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The Oldest Buildings in Liverpool

Liverpool offers more listed building than any other UK city outside of London. Our historic architecture is a symbol of our past and an essential part of our city’s future.

Thanks to the many remarkable buildings that define our landscape, Liverpool has become popular for various movie productions, with our architecture doubling for cities such as New York, Moscow, Chicago and London.

Intrigued by our heritage, we here at Signature’s Liverpool have decided to take a look at our city’s oldest buildings to learn more about their history and current use in modern society.

Speke Hall – 1530


Original use: Many regard Speke Hall, a beautiful Tudor manor house, as one of the finest surviving examples of its kind. The hall was originally created for the Norris family, who owned the property for many generations. Construction began on the wood-framed manor house in 1530, with some buildings on the site built even earlier and incorporated into the property. While the Great Hall was the first part of the house to be constructed, other areas of the property were added many years later.

Speke Hall remained in the Norris family’s possession until the female heiress married into the Beauclerk family. In 1795, the Watt family purchased the property from the Beauclerks in 1795. However, when the last surviving heir of the Watt family died in 1921, the house and estate was left in a trust for 21 years, and was maintained under the supervision of Thomas Wattmore, who had served at Miss Watt’s butler. In 1942, the National Trust received ownership of the house, but did not take full responsibility for the property until 1986.

Current Use: Speke Hall is now open for the public to enjoy. Guests can still enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the Tudor manor house. The Home Farm building currently serves as a shop, restaurant and reception. You can also walk through the Great Hall and priest hall, and you’ll feel like you’re behind the scenes of Victorian life as you make your way through the Victorian kitchen and servants’ hall. The restored garden also offers panoramic views of the Mersey basin and North Wales Hills.

Grade Listed status: Grade I listed building

Croxteth Hall – 1575


Original use: Croxteth Hall was constructed in 1575 to serve as the home of the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton. The principal front, however, wasn’t built until 1702. Offering a mixture of Tudor, Georgian and Queen Anne styles, the hall is easily one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. On 9th October 1851, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children stayed at Croxteth Hall before visiting Liverpool the next day.

The Molyneux family resided at Croxteth Hall from the 16th century until 1972, when the last Earl passed away. The Earl’s cousin, Josephine, the Countess of Sefton, spent a lot of time at Croxteth Hall whilst a worldwide search was undertaken to find an heir to the title, but the hunt was fruitless. The 500 acre land remained as a country park, which was opened to the public.

Current use: Croxteth Hall and Country Park is still open to the public to this day. Visitors can explore the grounds at their leisure and can even enjoy a stroll around the historic hall. Children can also enjoy the playground area, visit Croxteth Hall farm or experience Liverpool Botanics, which offers the oldest horticultural collection in Britain.

Grade listed status: Grade II* building and park

Tue Brook House – 1615


Source: stevetilley.tumblr.com

Original Use: Tue Brook House was built way back in 1615 and is the oldest-dated house in Liverpool. The home, which is located on West Derby Road, originally served as a farmhouse. The property’s original owner is thought to have been John Mercer, who was a yeoman famer, and the property later became the home of Mr. Fletcher, a wheelwright, during the Victorian period.

Current use: There is a plan to open this historic property to the public soon. Some parts of the building have retained the original wattle and daub construction, which can be seen through glass panels, and the original priest hide remains in the chimney breast between two of the bedrooms.

Grade listed status: Grade II* listed building

Toxteth Unitarian Chapel – 1618


Source: news.bbc.co.uk

Original Use: On Park Road in Dingle you’ll find Toxteth Unitarian Chapel, which dates back to 1618 and was known as The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth until the 1830s. In 1611, a group of Puritan famers began the construction of the school and appointed 15-year-old Richard Mather as its master. Mather attended Brasenose College, Oxford, during its construction and returned to the area in 1618 once the chapel was built.

In 1672, the chapel was enlarged to accommodate dissenters from central Liverpool. However, as more chapels were built across Liverpool, the Toxteth Unitarian Chapel was neglected and soon fell into disrepair. However, in 1774, the chapel was partially rebuilt and a porch was added in 1841, with Unitarian services held at the chapel every fortnight.

Current use: Toxteth Unitarian Chapel, which is Liverpool’s oldest non-conformist church, received Grade I listed status on 28th June 1952. Visitors can explore the historic chapel during Heritage Open Days. Services continue to be held at the chapel every fortnight.

Grade listed status: Grade I listed building

Woolton Hall – 1704


Source: www.derelictplaces.co.uk

Original use: Woolton Hall was built in 1704 by the Molyneux family, mentioned earlier. Richard Molyneux purchased the 400 acre estate in 1700, who built Woolton Hall in 1704. Following Richard’s death in 1738 and his widow’s death in 1766, Nicholas Ashton, the High Sherriff of Lancashire, acquired the land and property.

Ashton redesigned the interior and added a new frontage in 1772 and the building remained in the family until the late 19th century. The hall later fell into disrepair and was schedule for demolition until it was rescued by John Hibbert in 1980, who also spent £100,000 renovating the property.

Current use: In 2005, plans were announced to convert the historic estate and hall into retirement care flats.

