Liverpool vicarage and hall on Victorian Society’s Top Ten Endangered Buildings list 2024

St Agnes’ Vicarage and Hall, Liverpool, Merseyside Vicarage Grade II* and Hall Grade II, Norman Shaw, 1887

Photo credit: Dominic Roberts

A pair of fine heritage buildings in Sefton Park are on The Victorian Society’s Top Ten Endangered Buildings list 2024 that has been launched by Griff Rhys Jones, the Society’s President. The buildings are in a perilous state and require urgent repair to ensure their continued survival.

Griff Rhys Jones, President of the Victorian Society said: ‘Liverpool knows it is a great city. It was a powerhouse of the northwest. It contains dozens of fabulous monuments to that energy that make any visit exciting. This group of exquisite and unique buildings is one of those. Character. Charm. Delight. But in urgent need of help. Please help, Liverpool. This is one of your own. Let’s get it sorted.’

This highly original vicarage and hall were designed by one of the greatest Victorian architects to accompany the extraordinary Grade I-listed church of St Agnes and St Pancras, described by Pevsner as “the most beautiful Victorian church of Liverpool”. As a group the vicarage, hall and church represent one of the most impressive such ensembles in the country. All were commissioned by the Liverpool stockbroking dynasty, the Horsfall family, which funded seven churches across Merseyside; and the vicarage and hall were in fact built in the same Sefton Park street as the benefactors lived. The hall is in brick with a tile roof in the Gothic style. Connected to the church by a passage, the hall has lean-to aisles, a horizontal set of windows above head height, and a small lower room on the end with cusped windows. Separating the hall from the road is the vicarage, which was built between 1885 and 1887 and paid for by Howard Douglas Horsfall’s mother. The vicarage may have been designed with input from Shaw’s then Chief Clerk, William Lethaby, as its architectural treatment is original and was never repeated by Shaw.

Both buildings are in a very poor state of repair. The condition of the hall is especially concerning. In the short term, both buildings require immediate works of remediation and repair to ensure that they are secure from weather and intruders. These are exceptional works by one of the most distinguished designers of the later Victorian period, and in the longer term, a strategy for their sympathetic reuse is vital.

James Hughes, Director of the Victorian Society, said: ‘Pearson’s staggering church and Shaw’s hall and vicarage represent a genuinely remarkable collection of C19 buildings. It is unbelievable that buildings of the quality and interest of the hall and vicarage should have been allowed to fall into such a serious state of dilapidation. Works to make the buildings wind and watertight are required immediately, and in the longer term a solution that will see them saved and put to appropriate use.’

The full Top Ten list can be read here and includes a requisitioned school where author Vera Brittain nursed during WWI, the last of one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks, a banqueting hall for the workers, one of the first tennis pavilions in the world, and a building where the first £1m cheque was signed. The listed buildings include a Scheduled Monument and two Grade II*- listed buildings.

The list is based on public nominations from across England and Wales, and the buildings selected represent industrial, religious, domestic, and civic architecture from across the nation with unique historical and community significance and value. Nominated buildings must be dated between 1837 and 1914. The Victorian Society has announced its list of Top Ten Endangered buildings fourteen times.

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