392/8/1396 SPRINGWOOD AVENUE
14-MAR-75 ALLERTON HALL
(Formerly listed as:
This list entry has been amended as part of the Bicentenary commemorations of the 1807 Abolition Act.
Mansion, the central portion and west wing built after 1736, probably for John Hardman; extended and completed to east c1810-12 for William Roscoe. C19 alterations, and late C20 alterations which converted the house to a pub.
EXTERIOR: Red sandstone with hipped roof. Three storeys, eleven bays, with central three bays breaking forward, and two projecting bays at each end. Three-bay returns. Rusticated ground floor, with heavy string course, quoins to first and second floors, and balustraded parapet. On the front (north) elevation, the central three bays form an applied tetrastyle Ionic portico with giant unfluted columns rising from first floor to support an architrave and pulvinated frieze, surmounted by a pediment. Above the front door is a lion's head. Windows to the first and second storeys have architraves. All windows are sashed with glazing bars. The first-floor windows are surmounted by mouldings: the central window within the portico has a pediment, those to either side have hood moulds; windows to bays 3,4, 8 and 9 have pulvinated frieze and cornice - there is no architrave, only the moulding surrounding the window; windows to outer projecting bays have pediments. The second-floor windows have keystones and aprons. On the west return, the first-floor windows are surrounded by stones of alternating size; the second-floor windows are like those on the north facade. An iron balcony stretches the length of the three first-floor windows. The east return windows are unadorned; there is a canted bay at ground floor level. At the back of the house are a number of C19 additions. To the east, is a masonry-walled hot house, now used as a dining room.
INTERIOR: Much of the ground floor has been radically altered to create an open-plan space for the pub which currently occupies the building. The cornices etc which remain are mainly Victorian. However, the western room retains its early C19 decoration: fine panelling with architraves to panels, and eared architraves to doors which are surmounted by friezes, with medallion busts and swags, and pediments. Eared fireplace surround with pulvinated frieze and cornice. Overmantel with rococo scroll and pediment. Ceiling with fretwork border and rococo embellishment. In 1824 this was called the Breakfast Room. At the east end, parts of Roscoe's grand library remain, with a back screen of Ionic columns. A large first-floor room at the west end of the building has a triglyph frieze and two fluted Doric columns with full entablature framing the fireplace; this room is currently subdivided (2007).
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Gate piers with connecting walls and railings frame the entrance to the north drive on Woolton Road; these are listed separately.
HISTORY: The district of Allerton, five miles to the south east of Liverpool, was chosen by some of the city's most successful merchants for their mansions from the C18 onwards. The earliest of those that remain is Allerton Hall. From 1902 the Corporation of Liverpool acquired a number of large houses in the area, and the grounds associated with them, including Allerton Hall; as a result Allerton is a remarkably green suburb, though no longer countryside as when the houses were built.
Between the C15 and C17 the manor of Allerton was held by the Lathoms, a prominent South Lancashire family, who built a house on the site during the reign of the James I. The Lathom lands were forfeited during the civil war. The estate was bought in 1670 by Richard Percival, a Liverpool man of business (and mayor in 1658), in whose family it remained for some time; financial difficulties led to the sale of the estate to the brothers John and James Hardman, merchants of Rochdale, in 1736. The principal part of the existing house was almost certainly built for John Hardman. A print of 1807 (in John Britton, The Beauties of England and Wales, IX) shows a curiously unbalanced edifice: the new central portico, with four additional bays to west, which had introduced Palladianism to Liverpool, is attached to the remaining part of the C17 building to east, whilst a C17 tower rises behind the building to south. John Hardman had married the daughter of Alderman Cockshutt, a former mayor of Liverpool, and he himself became prominent in the town; in 1754 Hardman was elected MP for Liverpool, but he died shortly afterwards. James Hardman, who had also married a local woman, Jane Leigh, moved to Allerton Hall. James died in 1759, but Jane stayed till her death in 1799. Jane Hardman was a close friend of William Roscoe (1753-1831), the celebrated lawyer, politician, historian and philanthropist. At her death, Roscoe bought part of the Allerton estate, including Allerton Hall.
William Roscoe's father is said to have been butler for John Hardman at Allerton Hall; his mother came from Allerton. When Roscoe was growing up his father kept an inn at Mount Pleasant. At 15, he began a legal training, and in 1774 he became an attorney of the king's bench. Roscoe spent the following 20 years immersed in work he found laborious and distasteful; outside the office he was a devout Unitarian and a distinguished scholar, particularly of Italian literature, history and art. Roscoe married Jane Griffies c1777; the couple had ten children, most of whom shared their parents' literary inclinations. In 1796 Roscoe retired from the law, concentrating instead on land speculation and property development, and later, banking.
