The Vicarage

Ullenhall Vicarage was designed by John Pollard Seddon, a well respected London based Architect who was responsible for many Vicarages, Schools and Church restorations, particularly in Wales and the Welsh Borders. One pupil of his was C.F.A. Voysey, later to become one of the most well known Architects of the Arts & Crafts movement, who designed Brook End in Henley-in-Arden.

Although Seddon produced three different schemes for the Rev. John George (Vicar from 1873-78) during 1873 none of these were built in their entirety, in fact it seems that the Vicarage that was built in 1875 was a combination of all three schemes. Externally the building epitomised the Gothic Revival movement which dominated British architecture from the 1830s to the beginning of the 20th Century.

On plan the Vicarage had a simple but very successful layout and was one used, in variations, by Seddon for many of his other buildings: From a covered porch a passage lead from the front door to an octagonal shaped Hall with the main stairs rising to the first floor. To the left of the Hall and facing south-east towards the Church were the main reception rooms, Study, Drawing Room with a bay window opening onto the garden, and Dining Room. To the right, facing north-west, were the service rooms, consisting of a Pantry, Kitchen, Back Stairs and a staircase leading down to the Wine and Coal Cellars. Next to the Kitchen was a Scullery which was converted to a Garage c.1960; doors leading from the Kitchen and to a covered way were blocked up and a doorway was created in the north-east wall. Also on this side of the house was a Parish Room, primarily used for Church meetings. On the first floor were five bedrooms and a bathroom; the main stairs lead onto an octagonal galleried landing which was lit from above by two dormer windows in the roof. In the attic were two further bedrooms.

Unfortunately, by the late 1950s it became apparent that the Vicarage was in a serious state of disrepair, it was also very difficult and expensive for the Vicar to heat. Despite this it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the Church Dilapidations Board made the decision that the Vicarage should be replaced and sought planning permission to build two houses on the site, one of which would be the new Vicarage. Eventually in 1970 planning permission was granted. However the PCC were concerned about the design for the new Vicarage as it was apparently a very modern design which they thought would date. They also felt that all options had not been explored; they were reluctant for the Vicarage to be demolished and even requested an independent structural survey which the Diocese refused. They wondered whether it would be cheaper to properly repair the Vicarage, install heating etc, or split the building into two. The Church Commissioners were also not convinced by the scheme and felt that the cost was too large given the size of the parish.

Discussions and correspondence continued on this matter which took on a new dimension when the Rev. Worsley resigned the living in January 1972. The Diocese gave notice of the intention to sell the Vicarage in May 1972 but was hampered by the PCC objecting, primarily because they felt that it was linked the Pastoral future of the parish of which they had insufficient knowledge. The PCC were anxious for a new Vicar to be appointed, however it was at a time when Pastoral reorganisation was being carried out and as a result of this it was decided in August 1972 that the Rector of Henley should take on responsibility for Ullenhall and become Priest-in-charge of Ullenhall. Hence, Ullenhall no longer had a Vicar. However there were plans for the Rector of Henley to be assisted by a Curate who would live in Ullenhall but this could only happen if the PCC removed their objection to the sale of the Vicarage, although there would be no guarantee that a Curate would be provided.

The PCC withdrew their objection in September 1972 and the Vicarage was sold by public auction on 14th February 1973 when it sold for £38,000. It was demolished and two houses erected in its place.

These floor plans and elevations have been drawn to show the layout of the Vicarage. As it doesn’t seem that the Vicarage was built exactly to John Pollard Seddon’s original designs, this has been drawn from a combination of the original drawings, examining photographs and the invaluable help of people who knew the Vicarage – Stephen, Philip and Ruth Worsley and Edna Gould.

Ullenhall Vicarage plans