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© Mr Terry Abbiss

IoE Number: 373860
Location: 1-11 HIGH STREET (south side)
Photographer: Mr Terry Abbiss
Date Photographed: 01 September 2002
Date listed: 24 March 1950
Date of last amendment: 24 March 1950
Grade I

The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.

BRIDGWATER ST2937SE CORNHILL 736-1/10/46 (West side) 24/03/50 Nos.30-34 (Consecutive) Corn Exchange/Market House and attached railings (Formerly Listed as: CORNHILL (West side) Nos.30-34 (Consecutive)) (Formerly Listed as: CORNHILL (West side) Corn Exchange/Market House) GV I Includes: Nos.1-11 HIGH STREET. Corn exchange and market house. 1834. By John Bowen. Corn Exchange of 1875 by Charles Knowles. Limestone ashlar with slate roofs and lead dome. Tall single-storey market hall to the centre, flanked by lower 2-storey shops to the sides; Corn Exchange fronting market hall set to rear of a spectacular shallow-domed circular portico to the building is the focal point of Cornhill. A tall glazed hexagonal domed lantern with a large finial surmounts the dome which stands on a drum with six recessed panels, those to the front contain raised olive wreaths. A larger circular parapet wall over a double colonnade has recessed panels and an entablature supported by Ionic columns to the front with Tuscan columns behind. The paired plinths are set in a circle of 4 steps. To the sides the entablature, with a blocking course replacing the parapet, continues around the building. The colonnade is flanked by recessed panels with Tuscan pilasters and blind flat-arched windows in moulded eared architraves which taper towards the tops. The stepped-forward bays to the outer ends have 3 steps to the centre of the blocking course and paired plinths to Tuscan antae and Ionic columns in antis which flank C20 shop fronts. The returns in High Street and Cornhill have the central bays, entrances to the market hall, stepped forward; they are pedimented over Tuscan antae and Ionic columns in antis on double plinths. The bay to left of the right return has 3 steps to centre of blocking course and paired Tuscan pilasters flanking a plate-glass shop-front with a 3-light horizontal window above. Between this and the centre are 5 unequal bays with gauged flat stone arches articulated by Tuscan pilasters; C20 doors and plate-glass windows below 3-light plate-glass horizontal fixed windows which fill the upper part of each bay. 5 similar unequal bays to right of the central entrance have an additional storey; this has 6 plate-glass sash windows in moulded eared and shouldered architraves below a cornice and blocking course. Window to right is between paired Tuscan pilasters. To right of the central entrance pediment are the faintly painted words POST OFFICE. The left return in Cornhill is similar though single storey with a similar pedimented entrance in the left projecting bay. INTERIOR: the Corn Exchange immediately behind the rotunda is square with a glazed hipped roof above horizontal-planked coving and rich late C19 ornament to front and back walls. The central entrances have Byzantine-style semicircular gauged brick arches each with a slightly pointed arch to the extrados; a large keystone; heavy cable moulding in a concave moulding to the intrados; Town Arms to tympanum of the rear arch and angels to tympanum over the main entrance. Flanking the entrances are triple concave ashlar niches in similar style with floral capitals to stone columns; the central, slightly larger niches have windows, some now blocked. The market to the rear has a late C19 iron-framed roof over original open-air area; range to rear of market hall retains early C19 king-post roof with later clerestorey. The undercroft of the rotunda, now public toilets, has brick vaulting. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: cast-iron railings to the sides of the colonnade flank the entrances to the undercroft. Tall cast-iron double gates to the market hall entrances have long/short railings, arrow head to short ones, fleur-de-lys to long ones, a diamond-pattern frieze to middle and a scroll frieze below the top rail. History: The buildings occupy an island which had been developed as shambles in the mid C14. John Bowen was an amateur architect who worked as an India merchant (Pevsner). A very fine example of a market building of this scale and architectural quality, of major townscape value in the centre of Bridgwater. The town markets for corn, livestock and cheese were by the 1790s the biggest in Somerset. (Buildings of England: Pevsner N: South and West Somerset: London: 1958-: 98; Kelly's Directory: Somerset: London: 1910-: 138; VCH: Somerset: London: 1992-: 206).

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