Vicars Lane

From Chesterwiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
The area around Vicars Lane from the Lavaux Map (1745).

Vicars Lane links Little St John Street (formerly Church Lane) with Union Street. It first appears on the Smith Map of 1588 and is shown as built-up on Hollar's Map of 1610, although Stockdale's map of 1795 shows little building apart from the vicarage.

The conspicuous "weathervane" between the Grosvenor Park and St Johns Church is acutually a sewer vent pipe as well as a weathervane. There are similar vent pipes in Curzon Park North. There is another at the junction of Filkins Lane and Chapel Lane (next to the boundary stone in Boughton) and yet others at the end of Cornwall Street in Newtown and in Edgar's Field. The vents are the openings in the "diver's helmet" at the top.

St Johns from the Braun and Hogenberg map (1581) - no sign of Vicars Lane. The Cholmondeley town house can be seen to the east of the church, having belonged to the Fraternity of St Anne (dissolved in 1547).

The ex-visitor center. Chester's ever-growing appeal to tourists led to a proliferation of small museums in the 20th century. The most substantial of these private-enterprise museums of the late 20th century was established in 1974 by Nickerson Investments Ltd., which turned the former Grosvenor St. John's school in Vicars Lane into the British Heritage Exhibition. Its main feature was a full-size reconstruction of part of the Rows in Victorian times. In 1976 the Centre attracted 65,000 visitors, to the Grosvenor Museum's 119,000. Nickerson sold the Centre in 1984 to a local businessman, who reopened it as the Chester Visitor Centre with craft shops inserted in the 'Victorian street'. The visitor center closed around 2010.

According to The National Archives, Robert Grosvenor paid for school buildings to be erected on the site (although maps show the first school may have been furthe down the street). The school was opened in 1813 when it was known as the Earl and Countess Grosvenor’s School. In August 1883 a new school building was opened called St John’s School – also financed by the Duke of Westminster at the time and to a "Queen Anne" style design by noted school architect Edward Robert Robson. The school was closed in July 1964 but continued as an annexe to Love Street Girls’ School until 1967. The front of the building has unpierced end bays, each with a round-arched recessed panel with armorial device of stone, Grosvenor Arms and "W" to left and 3 mitres and 1883, right.

The interior of the building has been extensively renovated by Donald Insall Associates as illustrated in their website. DIA write:

  • "The building had been insensitively adapted for decades, requiring a comprehensive reordering scheme to bring it back into use as a prestigious office building for a single tenant."

4, Vicars Lane: Almshouse (known as the "House of shelter") built 1889-90 for the first Duke of Westminster to a design by John Douglas. The building has the characteristic "Grosvenor" blue brick cris-cross "diapering". The stone-dressed arch of the east wing is dated 1889. The "Coach House" to the rear (now a small clinic) housed the Red Cross training center until 1995.

4a Vicars Lane is now offices. Although a fairly modern building it also exhibits variants of the Grosvenor-style diapering.

3, Vicars Lane: former vicarage (built around 1750), later rectory, then social club, now offices. The adjoining building was originally St Johns Church Hall, built in 1881 to a design by Thomas Meakin Lockwood.

2 Vicars Lane stands on the site of another former school in Vicars Lane. As the enlarged school at the end of Little St John Street opened in 1883 and the parsonage built in 1892 this earlier school may well have been replaced by the unlisted, mock-Tudor late Victorian building between those dates.

1, Vicars Lane: a parsonage house built in 1892 to the design of Thomas Meakin Lockwood. It was built at expense of the first Duke of Westminster. It is constructed in stone-dressed brick with the characteristic "Grosvenor" blue diapering on the side facing Love Street and a red-brown tile roof.

South of Vicars Lane there is a stretch with no existing buildings. However a medieval building relating to St. John’s church, which could have been part of the hospital and chapel of St. Anne was acquired by Sir Hugh Cholmondeley in the late 16th century incorporated into his mansion on the site (see maps above). The mansion was badly damaged during the Civil War and was rebuilt in the eighteenth century. It was demolished when Grosvenor Park was laid out in 1867.

Gallery of Vicars Lane