Mostyn House School, a former public school constructed in 1855 with late C19 and early C20 additions and also incorporating an C18 inn, and designed in phases by two successive headmasters, A.S and A.G Grenfell, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is a good example of a large, mid-late C19 public school complex employing a high quality, eclectic mixture of architectural styles - including Arts & Crafts and Tudorbethan - to successful effect
* Design composition: the school's higher level of investment and evolved history has resulted in a complex of landmark buildings with a high level of architectural distinction and flair that were designed to convey and reflect the high standards of its educational provision
* Setting: the school takes full advantage of its location on The Parade at Parkgate with large windows to the south-west range and a massive water tower incorporating an observation room that maximises light and views across the River Dee estuary
* Intactness: it survives with little alteration both externally and internally and retains its 1890s Arts & Crafts interior schemes
* Interior quality: the buildings' high quality Arts & Crafts interiors are rare within an educational context and stylistic continuity is maintained throughout. Particularly notable are the interiors of the south-west and north ranges and the cottages, which retain panelled doors, ceilings and hallways, wood block and tiled floors, carved ornamentation, decorative fireplaces, Jacobethan stairs, leaded and stained glass, and some decorative roof trusses
* Specialist features: amongst its more specialist features the school complex includes a large covered playground with a corrugated-metal barrel roof; a 1927 theatre; and a vast WWII air-raid shelter that is virtually unaltered and retains numerous original features, including some wall lights
* Historic interest: the school was designed, owned and run by the Grenfell family for over 150 years and was the birthplace and school of Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, distinguished medical missionary and social reformer. The family's involvement is expressed architecturally on the school buildings through the incorporation of griffins (their family symbol) on roundels and shaped hoppers, and their motto 'Loyal Devoir' in stained glass and on banner decoration
* Group value: the school buildings share a strong physical, historical and functional relationship with the school's Grade II* listed chapel (1897), which was also designed by A.G. Grenfell
In 1855 the C18 former Mostyn Arms Hotel (originally known as the George Inn) in Parkgate became an independent school known as Mostyn House School (most of the land in Parkgate originally formed part of Sir Thomas Mostyn's estate). The boys' school, which was established in the Cheshire village of Tarvin in 1854 by Edward Price, had moved to the coastal settlement in order to enable it to accept boarders after having outgrown its original school. In 1862 Price transferred the school to his nephew Algernon Sidney Grenfell and the headship has been passed down the Grenfell family since this time. The school is also the birthplace of Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940), medical missionary and social reformer.
The school was greatly extended in the late C19 and early C20 by A.G. Grenfell to his designs (the 1898 extension to the Grenfell's cottage was possibly designed with the involvement of Frederick Fraser & Warburton), including the addition of a Grade II* listed chapel in 1897. In 1922 a separate belfry building was constructed that is surmounted by a carillon of 37 bells (not part of the school's freehold), which were given to the school as a WWI War Memorial. A classroom block was added in 1937 by A.M.D. Grenfell, and in 1972 and 1980 further additions were made by A.D.J. Grenfell. In 1932/3 the north-western end of the front range facing The Parade was extended forward and the entire range given a black and white mock Tudor facade.
During WWII a large air raid shelter was constructed underneath the sports field to accommodate 100 pupils plus teachers. The shelter was later used as an indoor sports hall, but subsequently fell into disuse. In 2006/7 the shelter was cleared out, repaired and converted into a rifle range, which opened in 2008. In 1980 the school's 1893 swimming pool was replaced by a more modern version.
In the 1980s Mostyn House School became co-educational and it remained as a boarding school until 1989 when it became a day school with a nursery, prep school and senior school. Mostyn House School closed on 7 July 2010.
PLAN: vast, irregular L-shaped complex of buildings (some attached and some detached) of varying date, size and materials. Courtyard area to north-west corner of site bordered by front range to south-west side, north range to north-west side, Old & New Cottages to north-east side and Grade II* listed chapel to south-east side. North range continues north-east beyond courtyard. Detached 'Jarrah' (master's house) set to north-east of main school buildings, WWII air raid shelter underneath south playing field.
EXTERIOR: slate roofs to buildings to north-west corner of complex (including the former inn), red tiled roofs to most of remaining buildings. Substantial chimneystacks, cast-iron rainwater goods.
