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Gheluvelt Park Arch, Gates and Railings

A Grade II Listed Building in St Stephen, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.207 / 52°12'25"N

Longitude: -2.2273 / 2°13'38"W

OS Eastings: 384566

OS Northings: 256551

OS Grid: SO845565

Mapcode National: GBR 1FY.MQ2

Mapcode Global: VH92M.BSWH

Entry Name: Gheluvelt Park Arch, Gates and Railings

Listing Date: 28 April 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421216

Location: Worcester, Worcestershire, WR3

County: Worcestershire

District: Worcester

Electoral Ward/Division: St Stephen

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Worcester

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Worcester St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

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Summary

A brick entrance archway to a park with stone dressings and accompanying iron gates and railings, of 1922, designed by A Hill Parker.

Description

A memorial gateway designed and built by Alfred Hill Parker in 1924.

MATERIALS: the archway is of red, Flemish-bond brick with stone dressings and a tiled cap. The gates and screens are of cast and wrought iron.

PLAN: the gateway has brick piers set at either side of the central arch, with angled wing walls and railings to either side and iron gates to the central arch.

EXTERIOR: both eastern and western faces are similar. The brick arch has banded rustication to the lower body of the piers at either side and this is topped by a projecting band of headers at the level of the springing of the arch. A raised band of stretchers surrounds the semi-circular arch and there is a triple keystone motif of bricks to the head. The spandrels at either side on both the eastern and western flanks have brick carvings of laurel wreaths in high relief. The wall diminishes in thickness by stages and to the top of the wall is a frieze with panels of raised brickwork. Both sides have a stone panel to the centre, and that on the eastern front reads ‘GHELUVELT PARK’. Above this is an ashlar cornice and the monument is topped by a hipped cap of pantiles.

At either side of the arch are half piers, abutting the flanks. These are panelled with moulded ashlar bases and caps. The finials take the form of square vases from which rise stunted obelisks. Angled, wrought-iron screens set above low walls project to either side and connect to full piers with similar dressings and caps. The two central gates have panels of wrought iron and cast metal panels showing the arms of the city with miniature stunted-obelisk finials, in imitation of the stone caps to the piers. The piers are connected to other railings and piers which appear to be of later date and photographs of the Earl of Ypres opening the park, show a picket fence.

On the eastern side of the archway are fixed two gilded bronze panels. That to the left reads 'THIS PARK WAS OPENED / ON THE 17TH JUNE 1922 / BY / FIELD MARSHAL / THE RT. HON. THE EARL OF YPRES / PC, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG.' On the left pier is a panel which reads 'CITY of WORCESTER HOMES / for DISABLED SAILORS and SOLDIERS / THESE HOMES WERE ERECTED / BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE / CITY and COUNTY of WORCESTER / THE SCHEME BEING ORIGINATED BY / ALD. ARTHUR CARLTON CBE / THE FOUNDATION STONE WAS LAID BY / FIELD MARSHAL / SIR WILLIAM ROBERTSON GCB, KCVO, DSO / ON 15TH JAN 1919 THE HOMES OPENED BY / GENERAL LORD RAWLINSON GCB, GCVO, KCMG / ON 13TH JULY 1920'.


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, 30 October 2017.

History

HISTORY
The Battle of Gheluvelt was an early engagement in the First World War. The British Expeditionary Force had established a line to prevent the German forces reaching the Channel ports. On 31 October 1914 the Germans broke through this line and the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire regiment was sent to plug the gap and did so with a bayonet charge in the grounds of the Chateau at Gheluvelt in Flanders. They pushed back the German force of more than a thousand men, but with the loss to the battalion of 34 men and 158 injured. The victory was seen by many as highly significant, and a turning point in the early history of the war. At the opening of the park, on 17 June 1922, Field Marshal John French said that 'on that day the 2nd Worcesters saved the British Empire'.

In the C18 the land on which Gheluvelt Park was to be laid out was owned by the Cooke family, who leased it to a Mr Garaway. It was used as a fuller’s yard for making sailcloth. By 1788 a house had been built on the site by Revd Thomas Cooke. In 1838 the house and grounds were sold to JP Lavender, a banker. He sold the house in 1881 and it became Barbourne College. In 1909 it was again on the market and Worcester City Council considered buying the land, but the First World War intervened. The General Purposes Committee minute books (see sources) reveal that it was agreed to buy the land and the college buildings for £2,300 in January 1918, and to accept the mayor’s offer to subsidise the purchase.

The committee minutes reveal further progress: the decision to locate the sailors’ and soldiers’ houses in the park, as opposed to on Rainbow Hill, was made on March 1918 when Alfred Hill Parker, who was both an alderman and an architect, presented a plan for 16 houses. At a meeting on September 1918 it was agreed that the land should be known as Gheluvelt Park, in commemoration of the victory in which the Worcesters had played such a significant role, and Parker presented a plan for the layout of the park.

Additional plans for the houses were refined and discussed again in March 1919. The archway was a part of this scheme and Parker's block plan shows it placed close to the houses and not forming an entrance to the park. The arch was specifically discussed by members of the committee in May 1923, but it was felt that the cost of its building would be better applied to maintenance of the houses. However, in July they agreed that it should be built and, following some debate, decided that it would form the entrance to the park. Parker submitted revised sketches and an estimate and in February 1924 he presented a tender from Stoker Brothers for the arch and wing walls at £403 12s, and of £135 for the gates from James Wood. Bronze plaques recording the earlier opening of the park and the laying of the foundation stone and opening of the houses were applied to the arch.

The park was renovated in 2010 with a grant from the National Lottery of c.£810,000. The paddling pool to the north was replaced by a new, interactive water feature, and a Corten steel interpretation feature, detailing the history of the war, has been installed.

Reasons for Listing

Gheluvelt Park Arch, Gates and Railings, are listed at Grade II for the following reasons:

* Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the C20;
* Architectural interest: as an accomplished and well-realised war memorial and park structure, designed by the noted local architect Alfred Hill Parker;
* Group value: with the homes for disabled soldiers and sailors at Nos. 1-12 Gheluvelt Park, the Gheluvelt Park Bandstand, which are also recommended for statutory listing and Gheluvelt Park, which is recommended for inclusion on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Selected Sources

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