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Former Heath Grammar School and associated drill shed, fives court and boundary wall and entrance gateway fronting Free School Lane

A Grade II Listed Building in Skircoat, Calderdale

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Latitude: 53.7124 / 53°42'44"N

Longitude: -1.8631 / 1°51'47"W

OS Eastings: 409134

OS Northings: 424003

OS Grid: SE091240

Mapcode National: GBR HTFH.FY

Mapcode Global: WHC9M.CY1D

Entry Name: Former Heath Grammar School and associated drill shed, fives court and boundary wall and entrance gateway fronting Free School Lane

Listing Date: 7 July 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1410047

Location: Calderdale, HX1

County: Calderdale

Electoral Ward/Division: Skircoat

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Halifax

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Halifax Holy Trinity and St Judes

Church of England Diocese: Leeds

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Former grammar school, now training centre, drill shed, fives court building, front boundary wall and entrance gateway. School and drill shed 1878-9 by Joseph and John Leeming. Early-C20 fives court building. Local sandstone with slate roofs. Elizabethan style.


Former grammar school, now training centre, drill shed, fives court building, front boundary wall and entrance gateway. School and drill shed 1878-9 by Joseph and John Leeming. Early-C20 fives court building. Local sandstone with slate roofs. Elizabethan style.

PLAN: rectangular main building with central projecting hall to rear, south side. On west side of the site is a former drill shed, now storage and office space, and in the south-west corner is a fives court building with two fives courts

EXTERIOR: the front, north elevation is set back but faces onto Free School Lane. The building is of two storeys with a basement and is nine bays in length. It is built of squared and coursed sandstone blocks with ashlar stone dressings, a plinth and moulded sill bands. The central gabled bay is recessed behind a projecting ground-floor porch. The gable is coped with a diamond-shaped finial at its apex and is flanked by small, octagonal stone pinnacles with pointed caps and ball finials. Towards the apex of the gable is a large circular window with 'apple and pear' tracery and decorative leaded glazing, which is an exact copy of the Elizabethan window in the original school. Beneath this is a horizontal eight-light window with stone mullions and transoms. The porch has a moulded parapet incorporating the first-floor sill band. Set on the parapet is a rectangular stone plaque with a central relief-carved mandorla enclosing an open book and various symbols. The plaque is inscribed FREE GRAMMAR SCHOOL OF QUEEN ELIZABETH / FOUNDED 1585 REBUILT 1878 / SCHEME OF ENDOWED SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS APPROVED BY / QUEEN VICTORIA IN COUNCIL FOURTH OF AUGUST 1873. The porch has a foliate-carved impost band and a wide Tudor-arched doorway. The doorway, which is raised with three steps, has a moulded architrave, foliate-carved spandrels and a pedimented doorhood with ball and decorative finials. The double timber doors have vertical battens. Set on the ridge in the centre of the roof is a timber double-height lantern with ball finials, and a pointed roof topped by a weather vane. The first, fourth, sixth, and ninth bays of the elevation have triangular pediments with coping and ball finials at their apexes. The second and third bays, and the seventh and eighth bays, which are flanked by the pedimented bays, have pierced parapetting. All windows are square-headed with double-chamfered frames. On the ground floor the pedimented bays have wide windows with two stone mullions and window frames of three vertical lights, and above, a horizontal band of six small, round-headed lights, which echo the pierced parapetting. The windows in bays two, three, seven, and eight have narrower windows with a single stone mullion and a high, stone transom. The window frames again have three vertical lights, with a single light above the transom. On the first floor the pedimented bays have wide windows with two stone mullions and similar glazing, with a horizontal band of six small, pointed-head lights over, above which is a narrower band of four small, square-headed windows. The windows in bays two, three, seven, and eight have similar mullion and transom windows as those on the ground floor. The basement on the left-hand side of the porch has wider windows with two mullions in bays one and four, and narrower, single-mullion windows in bays two and three.

The east and west return elevations are similarly detailed with a central pediment with ball finial flanked by pierced parapetting with ball finials to the outer corners and similar mullion and transom, and transom windows. The large first-floor windows have a narrower top band of windows like those in the pedimented bays of the front elevation. On the east elevation a first-floor doorway has been inserted to the left-hand side with a spiral iron fire-escape. To its left is a single, ground-floor bay, with a tall, slightly-tapering, square chimney to the outer corner (shown on the original architects' drawing). Attached to the right-hand side of west elevation is a later two-storey, single-bay block of narrow coursed stonework with quoins to the outer corner, a plinth and a hipped roof.

