Retaining important architectural details at a Grade II* listed chapel
This is an important group of buildings for the area by two of the 19th century’s major ecclesiastical architects.
Set around a Grade II* listed chapel, the site comprises three Grade II listed houses, purchased and converted to form the mother house of a 19th century Anglican foundation. The buildings were sold in the 1990s to an evangelical group who operated the site as the International Gospel Centre.
Although the chapel remained relatively intact, the houses were altered so greatly in the 20th century that much of the original internal detailing was lost. The convent houses had been altered in the late 20th century to create a set of flats later used as bedsit accommodation.
Having been effectively abandoned and suffering from the weather, vandalism and architectural theft, approval had been obtained for sub-dividing the buildings as flats but not enacted. We were appointed by a new developer to develop a scheme for re-using the buildings as residential accommodation.
After carrying out condition inspections, researching the site’s history and surveying buildings, we developed a scheme that would work with the existing fabric. The scheme retained the surviving architectural detail that it was previously proposed to remove, bringing basements back into use and allowing the houses to be sub-divided as maisonette flats. This helped reduce the extent of the previously proposed intervention.
We developed a scheme for inserting a ‘table top’ structure into the chapel so it could be used as office accommodation. This allowed the largely intact existing shell to be read with the stained glass windows, alter dais, timber tracery screens and gallery left un-divided, rather than installing walls to create houses. This also allowed the fine painted ceiling – one of the most important surviving elements of the original decorative scheme – to remain open to view.