Believe it or not, there are over 50 nationally and over 30 locally listed buildings in the High Street, all in a stretch of less than a mile. According to English Heritage ‘Listing . . . marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system so that some thought will be taken about its future. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840.’ Local listing identifies buildings of local historic interest or which contribute to the character of the area.
The star of the show as far as High Street is concerned is Grade I listed Scaplen’s Court, officially designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I so this is an important survival. This stone-built merchant’s house dates from the late 15th/ early 16th century and has been rebuilt and altered many times over the last 500 years as detailed on this blog. Its neighbours, Nos. 6-14, including the King’s Head and the Antelope, all date from the 16th century and were the posh mansions of prosperous Tudor merchants. Of course the properties have been much altered, particularly in the 18th century when they were refronted in the latest Georgian style with brick facades, sash windows and classical doorways. They have been private houses, coaching inns, shops, workshops and offices and retain features of many different periods. No. 14, for instance, has an original Tudor gable at the back and an early 19th century painted ceiling in the lower room, besides a fine early Victorian shop front.
Two industrial buildings nearby are also listed. One is the Waterfront museum, an early 19th century 5-storey warehouse, probably for corn, which has retained its original hoists, openings and shutters. Its wooden floors are supported on massive timber beams and posts. Opposite are Nos. 1 to 7 Grand Parade which occupy an 18th century corn mill. In the 19th century, this was driven by machinery and the millwrights and engineers lived nearby. In the centre of the building there used to be a large entrance for wagons. Now the ground floor is converted into shops.
In central High Street, one of the oldest listed buildings is the Bull’s Head Inn, now Nos. 73-5. The modern shop fronts hide an early 16th century building with an arched carriageway in the middle giving access to what would have been the inn yard at the back. This was one of the town’s principal inns from at least the early 17th century and was a departure point for carriers’ wagons. Its age is revealed in the rear rubble walls and moulded plaster ceiling in the upper room. The Globe Café across the street has local listing for its 1930’s style and historic associations. It was once the London Inn, a coaching inn originating in the 18th century. In the 1930s it was totally rebuilt but had to be renovated after suffering bomb damage during the war.
Among the listed shops are Boone’s ironmongers with its fine Victorian shop front and Bennett’s bakery which was designed in the 1930s in an Art Deco style. The Hospice Shop, No. 94 is listed for its elegant early 19th century doorway and steps and No. 134, Burger King is locally listed for its historic associations. Built at the height of the Victorian period, it was Henry Bayley’s ironmongers, Butler and Sons, house furnishers and then Newbery’s furnishing store before becoming a fast food restaurant. For over a century it has been a landmark on the corner of North Street. Another landmark building is the Wesleyan Church with broad façade facing the junction with North Street and Lagland Street and its slender spire, a familiar feature of the High Street skyline. Built in 1879, it seats around 800 people. The church has been threatened with demolition several times in the last few decades but has now been given local listing.
Of course no list would be complete without the High Street’s mansion houses. The oldest is No. 87/9, a fine Georgian mansion originally 7 bays wide, built in 1704 and occupied later in the century by the Barfoot family, Newfoundland merchants who also occasionally traded in slaves. In the 19th century, it was a bank run by the Ledgard family who also lived on the premises. In 1860, the bank failed and was taken over by the Wilts and Dorset Bank, eventually absorbed by Lloyds in 1914. In the late 19th century, a large draper’s shop was built out in front of half of the building which became Poole’s first department store, Bon Marché.
Nearly 100 years after the building of No. 87/9, the merchant Samuel Rolles built Beech Hurst at the top of the street. This flamboyant house with its grand entrance and pediment with the Rolles coat of arms, was built on the profits of the salt cod trade accrued over many decades. Samuel Rolles was a merchant in his own right but also heir to a substantial slice of the fortune of the Whites, a very successful Quaker merchant family. The building next door, now Caffe Nero, is locally listed and forms an interesting group with its elegant neighbour. It was built in 1928 as a showroom for the Bournemouth Gas and Water Company whose offices were in Beech Hurst. Their original showroom was in the mansion itself but could not be seen from outside. When they decided to build a separate showroom, the Company made sure that the front view of Beech Hurst was not impeded in any way and the architect was directed to harmonise his design with the classical features of the mansion.
Only about 20 years after the building of Beech Hurst, George Penney built Ivy House, now the Nat West Bank. This elegant early 19th century house is much more self-effacing than Samuel Rolles’ residence. George Penney was a Quaker businessman and the first Liberal Mayor of Poole, taking office in 1840. Ivy House was another of the High Street’s buildings to suffer bomb damage during the war.
This is just a selection of the listed buildings in High Street. Their variety gives the street its character and a chance to glimpse its history over the last 500 years.
Town Centre Heritage
Borough of Poole 2013
Heritage Gateway website: http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/ (listed buildings etc.)