Thursday, February 04, 2016

Parkhill House, Aylestone Park, Leicester

Dominic Kealey writes in the current issue of the Aylestone Park newsletter:

It has been saddening to see the recent spate of graffiti attacks around Aylestone, this time a stark expression of the less imaginative side of football fanaticism which adds nothing to the local landscape and presents a headache to those responsible for the upkeep of some of our fine old buildings.

Destruction of our surroundings is a not a new phenomenon however. The Elizabethan styled Rectory that gave way to Freemans Holt in the Old Village, for instance.

Recently rediscovered are partial photographs of Parkhill House near the Leicestershire County Cricket Ground. Built in a grand style at the top end of Park Hill Drive, it was demolished around the time of the Second World War to be replaced by a selection of contemporary family houses. Very little remains of the original house other than a few photographs and traces on maps of some of the formal gardens. The residents included Henry Herbert who died there in 1931 aged 90 (as recorded on a memorial in Welford Rd. Cemetery).

Parkhill House (front) c1925
19th Century maps of Leicester show Parkhill House and one other as lone structures in the area, replaced by housing for workers at the nearby Dye Works and commuters from Leicester as the Electric Tramway became established. Aylestone, once served by as many as five mills had been reduced to one at Aylestone Lock and the bottom end of Park Hill Drive was still a cornfield.

Since that time, other large houses in the Aylestone area were demolished in the 1970s to make way for the construction of the Park Hill Court flats that front onto Aylestone Road.

Parkhill House. The lawn (formerly Tennis Courts) c1925
Two properties remain that continue the Herbert heritage. Built side by side in the garden of the old Parkhill House for children of Henry Herbert, they are in completely different styles but they indicate their influence from an earlier time. Meadowbank (Walter Herbert’s house), constructed in the neo-Georgian manner, displays a grand frontage, symmetry and an ordered façade. The other has a fine slate roof though the front has been changed over the years. It would be good to see any other photographic records that exist of the area. It would also be good to think that the brutal removal of our architectural heritage has been slowed. Let’s hope our Councillors are listening.