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Latitude: 51.5905 / 51°35'25"N
Longitude: -3.0006 / 3°0'2"W
OS Eastings: 330778
OS Northings: 188438
OS Grid: ST307884
Mapcode National: GBR J5.C3XL
Mapcode Global: VH7BC.Y921
Entry Name: Shire Hall (including Queen's Chambers)
Listing Date: 9 October 1998
Last Amended: 14 September 1999
Source ID: 20528
Building Class: Civil
Location: Prominently situated on the N side of Pentonville opposite the Magistrates’ Court.
Community: Allt-yr-yn (Allt-yr-ynn)
Built-Up Area: Newport
Traditional County: Monmouthshire
Former county council offices built in 1902 to the designs of William Tanner, architect and county surveyor. Enlarged 1913-14, probably also by Tanner. Monmouthshire County Council was set up in 1889 following the Local Government Act of 1888, the first chairman being Edwin Grove, auditor and cashier of the Ebbw Vale Iron and Steel Company. From old photographs, it is clear that the enlargements of 1913-14 were major, adding the top storey to both Shire Hall and Queen’s Chambers. In addition, three bays were added to the left of the Shire Hall, and one to its right, the latter involving a remodelling of Queen’s Chambers. The remodelling caused the entrance to become off-centre. All of the carved stonework was reused. The last council meeting in the building took place in July 1973, prior to Local Government reorganisation. Following a long period of disrepair, the building has been restored and converted into office suites.
Eclectic Dutch/Baroque style. Shire Hall of three storeys plus basement/attic, and nine bays. Queen’s Chambers is lower, with facade of three very narrow bays, and three storeys plus attic. Construction of squared and coursed limestone grey rubble with extensive Grinshill ashlar detail. Roofs with artificial slates. Unusual pylonic ashlar ridge chimneys. Alternate bays to the Shire Hall project slightly, with entrance in fourth bay from the right. Entrance bay with shaped gable containing inscribed roundel: ‘Monmouthshire County Council 1889’ within carved surround. Flanking projecting bays have pedimental gables with side scrolls: extreme left bay has similar gable (dated 1913) to entrance bay, both of which have thermal attic windows. Second floor has three-light mullion and transom windows containing small-paned glazing: triple keystones to windows in projecting bays. Similar, taller windows to first floor, those in the advanced bays with segmental pediments broken by triple keystones. Pediments and recessed bays linked by a stringcourse. Wide three-light ground floor windows with round-arched heads, as if elongated thermal windows. Similar style glazing to above. Round-arched entry under open segmental pediment: moulded surround with blocks: pediment supported on paired blocked columns with pseudo-Ionic capitals. Panelled doors with small-paned overlight. Queen’s Chambers is lower, with large dormer with segmental pediment having large keystone, and side scrolls: thermal window. Narrow window to first and second floors with small panes: those in wider centre bay grouped in triplets. First floor triplet has pediment with keystone; flanking windows also pedimented, as are narrow lights each side of central entrance, which has open pediment bracketted over round-arched door; panelled doors with small-paned overlight.
Small railed forecourt to Queens’ Chambers, also in front of left three bays of the Shire Hall: square panelled ashlar piers, with C20 railings and gates made to match originals, used for the war effort.
Large rear wings including square block built of yellow brick with two-storey bay windows facing E and W; dormers above. To the right, another wing of yellow brick, with the octagonal courtroom attached to the W, which is of sandstone with brick detail: large square upper windows with small-pane glazing, pyramidal roof with octagonal lantern. To the W again, another wing of similar construction containing a staircase, with tall round-arched window facing E: slightly staggered lower block attached.
The range of buildings to the E (former police station and magistrate’s court) fronting Pentonville is not included in the listing.
Entrance hall to Shire Hall has a fine well stair with stone treads and scroll-pattern wrought iron balustrade; square veined marble newels. Staircase is set behind four-bay screen of coloured marble Ionic columns. First floor balustrade has larger freely scrolled pattern. Stair is top-lit by rectangular lantern. Plaster cornice with dentils. Mosaic floor with marginal key fret pattern. Mosaic floors to ground floor corridors; oak panelled doors. Well staircase at W end of Shire Hall rises three storeys, lighted by large round-arched window: simple wrought iron balustrade. Octagonal courtroom to rear has fittings removed. Courtroom rises to two storeys; flat plaster ceiling with radiating timber ribs set on deep boarded cove. Public gallery at first floor level with panelled front. Queen’s Chambers has large well stair with stone treads and decorative wrought iron balustrading similar to main stair: painted square newels.
Listed as an impressively designed Edwardian civic building, which has retained its original character, including fine interior detail.
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