Essex primary school library given protected status

Credit: ITV Anglia

A primary school library in Essex designed by the architect who created the British Library has been given protected status.

The Bishop Wilson Memorial Library was built in Chelmsford between 1983 to 1986 and forms part of the Bishops' Church of England and Roman Catholic Primary School.

It has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Mediaand Sport on the advice of Historic England.

The inside of the library Credit: G Waters

The library, which has a striking circular structure, was designed by eminentarchitect and academic Sir Colin St John Wilson.

Wilson, who also designed the Grade I listed British Library in London and the Grade II* listed University of Oxford St Cross Building, designed the building as a memorial to his father, Henry Wilson, who was Bishop of Chelmsford from 1929 to 1950.

The school library was under construction at the same time as the BritishLibrary, which was opened by the Queen in 1998.

It is reminiscent of older circular libraries, reading rooms and round churches. The red brick exterior conceals a vibrant and colourful interior, with the door frame, desks, shelves and wall coverings painted bright yellow.

Credit: Historic England

Pairs of red columns support a blue-painted canopy which was purpose-built by a boat builder in Harwich.

The canopy is pierced by circles arranged in the shape of zodiac constellations, and a cylindrical lantern spills light through the canopy on to the reading desks.

Credit: Historic England