69 Monkmoor Road
List Entry Summary
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
Name: 69 Monkmoor Road
List entry Number: 1421250
69 Monkmoor Road, Shrewsbury, SY2 5AT
The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District Type: Unitary Authority
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first listed: 11-Dec-2014
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Summary of Building
A semi-detached house, built in 1910, home of the young Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) and his family from 1910 until after his death in 1918.
Reasons for Designation
69 Monkmoor Road, a semi-detached suburban house built circa 1910, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* Historic association: the house was the home of pre-eminent poet of the First World War, Wilfred Owen, and his family, during his formative early teenage years, and the last permanent home he had before he was killed in action France in 1918;
* Intactness: the house is little altered since the Owen family left, retaining its plan and the majority of its fixtures and fittings from the early years of the C20 that Owen would recognise;
* Representivity: 69 Monkmoor Road is a good example of the sort of modest, suburban houses which were constructed in large numbers in the late C19 and early C20, and which rarely survive so complete. Although it would not merit listing on its architectural merit, its designation on grounds of its historic association with Wilfred Owen allows a representative example of this type of building to be included on the List.
The house now known as 69 Monkmoor Road (originally 71 Monkmoor Road) was built in 1910 as part of a speculative development by a Mr Knight, who lived in the adjacent detached house, overlooking the racecourse on the opposite side of the newly-created suburban street. It was rented from Mr Knight by Tom and Susan Owen, parents of the celebrated war poet Wilfred Owen, from 1910.
Wilfred Owen was born at his paternal family home, Plas Wilmot, near Oswestry, in 1893, and would become the eldest of three brothers and a sister. Tom Owen (1862-1931) was a railway clerk, and moved his family from Shropshire to Birkenhead in 1898, when his job was transferred. Wilfred began his education at the Birkenhead Institute, between 1899 and 1907; his passion for poetry began around 1903-4, though in competition with his equally-fervent enthusiasm for religion, which was encouraged by his mother Susan (1867-1942), a devout Christian. In 1907, when his father was transferred back to Shrewsbury as the newly-appointed assistant superintendent of the Joint Railways, Wilfred began to attend Shrewsbury Technical School, as a probationary teacher-pupil. At around the age of fifteen, his literary ambitions were fired when he discovered the poetry of Wordsworth, and when the family moved in 1910 to the newly-built house in Monkmoor Road, which they named ‘Mahim’, he begged to have the attic room as his garret, with its view over the racecourse and to that famous Shropshire landmark, The Wrekin, beyond. A mattress was tucked under the sloping ceiling beneath the hipped roof, and a desk set into the dormer window recess. The poetry Owen wrote here was chiefly pastoral, inspired by his reading.
In 1911, he left school, keen to go on to university, but despite his best efforts he failed to gain the first-class honours in his University of London Matriculation which would have earned him a scholarship, dashing his hopes of entering as an undergraduate. During his studies, he encountered for the first time the poems of Keats, who would have a profound influence on his work, and began to write sonnets in late-Romantic idiom. In the autumn of 1911 a live-in position was found for Wilfred as an unpaid lay assistant to Revd Herbert Wigan, the vicar of Dunsden near Reading, in return for assistance in preparing to retake his university entrance. Owen’s enthusiasm for theology, the only teaching offered by Wigan, quickly waned, and he began to take other classes at University College, Reading, where he was encouraged in his writing and study of literature by the head of the English department. When in 1913 an outbreak of evangelical fervour swept the parish, Owen found it hard to reconcile the high principles of the vicarage with the poverty he had encountered among its flock, and he underwent a serious crisis of faith which threatened to undermine his mental health. He returned to his family and spent a month in bed at Monkmoor Road with congestion of the lungs, though he already knew that he would not be able to stay long with his devoutly evangelical mother, and after suffering another blow by failing the entrance exam for University College in Reading, Owen left for France in September 1913, where he spent two happy years teaching English at the Berlitz School in Bordeaux. He became friends with poet Laurent Tailhade, who introduced him to the work of Verlaine and other C19 French writers and poets, which would influence his mature poetry.
After the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, Owen considered joining the French army, but decided against it; he eventually changed his mind about entering the war, though, and in the autumn of 1915, he returned home to his family, who were still living at Mahim, bid them goodbye, and on 21 October 1915, enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles. Following training, he was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment on 4 June 2016, and joined the 2nd Manchesters on the Somme just before New Year; he lead his platoon into the trenches in the second week of January. In March, Owen fell through a shell-hole into a cellar, in which he was trapped, concussed, for three days. He was subsequently involved in fierce fighting, and on 1 May was sent back to the UK suffering from shell-shock. At Craiglockhart War Hospital, near Edinburgh, he was encouraged to explore his experiences through poetry by his fellow-patient, Siegfreid Sassoon, marking the beginning of an important and productive literary friendship between two men who would become the country’s foremost war poets. Owen recovered, and in November 1917, rejoined his regiment at Scarborough. In March 1918, Owen was transferred to the Northern Command Depot at Ripon in Yorkshire; it was here that wrote or revised many of his most celebrated war poems, in a rented room at 7 Borage Lane (now 24 Borrage Lane) in Ripon, which he took as a quiet refuge for writing, away from the camp.
