Exploring Leicester's Architecture - The Goddard Trail

By Colin Hyde | 06 August 2004
shows a series of reliefs or carvings photographed on the side of the Thomas Cooke building in Leicester. They depict different forms of steam transport -dating from 1831 to 1891.

Photo: reliefs depicting the life and adventures of Thomas Cooke on the side of the Thomas Cooke building in Leicester city centre.

If you have lived in Leicester for any amount of time you may not know about the Goddard architectural dynasty, but you will certainly have seen their buildings.

From the Clocktower through churches, houses and schools, generations of the Goddard practice have helped to shape the face of Leicester. The story of the Goddards is told very well in 'Men of Property - The Goddards and Six Generations of Architecture' by Geoff Brandwood and Martin Cherry, and anyone wanting to know more about the practice and the buildings it designed should read this book.

Joseph Goddard (b.1751) came to Leicester from Kirby Muxloe and settled around Belgrave Gate. Henry Goddard was born in 1792, an era before the idea of an architect, as we know it, existed. Like Joseph, he would have to have been a jack of all trades - carpentry, surveying, etc. - and in 1807 he was articled to father.

shows an exterior photograph of the Fish and Quart Pub a white buidling with a redbrick lower frontage.

Photo: The Fish and Quart Pub.

Henry's first known work was in 1817 when he designed some tenements in Belgrave Gate for his father. Various other houses and farm buildings followed including the Fish and Quart pub in 1832.

In 1840 Henry's son Joseph was born and 16 years later he was articled to his father (this story is complicated slightly by the main characters all having the first names Henry or Joseph – so pay attention!).

The 1860s saw an upturn in the fortunes of the practice and in 1862 Joseph became a partner in the firm, but a few years later in 1868 Henry died and Joseph was in business by himself.

shows a colour photograph of a red brick church with churchyard in front.

Photo: Tur Langton Church

Buildings of this period include Tur Langton church 1865-6 and the Clocktower 1868, and Joseph often worked in a Gothic style, as in the schools of the 1860s and '70s. Up to this point a lot of the practice's work was church restoration, but things became more varied into the 1870s.

shows a three storied domestic house with gabled roof.

Photo: Tintern House

Joseph became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1871, the same year as he designed Tintern House. The Leicestershire Banking Co HQ followed in 1872-4 and marked the high point and end of his use of Gothic for secular work.

shows a Tudor styled manor house sat in gradens.

Photo: Brookfield

In 1874 AH Paget became a partner in the practice, which became known as Goddard & Paget. Joseph became President of the Leicester & Leicestershire Society of Architects in 1879-81 and buildings of this period including Brookfield 1876-7, the first use of half-timbering in Leicester and a pointer to the Domestic Revival of the future.

Around this time there was a definite movement among younger architects away from the Victorian Gothic towards an eclectic pick and mix of styles influenced by the Renaissance and traditional English housing.

Photo: Knighton Spinneys

There was a need for change and from 1875 'Queen Anne' elements were introduced into some of Goddard and Paget's buildings, and the Domestic Revival was exemplified by Goddard's own house, Knighton Spinneys 1886.

The commercial buildings of the practice were also being influenced by the arrival in 1888 of Joseph's son, Henry, in the practice, which became known as Goddard, Paget & Goddard.

show an ornate office building with a carved frontage and three floors.

Photo: Thomas Cook building

Henry had toured Europe and now brought a Renaissance enthusiasm to bear, resulting in buildings such as the Thomas Cook offices 1894, the General News Room 1898, and several Jacobean-style houses in both city and county. This influence was also present in Henry's St James the Greater , Leicester 1914 (although designs go back as far as 1895).

The versatility of the practice in this period is demonstrated by churches such as Melbourne Hall 1880-81 and St John the Baptist 1884-5.

shows a two storied large country house with a slate roof.

Photo: Horninghold

Paget retired around 1897 and WA Catlow became a partner - the practice became Goddard & Co. Catlow designed the Tudor Hotel in 1900-01. Joseph Goddard died in 1900 and after this the practice came to specialise in country house work, such as the houses built in Horninghold 1905-1913.

In 1914 Henry went to fight in France and the practice did little during the war. However, his son Henry continued the family business, as does Anthony Goddard to this day.

