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Buildings(v1.0)

Historic Building Details


HB Ref No:
HB01/19/015 A


Extent of Listing:
Church, steps, walling, gates and railings


Date of Construction:
1780 - 1799


Address :
First Derry Presbyterian Church Upper Magazine Street Londonderry County Londonderry BT48 6HY


Townland:
Londonderry






Survey 2:
B+

Date of Listing:
25/05/1976 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:
Church

Former Use
Church

Conservation Area:
Yes

Industrial Archaeology:
No

Vernacular:
No

Thatched:
No

Monument:
No

Derelict:
No




OS Map No:
36-8NW

IG Ref:
C4333 1669





Owner Category


Church - Presbyterian

Exterior Description And Setting


Two-storey, five-bay church with former school building to rear, set back from the pavement behind sandstone plinth boundary wall with decorative painted wrought-iron railings and gates flanked by sandstone pillars. Hipped slate roof with clay ridge tiles. Front pediment extends above roofline with deep cornice which returns either side, and balustrade above. West elevation: Classical Scottish Giffnock sandstone portico dates from 1903, with four fluted corinthian columns and pilaster responds. Five-bay front with central three-bay pediment flanked by side bays. Three large double doorways with the central fanlight segmental-arched and the others round-arched with keystones; date-stone above central doorway from an earlier church building. One square-topped window either side with keystone to ground floor, and five rounded-arch windows to first floor with keystone. Large pilasters to end side bays. Principal façade of ashlar Giffnock Sandstone with rusticated ground floor. Two leaf timber doors have three fielded panels each. All have dentilled cornices with plain lights above. Windows are casement painted timber to principal elevation. South elevation: Six bay two storey random coursed local schist with Dungiven sandstone dressing. First floor timber sliding sash windows, three plus segmental fan section over three, with semi circular heads. Rendered parapet with cornicing returned from West elevation. Two courses corbelled sandstone cornicing supporting eaves along remainder South elevation. Square headed, limestone lintels and surrounds to ground floor windows. Round-arched sandstone door opening. East Elevation: Two bay two storey gable, random coursed local schist with Dungiven sandstone dressing, rendered above eaves corbel level. Two semi circular arched geometric tracery stained glass windows to east elevation, with sandstone dressings, square vent opening to upper gable. North elevation: Six bay two storey random coursed local schist with Dungiven sandstone dressing. First floor timber sliding sash windows, three plus segmental fan section over three, with semi circular heads. Rendered parapet with cornicing returned from West elevation. Two courses corbelled sandstone cornicing supporting eaves along remainder North elevation. Square headed, limestone lintels and surrounds to ground floor windows. Round-arched sandstone door opening. Secondary glazing throughout. Setting: The Church faces North West to Magazine Street Upper on the West Wall, within urban block directly west of The Diamond. It is set back from the pavement behind sandstone plinth boundary wall with decorative painted wrought-iron railings and gates flanked by sandstone pillars, raised on a plinth and approached by a broad set of steps leading up to the principal entrance under a classical portico. Materials: Roof: Natural Slate RWG : Cast Iron Walling: Sandstone / local schist stone Windows: Original Stained Glass / timber sliding sash / timber casement