In September 1918, Wilfred Owen spent 48 hours leave with his family at Monkmoor Road, before returning to the Front in France, during the final advance on the German lines; he was awarded the Military Cross for his courage in the action, but was killed on 4 November 1918, just a week before the armistice. On the day the war ended, 11 November, a telegram arrived at Mahim informing Tom and Susan Owen that Wilfred had died in action. It was two years before Owen’s first collection of war poems was published, edited by Edith Sitwell and with a foreword by Siegfried Sassoon, but his reputation was not firmly established until 1962, when Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, composed around Owen’s war poems, was first performed for the opening of Coventry Cathedral, rebuilt after it was ravaged in the Second World War. He is now considered the quintessential war poet.
The Owen family continued to live at Mahim until 1925. Since that time, the house has been little altered. The front garden wall was removed later C20, and the front window in the attic has been replaced.
A semi-detached house, one of a mirror pair, built in 1910, home of the young Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) and his family from 1910 until after his death in 1918.
MATERIALS: red brick, with painted dressings, plain clay tile roof, and brick stacks.
PLAN: two-bay, double-depth plan, with a long rear service range.
EXTERIOR: the house has two storeys and an attic with a wide, gabled dormer, and rectangular end stacks, with shaped tops, and a hipped roof. All the windows are horned timber sashes, with multi-paned top leaves over single panes with the exception of the attic dormer, which has a uPVC window replicating the original glazing pattern. The main elevation, to the south-east, is of two unequal bays; that to the left a two-storey canted bay, the narrower bay to the right housing the recessed entrance, with a sash window above. The windows are set in brick reveals, with chamfered, painted lintels above, and painted cills. The recessed entrance retains its four-panelled door, with a top panel glazed with a coloured light, under a rectangular overlight with late-C20 coloured glazing. The rear is irregular, with one bay to the right at the rear of the main range, with a similar window to those to the main elevation, and a raking dormer to the attic; to the left is attached the long rear service range, with segmental-arched brick door and window openings, except for the first-floor rear room, whose window matches those to the main elevation. A small, canted, glazed porch with a slate roof sits in the re-entrant angle between the two ranges.
INTERIOR: the interior retains almost its original internal decorative scheme largely intact, including moulded skirtings, picture rails and cornices; four-panel doors; moulded door surrounds; stair; and fireplaces, with the exception of the two front rooms, whose fireplaces were imported in the later C20. The hall floor is tiled in terracotta, and the remainder of the house has timber-boarded floors. The hall and principal ground floor rooms have a heavy, moulded cornice and narrow, moulded picture rails. The closed-string, dog-leg stair, which rises through all floors to the attic, has turned balusters and turned newel posts with heavy finials, those to the upper floors with stubby pendant finials. The ground-floor room to the front has an imported stone fireplace with recessed panels and floral bosses, cornice, picture rails and a wide bay window. To its rear, the second reception room has lost its fireplace, but retains its cornice, which runs into the glazed, canted porch, and picture rails. To the rear of the hall, the former kitchen has been converted to a living room, but retains its high, brick-built fireplace with a brick, segmental-arched opening; the range has been replaced with a late-C20 wood-burning stove. The remainder of the rear service range houses the scullery and pantry. The first floor houses two bedrooms and a bathroom. The main bedroom to the front has an imported, heavy, cast-iron fireplace with architectural and floral motifs, and retains its picture rail. The rear bedroom has an arched recess to one side of its fireplace, and also has its picture rail. The cast-iron fireplace is narrow, and in an Art Nouveau-inspired design. The attic floor has bedrooms to front and rear, both with fireplaces identical to those in the rear bedroom on the floor below, and with beaded plaster edges to the dormer recesses. The front attic room was occupied by Wilfred Owen during his time at the house.
Books and journals
Drabble, M , Oxford Companion to English Literature, (1990), 727
Hibberd, D, Wilfred Owen - A New Biography, (2002)
Owen, H, Journey from Obscurity, (1963)
Owen, , Bell, , Wilfred Owen Collected Letters, (1967)
Stallworthy, Jon, 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography' in Owen, Wilfred Edward Salter (1893–1918), (2004)
National Grid Reference: SJ5031512834
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End of official listing