The rear elevation of the main building has a two-storey, five-bay block to the left-hand side with a central pediment with stone coping and kneelers. The flanking bays have large paired windows with square heads on both floors. The windows in the central bay have stone mullions separating narrow side lights, the central light on the first floor being a pane taller in height. All the windows have rectangular panes set in timber frames. Projecting from the centre of the rear elevation is the assembly hall. It is built of coursed stonework and is a tall single storey over a basement with a south gable wall and five-bay side elevations. The side elevations both have a plinth and a parapet. The bays have tall, square-headed windows except for the second bays out, which both have a wide doorway with a square window over. All the windows have rectangular panes in timber frames. There is a small, circular ventilator on the roof ridge. To the right-hand side of the rear elevation, adjoining the hall, is a two-storey and basement, three-bay gabled block with kneelers. It has stone mullion and transom windows on both floors of the central bay. These are flanked by narrower windows on the first floor, and a narrower window in the first bay of the ground floor, with a doorway with rectangular overlight, perhaps inserted, in the third bay with external steps. The windows have rectangular panes in timber frames. Set back is a two-storey single, gabled bay with the square chimney to the outer corner. It has a tall stone mullion and transom window on the ground floor and a horizontal eight light, mullion and transom window on the first floor. Set back on the main roof slope are two stone chimney stacks with moulded caps. The chimney is quoined.

Built against the west boundary is the former drill shed. It is built of coursed stonework and is single-storey with a double-pitched slate roof with continuous glazed rooflights at the apex on each side. The east elevation is hidden at the right-hand end by the later two-storey west block with the high-level covered bridge. Visible are two and a half wide pointed archways. The left-hand arch now has a built-up sill and is glazed, the central arch is boarded with a fire escape doorway, and the right-hand partial arch is blocked up with coursed stonework.

In the south-west corner are two fives courts in a single-storey building with a double-pitched slate roof, both slopes with a row of continuous glazed rooflights. The east elevation is divided into two bays by battered, stone buttresses. Each bay has low, stone walls with a central doorway. Above the stonework is a row of bottom-hinged, horizontal shutters, with horizontal timber boarding above, and timber louvres beneath the eaves.

INTERIOR: The entrance hall, spine corridor, and first-floor landing have moulded and fluted cornicing. Original doorways have timber architraves with shallow, triangular pediments, and four-panelled doors, some with panels now glazed, and rectangular overlights. The entrance hall has an open well staircase on the east side. The staircase has concrete steps and a timber balustrade with turned balusters. There is a timber mantelpiece in the headmaster's room to the east of the entrance hall. The assembly hall has a shallow, barrel-vaulted ceiling,

The former drill shed has timber common rafters with vertical metal struts supporting metal tie rods. The roof has timber purlins and horizontal boarding. The north gable wall contains the original circular 'apple and pear' tracery window, presently covered with a Perspex sheet. Beneath are two blocked pointed-arch openings. The south end has an inserted stone cross wall with the south bay used as an office with an inserted attic storage floor.

The two fives courts have timber queen post trusses with raking struts and metal strapping. The roof has horizontal timber boarding. The courts are divided by a cross wall beneath the central roof truss. The walls are plastered and painted black with a horizontal white line painted low on the back wall.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: At the front of the building, facing Free School Lane, is a low, stepped boundary wall of coursed stonework with chamfered coping (topped by a privet hedge) with a central memorial gateway commemorating old boys who died in the Second World War. The gateway has wide gate piers of coursed stonework with quoining and ashlar caps with bases for finials (probable ball finials now missing). Double gates of decorative ironwork with over-arching lintel carrying the latin motto DIGNI ET VOS ESTE FAVORE (Be you also worthy of favour) with decorative scrolled ironwork above incorporating the mandorla also found on the entrance porch. On the left gate pier is a plaque of names, and on the right gate pier is a dedication plaque.

EXCLUSIONS: The late-C20 rectangular dining room and gymnasium attached to the south wall of the assembly hall by a two-storey link block with an arched walkway through at ground-floor level, the modern, flat-roofed boiler house at the right-hand end of the rear elevation of the main school building, the two-storey block in the north-west corner linked to the original building by a first-floor covered bridge, and the two-storey infill building between the drill shed and the fives court on the west side of the site are not of special architectural or historic interest.

In the main school building the modern lift and lift shaft inserted in the stair well of the staircase in the entrance hall, and the modern, suspended ceilings in many of the former classrooms, and the partial, modern, suspended ceiling in the assembly hall are not of special architectural or historic interest.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 31 January 2017.


The grammar school was originally founded in 1585 when Queen Elizabeth I signed a charter establishing 'the free grammar school of Queen Elizabeth'. The property at Heath was established in 1597 when the Farrars of Ewood gave two acres of land on which a school house was then erected partly by public subscription and partly by a grant of a further six acres on 14th August 1598 from Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, Edward Savile, and Sir George Savile. The school was rectangular and initially of a single storey and three bays with mullion and transom windows and a circular 'apple and pear' tracery window in the west gable. Later a first floor of dormitories was added. This building is shown on the first edition 1:10560 Ordnance Survey map, published in 1854, labelled 'Heath Grammar School / Free'. It stood to the east of the present school, on the site of the former headmaster's house.