Front (south-west) range: long 15-bay range facing The Parade with additional angled corner bay to north-west end. Entire facade is in black and white render imitating decorative close studding with large, multipaned casement windows. Mainly of 3-storeys. Incorporates former Mostyn House Inn to 6-bays to north-west end with outer bays built forward. Taller 3-storey range to right of centre with parapet and roof lantern to centre of ridge, full-height octagonal bay to left forms part of extended former inn. Wide, slightly projecting 4-storey bay with hipped roof to right with large arched window to ground floor and paired windows above, decorative (rendered) mock timberwork to parapet, attic level stepped back behind and above and lit by series of small windows to three sides, roughcast render finish to south-east return of bay. Wide single-storey, covered playground to south-east end set at right angle to The Parade, barrel roof of corrugated metal construction hidden from view by a stepped parapet surmounted by ball finials (painted black), parapet incorporates relief black lettering reading 'MOSTYN HOUSE SCHOOL'. Four large windows to ground floor with two smaller windows to centre above, door to right. Rear elevation of south-west range: Roughcast render with stone dressings, large mullion and transom and casement (some multipaned) windows, various projections of differing height, including tall 2-storey dining room to north-west end with double-height ground floor, large traceried stained glass window and large single-storey extension to south-east side. Three large windows to left of dining room and flat-roofed, single-storey 2-bay projection to right of centre form area known as the 'Conservatory'; latter projection with red brick and terracotta dressings and lit by two large, square windows with wide, multipaned lunette windows above, surmounted by a balustrade. Grade II* listed, red brick chapel (1897) attached at right angle to centre rear of south-west range via 2-storey, flat-roofed belfry with an external carillon of 37 bells presented to the school as a WWI War Memorial (carillon is due to be removed to another public school following the school's closure, as dictated by an historic covenant). C18 rendered range (containing gymnasium and large circulatory space known as 'Black and White') attached at right angle to left of centre of rear elevation with an altered and rebuilt north-east end wall. Theatre (1927) with pitched, lead-covered roof and corrugated metal-clad north-east wall set behind covered playground and aligned with The Parade. Swimming pool building (1980) to rear with metallic cladding not of special interest and excluded from the listing. Left (north-west) return of front range incorporates 3-storey range (now a kitchen range) in roughcast render that originally formed part of the C18 inn, sash and casement windows of varying style and size to each floor. Continues into north range.
North range & cottages: south-western section of north range dating to 1890 is of two-and-a-half-storeys, plain brick to north-west rear elevation with sash and casement windows (some with leaded, stained glass to upper panes) of varying size. Principal south-east elevation facing into courtyard area is in roughcast render with 3-light windows to ground floor and large 6-light, stone mullion and transom windows with hoodmoulds and carved foliate stops to first floor. Attached at right angle to centre of north range's south-east elevation is the 'Old Cottage' (1881), built by A.S. Grenfell as his family home. Roughcast render, 3-storeys (uppermost storey is partly a 1920s addition with a 1960s flat-roofed, red brick extension to south-east end). Main 5-bay south-west elevation faces into courtyard with mixture of casement and sash windows of varying style and size; those with hoodmoulds are original. Three first floor oriel windows to bays 1, 2 & 5 (latter two examples are gabled). Original entrance doorway with quoined surround and hoodmould to ground floor of bay 3 now converted into a window, later inserted door to left. South-east return with mullioned windows to each floor with leaded glazing. Larger, 3-storey 'New Cottage' (1898) immediately abutting rear (north-east side) of Old Cottage, built by A.G. Grenfell possibly with the involvement of Frederick Fraser & Warburton. Tudorbethan style with red brick ground floor and decorative, applied timber framing to upper floors and gables with pegged timbers, substantial chimneystacks, cast-iron rainwater goods with hoppers shaped as griffins (Grenfell family symbol). Principal 5-bay north-east elevation with two wide gabled bays to bays 2 & 4 incorporating large 8-light mullion and transom windows with leaded glazing to ground and first floors, 4-light projecting mullioned windows to second floor, jettied gables above with deep bargeboards and surmounted by spire finials. Two narrower, gabled outer bays in same style, but with 6-light windows to lower floors and 3-light windows to second floor. Each pair of gabled bays have identical decorative timberwork. Centre bay with 6-light window to first floor and integral balcony to second floor. Small cross-gabled porch (1926) attached to ground floor of centre bay in red sandstone with red tiled roof, entrance to south-east side containing door with multipaned glazing to upper half, roundel above doorway with relief depiction of a griffin and banner displaying school motto 'LOYAL DEVOIR' ('honest/loyal duty'), large multipaned window to north-east side. 2-bay, south-east end elevation in same style as rest of cottage with narrow bay to left containing mullioned windows to each floor; that to first floor forms part of tiny oriel window. Much wider, gabled bay to right projects forward with octagonal ground and first floors incorporating cross and 6-light mullion and transom windows to three sides on ground and first floors respectively, bracketed second floor with pendants and 4-light projecting mullioned window. 