Architect honoured in naming of new retirement community in Harrogate

10 March 2021

A new Retirement Living Plus development has been named Matcham Grange after the man behind the Royal Hall theatre in Harrogate.

Leading manager and developer, McCarthy Stone has named the new scheme on Wetherby Road in honour of Francis Matcham, an iconic architect of the Victorian and Edwardian era.

2020 marked 100 years since the death of Francis Matcham, known as the ‘Master Architect’, who was responsible for the design of over 90 new theatres in Britain and the major redevelopment of at least another 100. They were instantly recognisable for their opulent interiors, exteriors and attention to detail, including the Harrogate Royal Hall theatre – the only surviving Kursaal in Britain.

On the former site of the Cheltenham Pump Room, the Kursaal was built in 1903. Loosely based on the design of the Ostende Kursaal in Belgium, the previously known “Cure Hall” provided a major entertainment venue for the rich and famous who came to visit Harrogate to take from the waters at one of Europe’s foremost spas. At the beginning of World War I, it was renamed the more patriotic “Royal Hall” as the number of visitors to the spa town began to decline.

Today, Francis Matcham is held in high regard as the greatest theatre designer Britain has ever seen. Tragically, many of his famous works were destroyed after World War II. Now, only 24 Matcham buildings survive. These listed buildings include the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, The Grand Theatre Blackpool, London Richmond Theatre and many more.

Declan Fishwick, Marketing Executive for McCarthy Stone, said:

When choosing to build in Harrogate we knew of the rich history of Matcham’s buildings and reading about his designs we wanted to celebrate his achievements in some way and the anniversary of his death prompted us to think about the timely naming of this new addition to the town.

Frank Matcham never received any form of architectural training but learnt the practicalities of theatre design on the job. He was snubbed by many of his peers and his genius went unrecognised for many years after his death. Today Frank Matcham is acknowledged for his unique style with no two of his creations being the same.

The new McCarthy Stone development Matcham Grange will include 54 one and two bedroom retirement properties and will have much to offer over-70s looking for hassle-free retirement and the opportunity to maintain an independent lifestyle, while having access to shared facilities and flexible care packages to suit their needs. This includes a communal lounge that will regularly host events, landscaped gardens, and a guest suite for when family and friends come to stay. As part of the Retirement Living Plus development, residents will have access to an on-site bistro with Chef, serving hot meals, as well as various light snacks and refreshments. On-site staffing 24 hours per day and tailor-made support packages and domestic assistance will be offered each week.

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