Architects


Priestly, Michael Pinkerton, William Edward

Historical Information


The First Derry Presbyterian Church, a two-storey classical meeting house located on Upper Magazine Street, stands on the same site as the first Presbyterian meeting house to be built in Londonderry. Following the Plantation of Ulster and the establishment of the walled city in 1613-19, the local Presbyterian population are believed to have met in the Dubh Regles (Black Abbey), a former medieval church building that continued to stand (around the current site of First Derry Presbyterian and St. Augustine’s Church (see HB01/19/012) until the mid-18th century. Kirkpatrick states that First Derry was formed in the 1640s and the congregation continued to meet at the former Augustinian Abbey until 1690 when the first meeting house was erected on the current site; in the aftermath of the siege of Derry (1689-90) Queen Mary rewarded the bravery of the Presbyterian population of the city by donating a large sum towards the construction of a meeting house (UAHS, p. 26). A datestone, located above the main entrance of the church, is inscribed with the date ‘1690.’ The first meeting house continued to stand on Upper Magazine Street (known as Meeting House Row between 1692 and 1885) until 1777. In that year the building was demolished and the current larger building erected. A report in the Belfast News-Letter from summer 1779 states that the building had been designed by local architect, the late Michael Priestly (or Priestley). The single-storey schoolhouse to the rear of the church was also erected during this period and both buildings were completed by 1780. The completed church and school were depicted on Porter’s 1799 plan of Derry along their current layouts. The Natural Stone Database records that locally quarried Derry Schist was used to build the church and, although the later classical façade is dominated by the use of Scottish Giffnock Sandstone, the original schist stonework can be seen at the sides and rear of the building (Natural Stone Database). The size of First Derry Presbyterian’s congregation grew to the extent that by the 1830s Presbyterians were the largest denomination within the walled city (Hume, p. 35). The Ordnance Survey Memoirs (1837) note that the new church was renovated in 1828 when a sandstone pediment and cornices were added to the front façade; the writer reported that all the records pertaining to the earlier history of the congregation had been destroyed by a fire, but he was able to note that the 1777-80 building had been erected at a cost of £4,000, the repair work of 1828 had cost a total of £700, and that the building could accommodate a congregation of 2,000 in 1837 (OSM, p. 108). The contemporary Ordnance Survey map (1830) depicted the meeting house as a rectangular-shaped building but noted that the site of the current lecture hall (HB01/19/015B) lay vacant; the Townland Valuations set the rateable value of First Derry Presbyterian Church at £245 13. 8s. In 1831. The value of First Derry Presbyterian had been lowered to £150 by Griffith’s Valuation (1856), remaining at that level by the cancellation of the Annual Revisions in 1929. The Dublin Builder notes that in 1862 alterations to the church were planned by Glasgow-based architect Campbell Douglas, however it is not known if this work was carried out (DIA). A second schoolhouse had been erected to the north-east side of the church by c. 1860 being recorded in the Annual Revisions from that year; this schoolhouse (which is currently the church’s lecture hall) was originally utilised as the female school, whilst the c. 1770-80 schoolhouse to the rear of the church housed the male school. The next major alteration to First Derry Presbyterian came in 1895-96 when local architect William Edward Pinkerton supervised an internal reconstruction of the building which included the installation of the panelled pine ceiling, new wall plastering and stained glass windows, and the installation of a new heating system; the current stained glass windows were gifted to the church by William Tillie, the Scottish shirt and collar manufacturer. The Irish Builder recorded that Pinkerton wished to ‘harmonise this old structure with the aesthetic and the beautiful, the growing love for which, we all rejoice to feel, prevails more and more amongst us;’ the builder contracted to carry out the reconstruction work was a Mr. Joseph Ballantine (Irish Builder, p. 14; DIA). The current Roman Corinthian portico was installed in 1900-03; prior to this the façade of the church consisted of a large parapet including the pediment of 1828; Calley states that the façade was formerly ‘very chaste with no portico. There were quoins on both the breakfront and at the corners. The window bays had blocked surrounds whilst there was only one centred doorway’ (Calley, p. 273). The construction of the current tetrastyle portico cost an estimated £2,000 and was once again carried out to designs of Pinkerton. In 1935 the First Revaluation increased the value of First Derry Presbyterian and its schools to £370; this was further increased to £496 by the end of the Second Revaluation (1956-72). The church was listed in 1976 and subsequently incorporated into the Walled City Conservation Area in 1977. Extensive dry rot and stone damage necessitated the closure of the church in 2002 and the recent restoration of the building which commenced in 2010; the renovation of the church cost £2.3 million and included the replacement of the roof, the restoration of the stained glass windows and church organ, and repairs to the adjoining lecture hall. First Derry Presbyterian Church was reopened in 2011 and Calley, writing in 2013, notes that ‘the survival and current excellent condition of this church is a great testament to the perseverance of its members whose church has suffered years of attacks and vandalism’ (NIEA HB Records; Calley, p. 273). References Primary Sources 1 'Belfast News-Letter', 30 July-3 August 1779, p.3 2. Porter’s plan of Londonderry (1799) 3. PRONI OS/6/5/20/1 – First Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1830) 4. PRONI OS/6/5/20/2 – Second Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1853) 5. PRONI VAL/1/B/547A-F – Townland Valuations (1831) 6. PRONI VAL/2/B/5/16C – Griffith’s Valuation (1856) 7. PRONI VAL/12/E/157/1/14 – Annual Revisions Town Plan (c. 1873) 8. PRONI VAL/12/B/32/11A-11ZD – Annual Revisions (1860-1897) 9. PRONI VAL/12/B/33/1A-1B – Annual Revisions (1897-1929) 10. PRONI VAL/3/B/6/1 – First General Revaluation of Property in Northern Ireland (1935) 11. PRONI VAL/4/B/5/14 – Second General Revaluation of Property in Northern Ireland (1956-72) 12. Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Londonderry (1837) 13. Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) 14. Ulster Town Directories (1843-1943) 15. Dublin Builder (1 May 1862) 16. Irish Builder (15 Jan 1896) 17. First Survey Record – HB01/19/015 (1970) 18. First Survey Image – HB01/19/015 (No Date) 19. NIEA HB Records – HB01/19/015A Secondary Sources 1. Calley, D., ‘City of Derry: An historical gazetteer to the buildings of Londonderry’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2013. 2. Ferguson, W. S; Rowan, A. J; Tracey, J. J., ‘List of historic buildings, groups of buildings, areas of architectural importance in and near the city of Derry’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1970. 3. Hume, J., ‘Derry beyond the walls: Social and economic aspects of the growth of Derry 1825-1850’ Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2002. 4. Kirkpatrick, L., ‘Presbyterians in Ireland: An illustrated history’ Booklink, 2006. 5. Ó Baoill, R., ‘Island city: The archaeology of Derry – Londonderry’ Belfast: Northern Ireland Environment Agency, 2013. 6. Rowan, A. J., ‘The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster’ London: Yale University Press, 2003. Online Resources 1. Dictionary of Irish Architects - http://www.dia.ie/ 2. Natural Stone Database - http://www.stonedatabase.com//stone_types.cfm?stc=45

Criteria for Listing


Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

R. Age S. Authenticity V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance



Evaluation


Three-storey five-bay classical church with tetrastyle portico, built c. 1780 to designs of William Edward Pinkerton, on the site of the previous meeting house dated 1690. Located within the Historic Walled City on Magazine Street Upper, the exterior has retained all of its character, style and proportions, and is enhanced by its setting overlooking the City Walls. The interior layout is largely intact with some modern alterations. Designed originally as a meeting house, it today serves as a church within the local community, and has group value with the adjacent lecture hall (HB01/19/015B). Broad entrance steps that lead to the majestic entrance portico, set back from the street behind stone boundary walling, pillars and decorative iron gates and railings all provide a dignified approach and enhance the character of the Church.

General Comments




Date of Survey


21 January 2014