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Latitude: 52.633 / 52°37'58"N
Longitude: -1.1367 / 1°8'12"W
OS Eastings: 458524
OS Northings: 304270
OS Grid: SK585042
Mapcode National: GBR FGL.10
Mapcode Global: WHDJJ.H2YS
Plus Code: 9C4WJVM7+68
Entry Name: 31-37 (odd) Friar Lane
Listing Date: 14 March 1975
Last Amended: 22 September 2020
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1183566
English Heritage Legacy ID: 188633
Location: Castle, Leicester, LE1
Electoral Ward/Division: Castle
Built-Up Area: Leicester
Traditional County: Leicestershire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire
Church of England Parish: Leicester St Martin
Church of England Diocese: Leicester
Row of three town houses, two dating to the early C18 and one to the early C19, later used as offices and then converted to student flats.
Row of three houses, two dating to the early C18 and one to the early C19, later used as offices and then converted in student flats.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond with brick dressings. The roof coverings are not visible from the street.
PLAN: 31-37 (odd) are part of a terrace of buildings facing south-east onto Friar Lane. Number 35-37 is on the left and number 33 is in the middle; both have a front range with two parallel ranges to the rear forming an M-shaped roof. No. 33 has a wide passageway giving access to the rear where the entrances to no. 33 and no. 37 are situated. To the right is number 31 which has a double-pile plan under a shallow pitched roof.
EXTERIOR: 35-37 is a three-storey, four-bay house under a shallow pitched roof with a brick eaves cornice and a chimney stack rising from the left gable end. It has a moulded plinth and two wide storey bands running beneath sill level. The sash windows have been replaced by new top-opening six-light windows under the original flat brick arches. The centrally placed front door retains a shouldered architrave with a small frieze and moulded cornice supported by shaped brackets. The door itself is not original. The window to the left replaces a previous door, described in the original list entry of 1975 as having a moulded doorcase.
The brick eaves cornice and first-floor storey band continue through to number 33. This has two storeys and was probably originally four window bays wide until it was refronted in the early C19. The off-centre doorway with a rectangular fanlight and flush-panelled door, described in the 1975 list entry, has been lost due to the creation of a wide arched opening in the left two bays to provide rear access. There are two windows to the right of this and three on the first floor, all early C19 six-over-six pane sashes with slender glazing bars under flat rubbed brick arches.
To the right, number 31 is a three-storey, four-bay house with a moulded brick eaves cornice and chimney stacks at the gable ends with oversailing brick courses. The fenestration consists of six-over-six pane sash windows with slender glazing bars under flat rubbed brick arches. The sills form continuous storey bands. The end bays contain recessed, round-headed doorways with six-panel doors and decorative fanlights, the metal bars forming an arch with fanned segments.
The rear elevations are subsidiary. Number 31 is rendered and has mostly new windows without glazing bars, except for a Diocletian window which lights the top of the staircase. The rear of number 33, also rendered, has been built out in the late C20 or early C20 and the parallel ranges given hipped roofs and new windows. The parallel ranges at the rear of number 35-37 form two brick gables. The horned sash windows are not original.
INTERIOR: the houses have been converted into student flats and very little of the original fixtures, fittings or items of joinery survive. One ground-floor room in no. 33 retains a grey marble fireplace of a simple design with shaped brackets supporting the mantelshelf and blue-tiled cheeks, which may be a later insertion. Numbers 31 and 35-37 have brick vaulted cellars with arched alcoves, the latter cellar now converted into a kitchen.
Leicester is one of the oldest settlements in England and its origins can be traced back at least to the Iron Age. There is significant remaining evidence of the Roman settlement particularly on the east bank of the River Soar where the bath house and palaestra at Jewry wall represent the only standing remains of Ratae Corieltauvorum and one of the largest standing pieces of Roman civilian building in the country. However, there is little known of the settlement between the Roman departure and the medieval period.
In the Middle Ages, Leicester became an increasingly important urban centre. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of the first motte and bailey castle in the late C11. This was later rebuilt in stone and the great hall survives containing one of the finest medieval interiors in the country. The city became closely associated with Simon De Montfort who became the Lord of the Town in 1281, and one of the city’s two universities is named after him. The town also became closely linked to the royal family through the earldoms of Leicester and Lancaster, which were joined under one person, Robert Beaumont, in the late C14. This led to further expansion and prosperity in the late-middle and early-modern periods.
