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Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade

A Grade II Listed Building in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.9926 / 53°59'33"N

Longitude: -1.55 / 1°33'0"W

OS Eastings: 429598

OS Northings: 455264

OS Grid: SE295552

Mapcode National: GBR KQM8.6J

Mapcode Global: WHC8F.5X43

Plus Code: 9C5WXCVX+2X

Entry Name: Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade

Listing Date: 13 May 2022

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1481224

ID on this website: 101481224

Location: Valley Gardens, Low Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1

County: North Yorkshire

District: Harrogate

Electoral Ward/Division: Harlow Moor

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Harrogate

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


Tea pavilion and promenade colonnade, 1933, by the Borough Surveyor Leonard Clarke, the pavilion was restored in the 1980s/1990s and is now a hospitality venue. Neoclassical with some Art Deco elements.


Tea pavilion and promenade colonnade, 1933, by the Borough Surveyor Leonard Clarke, the pavilion was restored in the 1980s/1990s and is now (2022) a hospitality venue. Neoclassical with some Art Deco elements.

MATERIALS: mellow red brick with concrete dressings imitating sandstone.

PLAN: the Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade are located on the north side of Valley Gardens alongside Cornwall Road. The Sun Pavilion is built into a slope and consists of a main octagonal entertainment space with flanking service projections at the rear (north) side. The front elevation faces south onto Valley Gardens, and an additional entrance was introduced on the north side in the 1990s, which forms the current (2022) main entrance. The Sun Colonnade wraps around the Sun Pavilion with concave arms and then continues north-eastwards for approximately 209m in a linear plan alongside Cornwall Road, incorporating two further smaller semi-octagonal pavilions and terminating in a third small rectangular pavilion 60m from the park's main entrance.

SUN PAVILION: externally the single-storey Sun Pavilion is styled like a classical pavilion with the main body of the building consisting of a large double-height octagonal entertainment space top-lit by a large dome, and lower single-storey service projections on each east and west flanking side alongside Cornwall Road. Windows are of bronze metal with margin lights, and are mainly set within concrete surrounds. The building's flat roofs are hidden from view by parapets with concrete copings and the dome has replaced external glazing.

NORTH ELEVATION: due to the sloping ground on which the building is set the building drops away from north to south, and thus only the upper part of the building is visible from Cornwall Road, compared with the other remaining elevations from which the full double-height nature of the building is visible. The building's wide three-bay north face, which faces onto Cornwall Road, has a large pediment with an entablature that continues around and across the other faces of the pavilion. The two outer bays each have a large round-arched window with a brickwork lintel and concrete triple-keystone, whilst to the edge of the wall face are clasping pilasters with concrete Tuscan capitals. Projecting out from the central bay is a pedimented enclosed porch added during the 1980s/1990s restoration works. The porch is in the same style and materials as the rest of the building and has double doors to the north side and windows to the side returns. Attached to the porch, and enclosing the building at the front, is metal balustrading interspersed with low brick and concrete piers, which was added at the same time as the porch and is also in the same style as the main building. To each flanking side of the central section, and aligned with the north wall face, are lower service wings, each with three sets of two-light mullioned windows containing square lights. Attached to the eastern wing is a section of walling enclosing a small yard, which joins with a further section of the wing that wraps around the east and south sides of the yard.

SOUTH ELEVATION: the principal south elevation faces onto Valley Gardens and originally formed the building's main entrance, with no patron entrance on the north side. It incorporates a glazed wall to the lower part comprised of three sets of three-light double doors with cross-shaped bars to the upper lights separated by fixed windows in the same style. Doors in the same style are present to the two side returns on each flanking side with each set separated by rusticated pilaster strips; the canted corners are narrower and thus only have a single glazed door flanked by fixed windows. To the upper part of the elevation is a five-light clerestory band with replaced glazing in the same style as the original glazing surviving elsewhere on the building and depicted in historic photographs. The side returns also have clerestory bands, but with those to the canted corners having two-lights. The south elevations of the two side wings are rendered and incorporate concave arcing sections without windows.

SUN COLONNADE: wrapping around in front of the pavilion and its side wings on the south side is the Sun Colonnade, a covered promenade that is supported by concrete Tuscan columns and terminated by brick piers at the side wings. The floor has replaced paving. The colonnade in front of the side wings originally incorporated glazing in between the columns in the same style as those to the pavilion's doors, but this has been removed. The section in front of the pavilion's south face and canted corners was always open in the style of a verandah; the spaces between the columns have since been infilled with low painted-metal balustrading believed to have been introduced in the late C20. The colonnade wrapping around in front of the pavilion and its side wings also originally had a glazed roof, but the glazing was removed during the late-C20 restoration works, leaving an original timber pergola ceiling structure beneath retained metal roof trusses and beams. The roof glazing has been replaced with modern Perspex sheeting to the section immediately in front of the pavilion's south face and canted corners. Set below the colonnade, arcing around the Sun Pavilion, is a full basement with an external access door in the south-west corner.

