade with a canopy over the door and single window above. A plaque adjacent to the porch commemorates the construction date of 1893. The porch projects out to the rear, providing access from both sides of the building. The adjacent link building is C20. A single-storey extension to the rear was built in 1992 and is of no architectural importance.
The cellular format of both buildings still survives largely intact. The 'cottages' opened off hallways running the length of each floor, to the rear of which are a range of narrower rooms which may have housed washing and cooking facilities. The front rooms are currently used for consultations and as restrooms for the health centre and have mostly retained the original portioned off section for sleeping and some built in cupboards, though all fireplaces have been removed or blocked off and most doors replaced.
In approximately the year 1107, Robert, Count of Meulen granted to the Merchants of Leicester a Charter, allowing them to reform the Guild of Merchants and to carry out their business with the same rights and privileges that they had enjoyed before the Norman Conquest. Over the years the gildsmen became known as the Freemen and until 1835 they were the local government of the borough. Just prior to 1835, the Freemen were granted land to the south of Leicester under the Enclosure Acts and with the granting of the land, further legislation empowered the Freemen to elect a Board of deputies to manage their estates. Freeman's Cottages were built in two main phases in 1856 and 1893 to provide accommodation for the aged Freemen and Freemen's widows.
Evaluation of importance
Freemen's Cottages are of historic importance for their association with the Freemen of Leicester and represent an interesting example of relatively unaltered almshouses dating from the Victorian period.
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
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