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Former Carmel Abbey, Darlington

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posted by alias Bolckow on Thursday 31st of July 2014 09:24:47 AM

"907/0/10032 CARMEL ROAD 18-AUG-09 ST CLARE'S ABBEY, LODGE, WALLS AND ANC ILLARY GARDEN BUILDINGS (Formerly listed as: CARMEL ROAD NORTH ST CLARE'S ABBEY, LODGE, WALLS AND ANC ILLARY GARDEN BUILDINGS) II Convent, 1856-7 by Joseph Aloysius Hansom and Charles Hansom for the Order of Poor Clare Sisters. MATERIALS: red brick with ashlar dressings, welsh slate roofs PLAN: 1, 2 and 3 storey ranges set around five open, cloistered quadrangles with associated graveyard, garden walls and outbuildings, all contained within a perimeter wall with entrance gateway and lodge. EXTERIOR: Victorian Gothic Revival ranges with attics and basements under mainly pitched roofs with eaves cornices and plinths. Windows are mostly pointed arched with cusped heads. East Elevation: plain single storey cross gable at extreme right with pointed arched doorway and a trefoil opening above. To the left there is a single storey entrance range with a gabled porch supported by diagonal buttresses with a tall chimney to the right. The wide main entrance has a head-stopped drip mould, and above, a pinnacled and crocketed niche containing a statue of St. Clare, flanked by smaller blind niches bearing coats of arms including that of the Franciscan Order. Windows in this range are fixed mullions. A cross range to the left, with a prominent Tudor chimney, formerly the Chaplain's house, has a striking double height canted bay window with 5-light mullions and an ornate stone roof with paired lights above. The entrance range is linked to the chapel by a single storey cloister walk. South Elevation: Cross range, with stepped corner buttresses; ground floor cross windows either side of a central buttress supporting a stone carved oriel window of 4-lights with a Tudor flower eaves cornice. To either side there are stone crests in blind niches and above a single lancet with a head-stopped drip mould. Attached to the left is a single storey cloister walk with a central gabled entrance with chamfered soffits and jambs and a double boarded door; niche and statue above, surmounted by a stone cross. Windows to either side have plate tracery and head-stopped hood moulds. 3-bay buttressed range to the left with pitched slate roof, raised coping and a stone cross to the left side, eaves cornice and band; there are 2-light shoulder arched windows to ground floor, paired 2-light cross windows at first floor and paired single-light windows at second floor level. A brick garden wall with triangular stone coping is attached to the left. West Elevation: rear range of 2-storeys with attics and basements, pitched roof, eaves cornice and plinth; scattered fenestration of mostly cross, single light and 3-light mullioned and transomed windows but some as full roof dormers with vertical Tudor chimney stacks. There is a shouldered arched entrance to the bottom left. The two end bays project; that to right has a 5 light mullion and transom window to ground floor and cross windows to second floor and 3-light plate traceried window above; blind niche with coat of arms at first floor level. Projecting left end bay has ground floor paired 3-light mullioned and transomed windows with similar 5-light above. Garden wall with triangular coping attached at left. Short single storey range links with a single storey end range with full roof dormers, gable and axial ridge stacks. Right bay has window of stepped lights which extend into roof dormer and a shouldered arched entrance. The perimeter wall attached to the left with triangular coping runs around the enclosure on all sides incorporating, on the east side, an entrance gateway and lodge and on the west side a second entrance with heavy boarded double doors. The gatehouse and lodge is a 2 bay, 2 storey gabled building with pitched roofs and an axial ridge chimney and external Tudor stack to the right; the main entrance is in the ground floor of the left bay comprising a 4-centred arched carriage entrance with adjacent similar pedestrian entrance; the domestic lodgings located above are indicated by a 3-light mullioned and transomed window and small cusped window in the apex of the gable. The right bay contains a canted bay window of 5 lights but is otherwise blind. The small extension to the right is not of special interest. INTERIOR: the east range of the entrance court has undergone recent refurbishment but the Chaplain's house retains window panelling, shutters and cornices. The remainder of the abbey has plainly painted walls throughout with floors of parquet or wooden boards; roofs include Queen post and King post forms and some roofs in the single storey cloister walks are of open scissor trusses and coupled rafter form. Original fixtures and fittings of note include wooden doors with door furniture, pointed arch surrounds throughout, numerous stone fire surrounds, some with cast iron grates, fitted wooden cupboards and features particular to the enclosed way of life include a grilled opening in the entrance vestibule and wooden 'turn' for receiving small items from outside the enclosure. All original wooden staircases are retained including a carved open well stair on the west side of Church Court. Domestic and dining ranges on the north side have original hooded fireplaces. