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©  John Boothroyd ARPS

IoE Number: 483594
Location: 23 THE LIBERTY (east side)
Photographer: John Boothroyd ARPS
Date Photographed: 19 February 2003
Date listed: 12 November 1953
Date of last amendment: 12 November 1953
Grade II*

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WELLS ST5446 THE LIBERTY 662-1/6/311 (East side) 12/11/53 No.23 GV II* Detached house, now part of Wells Cathedral School. Built for William Parfitt, Chapter Clerk, 1819. Doulting stone ashlar, hipped Welsh slate roof behind parapet, ashlar chimney stacks. Neo Classical style. A symmetrical double-depth plan with central hall and lateral staircase to the left, with a bold central porch. EXTERIOR: 3 storeys, 3 bays, the centre bay brought forward slightly. Plinth with ground and first-floor sill strings, cornice between first and second floors, pilasters to cornices and between bays, panelled at second floor level, attic storey and parapet. Ground floor has large 15-pane sashes with architrave and hood moulds, the first floor has smaller 12-pane in plain reveals, and the second floor has 6-pane casement windows, that to bay 2 altered. The enclosed porch, on 5 steps with end plinths, has a pair of narrow panelled doors under a plain transom-light, with thin architrave and moulded cornice, between flat pilasters in antis, and panelled end pilasters, carrying an entablature with slightly pedimented centre blocking; the returns have 8-pane sashes. To the N is a projecting flat-roofed section containing the staircase. INTERIOR: partly inspected. A square entrance hall has a rear wall with canted corners, with 3 arched openings and paired panelled doors. To the left is the open geometrical stair with plain stone treads, and a decorative wrought-iron balustrade to a wreathed hardwood handrail with wreathing. The ground-floor rear left room has bowed ends and a very large tripartite 4:12:4-pane sash. A secondary stair has a solid string and stick balusters. The stone-flagged basement has an apsidal rear corresponding with the hall layout, with 3-light segmental-headed lights to grilles. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the site was for long occupied by a house belonging to the Abbot of Muchelney. The building, which stood on the front of the site, was said to be 'decayed' in 1469, and there were later sub-divisions of the property, which for a long period was used by the Vicars Choral. In 1819 a large new house was built for William Parfitt, the Chapter Clerk, and at this time remains of older buildings were removed. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners bought the house in 1933 from a butcher who, it was feared, might spoil the property by turning it into a garage with forecourt petrol-pumps. It was leased to the Cathedral School in the 1960's. A very formal facade, demonstrating the designer's acquaintance with current architectural fashion as led by Sir John Soane. (Bailey S: Canonical Houses of Wells: Gloucester: 1982-: 169; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: North Somerset and Bristol: London: 1958-: 327).

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