5-bay north-eastern section of north range added in 1906. Simpler version of New Cottage with cast-iron hoppers shaped as griffins, four bays to left are gabled. Bay to far left of principal south-east elevation has open vehicular entrance to ground floor leading to rear storage courtyard and former squash court and shooting room, 'HALT HOOT CRAWL' in large black lettering above entrance, roller shutter to rear wall. 2-storey canted oriel windows to first and second floors above; that to first floor incorporates stylised '1906' painted white, jettied gable above. Bay 2 projects forward and is wider with paired cross windows to ground floor, canted oriel window to shallow-jettied first floor, jettied second floor with paired mullion windows, doorway to ground floor of left return. Identically styled, narrower bays 3 & 4 with 6-light mullion and transom windows to ground and shallow-jettied first floors, jettied second floor, plain cast-iron hopper to ground floor between bays with stylised, gilded '1906' in relief. Massive five-and-a-half-storey, square water tower to bay 5 in same vernacular style with tall flat-arched doorway to ground floor (partly hidden by single-storey extension in front, but original timber door with decorative strap hinges survives) with large flat-arched stair window above, covered balcony to third stage, corbelled fourth stage with applied close studding. Small observation windows set to top part of fourth stage below hipped roof continue around four sides, brick stack to north-west corner, small dormer windows to apex of each hip, weather vane. Single-storey, flat-roofed entrance porch (1937) attached to front of tower leads into 2-storey classroom block of same date and 1922 infant department block. Both blocks, including entrance porch, are not of special interest and are excluded from the listing. Well and small pebbledash pump house containing modern machinery to north-east of main school buildings also not included in the listing.
INTERIOR: front (south-west) range, north range and cottages all in Arts and Crafts style with interior schemes dating to 1890s. Vast majority of original 1890s features survive, including panelled doors (some incorporating leaded glazing), ceilings and corridors, wainscot panelling, internal leaded glazed windows, partly glazed screens, built-in cupboards, stairs, many fireplaces, woodblock and tiled floors to ground floor, floorboards to upper floors.
Front range: ground floor rooms to north-west end (former inn) have lower ceilings. Three main stairs; that adjacent to belfry link lit by stepped, stained glass windows. Rooms to rest of range include Tea Room (1897-1900) to ground floor with door incorporating mock-Jacobean geometric panelling, walls panelled up to picture rail level, heavy ceiling beams, vast inglenook fireplace, window seats. Double-height dining room (1891) with balustraded gallery (no access) to south-west side lit by two internal cross windows, large stained glass memorial window to A.S. Grenfell depicting Faith, Hope and Charity and school's emblem of organ pipes surmounted by a griffin. Small hall/circulatory space known as 'Black and White' to south-eastern end of range with chequerboard tiled floor, leads into covered playground (originally an open ball court/playground, but covered over in the c1890s) with a barrel roof supported by wrought-iron ties and floorboard floor. Theatre (1927) with access from Black and White and covered playground, original stage to north-west end, dressing room off to north-east side, tiered seating with non-fixed benches (believed to have been salvaged from a railway). Organ loft to first floor of belfry link building (1922) with two stepped stained glass windows to south-west wall with geometric patterning, rectangular recess to north-east wall containing pink coloured relief banner decoration with school's motto 'LOYAL DEVOIR' in gilded relief lettering. Classrooms, staff accommodation and former dormitories to upper floors (some with later partitions), former billiards room to first floor with raised bench seating. Large former dormitory to south-east end of second floor with large fireplace and decorative roof trusses with arched inserts, some scrolled latticework, arch braces and pendants.
North range: quarry tiled floors and Spanish tiled dados to ground floor kitchen range in south-west section, corridor along south-east side incorporates fireplace to south-west end. Rest of range, including 1906 north-eastern section contains former dormitories (now classrooms), former staff accommodation and changing rooms. Large stair well to centre of north-east section with open-well stair with geometric balustrade and newels with tapering caps and lit by large roof lantern. Landings with original glazed floors and internal windows, access into cottages via doorway to south-east side of landing on each floor. Water tower contains open-well stair, water tank to third floor, smaller secondary stair accessing top floor observation room with floorboard and Spanish tiled floor, small room in roof accessed by ladder stair in observation room.
