Corsham Town Buildings

Architecture and Buildings of Corsham Town

The main feature which is apparent in the picturesque village of Corsham in Wiltshire is the beautifully structured buildings. There are a number of listed buildings in the town and this is due to their original Victorian, Georgian and Elizabethan designs that still remain. Additionally, the Bath stone which was quarried in the town was used to build these buildings making them a huge part of the town’s heritage. The town is a mixture of colours depending on where the Bath stone was quarried. Some buildings have honey gold colours, some creamy and some a greyish-brown colour. The colour of the stone changed from north to south owing to the buildings’ distinctive looks. Although a lot of the buildings have been restored, their original architecture and design still stands showing the brilliant work of all contributors to them.

General Designs and Architects

A major part of the town’s history lies within its architecture. Listed buildings in Corsham are everywhere and are part of the town’s heritage. The High Street is filled with historic buildings with their lime washed rubble stone quarried locally, six or twelve pane sash windows and Mansard (French) roofs. Roofs usually include dormer windows which are structures built into the roof containing the upper level or attic windows. Some buildings have mullion windows which are used to support an arch structure, others have Venetian windows. Most of the roofs are still built in stone slate and often the houses are only two stories high with an attic. Some include a basement with protruding windows.

Many architects contributed to the buildings in the town including Harold Brakspear who was a restoration architect. He contributed to the restoration of some of the old Bath stone buildings in the town and also some notable buildings just outside it including Lacock Abbey. The landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown contributed to the major restoration of Corsham Court making parks of the building, such as the library and gardens, which are visited on tours today.

There are several historical buildings in the town which are major tourist attractions and are architecturally significant.

Corsham Court

Formerly known as Corsham House, this Elizabethan manor was home to royals before the present day house was built in 1575 by the Corsham born Thomas Smyth. The oldest parts of Corsham Court as it stands today were built by this man. The house was procured by Edward and Margaret Hungerford (who founded the Almshouses) in 1602. It then passed through various owners before Paul Methuen bought the house in 1746.

Corsham Court

A major refurbishment took place in 1749. The North face of the building was replaced with a style based on Palladian architecture. The landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was appointed to re-design the building in 1760.

The South face of the building kept its Elizabethan style and he converted the East side of the house into State rooms. The building is known for its picture gallery which was also designed by Brown. This displays art by the Italian and Flemish Old Masters and was the collection of Sir Paul Methuen. It can still be seen in the building today.

The gardens, which are now a park, were also designed by Brown and the landscaper Humphrey Repton. The house was enlarged in 1800 by John Nash who built a Grand Hall and library. There were alterations made to the North front of the house and there were rooms built to display the myriad of artwork in the Methuens’ collection. A lot of the windows were lost to another refurbishment later on but the building itself still stands as it was.

17th Century Schoolroom and Almshouses

Built in 1668 by Lady Margaret Hungerford, the Almshouses is a Grade I listed building in Corsham. It still retains the original 17th century furnishings today. The building itself has been largely retained with its large windows resembling an old Church and the Victorian features on the building’s exterior.

The interior is a relic in itself and, although the building was restored, it still has its original Victorian charm. It has also kept the original school room with its original benches, box pew and the stand the teacher taught from also known as the pulpit. There is an exhibit held in the building for tourists to visit showing some of the history of the building.

Flemish Weaver’s Cottages

Flemish Weavers CottagesBuilt in the 1600’s for Flemish (or Dutch, it is not clear) immigrants to Corsham, these lime washed rubble stone buildings are still in their original state and were built for spinning wool and weaving it into cloth.

The buildings still stand with their original 17th century stonework and stone tiled roofs. The locally quarried Bath stone was used to build these charming cottages and they contributed to the wool industry in Corsham.

As a result, they are part of the town’s heritage and are Grade II listed buildings. The second floor doors can still be seen and this is where the fleeces from the local sheep herds would be taken from their horse carts and the wool products would have left the building for sale via the ground floor.

St. Bartholomew’s Church

St Bartholomew's ChurchThis is one of the oldest buildings in Corsham dating back to Saxon times. It is now known as Corsham church and many additions have been made to it since it was first built. Some of its original architecture still remains however including the narrow nave, or the main body of the church, and the thin walls. These features point to the original Saxon design.

It was rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries with the addition of a Lady Chapel which was then rebuilt years later by Thomas Tropenell. Renovations continued over 200 years. The original north aisle still remains in the church today.

A Victorian tower and spire was added in 1874 when the building was restored on the recommendations of the church architect G. E. Street. The church was also extended to be put into use again. It is a Grade I listed building.