Beyond the eastern end of the east side wing the Sun Colonnade continues for approximately 209m and is constructed of the same materials and in similar style, but utilising square Tuscan columns of brick with concrete bases and capitals, instead of the concrete Tuscan columns used in front of the Sun Pavilion. The colonnade retains its original concrete paving slabs and pergola ceiling structure, but has lost its original roof glazing, which was formerly above. The colonnade incorporates two smaller semi-octagonal, double-height flat-roofed pavilions in similar style to the Sun Pavilion with an entablature and parapet concealing flat roofs, and is terminated at the eastern end by a small rectangular pavilion with pediments to the north, east and south sides and concrete Tuscan columns flanking large openings. The pavilion has lost its roof glazing but retains its metal roof trusses and joists. The two intermediary pavilions have very large round-arched windows with moulded concrete heads and triple keystones, and separated by rusticated piers. The window openings were originally glazed, but the glazing has since been removed and low late-C20 painted-metal balustrading inserted. Each pavilion is top lit by a large lantern rooflight. The colonnade's north wall incorporates Tuscan pilasters that separate the wall into brick panels, some of which are blank and have an attached trellis, whilst the remainder have high-level traceried open windows. Openings in the north wall at three points along the length of the colonnade access stair enclosures and brick and concrete access staircases leading up to Cornwall Road and a small electricity substation.

INTERIOR: internally the Sun Pavilion has a large function space top-lit by a dome with Art Deco patterned stained glass and set within a coffered ceiling supported on large decorative gilded brackets. The floor has been replaced, but bronze window furniture survives. Originally there was a stage on the north side of the space, which housed an orchestra, but this has since been removed and a late-C20 sweeping staircase with a metal balustrade in the same style as that to the main entrance inserted to access the 1980s/1990s main entrance and a small mezzanine seating area and wheelchair lift. On the mezzanine is a plaque recording the reopening of the building in 1998 by Her Majesty the Queen, and beneath the mezzanine is a storage area. The stage's moulded proscenium survives with bead and acanthus leaf decoration and is replicated in smaller versions to each of the pavilion's walls, which surround window and door openings. A modern bar counter in Art Deco style has been inserted to the right of the stair. Later inserted doorways lead into the flanking side wings; that to the west side has been modernised and contains toilets and a bridal changing room. The east side wing is less altered and contains a kitchen, cold store, storage areas, and a small office, as well as access to the rear yard. Some original moulded door architraves appear to survive, along with some doors and bronze door handles and hand and foot plates.

The interiors of the Sun Colonnade's intermediary pavilions and end pavilion have rendered walls, whilst the former also contain cornicing, moulded window heads, and panelling around the edge of the rooflights.


The Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade were constructed in 1933 to designs by Leonard Clarke, the Borough Surveyor, as part of a £60,000 spa development scheme intended to be one of the finest in Europe. The building was opened on 17 June 1933 by Lord Horder of Ashford, a noted physician who was physician to a series of monarchs and three prime ministers, and the opening ceremony was covered by British Pathe in a reel entitled 'Yorkshire. As Good As Any Foreign Spa'.

Although the health benefits of Harrogate's spring waters were first discovered in the C16 it was not until the C19 that the town became a popular destination for health travellers and facilities were erected to cater for their needs. Valley Gardens was laid out from around 1880 onwards and was developed to cater for the spa visitors to Harrogate, creating an attractive walk close to the mineral springs of Bogs Field. The idea of forming a covered link between the Royal Bath Hospital and the Royal Pump Room to encourage, and enable, visitors to exercise under cover from the elements was first proposed in 1869, but financial constraints delayed the project until 1933.

The Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade were constructed as part of the town's spa facility, with the pavilion (built on the site of an earlier tea house) designed as a place to take refreshment and rest after taking exercise and air along the covered colonnade (the first of its type to be built in Britain and designed to trap ultra-violet rays), or taking the spa waters in the town centre. The pavilion originally had a stage where an orchestra would play whilst visitors dined. Original elevational drawings suggest that it was originally thought that a future extension to the colonnade would be built on the west side to link the pavilion to the Royal Bath Hospital, but this was never carried out. The Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade were often used as the subject image of Valley Gardens postcards in the 1930s, and historic photographs depict chairs aligned along the length of the colonnade with visitors taking advantage of the view over the gardens. In August 1933 Queen Mary, wife of George V, visited the Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade, accompanied by Lord Harewood.

In the 1980s the Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade had fallen into disrepair, along with much of Valley Gardens. In response, the Friends of Valley Gardens charity group was created in 1986, which led a campaign to restore the pavilion that was part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was supported by figures, including Alf Wight (James Herriot) and David Bellamy. In 1998 the Sun Pavilion was officially re-opened by Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2018 celebrations were held to mark the 20th anniversary of Her Majesty's visit.

The Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade were listed as part of Historic England’s celebration of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Reasons for Listing

The Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade, opened in 1933, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* they have a striking design and composition that blends well with their surroundings and is enhanced by refined and elegant classical styling;
* the design echoes that of seaside architecture with a sense of horizontality interposed with, and enhanced by, the incorporation of intermediary pavilions along the length of the colonnade;
* despite some modernisation both the pavilion and colonnade survive well and retain numerous key features, including the pavilion's striking Art Deco stained-glass dome and the colonnade's roof structure and pergola ceiling.

Historic interest:

* they are a rare survival of 1930s spa architecture that supported the spa infrastructure of Harrogate, one of the most fashionable spa destinations in Europe in the C19 and early C20, and which formed part of both the treatment and cultural entertainment elements of the 'cure';
* the Sun Colonnade was the first example of its type in Britain and was designed to maximise exposure to sunlight (the best source of vitamin D) to help ease muscle pain;
* they are representative of the enduring attraction of health travel before the introduction of the NHS in 1948.

Group value:

* forming the principal building within the registered landscape of Valley Gardens and having strong group value with nearby listed buildings related to Harrogate's C19 and early-C20 spa development, including the refreshment kiosk (originally the Magnesia Well New Pump Room) and Magnesia Well building in Valley Gardens, and the Royal Pump Room Museum.

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