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Main School Building, Sherborne Girls School

A Grade II Listed Building in Sherborne, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9486 / 50°56'54"N

Longitude: -2.5269 / 2°31'36"W

OS Eastings: 363079

OS Northings: 116702

OS Grid: ST630167

Mapcode National: GBR MT.NHMJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 56LL.PCW

Entry Name: Main School Building, Sherborne Girls School

Listing Date: 12 October 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1394262

English Heritage Legacy ID: 508299

Location: Sherborne, Dorset, Dorset, DT9

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset

Civil Parish: Sherborne

Built-Up Area: Sherborne

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Sherborne with Castleton Abbey Church of St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

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Listing Text

SHERBORNE

689/0/10011 BRADFORD ROAD
12-OCT-10 (Southeast side)
Main School Building, Sherborne Girls
School

GV II
A private school constructed to a design of circa 1902 by the architect John Harding, completed in 1909-10, with a matching science wing added in 1926 to a design by the architect William Douglas Caröe erected between Harding's wing and a former gymnasium of 1905, probably also by Harding.

MATERIALS: The building is constructed in dressed stone with pitched, red tiled roofs with red brick stacks and a central square ventilation turret with spirelet to Harding's wing and a red tiled mansard roof with flat dormers to Caröe's science wing.

PLAN: Harding's block has a conventional H-shaped plan with classrooms to both sides of a spinal corridor with a central hall with staircase and stairs at either end in the projecting wings, with offices at ground-floor level. The assembly hall is at the first floor with further class rooms. Attached to the south-east, is Caröe's square tower and science wing terminated by the lower single bay gymnasium (now called the Westcott wing) with later lean-tos.

EXTERIOR: The irregular north front elevation to Harding's block is nine bays wide. The entrance lobby, just off centre, is articulated by a Tudor-style arch with an oriel window with pierced parapet and polygonal roof above. To either side are three gables with attic windows of varying height. It has large multi-pane windows with stone transoms and mullions housing leaded lights. Caröe's range is five bays wide with two storeys and an attic. Just off centre, at ground-floor level, is the segmental-arched entrance to the cross-passage with paired casements to the right. To the left are two large multi-paned windows inset under a segmental-arched surround with further entrance under segmental arch. At first floor level are six cross-windows. The windows to the dormers have been replaced.

The south elevation to Harding's range has gabled cross-wings to either end with four full-height projecting gables to the centre, dominated by repeating stone mullioned and transomed window openings with moulded stone detailing to the gables. The majority of the former multi-pane cast iron windows to the entire south elevation have been replaced with plain glass metal casements. Caröe's two-bay wide five-stage tower, emphasised by a slender full-height buttress flanked by louvres, has paired segmental arches to the cross-passage and mullioned and transomed windows above. The tower has a decorative crenellated parapet with a central gilded clock dated '1926', which is flanked by small barley-sugar twisted columns. The school motto, taken from Socrates' Phaedro, is inscribed in Greek above the cross passage: 'noble is the struggle and great is the hope'. The tower is adorned with the paired crests of school and see. The cross-passage, now partly glazed in, contains a stone seat with a traceried window. The south elevation of Caröe's science wing is three bays wide with similar window arrangement as to the north elevation. The windows to the dormers have been replaced. To its right, the gymnasium has a large later window inserted at ground-floor level. Caröe's plan of 1920 for his science wing indicates that the gymnasium may have had a greenhouse attached to this side, now no longer there.

INTERIOR: The interior is generally very plain and functional, and has been altered in places. Of note is the first-floor assembly hall, completed in 1903 and refurbished shortly after a fire in 1911. It has a tall hammer-beam roof resting on carved stone corbels. The proscenium to the stage at its south-east end has curved corners with the Greek school motto (see above) in gold lettering above. It has oak panelled doors and walls, with the names of past school heads and with a figurative classical plaster frieze above. The gallery, improved in the late C20, has an organ and the floor and fixed seating dates from the late C20.

The entrance hall to the left of Caröe's science wing contains narrow stone stairs and a stone arched doorway leading to the former gymnasium. The domestic science room has a decorative vertical planked nailed door with strap hinges in a stone surround, with two square lights above. In the corner of the second floor room in the tower a cast iron spiral staircase leads to the top of the tower. The queen post roof to the former gymnasium, resting on stone corbels survives, although it is now subdivided by an inserted floor.

HISTORY
Sherborne Girls School was founded in 1899 by Kenelm and Charlotte Wingfield Digby as an independent boarding school run on evangelical lines. The Digby family were longstanding patrons of girls' education in Sherborne, a town well known for its schools. They first rented Ransome House on Greenhill in Sherborne (now Greenhill House). As the number of pupils had risen to 60 by 1902, the school's governors agreed that a new purpose built school was to be built. The land was granted by Wingfield Digby and the buildings were funded through Sherborne School for the Higher Education of Girls Company Ltd set up in 1899.

