HistoryA Quaker clothier, a mayor and an order of Roman Catholic nuns have all called this remarkable property in Battenhall Avenue, Worcester, home.
Originally called Battenhall Mount, it was built around 1865-9 for William Spriggs, a Quaker and Worcester clothier.
His profession would have given him a keen eye for what was in vogue and this was true when it came to the design of the house, which was done in the Italian style popularised by Prince Albert.
Some 20 years later, local architect John Henry Williams enlarged it for the Mayor of Worcester, the Hon. Alfred Percy Allsopp, though he made sure the work was done in keeping with the original building.
A grand entrance drive and gate house were added, the gardens landscaped and a magnificent music hall and adjoining marble hall created.
The reception room, mostly Georgian in design, and the dark wood-panelled Jacobean-style dining room (used as a staff room in later years) reveal the sumptuousness of the accommodation. The crowning glory of the building was the family chapel which was based on the plan of an Italian Renaissance Church.
In 1933 it was purchased – after some reservations about its ornate decor – for the Sisters of St Marie Madeleine Postel, a Roman Catholic teaching order, which turned it into a convent school.
In the 80 years it was open, St Mary’s took pupils from nursery to senior school age , adding properties and extensions to answer its need for more space.
The early years department was housed in a former stables with hay loft over, a carriage house with groom’s quarters over and washing bay to front, a sick bay and forge, all of which date from around 1893.
The main school is a substantial two-storey period building with cellars and both single and two-storey additions.
Together they sit in a site of 6.4 acres.
The junior school is opposite the main school on a plot of 2.5 acres. It is a substantial three-storey detached Victorian building with later additions that were used as a sports hall. To the rear there are sports fields.
In addition there is also The Lodge, a three-storey detached residence on the driveway to the main school building.
The Cottage is a detached two-storey residence towards the south of the main site on Battenhall Avenue.
The school buildings are Grade II listed.