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Harleston United Reformed Church and church hall

A Grade II Listed Building in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.4007 / 52°24'2"N

Longitude: 1.2995 / 1°17'58"E

OS Eastings: 624558

OS Northings: 283204

OS Grid: TM245832

Mapcode National: GBR VK4.KCD

Mapcode Global: VHL94.GXWG

Entry Name: Harleston United Reformed Church and church hall

Listing Date: 4 April 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1444399

Location: Redenhall with Harleston, South Norfolk, Norfolk, IP20

County: Norfolk

District: South Norfolk

Civil Parish: Redenhall with Harleston

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Redenhall Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

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Congregational chapel, built 1819, refronted and extended by Edward Boardman in 1886. Associated church hall to rear, built 1906.


Congregational chapel, built 1819, refronted and extended by Edward Boardman in 1886. Associated church hall to rear, built 1906.

MATERIALS: Red brick walls laid in Flemish bond, hipped slate roofs.

PLAN: The church is roughly rectangular in plan, laid out on an east-west axis facing east towards Mendham Lane, containing a double-height nave overlooked by a gallery. There are three late-C19 extensions to the west elevation of the church: two single-storey extensions to the north-west and south-west corners, and a canted apse.
The church hall to the rear (west) is roughly L-shaped in plan, comprising a double-height hall laid out on an east-west axis, a two-storey classroom in the north-east corner, and a range of single-storey rooms running west.

EXTERIOR: The church was constructed of red brick laid in Flemish bond in 1819 and refronted by Boardman in 1886, as is evidenced by the colour change in brickwork on the side elevations. The church has a symmetrical five-bay two-storey elevation to Mendham Lane, the central three bays of which have channelled brickwork to the ground floor, and a moulded red brick stringcourse and modillioned pediment over, having a central oeil-de-boeuf window with hexafoil tracery. The front and side elevations have single-pane timber sash windows with margins, and moulded brick surrounds at ground and first floor levels. The outer bays of the front elevation have double-height round-headed timber sash windows with margins illuminating the internal stair halls. The front elevation has a central square-headed double-leaf timber-panelled door, with a moulded brick surround and pediment over. The rear (west) elevation has two late-C19 single-storey extensions and a canted apse, the south bay of which has a blocked window opening.
The church hall to the rear (west) of the church was built in 1906, and constructed of red brick laid in Flemish bond, with pitched slate roofs. The L-plan building comprises a double-height hall and range of single-storey rooms on an east-west axis, a perpendicular two-storey classroom in the north-east corner and single-storey porch to the east elevation. The north and east elevations each have timber-framed casement windows, larger casement windows to the south elevation, and a large pointed-arch tracery window to the west elevation. The gabled porch has a double-leaf timber-panelled door in a pointed-arch surround. The south-east corner of the church hall was infilled with a single-storey toilet extension in the late C20.

INTERIOR: The church has a central reception hall at its east end, with symmetrical stair halls opening north and south, each providing access to the ground-floor nave and first-floor gallery. The nave possesses late-C19 fixed pews, arranged in a wide central aisle and narrow side aisles, with an early-C20 organ by Norman and Beard Limited in the south-west corner. The west wall has a canted apse in a segmental-headed opening on foliated pilasters, illuminated by a late-C20 rooflight. A late-C19 pulpit with an integrated clock stands at the junction of the church and apse on a stepped carpeted dais, which is bounded to the east by a timber communion rail on scrolled cast-iron supports. The canted U-plan gallery has a cast-iron, pierced, foliated balustrade under a timber handrail, and is fitted with late-C19 raked timber benches. The balcony is supported over the nave by cast-iron columns, with two cast-iron columns supporting a corniced beam over the gallery at the junction of the 1819 building and 1886 extension. The church retains late-C19 timber panelling, ornate tiling and timber-framed half-glazed doors throughout.
The church hall is a large double-height space, with an ornate cast-iron fireplace in the north-west corner, and four half-glazed doors along the north wall (some boarded over), granting access to smaller single-storey rooms. The north-east room is two storeys in height, with a replacement handrail to the ground floor section of the stairs, original balusters and handrail to the first floor, and a cast-iron fireplace in the south-west corner at ground and first floor levels. The hall retains early-C20 timber flooring and wall panelling throughout, and some integrated timber cupboards.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: To the north of the church, an C18 red-brick wall extends east to Mendham Lane, against which 15 gravestones stand, dated between 1802 and 1865. This wall forms the southern boundary of the Old House and its associated stable block (both listed at Grade II), and therefore is excluded from this listing.
To the front of the church, a late-C20 red brick plinth wall runs parallel to Mendham Lane, having late-C20 metal railings and gates, and is excluded from the listing due to its late date and lack of special architectural and historic interest.
A section of late-C18 or early-C19 red brick wall extends from the south-east corner of the church to Mendham Lane, and is included in the listing.
A former minister’s house or manse, built in the late-C18 or early-C19, stands immediately south of the church, and is individually listed at Grade II.
An early-C20 toilet block stands north-west of the church hall, and two timber-boarded outbuildings stand to the west of the church hall. The toilet block and timber outbuildings are excluded from the listing, as they are comparatively later in date and do not possess special architectural or historic interest.