Grade listed status: Grade I listed building

Bluecoat Chambers – 1716


Source: www.lightnightliverpool.co.uk

Original use: Bluecoat Chambers was built between 1716-17, creating a charity school, and was extended in 1718 to create a boarding school. By 1719, Bluecoat Chambers had 50 children, with enough space for 100 more. Construction was finally finished in 1925; however, following the death of owner William Lever that same year, a demolition proposal was put forward. Despite calls to demolish the building, a successful campaign to raise money to save Bluecoat Chambers was made, resulting in the establishment of the Bluecoat Society of Arts in 1927.

Unfortunately, during the Liverpool Blitz on 3rd May 1941, the concert hall and its adjoining rooms were damaged by an incendiary bomb. The following night, the rear wing was also destroyed by a bomb blast. Thankfully, restoration of the building took place in 1951, and the building received Grade I listed status one year later on 28th June 1952. In 1959, The Bluecoat Display Centre opened in the rear courtyard, offering a contemporary craft gallery. Bluecoat Chambers became known as the Bluecoat Arts Centre from the 1980s but has been known as The Bluecoat since 2007.

Current use: In 2005, additional restoration of the property took place and a new wing was added. The building reopened in March 2008, coinciding with Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

Grade listed status: Grade I listed building

Liverpool Town Hall – 1754


Original use: Liverpool Town has to be one of the most remarkable buildings in the city. Situated at the junction of Dale Street, Castle Street and Water Street, it’s easy to see why this beautiful building has been described as “one of the finest surviving 18th century town halls”.

The town hall that stands today was originally constructed from 1749 to 1754, and was designed by “one of the outstanding architects of the day”, John Wood the Elder. The hall has played host to many historic moments, such as the bombardment of striking seamen during the 1775 Liverpool Seamen’s Revolt.

The final act of the American Civil War was also at Liverpool Town Hall, as Captain Waddell walked up the steps in November 1985 and presented a letter surrendering his ship, CSS Shenandoah, to the British government.

The building received a number of improvements over the centuries, such as the introduction of the Hall of Remembrance to commemorate servicemen who lost their lives during WWI. Sadly, part of the building was damaged during the Liverpool Blitz 1941, but was restored following the end of the Second World War. Further restoration took place from 1993 to 1995.

Current use: Every seven weeks, Liverpool City Council meet at Liverpool Town Hall. Each month the public can enjoy a tour of the hall, which is also licensed for weddings.

Grade listed status: Grade II* listed building

62 Mount Pleasant – 1767


Source: www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk

Original use: 62 Mount Pleasant was originally built for merchant William Rice in 1767. Not only is it one of the oldest buildings in the street, but it is one of the oldest properties in the city, offering exquisite Georgian architecture.

Current use: 62 Mount Pleasant now serves as Avesta Shisha Restaurant.

Grade listed status: Grade II* listed building

Rodney Street’s Georgian Townhouses – 1783


Source: www.liverpoolpictorial.co.uk

Original use: You cannot walk down Rodney Street and not fall in love with the street’s Georgian architecture. There are an incredible 60 Grade II listed buildings and one Grade II* listed church. The street was laid out in 1783-1784 by William Roscoe, who named the street after George Brydges Rodney, who secured naval victory over the Comte de Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes.

The street offered affluent housing located away from the old town centre, with some houses offering five bays and central doors. Many famous faces lived in the historic street, including poet Arthur Clough and photographer Edward Chambre Hardman. Rodney Street was also the birthplace of William Ewart Gladstone, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on four occasions between the 1860s and 1890s.

Current use: The houses on Rodney Street are still in use, with many films and TV shows filming on the historic street, such as Peaky Blinders.

Grade listed status: 60 Grade II listed buildings and one Grade II* listed church

The Lyceum – 1800


Source: www.liverpoolmonuments.co.uk

Original use: The Lyceum was constructed in 180o to serve as a newsrooms and England’s first subscription library. The neo-classical building was designed by architect Thomas Harrison; his original design has the building facing Church Street, but it was later modified to suit the public’s needs. The building opened in 1802; however, it later became a gentleman’s club. In 1952, the club relocated, which resulted in The Lyceum being left unoccupied for a number of years.

By the 1970s, there were calls to demolish the building, but a campaign ensured the safety of the building, which reopened as a Post Office in 1984. Sadly, following the restructure of the country’s Post Offices, The Lyceum was sold back to the original developers, who continued to request the building’s demolition. Thanks to opposition from English Heritage and Liverpool City Council, the building was saved following a compromise to restore the building and lease The Lyceum back to the Post Office, with other areas of the building converted to retail outlets. The lower floor therefore served as a building society, whilst the ground floor offered a post office, as well as various bars and cafes.

In 2004, the post office branch closed due to nationwide downsizing. The outlets soon moved out of the building, with only The Co-operative Bank remaining in the building. In 2006, Landlord Harbour View Estates purchased the building for £7.8 million but it was put up for sale in 2008 for £4.25 million after the company fell into administration.

Current use: The Lyceum continues to dominate Bold Street but unfortunately lies unoccupied, other than The Co-Op Bank on-site.

Grade listed status: Grade II* listed building

Have you fallen in love with Liverpool’s architecture? Take a look at the city’s lost landmarks.

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About Elisabeth Sedgwick

Elisabeth loves writing about Liverpool, showcasing the best attractions, events and experiences in our beautiful city.

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