A Guide to Architectural Styles in Leciester

Throughout this trail references are made to styles of architecture such as 'Gothic', 'Baroque' etc. Many buildings combine elements from different styles and below is a very brief, and very simple, guide to what these expressions mean. For a more detailed look at buildings, architects and the history of architecture try this architecture site

Arts and Crafts - influenced by Willam Morris this movement reacted against cheap mass-produced buildings and decorating materials by advocating a return to high quality materials and hand-made excellence in all fields of art and decoration - furniture, textiles, wallpaper etc.

shows a large white house with chimneys and a grey slate roof.

Photo: Gimson's White House

An example of the simplicity admired by this school is Gimson's White House in Leicester, 1898. Buildings often mixed Arts and Crafts with elements from the English Vernacular, Old English, or Queen Anne styles.

Baroque - the origin of the term 'baroque' is uncertain but buildings in this style may display exuberant decoration, expansive curved shapes, rich colours, large-scale, sweeping vistas, and spatially complex compositions.

shows an ornate corner building with a series of shops on the lower floors.

Photo: the General News Room.

The English didn't really take this style to heart and here it was often tempered with classical elements. Think of Blenheim Palace nationally or, on a much smaller scale, Leicester's General News Room , 1898, which combines baroque and classical elements.

Classical - the principles of Greek or, more often, Roman art and architecture. Georgian classicism was most heavily influenced by Palladianism - understated decorative elements and use of classical 'orders' such as Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian.

shows a Georgian style frontage of three storied domestic house.

Photo: New Walk

This began in the 1750s as a reaction against the excesses of late baroque. New Walk has several buildings in a variety of Classical styles, while there is a simple classical building, c.1750, in Friars Lane.

Domestic Revival - the English vernacular revival applied to houses. Medieval or Tudor styles - half-timbering, overhanging gables.


Goddard's Knighton Spinneys , 1885, is an example of this, and the council houses at 317-355 Narborough Rd, 1928, also show this influence.

Gothic - known in the Middle Ages as the 'French Style', medieval architecture was critically attacked in the 16th century and compared to the barbarism of the Goths who had attacked Rome - hence 'Gothic'.

Think of buildings with strong vertical lines, high vaulted ceilings, pointed window and door openings, and buttressed walls. From 1066 architectural style in England moved from Anglo-Saxon to Norman (also called Romanesque). Gothic elements were added to Romanesque buildings in a Transitional stage, occasionally called Norman Gothic, and from around 1200 the history of the style in England is usually divided into three phases - Early English Gothic, Decorated Gothic, PerpendicularGothic - each of which shows an evolution in style.

shows a large clocktower in the city centre - it is festooned with bunting and in the background can be seen a Tudor-style house.

Photo: Clocktower

The Victorian Gothic revival began in earnest around 1840, a good example being the Palace of Westminster, London. High Victorian Gothic, such as the Albert Memorial in London or Leicester's Clocktower ,1868, became very popular in the mid to late 1800s.

Queen Anne - buildings shaped by English mid-17th century brick houses under Dutch influence. This style became popular at the beginning of the 1870s and Leicester was, for a change, being quite modern when it commissioned the Town Hall in the Queen Anne style in 1876.

shows a large red-brick town hall building sat in a gated park. There is a large clocktower in the centre of the building.

Photo: Leicester Town Hall

However, architects often combined Queen Anne elements with other styles and two buildings as seemingly different as the Aylestone Nursing Home 1878, and The Tudor 1900-01, may be said to be Queen Anne influenced and yet share only a few features with the Town Hall.

shows a large three-storied red brick building. It has a grey slate roof and large chimneys.

Photo: Aylestone Nursing Home.

Features of the style include tall sash windows, ornate chimneys, decoration with tiles or ornamental carvings,and asymmetric gables. It was a style often used for the Board schools of the late 1800s.

This trail is part of a larger trail that explores the architecture of the Goddard family in Leicester, it can be found on the East Midland Oral History Archive. www.le.ac.uk/emoha/leicester/goddardindex.html

To find out more about architecture of Leicester visit the Sound and Vision website, an off-shoot of the East Midland Oral History Archive.

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