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Main Building at Howells School

A Grade II Listed Building in Denbigh, Denbighshire

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Latitude: 53.1829 / 53°10'58"N

Longitude: -3.4151 / 3°24'54"W

OS Eastings: 305533

OS Northings: 366025

OS Grid: SJ055660

Mapcode National: GBR 6M.3JY2

Mapcode Global: WH771.J807

Entry Name: Main Building at Howells School

Listing Date: 19 February 2001

Last Amended: 19 February 2001

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 24778

Building Class: Education

Location: Located immediately NE of the castle, the School is approached via the continuation of Peake’s Lane SW of Park Street.

County: Denbighshire

Community: Denbigh (Dinbych)

Community: Denbigh

Built-Up Area: Denbigh

Traditional County: Denbighshire

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Girls school which (with its sister foundation in Llandaff) owes its origins to a bequest made by Thomas Howell, d1540. The Drapers Company of London administered the bequest until 1818, when a Charity Commission Enquiry was initiated. The eventual result of this Enquiry was the passing of an Act in 1846, requiring the Drapers' Company to pay the bequest. It was intended that building would commence in the spring of 1857, and plans were apparently drawn up by Decimus Burton of London. In fact, building work took place 1858-9, the school opened in 1860, and the architect was Herbert Williams. This original building was successively extended, notably first by a NE wing of 1914 (the basis of a quadrangle listed separately), and then by symmetrical wings advanced from the original building to its NW (entrance) front, in 1929-30. There have been minor subsequent changes, but the building retains a strong collegiate character through use of a unifying Tudor gothic style in all phases of work.


Comprises original range aligned NE-SW, with advanced wings added to NW elevation to form symmetrical 3-sided courtyard; continuation of main range to SW, which forms principal block of more informally grouped SW courtyard (and is probably also a later addition). Collegiate Tudor gothic style throughout, in snecked stonework; with steep slate roofs with scalloped bands and ridge cresting. The entrance elevation of the original range is dominated by a symmetrically placed, but asymmetrically arranged entrance gable incorporating offset bell-cot, advanced from tower: entrance is central to gable, in moulded 4-centred archway with drop-ended hoodmould and carved spandrels; panelled door with glazed upper panels; coat of arms and inscription above. Oriel window over entrance. Slope of gable to right broken by bell-cot, with 2-light windows below (transomed to ground floor). Tower set back behind gable has bell-cast roof of banded slate surmounted by a fleche, and 3-light mullioned and transomed windows in upper stage below moulded cornice. Flanking ranges to either side of entrance are of 5 bays, articulated by 5-light windows alternating with plate-traceried windows beneath coped dormer gables to first floor: leaded-roofed lean-to corridor ranges to ground floor with pierced parapet, and 3-light Perpendicular windows with panel tracery over blind quatrefoil panels. Advanced wings of 1929-30 are similarly scaled and use the same materials: ground floor advanced as aisle/corridor to hall and dining room within: 3-light mullioned and transomed windows with plain blind panels below, and foiled heads. Mullioned windows to first floor. Doorways in the slightly advanced outer bays (shallow arched entrances, glazed foiled panels to doors). Buttressed gable returns have full-height window in 5 tiers with blind panel below (date and shield in panel of hall wing). To right, recessed behind the dining-room wing, various ancillary buildings in similar style form loose grouping around 'Porters' Yard'.

South-east elevation of main block is again symmetrical, the gable at centre advanced from tower, with canted mullioned and transomed 2-storeyed bay with raked stone roof. Fenestration in balanced flanking ranges once again comprises bands of small 5-light windows alternating with 3-light plate-traceried windows in dormer gables to first floor, and 3-light mullioned and transomed windows to ground floor. Advanced gables of outer wings have 5-light mullioned and transomed windows to ground floor, 3 light windows above. String course between the storeys, relieving arches over lower windows, moulded eaves. Return elevation beyond right hand gable is similarly detailed, and has advanced gothic clock tower with plate traceried lancet to 2nd stage and clock in machicolated section beneath bell-cast roof with brattishing. Single storey link (a simple classical collonade) to later NW block. Long range of 'Maids Hall' forms SW continuation of main range: 2 storeyed, with generally similar, though simpler detail.


Not fully inspected, but planned with corridor running along front of main range, staircase beneath tower to rear of entrance, and hall and dining room in C20 advanced wings.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as the centre-piece of the group of buildings at Howells School: though built in two phases, a fine integrated design, in an expressive collegiate gothic style.

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