The town also became a focus for religious devotion, with an area next to the Castle known as the Newarke, being the location for a collegiate church as well as other religious centres. After his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the body of King Richard III was brought to the town and buried in the church of the Greyfriars, a Franciscan abbey which tradition has it had been founded by De Montfort in the late C13. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey died at Leicester Abbey in 1530 on his way to face trial in London and was buried there. Other major individuals to be associated with the city include Robert Dudley, who was made Earl of Leicester by Elizabeth I.
The church of Greyfriars was destroyed in 1538, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The site was sold and a manor house built with an associated estate. Both the monastic buildings and the location of Richard’s tomb were lost by the late C17. The manor belonged to Alderman Robert Herrick and remained in the family until the early C18 when it was sold to Thomas Pares. The former Greyfriars precinct was then divided with a new thoroughfare, called New Street laid north-south across it. The street plan more generally continues to resemble that of the medieval borough, although street names have changed, with the boundaries of the precinct on the whole respected.
Throughout the early C18 the two parts of the estate were gradually parcelled and sold for development. It was in the Georgian period that the wider Greyfriars estate was developed, primarily as residences for the professional and polite classes. Many of the remaining buildings date to that period and are domestic in both scale and character. Industry did encroach at the fringes and commercial activities and industry such as hosiery appear on the 1888 map of the area. Latterly the area became the legal centre for Leicester and many of the buildings were converted into offices. The manor house was demolished in 1872 although its garden remained unencumbered of development, as did that of 17 Friar Lane. Both became car parks in the C20.
Leicester itself became an industrial centre following the construction of the Grand Union Canal, which linked the town to London and Birmingham at the end of the C18. By 1800 the population had reached over 17,000 and continued to grow throughout the C19. The first railway arrived in the 1830s and Leicester was linked to the mainline network by the 1840s, which allowed for significant industrial expansion. The major industries were textiles, hosiery and footwear. The size of Leicester increased dramatically at this time and many surviving medieval and early-modern buildings in the Greyfriars area were either replaced or refaced in brick. The C19 also saw the construction of several large schools in the area.
Although the city faced significant economic and social challenges in the C20 it remains a vibrant urban centre and is now known as one of the most culturally diverse cities in Britain. The Greyfriars area has been the focus of international attention and economic investment since the remarkable discovery of the remains of Richard III under a council car park in 2012 and his re-burial in the Cathedral in 2015. Resultant extensive research and archaeological investigation led to the Scheduling of the former monastic site in December 2017 (see List entry 1442955) and the renaming of the Guildhall/Cathedral Conservation Area to Greyfriars.
31-37 (odd) Friar Lane originated as three houses consisting of what is now known as number 35-37 on the left, number 33 in the middle, and number 31 on the right. Numbers 35-37 and 33 were built in the early C18 as either a pair of houses or part of a terrace as they share the same roof line with a brick cornice, and the ground-floor storey band extends from number 35-37 across to the first half of number 33 up to the arched passageway that was created in the late C20 or early C21. Number 31 was built in the early C19 and at the same time no. 33 was largely rebuilt and re-fronted with the same fenestration. At some point between the second and third edition Ordnance Survey (OS) maps of 1904 and 1915, number 31 was subdivided to form two houses, as was number 35-37 which explains the current numbering. They are both still shown as subdivided on the 1930 map but by the 1954 map, no. 31 has become one building again. Number 35-37 is still shown as subdivided on the 1966 map but at some point since has also reverted to being one building. 31-37 Friar Lane was later used as offices, certainly by the mid-C20 when they are labelled as such on the 1944 Goad map. They have since been converted into student flats.
31, 33, 35 and 37 Friar Lane, a row of three town houses, two dating to the early C18 and one to the early C19, later used as offices and then converted to student flats, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* they form a good example of a row of three town houses demonstrating the evolving architectural character spanning the century known as the Georgian period.
* they are located within a significant historic townscape, developed along the south-eastern edge of the precinct to the C13 Franciscan friary known as Greyfriars and make a notable contribution to its rich architectural character and historic evolution.
* they are surrounded by many designated assets with which they have strong group value, especially the scheduled Greyfriars to the north-east, the Grade II listed 39 Friar Lane to the west, and the Grade II listed 2 New Street to the east.
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