Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Great Hall

Architect - Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort
or - England and Martin

The Star, Issue 4090, 31 May 1881, Page 2
Canterbury College.— The tender of Messrs England and Martin has been accepted for the erection of the College hall and staircase turret. The cost is to be £6290.

above: a popular prospective of the Great Hall and Canterbury College.

The Star, Issue 4105, 17 June 1881, Page 3

The concrete foundations for the additions to the buildings of the Canterbury College, are now being laid by Mr Finlay, the contractor for that portion of the work. These foundations, which are rapidly approaching completion, are of a very massive description, and vary in depth from 8ft to 10ft. The excavations for all parts of the work have been carried down to the shingle, so as to secure a firm resting place for the structure. The foundations for the whole of the proposed additions are in course of being laid, but only a portion of the new building — the large hall — is to be erected at present. The contractors for the hall are Messrs England and Martin; and the designs for the whole of the additions were prepared by Mr W. B. Mountfort.

The hall, which is to be placed at the western end of the present buildings, will be constructed of grey stone with white stone facings. From the drawings it appears that the style will be similar to that of the existing edifice, though of a somewhat more ornate character. The hall is 80 feet long by 35 feet wide, the interior height being 43 feet from the floor to the centre of the arched ceiling. The west elevation is pierced with six three light windows, separated by ornamental buttresses.

At the south-west corner of the building is shown a handsome turret, 76 feet in height, with a slated roof. This turret is intended to contain a staircase which, when the whole of the additions are completed, is to give access to a lecture-room situated to the south of the hall.

At the north end of the hall is a handsome five-light window, with ornamental stone mullions; and it may be here observed that the whole of the windows have similar mullions. They are to be filled in with lead lights, glazed with rough-rolled cathedral glass in two tints. The hall will be entered from the quadrangle at the back of the present buildings, through a handsome porch placed on the east side.

The roof will be covered with Duchess slates, surmounted by a ridging of glazed tiles, along which ornamental louvres will be placed at intervals. The details provide for seven large double principals of 10 by 4 red pine timber, the side posts supporting these being carried by 4in curved braces. The interior of the hall is surrounded with a varnished dado, about three feet in height, above which runs a belt of ornamental brickwork about two feet in width. Above this band, the wall space is of ashlar work of white stone, surmounted, at the junction of the walls and ceiling, with a carved white stone cornice. A handsome fireplace, of cut stone, furnished with a carved bracket and recess, is provided for on the east side of the hall. The design for the ceiling presents a most effective appearance. Above the braces supporting the side posts, a large moulded cornice runs round the whole room, and above this is an upright panelling, formed of alternate white pine and rimu V-jointed boards placed diagonally. From the top of this panelling springs a circular ceiling, finished in ridged panels of rimu and white pine, somewhat after the style of the ceiling of the Provincial Council Chamber. The woodwork, when oiled and varnished, is expected to have a really good effect.

The ventilation of the hall has been carefully attended to. The inlets for fresh air are arranged below the sills of the windows. Above the curved braces of the roof-principals, and behind the upright panelling before mentioned, are to be placed ornamental ventilating coffers, two in each bay, constructed of rimu and white pine boards. A large ventilating trunk 16 inches square, is to run throughout the whole length of the building between the ceiling and the rafters, the inlet to this being a lozenge-shaped aperture above the north window, and the outlet by a flue leading up to the finial of the south gable.

The additions not included in Messrs England and Martin's contract, but for which the foundations are now being laid, comprise a professor's room and robing room on the ground floor, and a lecture room in the upper storey, to which, as before mentioned, access will be secured by means of the staircase turret to be erected at the end of the large hall.

The Star, Issue 4461, 11 August 1882, Page 3
The additions which have for many months past been in course of erection at the west end of the Canterbury College buildings, are on the point of completion, and the College may be congratulated on possessing a hall second to none in the Colony.

A description of the work, from the architect's plans, appeared in these columns shortly after the laying of the foundation, so that lengthy comment upon it is superfluous. It is only needful to say that the design then set forth has been carried out in the most satisfactory manner, and to notice one or two matters of detail of which a better idea can be formed from an inspection of the finished structure than from scanning a set of plans.

The exterior of the hall is, as was stated in our previous description, similar in design to the older portions of the building. It is fairly imposing, and neither overloaded with ornamentation, nor too severe and plain. One small matter deserves notice. The ridge tiles of the roof, which were found admirably suited to their purpose, are of Canterbury manufacture, having been made by Messrs Condliffe and Co., of Whitecliffs.

The interior of the building has not the splendour of the Provincial Council Chamber, hitherto used for the purpose for which the hall was erected. Its appearance is, however, decidedly effective, though in quite a different way, and to some tastes is, no doubt, more pleasing, owing to the presence of light and subdued tints in lieu of gay colours and strong contrasts.

The hall is a lofty one, the height from floor to ceiling being 48ft. It may be here stated that the length is 80ft, and the width 38ft. At the southern end is a stage, 38ft wide by 11ft in depth. Above the stage is a gallery, partially recessed, and measuring 20ft in width, by 9ft deep. One of the most effective features of the room is the dado, 8ft 6in in height, formed of upright panelling of various native woods, and topped with a lozenge-pattern border of the same. The course of sunken panels above the dado, showing the bare brick lining of the wall, does not as yet present a very sightly appearance. This will be remedied in time, however. The panels are intended to receive tablets commemorative of those persons connected with the college, who may be deemed worthy, from various reasons, to have, if not a niche in the Temple of Fame, at least a memorial on the walls of the College Hall.

On the piers between the windows on the western side, and at corresponding intervals on the opposite wall, are placed brackets, each with a sunken panel, or shield, beneath, and a little carved niche, or canopy above. These are intended for the reception of statuettes of the various philosophers and sages of all past time. They will be filled up, it is to be presumed, by the generosity of those friends of the college who may be desirous of at once honouring the memory of some great man, and adorning the walls of the hall.

The wall above the dado is of white stone, surmounted by a handsome carved course. The ceiling, of different sorts of native wood, presents a most effective appearance. The central portion is segmental shaped, and the panelling is disposed on a plan similar to that of the Provincial Council Chamber.

The large windows, of cathedral glass, were, it may be noted, put together in Christchurch by Messrs Taylor and Oakley, from the designs of the architect, Mr Mountfort.

Ventilation has been well provided for. Beneath each window are apertures to admit the fresh air, while that which has become vitiated is carried off by means of a large trunk passing longitudinally through the roof, and connected with flues communicating with the hall. The turret at the south-west corner of the building contains a winding staircase of stone, giving access to the gallery at the end of the room.

The designs for the building were prepared by Mr W. B. Mountfort, and the contractors for erection were Messrs England and Martin, the stonework having been sub-let by them to Messrs Findlay and Kitchin. The whole was done under the direction of Mr Anthony, Clerk of Works.

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