The first Congregationalist chapel in England was founded in 1616, yet the earliest surviving chapels are all post-Reformation in date. A Congregational chapel was constructed in Harleston in 1706, and is believed to have been one of earliest establishments of the denomination in Norfolk. The Harleston congregation appears to have died out by 1773, when the building was sold to James Whiting, but was later revived in 1786. A new chapel was constructed on the same site in 1819, and was extensively altered and refronted by Edward Boardman in 1886 at a cost of £800 to accommodate 400 persons. It is probable that the porch to the north-west corner, the apse to the west end, and the single-storey extension to the south-west corner were added at this time. Kelly’s Directory of Norfolk in 1896 records that the chapel received an annual endowment of £25 from a farm at Alburgh, left by James Whiting of Wortwell in 1774, and the poor attending the chapel also had the interest of £100 left by the late William Hanworth. The building is annotated as a ‘Congregational Chapel’ on the 1885 and 1905 Ordnance Survey maps, sharing grounds with the minister’s house or manse to the south, which was constructed in the late C18 or early C19 and is listed at Grade II.
The remodelling and refronting of the church in 1886 was carried out by Edward Boardman (1833-1910), a Norwich-born architect, who succeeded John Brown as the most successful Norwich architect in the second half of the C19. Following his architectural training in London and Lowestoft, Boardman established a practice in Norwich in 1860, and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA) in 1871. Boardman’s varied work included major city improvements in Norwich in the 1870s, and a wide range of civic, ecclesiastical and private commissions. His ecclesiastical projects included: St Mary’s Baptist Church, Norwich (built 1868, destroyed by bombing during the Second World War); remodelling and extension of the Congregational Church on Princes Street, Norwich (1869); the Congregational Chapel, Dereham (1873-4); the Primitive Methodist Chapel on Queen’s Road, Norwich (1880); Chapelfield Methodist Church, Norwich (1880); and Trinity Methodist Church, Dereham (1880), all listed at Grade II.

The former church hall to the rear (west) of the church was constructed in 1906 and was most recently utilised as a community hall. A detached toilet block was constructed north-west of the church hall in the early-C20, and the front porch of the church hall was extended to accommodate toilets in the late-C20. The United Reformed Church denomination was established in 1972 (uniting the Presbyterian Church of England and most Congregational churches), and the Harleston chapel was renamed Harleston United Reformed Church at this time.

Reasons for Listing

Harleston United Reformed Church and its associated church hall are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: as a well-composed church, constructed in the early-C19 and re-fronted and extended in the late-C19 by Edward Boardman, retaining a high proportion of its late-C19 plan form, furniture and fittings;
* Architect: for the extensive alteration and refronting of the church by the well-regarded architect Edward Boardman, a number of whose civic, ecclesiastical and private works are listed, some at high grades;
* Intactness: for the survival of the late-C19 plan form of the church and a high proportion of the late-C19, good quality, interior furniture and fittings, including doors, windows, decorative tiling, pews, and an ornate balustrade to the gallery. In addition, the original plan form, fireplaces and timber panelling of the early-C20 church hall survive intact;
* Group value: for the important contribution the church and its associated church hall make to Harleston Conservation Area, and the strong group value they form with the former manse to the south, and the Old House and its stable block to the north (each listed at Grade II).

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