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Arts School

A Grade II Listed Building in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.2038 / 52°12'13"N

Longitude: 0.1192 / 0°7'9"E

OS Eastings: 544913

OS Northings: 258292

OS Grid: TL449582

Mapcode National: GBR L79.T41

Mapcode Global: VHHK3.0VVY

Plus Code: 9F426439+GM

Entry Name: Arts School

Listing Date: 2 November 1972

Last Amended: 16 July 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1121119

English Heritage Legacy ID: 47300

Location: Market, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Cambridge

Electoral Ward/Division: Market

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Cambridge

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Cambridge St Edward King and Martyr

Church of England Diocese: Ely

Tagged with: Building

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Arts School, designed as lecture rooms and departmental library by the partnership of George Hubbard and Albert Walter Moore, completed in 1911. The Examination Halls are excluded from the listing.


Arts School; designed as lecture rooms and departmental library, completed in 1911; designed by the partnership of George Hubbard and Albert Walter Moore of Fenchurch Street, London. The Arts School is of red and gault brick and stone, with light red brick and stone dressing and hipped tiled roofs.

PLAN: the Arts School is essentially a square with the south-west corner removed to accommodate the north-east corner of the Old Cavendish Laboratory. Immediately to the east of the Cavendish Laboratory is the single storey main lecture theatre, with the three storeys containing lecture rooms and library to the north.

EXTERIOR: the main elevation of the Arts School faces west, and is of seven bays and three storeys. The taller forward projecting ground floor is of ashlar stone, and is surmounted by a stone balustrade with urn shaped balusters. There are five windows to the front and one to the north side, the central bays, advanced, containing one window and the main entrance. The outer windows form pairs separated by Tuscan pilasters. Above the ground floor the three central bays are of ashlar stone, again slightly advanced, surmounted by a pediment with central oculus. Below the pediment the windows are framed vertically by stone bands, and separated horizontally by framed panels incorporating air vents used as a decorative device. The two bays to either side of the central bays are of red brick laid in English bond, the sash windows framed by light red brickwork and with light red brick flat arches with stone keystones. The quoins to these two storeys are stone, and offset behind the north quoin can be seen the stone quoins of the slightly advanced west bay of the north elevation.

The north elevation is of red brick above a stone plinth, and is divided into two outer bays, slightly advanced and defined by stone quoins, with three bays between separated by lead rainwater downpipes with decorative hoppers that include the date, 1910. There is a stone modillion cornice, as there is to the west elevation. To the centre of the upper storey of each of these three bays is a blind oculus in stone, below which, to the first and ground storeys, are windows similar to those in the west elevation, two to each bay. A stone storey band divides the ground and second storey. A ramp runs from ground level to the west, down to a basement entrance at the east end of the elevation; the walls beside the ramp are lined with red glazed bricks. The outer bays contain the chimneys, expressed as broad raised bands at the centre of the bays, defined by light red brick quoins and flanked by narrow two-over-two sash windows with light red brick flat arches with stone keystones. The chimneys are seen from the west as tall slender rectangles flanking the hipped roof and rising above its ridge.

Of the east elevation only the upper two storeys are visible, its functional design partly concealed by the roof of the smaller Examination Hall. Notable features expressing internal space and lighting include a double height deep recess, the floor of which contains a skylight that appears to light the stairs to the basement from the ground floor corridor. A modern fire escape stair has been inserted into the recess. To the north of this are three closely spaced windows (lighting the library), the upper halves containing geometric tracery consisting of a square inscribed in a circle inscribed in a square, crossed by the diameters of the outer square. Variations on this geometric theme are repeated in windows, mainly roof lights, throughout the Arts School, including those to the barrel vaulted roof of the large lecture theatre and ceiling lights to the south side of the library. The detail of these ceiling lights is only visible from the interior, as each has an external glazed pyramidal superstructure; there is also a glazed superstructure to the vaulted library roof.