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a small graveyard, with identical simple crosses, the earliest dated 1858 and a single grave marked by a flat stone monument; a tall high cross on a stepped plinth forming the focus of the design. Other buildings within the perimeter wall include garden walls with triangular coping, summer house, a building against the west wall and the remains of outbuildings in the north west corner of the precinct. HISTORY: This abbey was constructed for the Order of Poor Clare Sisters between 1856 and 1857 to designs by Joseph Aloysius Hansom, a leading Catholic architect of the time, under supervision of the Clerk of Works James Frith. Not only was Hansom the designer, he took a personal interest in the foundation from the earliest time, advising the abbess on the choice of site and monitoring the work regularly. At times he contributed financially and his daughter Winny was pupil at the convent. The sisters have been careful to preserve a full set of records regarding the construction and subsequent use of the abbey and they also hold original plans, photographs and financial accounts. Most important is a two-volume diary of James Frith in which all aspects of the building works are revealed from the period 7th April 1856 to 14th November 1857. The buildings first appear on the first edition Ordnance Survey 1:10560 map of 1858 immediately after their completion; the north end of the entrance range is incomplete and the grounds are undeveloped. The second edition 1:2500 map of 1899 depicts the abbey in its complete state with landscaped grounds, graveyard, gatehouse and other garden buildings in place. Several outbuildings have been lost since 1939. The property was described by the late Dr Denis Evinson in his 1966 MA thesis as a chapel, ladies' school, grange and gatehouse. Joseph Hansom had a varied career, which included collaborating with a number of different architects, inventing the 'Hansom Cab' and as founder of the architectural magazine 'The Builder'. He is most renowned for the design of various churches, mostly Roman Catholic, and for Birmingham Town Hall. He was supported at St. Clare's Abbey by his brother Charles Francis Hansom (1817-1888) who is also entered in the ODNB. Joseph Hanson was an independent minded follower of the Gothic style advocated by A. W N Pugin and, along with his brother Charles, he is considered to be a leader of Pugin imitators. In the recent work `A Glimpse of Heaven' Joseph Hansom is described as `an extraordinary Catholic talent' whose churches `show his continuing and brilliant talent'. The Order of Poor Clare Sisters, a Franciscan contemplative, enclosed order, built their first monastery in England in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1286; subsequently they moved to Antwerp in 1455 and then to St Omer. An extern Sister, Mary Ward, then established a community for English Woman at Gravelines, now Northern France, and the community increased and prospered and several other foundations were established including one at Rouen. After the hardships of the French Revolution including the loss of their liberty for a time, the Rouen Sisters moved back to England in 1795 and after a brief stay in London, they moved to Haggerston Castle, Northumberland at the behest of Sir Carnaby Haggerston. In 1805 the order purchased Scorton Hall, North Yorkshire, where they remained until 1850 when a site for a new monastery was sought and twenty acres of land was purchased at a cost of £2000 from the adjacent Carmelite community in Darlington. The order remained in Darlington for over 150 years until 2007 when due to dwindling numbers they moved to join a sister community in Herefordshire and gifted the Darlington convent to the Brothers of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God. The daily life of the Poor Clares is occupied with both work and prayer and is a life of penance and contemplation, according to the rule of St Francis's collaborator, St Clare of Assisi, in 1253. SOURCES: G C Boase, `Hansom, Joseph Aloysius (1803-1882), rev. Denis Evinson, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, (2004) [, accessed 7 May 2009] D Evinson, 'Hansom, Charles Francis (1817-1888, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, (2004) [, accessed 7 May 2009] P Harris, `St Clare's Abbey, Carmel Road, Darlington, Co Durham' unpublished research (2009) C Martin, A Glimpse of Heaven: Catholic Churches of England and Wales (2006) M Michael Sr, `History of the Poor Clare Monastery, Darlington' in Northern Catholic History 42 (2001) Dr Rory O'Donnell, English Heritage pers. comm. (2009) N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Co Durham 2nd ed (1983) E O'Hara, "Poor Clares" The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 22 May 2009 . REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: This mid-C19 convent by Joseph Aloysius Hansom is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * designed by Joseph Hansom: one of the leading Catholic architects of the C19 and an independent-minded follower of AWN Pugin and the Gothic ideal * the quality of its design, composition and execution * reviving the concept of a medieval monastic layout, it is highly readable and displays clear differentiation between the functions of its parts * occupied by an enclosed religious order of nuns for more than 150 years, the overall level of intactness is remarkable * for its place in the Catholic Revival in mid-Victorian England and a good example of womens' architecture reflecting ideas of the ideal female community * the abbey forms part of the first wave of female monastic foundations re-established in Britain following the French Revolution" Historic England

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