From the Listed Building Register
SO8217 SPA ROAD 844-1/15/310 (North side) 25/01/52 Nos.29 AND 31 The Judges' Lodgings and attached front piers, walls and balustrades (Formerly Listed as: SPA ROAD (North side) Judges' Lodgings)
Pair of semi-detached houses, now flats and restaurant. Built between 1833 and 1839. By Sir Robert Smirke for John Phillpotts.
In 1864 converted to lodgings for Assize Court judges on circuit. Brick, the front faced in ashlar with decorative wrought-iron balconies, slate roofs, brick stacks. Double-depth block, mirror-image block; the entrance to each of the original houses in a recessed bay at either end; on each side a small, single-storey lodge; at rear a long wing to either side.
EXTERIOR: three storeys and full basement; tall symmetrical front of four bays, with a slight projection to the two central bays, and flanking recessed bays (1+4+1); the projecting front of the basement storey supports a verandah across the front of the four central bays; the basement and ground floors rusticated, the upper floors of plain ashlar; the outer corners of the central and recessed bays have clasping pilasters rising in stages corresponding to the basement, ground and first floors, and the second floor, with a base moulding at ground-floor level, and intermediate and impost mouldings; otherwise, on the first and second floors the central bays are defined by pairs of shallow, giant pilasters with Ionic capitals; at first-floor level across the four central bays a full-width, cantilevered balcony, supported on shaped brackets, with delicate filigree, wrought-iron standards, balustrade panels, and drop friezes, and with a metal, tent canopy roof; on the first floor of each of the recessed bays a cantilevered balcony with similar wrought-iron details; at second-floor level, between the pilasters, a raised band; the pilasters support a deep, continuous, crowning entablature and blocking course; in the centre above the blocking course a framed stone panel with flanking brackets.
On the ground floor of each of the recessed end bays an entrance doorway approached by a flight of stone steps flanked by decorative wrought-iron balustrades; each doorway in an opening with moulded stone architrave has narrow sidelights and a rectangular, metal fanlight with glazing bars in a decorative pattern, and a fielded six-panel door; in the central bays on the ground floor four sashes with glazing bars (3x4 panes), in openings with rusticated flat-arch heads, give access to the verandah; on the second floor in the central bays, and in each of the recessed end bays, taller sashes with glazing bars (3x5 panes) give access to the balconies; on the third floor in the front and recessed bays sashes with glazing bars (3x4 panes) in openings with projecting sills.
The lodge flanking the side of No.29 of ground floor and basement, one-bay wide, with pilasters supporting an entablature and framing a sash with glazing bars (3x4 panes); the lodge flanking the side of No.31 is a lower single storey with similar pilasters and entablature framing a doorway with a moulded stone architrave and C20 door with glazed upper panels; in each of the brick side walls of the recessed end bays a very tall, stair well sash with glazing bars in opening with rubbed brick, semicircular arched head.
INTERIOR: not inspected, but entrance halls seen to contain original features and to rear original staircases with swept handrails. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: flanking the stone-paved approaches to both entrances, at each outer corner of the frontage, is a rusticated ashlar pier with offset plinth, and entablature with blocking course, the responding pier for each entry demolished to top of plinth; brick walls link the outer piers to the outer corners of the lodges; similar decorative wrought-iron balustrades link the bases of the inner piers with the corners of the central four-bay block. HISTORY: this house was originally called Somerset House or Villas.
About John Phillpotts MP who Judges Lodgings Gloucester was built for
John Phillpotts was the eldest son of John Phillpotts (1743-1814), a Herefordshire landowner, businessman and sometime Land Agent to the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral, and his wife Sibella Glover (1753-1833); he was the elder brother of Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter.
John Phillpotts was born at Bridgwater in Somerset while his father was operating a brick and tile factory in that town.
John Phillpotts practised as an attorney in Gloucester and held the post of Registrar to the Dean and Chapter of the cathedral. He was Mayor of Gloucester for one term (1819–20). He dined at the Inner Temple and was called to the bar in 1822, after which he served as a magistrate at the Gloucester sessions and on the Oxford circuit.
Phillpotts gained a reputation for severity and was known in some quarters as "Cat-o-Nine-Tails Jack". Flogging was his favoured cure for vagrancy and begging.
John Phillpotts was elected a Member of Parliament (MP) for Gloucester in three parliaments (1830–1831, 1832–1834, and 1837–1847).
In the 1841 election he topped the poll with 753 votes, being trailed by Captain Maurice Berkeley (732 votes) and Viscount Loftus (510 votes). John Phillpotts retired from politics in 1847.
In his politics Phillpotts aligned himself variously with the Whigs and the Tories, earning himself the sobriquet of “the Gloucester Weathercock”, but he was consistent in representing the interests of Gloucester city. Amongst other achievements he backed the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal project, helped develop the infrastructure of Gloucester city and was instrumental in saving a local bank from ruin.
In 1797 John Phillpotts married Sarah, daughter of Thomas Chandler of Ashcroft House, Ozleworth, near Wotton under Edge in Gloucestershire. The couple had one son, Thomas Phillpotts (1807-1890), who was to become Canon of Truro under John Phillpotts' brother Henry Phillpotts the Bishop of Exeter. John and Sarah Phillpotts were later estranged.
Two years after retiring from politics, in June 1849, John Phillpotts died of a heart attack while on board an omnibus in the West End of London. Sarah Phillpotts died in Gloucester one month later.