Scarisbrick Hall Architecture

June 10, 2010

Scarisbrick Hall is one of the best examples of Victorian Gothic (also referred to as Neo Gothic or Gothic Revival) architecture in England. At a single glimpse, it becomes clear that the hall was the dwelling place of a very wealthy family for centuries.

Scarisbrick Hall, near Ormskirk, Lancashire: west wing probably by John Foster of Liverpool, 1815

The hall, which is now used as a school, has gone through a number of enhancements and modifications since it was first built in the 12th century. The most notable contributions to the building were made by A.W.N. Pugin, who was a leading English architect of the 19th century, and his son E.W. Pugin.

Scarisbrick Hall is made of sandstone and has stone slate roofs. The most prominent feature of the structure is its slender tower on the east side, which reminds of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. The tower is in stark contrast to the much lower turrets and gables of the rest of the structure, an effect that was significantly enhanced when E.W. Pugin brought the tower down and replaced it with a much taller one in French Gothic style. The tower’s height is extravagant even by the standards of Gothic architecture, and it is visible from miles away. It also features corner pinnacles and a rectangular spire.

The centre of the structure is the two storey open hall facing the south-east direction, on which A.W.N. Pugin worked extensively. True to its Gothic Revival style, the hall has 2-storey oriel windows that jut out from it. The roof has a steep incline and there is a three stage lantern on the ridge. On the inside, there is a lot of ornamentation on the ceiling and the floor is tiled. A great deal of carved oak of Flemish origin has also been used for the interiors, most of it brought in by Thomas Scarisbrick who was a keen collector.

The hall has west and east crosswings. While the west wing was developed in 1814 and is in early Gothic style, the rest of the parts in the main range were developed between 1836 and 1845, and they are in the Gothic Revival style. To its rear, the hall also features an L-shaped service wing.

The east wing, which was designed by E.W. Pugin, contains an octagonal angle turret, on top of which a cluster of birds has been added. The fluttering birds are disproportionately large, given the size of the turret and the rest of the building, and they immediately attract the attention of visitors.

In order to preserve the old parts of the structure, A.W.N. Pugin had to add a north-south and east-west corridor. The corridor runs on both ground and first floors and it connects the old and new parts of the hall. To provide light to these corridors, skylights were put over the east-west corridor. A glazed turret over the crossing point of the two corridors was also provided for the same purpose. Another problem that Pugin confronted was how to make the light reach the lower corridor. For this, he used an innovative architectural solution. The width of the upper corridor was reduced to half of the width of the lower one and carved bracket supports were added so that light could reach the lower corridor from between them.

The result of the efforts of both A.W.N. Pugin and E.W. Pugin is that Scarisbrick Hall is today considered a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic style. The hall continues to draw many visitors interested in its architecture and history, and the first reaction that most people have on seeing the hall is that of awe and delight.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David Oakes June 17, 2010 at 12:15 am

We visited the hall yesteray evening and realy enjoyed it . I have lived in scarisbrick for 40 years and this is the first time i have ever seen the interior fantastic . It was good to see so much renovation going on treasures like this need to be preserved Many thanks for a very interesting evening .David.

Eduardo Gastellu January 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Hi. I’m looking for the floor plans of the hall. Can you help me?. Thanks.

Stephen Guy July 12, 2011 at 7:00 am

I very much enjoyed my visit on Sunday 10 July 2011. Mr Howaerg was an excellent tour guide – I hope you riase the £16 million and will be supported by funders as we were.

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