In 1799 Roscoe moved with his family to Allerton Hall. His alterations to the house, made in 1811-12, involved pulling down the remaining C17 parts, now thought to be dangerous as a result of decaying timbers, and rebuilding to balance the Palladian work of the previous century. These alterations provided a grand library and hothouses, as well as hanging space for his large collection of paintings. Here he had time for poetry and botany, as well as the historical work for which he was renowned - his 'Life of Lorenzo de' Medici' had been published in 1796 to great acclaim, Horace Walpole writing that 'Mr Roscoe is by far the best of our historians, both for beauty, style and deep reflexions.' During this time, Roscoe was increasingly involved in politics, and in 1806 became MP for Liverpool, as an independent. In the House of Commons he supported the abolitionist cause to which he had long been devoted (in 1787-8 he published pamphlets attacking slavery, and an eloquent poem entitled 'The Wrongs of Africa'). His short career as an MP coincided with the passage of the Abolition Bill; Roscoe brought an unusual slant to the debate in the House, speaking as a native and champion of Liverpool - all the town's other representatives during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had been opposed to abolition - declaring that, 'I have long resided in Liverpool: for thirty years I have never ceased to condemn this inhuman traffic: and I consider it the greatest happiness of my life to lift up my voice on this occasion against it, with the friends of justice and humanity.' Roscoe was a founder member of the African Institution, established in the wake of the 1807 Act, to ensure that its terms were adhered to. His associate, William Wilberforce, said of him, 'Here is a man who by strength of character has risen above the deep-seated prejudices of his townspeople and eventually won their respect.' Nonetheless, Roscoe's efforts against the slave trade had also made him enemies in Liverpool, and on his return from London he was greeted by a riot, orchestrated by local slave traders. His parliamentary career was over, but he continued his anti-slavery work in Liverpool, arguing strongly that Liverpool's future prosperity did not depend on slavery. He exerted himself to procure evidence against those who broke the new law, on one occasion intervening to secure the release of slaves brought to Liverpool on a Brazilian ship.
The Roscoe family's tenure of Allerton Hall ended in 1816, or perhaps earlier, the bank in which Roscoe was a partner having collapsed. Thereafter, the Roscoes moved several times before settling at Lodge Lane, Liverpool. William Roscoe's collection of books, manuscripts and art treasures was sold, many works of art being secured for the recently founded Royal Institution, in which Roscoe was a leading light; in 1948 the Institution's enlarged collection was given to Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery. Roscoe died in 1831, not long before the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 achieved many of the aims for which he had fought.
Roscoe's share of Allerton Hall passed in 1824 to Pattison Ellames, nephew of Peter Ellames, the eminent Liverpool attorney with whom Roscoe had served his clerkship, and who had been a valuable supporter of Roscoe's early literary work. Pattison Ellames lived at Allerton Hall till his death.
During the 1860s Allerton Hall was rented by Richard Wright, a cotton merchant and ship owner. Wright's son-in-law was Charles Prioleau, a native of South Carolina and manager of the Liverpool branch of Fraser, Trenholm & Co., cotton merchants of South Carolina. During the American Civil War of 1861-5, the swell of feeling in Liverpool was for the South; much of Liverpool's wealth during the C19 depended on importing cotton for the mills of Lancashire, and most of this was produced by slaves on plantations in the American South. The blockade by the North, which stopped the supply of cotton, had a very damaging effect on Liverpool's economy. Liverpool's Fraser, Trenholm made a huge contribution to the war effort of the South, acting as banker to the Confederate government, and financing the supply of armaments in return for cotton; the firm also participated in blockade running, and financed the building of vessels for the Confederate navy in Liverpool. At least one ship was supplied by Richard Wright. As a result, numerous American naval personnel spent time in Liverpool, and many of these were entertained by Prioleau at Allerton Hall, out of sight of the US consul. Amongst these was Raphael Semmes, captain of the 'Alabama', the infamous Confederate ship built at the behest of Fraser, Trenholm in 1861-2. A 16-year-old midshipman was invited to spend Christmas of 1862 at Allerton Hall; he was particularly struck by the flowers and fruit produced by William Roscoe's hothouses, after spending the winter in a Liverpool boarding house. Following the First Battle of Bull Run (otherwise known as the First Battle of Manassas) in July 1861, the Confederate flag was raised at Allerton Hall.
Allerton Hall was later owned by Lawrence Richardson Baily of Liverpool, and after his death in 1886 by Thomas Clarke, of Liverpool and Cork, whose widow gave the house and surrounding land to the city in 1926; the park in which the house stands is known as Clarke Gardens. During the Second World War, Allerton Hall became the regional headquarters of the National Fire Service; a blockhouse in the grounds is a reminder of this period in the Hall's history. Allerton Hall was later used as a banqueting suite, providing the setting for numerous wedding receptions and other events. The interior was severely damaged by fires in 1994 and 1995; after renovation Allerton Hall opened as 'The Pub in the Park'.
R. Pollard and N. Pevsner, 'Lancashire: Liverpool and the South-West' (2006)
Dictionary of National Biography
Victoria County History, 'Lancaster: 3' (1907)
S. Lewis, ed., 'A Topographical Dictionary of England' (1848)
Liverpool museums website
R. Anstey and P.E.H. Hair eds, 'Liverpool, the African Slave Trade, and Abolition' (1976, 1989);
http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ accessed on 4 January 2008
J. Baldwin and R. Powers, 'Last Flag Down: The Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship' (2007)
http://www.redstarline.org.uk/ accessed on 27 December 2007
G. Cameron and S. Crooke, 'Liverpool, Capital of the Slave Trade' 
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Allerton Hall is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* A fine merchant's house, it was built as a country residence, which introduced Palladianism to Liverpool
* It contains an elegant and complete early C19 panelled room
* The historical interest of the building is enhanced by its connections with a number of prominent Liverpool figures, the most notable being the scholar and abolitionist William Roscoe.