The main school building was built in three phases, probably to facilitate its funding, to a design of circa 1902 by the architects John Harding & Son, of Salisbury. John Harding, best-known for his design of the purpose built Blackmore Museum of 1864 in Salisbury (qv), had been Diocesan Surveyor of Salisbury from 1877-96. The foundation stone for the first phase of Sherborne Girls School was laid on 20 May 1902 by the Countess of Ilchester. It included an assembly hall at first floor level and a number of classrooms. By August 1904 the eastern cross wing with additional classrooms was completed. The last phase, the western half of the building, was completed in 1909-10, which incorporated further classrooms and an art room. As part of this phase the assembly hall was further improved with a western extension and an eastern gallery. In 1911 the assembly hall was gutted after a fire but was rebuilt within months with oak-panelled walls, a classical plaster frieze, and an organ was installed in the gallery. It is likely that the former freestanding gymnasium, built in 1905 and altered in 1936 and the later C20, was also by John Harding. He also designed the first pair of boarding houses: Aldhelmsted West, opened in 1903 and Dun Holme in 1907.

After Harding's death in 1910 Sherborne Girls School commissioned the architect William Douglas Caröe (1857-1938), who specialised in ecclesiastical architecture and was much influenced by the architect Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912. Caröe is an important and influential Edwardian architect, was best known for his ecclesiastical architecture and his educational buildings include the remodelling work for Trinity and Pembroke Colleges in Cambridge of 1905-07 (qv). It is likely that he came into contact with Sherborne Girls School through his work at Sherborne Abbey. In the early 1920s, he did a number of different designs for an extension (a science wing) to Harding's main school building. In order to comfortably fit his extension between Harding's main building and gymnasium, Caröe introduced a ground floor cross-passage as often used in medieval institutional architecture. In a revised scheme of June 1925 he had added a clock tower over the passage, thus punctuating Harding's main block. He experimented with a number of variations on the tower design, but eventually a crenelated parapet was chosen over a gabled parapet. The three bay block attached to its east included botany and physics laboratories on the first floor, chemistry and geography on the second, and an art room in the north-lit attic. Caröe's link building was completed in 1926. He also designed three boarding houses for Sherborne Boys School, including Alymar & Wingfield (1910-11), Thurstan (1914-16) & Ealhstan (1916-17), and Kenelm (1926-28) & Aldhelmsted (1937-38).

SOURCES
Newman, J, and Pevsner, N,The Buildings of England: Dorset (1989), 380.
Stuart Gray,A, Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary (1985), 134-137.
Freeman, J, WD Caröe: his architectural achievement (1990).
MacAlister,I, 'Caröe, William Douglas (1857-1938)', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).
Franklin, G, 'Sherborne School for Girls, Sherborne, Dorset: Main School Building & Kenelm / Aldhelmsted East Boardinghouses', (unpublished English Heritage report 2010).

Measured drawings by John Harding and WD Caröe held by Sherborne School.
Measured drawings in the Caröe Archive held in the National Monuments Record in Swindon.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Main School Building at Sherborne Girls School is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* ARCHITECTURAL INTEREST: It is a good example of an Edwardian private school building by the architect John Harding, making a strong architectural statement and incorporating an important design by William Douglas Caröe, the notable architect.
* INTERIOR: It contains a hall with good-quality decorations and an impressive hammer-beam roof, and with careful architectural detailing in Caröe's wing.
* HISTORIC INTEREST: It is a relatively early example of a girls' boarding school that expresses the changing attitudes towards secondary education for girls through its early curricular emphasis on science, mathematics and the humanities.
* INTACTNESS: It has survived remarkably intact and the later changes have not adversely affected its special interest.

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

Reasons for Listing

The multi-phased early-C20 Main School Building at Sherborne Girls School, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* ARCHITECTURAL INTEREST: It is a good example of an Edwardian private school building by the architect John Harding, making a strong architectural statement and incorporating an important design by William Douglas Caröe, the notable architect.
* INTERIOR: It contains a hall with good-quality decorations and an impressive hammer beam roof, and with careful architectural detailing in Caröe's wing.
* HISTORIC INTEREST: It is a relatively early example of a girls' boarding school that expresses the changing attitudes towards secondary education for girls through its early curricular emphasis on science, mathematics and the humanities.
* INTACTNESS: It has survived remarkably intact and the later changes have not adversely affected its special interest.

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