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Leahurst

A Grade II Listed Building in Braintree, Essex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8771 / 51°52'37"N

Longitude: 0.5486 / 0°32'54"E

OS Eastings: 575526

OS Northings: 222902

OS Grid: TL755229

Mapcode National: GBR PHX.7HT

Mapcode Global: VHJJJ.G2CW

Entry Name: Leahurst

Listing Date: 27 April 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393768

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507121

Location: Braintree, Essex, CM7

County: Essex

District: Braintree

Town: Braintree

Electoral Ward/Division: Braintree West

Built-Up Area: Braintree

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Braintree St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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Braintree

Listing Text


691/0/10035 HIGH STREET
27-APR-10 Leahurst

GV II
A former district nurses' home of 1939, currently hostel accommodation, designed by E. Vincent Harris for William Julien Courtauld, with statuary and lettering by Eric Gill.

PLAN
A two-storey rectangular building.

MATERIALS
Constructed with thin, pale brown Northwick bricks laid in English bond, with Portland stone dressings and a Delabole slate covering to the roof.

EXTERIOR
Built in the Neo-Georgian style. There are parapets to the long elevations and Dutch gables at the north and south. The gable roof has two tall brick ridge chimneys. The fa├žade faces west; at the south end, a single storey flat-roofed element housed the district nursing office. The main entrance comprises a heavy, two-leaf door of five panels with original door furniture. The prominent stone quoin surround is topped with a deep cornice incorporating a stone plaque with the carved letters 'WJC' and a pediment above. A small rectangular niche above contains a statue by Gill depicting a nurse with a child, reminiscent of the Madonna with Christ. At the north end, a shallow arched vehicular entrance with timber panelled gates leads to the rear. The six-over-six sash windows with straight brick heads are in a staggered arrangement on the ground and first floors. Original rainwater hoppers and pipes have the initials WJC.

Overlooking public open space and the fountain beyond, the north elevation has a late C20 first floor oriel window with three sashes, faithfully replacing the original, resting on a stone base which has a carved Fleur de Llys. A curved frieze above is inscribed with the words 'THIS BUILDING WAS GIVEN BY WILLIAM JULIEN COURTAULD J. P 1939.'

The rear elevation has six tall six-over-nine sash windows at ground floor, with one late C20 replacement at the centre, matched by six-over-six sashes at first floor. A tall stair window is to the south and a late C20 emergency stair has been added to the north.

INTERIOR
The plan-form of the nurses' accommodation comprised a long corridor at the west with rooms leading off it on both the ground and first floors. At ground floor were the common rooms, kitchens and district nursing office with bedrooms and bathrooms located at first floor. The layout largely remains unaltered although the facilities have been upgraded and the former district nursing office has been remodelled to form modern offices. There are few historic fixtures and fittings; the plain staircase remains at the south end and there are some simple dado rails and cornices. The sash windows retain their chain hangers and latches.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES
The garden is enclosed by a contemporary brick wall. The original garage block located to the rear of the vehicular entrance has been replaced with a late C20 single storey common room for the residents that has no special interest.

HISTORY
Leahurst was built as the District Nurses' home in 1939, commissioned by William Julien Courtauld, a descendent of the textile manufacturing family, philanthropist and patron of architecture and the arts. Leahurst forms a group with the fountain, square and almshouses of 1936 to the north and east, also commissioned by WJ Courtauld, both buildings being designed by Harris. An article in the Architects Journal of February 1st 1940 describes the individual building and provides a plan of the group and public open space. In commissioning Leahurst, the Almshouses, fountain and hard landscaping, Courtauld's intention was to improve the entrance to Braintree from London. Pevsner describes the buildings in the group as 'individually good, but the overall effect... not entirely successful'.

In recent years, Leahurst has been used as a hostel for young people, utilising the accommodation provided for the nurses. There has been some minor remodelling, and the facilities in the rooms have been upgraded, but the exterior and interior are little altered.

SOURCES
Architects Journal February 1st 1940 pp 138-9.
Collins, J 'Eric Gill: Sculpture' 1992.
Holder, J 'Emanuel Vincent Harris and the Survival of Classicism in Inter-war Manchester' in Clare Hartwell & Terry Wyke (eds), Making Manchester, Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society 2007.
Pevsner, N and Bettley J 'Buildings of England; Essex' 2007, p.170.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION
Leahurst, High Street, Braintree, a former district nurses' home of 1939, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: The building is designed by E.Vincent Harris, a renowned architect of the C20 with a number of listed buildings to his name. It has a well-tutored Neo-Georgian design with finely crafted detailing, including statuary and lettering by Eric Gill.
* Historic Interest: The building was gifted by William Julien Courtauld, a descendent of the textile manufacturing family, philanthropist and patron of architecture and the arts who commissioned a number of buildings in Braintree from Harris including the town hall of 1926-29 (Grade II*).
* Intactness: The building has a largely intact exterior and interior plan-form.
* Group Value: The building has considerable group value with the Almshouses of 1936 to the east, also by Harris for WJ Courtauld and recommended for listing, the fountain to the north (Grade II) and Church of St Michael to the north-east (Grade B).

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Reasons for Listing

Leahurst, High Street, Braintree, a former district nurses' home of 1939, is recommended for designation for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: The building is designed by E.Vincent Harris, a renowned architect of the C20 with a number of listed buildings to his name. It has a well-tutored Neo-Georgian design with finely crafted detailing, including statuary and lettering by Eric Gill.
* Historic Interest: The building was gifted by William Julien Courtauld, a descendent of the textile manufacturing family, philanthropist and patron of architecture and the arts who commissioned a number of buildings in Braintree from Harris including the town hall of 1926-29 (Grade II*).
* Intactness: The building has a largely intact exterior and interior plan-form.
* Group Value: The building has considerable group value with the Almshouses of 1936 to the east, also by Harris for WJ Courtauld and recommended for listing, the fountain to the north (Grade II) and Church of St Michael to the north-east (Grade B)

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