The south elevation extends from the east end of the Cavendish Building to the small Examination Hall; the view is restricted due to the very narrow passage between it and the north end of the Austin Building. Immediately to the north of the Cavendish Building is the side entrance, an arched opening with scrolled keystone, with fielded single panel doors below a fanlight with decorative tracery. The door is flanked by Doric pillars supporting an open segmental pediment. To the east of the door is a row of three lunette windows above a cill band, with tracery of a similar design to that of the fanlight.

INTERIOR: the Arts School basement is a functional space, currently (2014) used for book storage. The only notable features are the fragments of medieval masonry relocated after the excavations of 1908: two arches in the west wall at the south side of the basement, and one at the west end of the north wall, where additional fragments of masonry are presumably the surviving elements of the fourth arch referred to by Cranage. The paired arches are not of the same date: that to the south is dated to the C14 –C15, pointed and set within a square headed opening with quatrefoils in the spandrels; the second arch is dated to the C13-C14, also pointed, with stop chamfered jambs. The pointed arch to the north wall is of clunch, very worn, and is dated to the C13. To the south-east of the arches is the remnant of the face of the footings of a wall, surviving as lime-mortared clunch rubble.

The plan of the ground and upper floors of the Arts School adopts the same west to east alignment, the ground and first floors with domed corridors with rooms to either side, while on the second floor, the domed centre of the library roof picks up the theme. The ground floor has two lecture rooms to the north of the corridor, that to the west originally two; to the south is an office separated from the large lecture theatre by a second corridor running south to the side entrance. The large lecture theatre is panelled, lit mainly by rectangular ceiling lights with geometric tracery, set in the wide, domed and panelled central section of the roof. The room is also lit from the south by lunettes with decorative tracery. The lecture theatre retains its original raked seating, continuous curved benches with slatted backs. Double panelled doors open onto the central corridor, to the north of which a door with lunette overlight gives access to the west lecture room. Both rooms to the north are lit by sash windows with ovolo moulded corners to the reveals. Directly below the windows is a moulded dado rail, with panelling below; these details are also seen in first floor reading room and offices. The floor of both corridors is covered in the original tiles laid in a green and white chequered pattern. Steps from the south, side corridor lead down to WCs at basement level.
To the west of the corridor is the staircase to the first and second floors; a lift has been inserted into the open stairwell. This is not shown on the original plans, and appears to have been added in the early to mid-C20. The closed string staircase has square newel posts with panelled sides, a wide moulded handrail and urn shaped turned balusters. A modern glazed screen separates the stairs from the first floor reception area, formerly the landing. The ceiling is coffered, and four panelled doors with moulded architraves open onto the reading room, to the west, and offices to north and east. The wall that formerly divided the reading room into two lecture rooms has been partially removed to create a connection between them. The detail of dado and windows is similar to that to the ground floor lecture rooms, as it is to the office (formerly a lecture room) to the north of the landing, and to the three smaller offices (formerly classrooms) to the north of the domed corridor that runs east from the reception area. The doors that give access to these from the corridor retain their brass door furniture. To the south of the corridor is the former common room, partitioned into thee offices. The common room ceiling is coved and coffered, deep coffering marking a tripartite division of the ceiling, each of the three sections with a central coffered panel. At the east end is a fireplace with panelled architrave and overmantel, and with a two-coloured moulded marble surround. To the south of the fireplace is a door with moulded architrave opening onto a small kitchen with similar floor tiling to the ground floor corridor. This room is to the south of the two storey recess seen in the east elevation, and is shown on the original plans as a lavatory and WC.

The stairs to the library landing are lit from the south by a Venetian window, and from above the stairwell by a roof light with geometric tracery; the landing ceiling is coffered. Double half glazed and panelled doors to the north open onto the library, and two doors to the west open onto a reading room and digital resource room, formerly a lecture room and class room, now connected by a half glazed door. To the north is a bookstore, formerly a classroom accessed only from the library. These three rooms contain dado and window detail similar to those seen in lecture and classrooms to ground and first floors. A modern partition in the reading room creates a corridor leading to steps and a door to the Cavendish Building.