In 1877 the Charity Commissioners authorised the governors to build a new school adjacent to the original school. The new school buildings were designed by the architects Joseph and John Leeming, a local firm who initially set up a practice in Halifax in 1872, and later moved their office to Westminster, London, after winning a competition for the new War Office and Admiralty Building in Whitehall (Grade II). The practice is perhaps best known for designing market buildings such as Borough Market, Halifax (1891-5, Grade II*) and New Kirkgate Market Hall, Leeds (1904, Grade I). The style chosen was Elizabethan to reference the foundation of the school. The original circular window was preserved and placed in the north gable wall of a covered drill shed, while a replica was made and placed in the central gable of the front elevation of the main school building. This was planned in the form of a letter E with the long side parallel to Free School Lane and the centre arm formed by a longitudinally-placed assembly hall to the rear. Inside, the ground floor had an entrance hall, and a spine corridor with class rooms, a headmaster's room, porter's room, and library opening off. Directly opposite the central entrance was the assembly room, which had an ornamented Queen post open timbered roof. The first floor was reached by an open stone staircase rising from the entrance hall. It too had a spine corridor with rooms opening off. These included a museum, science room, laboratory, private laboratory for use by the instructor in science, and rooms for the School of Art department. A dining room was located in a sub-ground floor. To the south-west of the school building was a covered drill shed and a gymnasium. The school was heated by hot water pipes and the headmaster's room and dining room also had fireplaces. The plaque over the main entrance states the school was founded in 1585 and rebuilt in 1878, though it did not begin to be used until April 1879.

Historic map evidence indicates that a number of extensions have been built to the rear of the building. The first and second edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey maps, published in 1894 and 1907 respectively, both show the original E plan. By 1933 a rear extension had been built on the east side infilling the space between the projecting assembly hall and the short eastern wing. Later in the C20 the original assembly hall was replaced with a larger hall with a north-south axis and a stage at the south end; the shallow, barrel-vaulted ceiling to the stage suggests a 1930s date. The short western wing was also replaced by a larger rear extension which filled the entire area between the assembly hall and the west gable wall of the building. In the late C20 a large dining hall and gymnasium were built attached to the assembly hall by a link block.

On the west side of the site the drill shed and gymnasium were contemporary with the main school building. Between 1907 and 1933 two fives courts were built in the south-west corner. Later in C20 a two-storey block was built adjacent to the north gable wall of the drill shed, obscuring the Elizabethan circular window from view. It was linked to the west gable wall of the original building by a high-level covered bridge. An infill building was also built between the gymnasium and the fives court, though the original gymnasium building may have been replaced at the same time.

In 1985 Heath Grammar School amalgamated with the nearby Crossley and Porter School to form Crossley Heath School. The pupils at Heath Grammar School moved premises to the Crossley and Porter School (1864, Grade II) and the building became an education and training centre run by the local authority.

Reasons for Listing

The former Heath Grammar School and drill shed of 1878-9 by Leeming and Leeming, early-C20 fives court, and boundary wall and entrance gateway on Free School Lane are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the school is designed in an impressive Elizabethan style in direct reference to the original grammar school founded by a charter signed by Elizabeth I in 1585, combined with detailing which emulates the regionally distinctive C17 wealthy yeoman houses of Calderdale;
* Historic interest: the first school on this particular site was established in 1597 and the original 'apple and pear' rose-window from the building is preserved in the north gable wall of the 1878-9 drill shed and is likely to be the oldest known example of a Halifax rose-window;
* Ancillary Structures: the main school building is enhanced by two specialist ancillary structures, the first of which is the contemporary drill shed, and the second of which is the two intact fives courts, both of which are rare facilities in a grammar school and clearly show the aspirations of Heath Grammar School to model itself upon the best public schools;
* Architects: brothers Joseph and John Leeming, were a well-regarded Halifax practice with a number of listed buildings to their name including the new War Office and Admiralty building in Whitehall (Grade II) and covered market designs for the Borough Market, Halifax (Grade II*) and Kirkgate Market, Leeds (Grade I), and though the school is one of their earlier buildings it is designed with flair and imagination, presenting both a building of perceived longevity in appearance and one which could deal with the practicalities of a modern teaching environment;
* Interior: the original layout of the school is largely intact and retains original fixtures and fixings such as cornicing, timber pedimented architraves and panelled doors, and an open well staircase in the entrance hall, the drill shed retains its roof structure, and the fives courts are intact as built with plastered and painted walls.

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