Cottages: amalgamated internally with c1898 interior scheme. Decorative Spanish tiled floors to most of ground floor including hallways, woodblock floors to rest of ground floor, floorboards to upper floors. 10-panel doors. Spine corridor with rooms off to south-west and north-east sides, and large room to south-east end of New Cottage on each floor. Spanish tiled dados of varying pattern to ground floor hallways and some ground floor rooms. Panelled dado to first floor hallways. Some panelled ceilings and walls to rooms. Original fire surrounds; some with overmantles incorporating mirrors and shelving, one to ground floor south-west corner room in Old Cottage incorporates coved hood supported by tall barley-twist columns, all grates removed. Original built-in cupboards. Main dog-leg stair set to centre of north-east side in New Cottage with panelled under-stair, thick carved newel posts, decorative splat balusters, closed string with Tudorbethan-style geometric carvings. Large window seat to first half-landing level and partly-glazed, panelled door and screen to second half-landing leading out to balcony. Second floor landing now boxed-in behind stair balustrade with internal 4-light window. Later roof terrace and lean-to conservatory to south-eastern end of second floor in Old Cottage. South-east end room to second floor in New Cottage with partially exposed truss incorporating painted banner to tie beam displaying motto of 'LOYAL DEVOIR/RESPICE FINEM', which translates as 'Loyal duty, look to/consider the end (before setting forth)'.
Exterior: Master's house known as 'Jarrah' of 2-storeys with pitched tiled roof and cast-iron rainwater goods. Brick (left exposed at plinth level) with render to south-east, south-west and north-east elevations painted black and white to imitate close studding, plain roughcast render to north-west elevation. 2-bay, south-east (front) elevation with gabled bays incorporating wide multipaned casement windows to each floor, gabled porch to ground floor centre with tall, multipaned windows to south-east and north-east sides, door to south-west side. Smaller windows in same style to north-east and south-west gable ends, additional doorway also to south-west gable end. Interior: Quarry tiled floors to ground floor, floorboards to first floor. Central stair with two rooms to left side of ground floor, one large room to right with access into rear left room. Similar layout to first floor, but with two rooms to right with wall knocked through to create single space. Picture rails to most rooms, some rooms with Spanish tiled dados. Original 4-panel doors and moulded architraves, built-in cupboards, some timber fire surrounds with tiled cheeks.
World War II (WWII) air raid shelter: Concrete stair entrance with barrel-shaped, corrugated steel roof set to south-west of Jarrah leads down into school's WWII air raid shelter aligned approximately north-west - south-east underneath playing field. Now a rifle range. Interior: Reinforced concrete with vaulted corrugated steel roof and original steel doors, 18-bays long. Modern partition wall with doorway and viewing window inserted to north-western end to create small office/waiting area for rifle range. Additional partition wall with shooting targets inserted to south-eastern end. Original pump and three wall-mounted lights moved from their original locations to north-west end wall.
HISTORY: In 1855 the C18 former Mostyn Arms Hotel (originally known as the George Inn) in Parkgate became an independent school known as Mostyn House School (most of the land in Parkgate originally formed part of Sir Thomas Mostyn's estate). The boys' school, which was established in the Cheshire village of Tarvin in 1854 by Edward Price, had moved to the coastal settlement in order to enable it to accept boarders after having outgrown its original school. In 1862 Price transferred the school to his nephew Algernon Sidney Grenfell and the headship remained in the Grenfell family until the school's closure in 2010. The school is the birthplace and place of education of Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940), medical missionary and social reformer.
The school was greatly extended in the late C19 and early C20 by A.G. Grenfell to his designs (the 1898 extension to the Grenfells' cottage was possibly designed with the involvement of Frederick Fraser & Warburton), including the addition of a grade II* listed chapel in 1897. In 1922 a separate belfry building was constructed that is surmounted by a carillon of 37 bells (not part of the school's freehold), which were given to the school as a WWI War Memorial. A classroom block was added in 1937 by A.M.D. Grenfell and in 1972 and 1980 further additions were made by A.D.J. Grenfell. In 1932/3 the north-western end of the front range facing The Parade was extended forward and the entire range given a black and white mock-Tudor facade.
During WWII a large air raid shelter was constructed underneath the sports field to accommodate 100 pupils plus teachers. The shelter was later used as a sports hall, but subsequently fell into disuse. In 2006/7 the shelter was cleared out, repaired and converted into a rifle range, which opened in 2008. In 1980 the school's swimming pool dating to 1893 was replaced by a more modern version.
In the 1980s Mostyn House School became co-educational and it remained as a boarding school until 1989 when it became a day school with a nursery, prep school and senior school. Mostyn House School closed on 7 July 2010.
Ellesmere Port & Neston Borough Council. Parkgate Conservation Area: Character Appraisal and Management Plan, (February 2008)
Pevsner N & Hubbard E, The Buildings of England Series, (2003) 299 & 300.
Rompkey R, 'Grenfell, Sir Wilfred Thomason (1865-1940)', (2008), in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Available on HTTP: http:www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33565. Accessed 14/6/10.
Various historic photographs, background information and building plans provided by the Grenfell family.