The main feature of the library is the domed central section of the ceiling, divided by ribs laterally and longitudinally into panels, the outer panels with moulded decoration, the central panels glazed. Below the ceiling, high in the east wall, are three windows, the upper half of each containing geometric tracery, the form of which is repeated in the openwork timber balustrades of the balconies, below and to either side of the domed ceiling. Below the balconies are book stacks, those to the south lit from above by ceiling lights with geometric tracery of a different pattern. Ornate cast iron spiral stairs to the corners at the west end of the library provide access to the balconies.

Although the Arts School is connected to the small Examination Hall by a door to the east of the basement, the Examination Halls, designed by William C Marshall, were constructed as a separate building, much altered in the later C20, and are excluded from the listing for the Arts School.


The New Museums Site, between 1760 and 1852 the University Botanic Garden, developed gradually and in an ad-hoc fashion following the construction of the first science buildings there in the mid-C19, warranting, by the late C20, Pevsner's description of the site as an ‘incredible muddle’. By 1888, the date of the 1st Edition 1:2500 Ordnance Survey (OS) map, there was still considerable open space to the south and centre, including an area identified as the site of the Augustinian Friary, immediately to the north-east of the Cavendish Laboratories, (built in 1874 and listed at Grade II in 1950). This was to become the site of the Arts School and Examination Halls, the latter, completed in 1909, the former by October 1911. At the time these two buildings were wedged between Barclays Bank (listed at Grade II) to the north, the Cavendish Laboratories to the south and south-west, the Corn Exchange (Grade II) to the east, and the Austin Building (then Mineralogy) to the south of the Arts School. The small amount of open space that remained to the south of the Examination Halls is now partly filled by the west tower of the Arup Building, designed by Philip Dowson of Arup Associates and built in 1971. The Arup Building was designed as part of an unfulfilled scheme to resolve the 'muddle' described by Pevsner, and is now (2014) the subject of a major renovation project.

The Arts School (Lecture Rooms and Library) was designed by the partnership of George Hubbard and Albert Walter Moore of Fenchurch Street, London. George Hubbard (1859-1936), the senior partner of the firm, was joined by his pupil Albert Moore in 1898. Hubbard was twice Vice President of the RIBA.

The Augustinian Friary was founded by Sir Geoffrey de Picheford, Constable of Windsor, in 1290. The initial single messuage or tenement grew incrementally through the C14 to occupy the whole of the site now defined by Free School Lane, Bene't Street, Corn Exchange Street and Pembroke Street, although the location of the main claustral ranges remains unidentified. Excavations undertaken in advance of the construction of the Examination Hall and Arts School Lecture Theatre between 1908 and 1910 found walls, three complete upstanding masonry arches and part of a fourth, and also burials. However, a paper written by the Revd Dr D H S Cranage, published in the Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society of 1921, doubts the association of the walls with the Friary and states that the pair of arches found were not in their original position, while the presence of a cemetery suggests that the main claustral ranges would have been further to the west. Cranage subsequently arranged for the three complete arches to be rebuilt in their present positions in the basement, while the fourth survives as architectural fragments close by the arch to the north.

The Friary was dissolved in 1538, and was in private ownership, later subdivided, until the interior was purchased by Dr Richard Walker, Vice-Master of Trinity, who presented it to the University in 1760 to become the Old Botanic Garden.

Reasons for Listing

The Arts School, completed in 1911, designed by George Hubbard and Albert Walter Moore for the University of Cambridge as new lecture rooms and departmental library, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the plan and design are skilfully functional and aesthetic.

* Interior: the interior imaginatively uses decorative details, including the skylights, with motifs carried consistently through the building. The high quality of the interior joinery and plasterwork recognises a hierarchy of space.

* Survival: although there have been some slight alterations, decorative detail survive remarkably intact throughout;

* Historical and archaeological interest: as part of the late-C19 and C20 development of the New Museums Site, but particularly for its location on the site of the Augustinian Friary, and for the retention of fragments of the friary as part of the building design.

* Group Value: it has immediate group value with three Grade II listed buildings to north, south, and west, including the Cavendish laboratory, with which it has a particularly close association, and to other listed buildings on the New Museums Site.

External Links

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