Barrow Hills School opened its doors to the public for guided tours of the historic building and grounds on Saturday 9th September for the third consecutive year, as part of the celebrations associated with the national Heritage Open Days initiative, England’s biggest festival of history and culture.
Visitors to Barrow Hills were able to explore the principal school building – Great Roke – which was built in 1909 by partner architects, Buckland and Hayward, one of the leading Arts and Crafts architect firms of the Birmingham movement. Built in the Arts and Crafts style, the former country house has been hailed as ‘the most ambitious house undertaken by the partners and is arguably one of the finest large houses produced by the Birmingham movement’ – costing a grand total of £25,000!
After being inhabited by two families, the house was taken on by the Josephite Fathers as an all boys’ boarding preparatory school, which later evolved into the current co-educational day school, now run by the Bridewell Royal Hospital charity.
In addition to the display of stunning architecture within Great Roke, the tour provided an opportunity to view the 33-acre estate grounds and witness some of the handiwork by the esteemed landscape garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, although the gardens have since been substantially altered.
Members of the public were given guided tours by Paul Crisell, Deputy Head and former pupil, who took great pride in showing his school and grounds to the attending visitors. He said, “The Heritage Open Days at Barrow Hills are a celebration of architecture and culture, offering visitors free access to the historic school building and gardens and to hear interesting stories about the origins of the school and its architectural secrets that bring local history and culture to life.’