A spot of gothic: The Centre For Science And Art

The street named Lansdown, which morphs from an array of shops, offices, church and library to a neighbourhood of residential houses and villas as it moves outward from the town centre, is home to one of Stroud’s most striking pieces of architecture. The Centre For Science And Art, on the corner of Locking Hill, is an ornate Victorian building in the Gothic style, complete with a carved facade, portrait busts and colonettes. If you’ve ever wondered how this spectacular building came to be, Lydia LaStrode has the answers…

Original designs for what was at first a children’s school were by J.P. Seddon, but were completed by local architect William Henry Cox Fisher, and building began in 1890. Fisher’s friend William Cowle, a local developer and public health advocate, had long wanted the town to have a Science Institute. On his death in December 1899 he left a bequest for its founding. Fisher, as executor, arranged for £2,000 to be used to complete the Lansdown building. It opened in 1909 as home to both the science museum and Stroud’s School of Art. The busts you see on the outside depict Victorian scientists Michael Faraday, Thomas Henry Huxley and Lord Kelvin, architect Charles Barry, poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and painters Lord Leighton and JMW Turner.

From 1930 to 2001 the building housed the Stroud Museum (now in Stratford Park), and today part of it is home to Lansdown Pottery. But some of its most beautiful spaces can be hired as event rooms for meetings and get-togethers, for all Stroudies who appreciate a bit of stunning local history.