Toxteth Lodge was built around 1880 as the gatehouse for the Toxteth Park estate, owned by solicitor and politician, Sir George Wigram Allen (1824-1885). The main house, designed by architect John Verge, was built in 1829-1831 for George Allen senior. As well as building the Lodge George Wigram Allen added several embellishments to the house in the early 1880s. The estate was subdivided following his death and the house is now part of St Scholastica’s College. The architect of Toxteth Lodge was Allen’s son-in-law, George Allen Mansfield, who used Edward Tarbuck’s architectural pattern book, The builder's practical director (1855-1858), as the basis for the design.
In the 19th century, architectural pattern books were a means for transmitting ideas about styles and design elements to both public and building professionals. Tarbuck’s book includes much instructive detail about construction. He considered that his designs extended ‘from the cottage of the labourer to the residence of the Esquire’. Although Tarbuck characterised the design used for Toxteth Lodge as simply an ‘ornamental cottage’, architectural historians today would describe it as a Gothic-revival style building.
Dr Peter Stanbury, the first chairman of the Historic Houses Trust, purchased Toxteth Lodge in 1973. The house was in a relatively poor state and took Stanbury seven to eight years to furnish it to his satisfaction. He did some of the work himself including painting and stenciling and bought almost all the fittings and furnishings especially for the house including colonial cedar furniture, Staffordshire pottery, Victorian-era marble busts and tiles and religious or moralising ceramic wall plaques. He was still resident when the house was photographed in 2002.
Edward Lance Tarbuck, ed., The builder's practical director, J. Hagger, London, 1855-58
Helen C. Long, Victorian houses and their details, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2002