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    Archive for the 'South-East Marylebone' Category

    Harley Street

    By the Survey of London, on 13 October 2017

    Harley Street has long been synonymous with the top echelon of the medical profession, a Harley Street consultant the apogee of the profession. This reputation was forged in the second half of the nineteenth century, and although it dimmed a little in the years after the Second World War, it enjoyed a resurgence in the late twentieth century with the growth of private health care.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    General view of the west side of Harley Street looking south from New Cavendish Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Howard de Walden Estate and the Survey of London. © Historic England

    The street itself has preserved its residential appearance, despite the fact that for the most part residence is now confined to upper-floor flats. It was first conceived in the early eighteenth century, but largely laid out and built up between the 1750s and 1780s. Although much Georgian fabric remains, there has been considerable rebuilding, particularly in the southern stretches of the street.

    Detail of the 1 - 5 Harley Street on the corner with Cavendish Square. Photographed by Chris Redgrave

    Detail of  1–5 Harley Street on the corner with Wigmore Street, designed by Robert J. Worley and built in 1896-9. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    From the beginning Harley Street was one of the more fashionable addresses hereabouts, with aristocracy, gentry, politicians, high-ranking clergymen, military and naval officers resident for the London season. Here too were the portraitist Allan Ramsay, and J. M. W. Turner before he decamped round the corner to Queen Anne Street. Increasingly in the early nineteenth century wealthy merchants took up residence. Many owed their wealth to slavery, from sugar plantations in the colonies and later from the huge sums paid out in compensation to plantation owners following the abolition of the slave trade. Others had grown rich through the East India Company, so many that Harley Street became as notable for its ‘nabobs’ as it became for its doctors. As late as 1841 Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine reckoned that ‘the claret is poor stuff, but Harley Street Madeira has passed into proverb, and nowhere are curries and mulligatawny given in equal style’.

    DP176911

    This general view of 74 to 82 Harley Street gives a good impression of the street’s Georgian character, and perhaps a sense of that monotony so disliked by the Victorians. The houses date from the 1770s, with the usual later alterations of balconies, stuccoed ground storeys and raised upper floors. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    During the earlier decades of Victoria’s reign members of parliament and lawyers were prominent in Harley Street. The street so epitomised dull respectability that it was chosen by Charles Dickens as the home of Mr Merdle in Little Dorrit, first published in 1855–7. Disraeli too, in Tancred published in 1847, derided ‘your Gloucester Places, and Baker Streets, and Harley Streets, and Wimpole Streets, and all those flat, dull, spiritless streets, resembling each other like a large family of plain children’. Disraeli’s great political opponent Gladstone occupied 73 Harley Street from 1876–82. His arrival coincided with his campaign on the Eastern Question, arising from the massacre of Orthodox Christians in the Balkans. On a Sunday evening in 1878 a ‘jingo mob’ gathered outside his house, hurling stones and verbal abuse at his windows.

    73 Harley Street. Gladstone lived in the house previously on this site, which would have resembled those on either side. The present No. 73

    73 Harley Street. Gladstone lived in the house previously on this site, which would have resembled those on either side. The present No. 73 was rebuilt in 1904 to designs by W. Henry White for the ophthalmic surgeon Walter Hamilton Hylton Jessop. The blue plaque commemorates not only Gladstone’s residence from 1876–82 but also Sir Charles Lyell who lived there from 1846–75. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    By this time Marylebone had long been associated with medicine. Indeed, medicine arrived at the same time as the housing boom of the 1750s onwards. Most of the early evidence relates to institutions for treating the poor. Hospitals, like housing, gravitated to healthy suburban locations close to open fields and fresh air. When the Middlesex Hospital was built on Mortimer street in 1757 it was at the very edge of the expanding city, as was the parish workhouse in Paddington Street.

    Entrance to No. The size and number of doctor's brass plates were strictly controlled by the Howard de Walden Estate, with regular checks against the Medical Directory to weed out interlopers.

    Entrance to No. 118. The Georgian house on this site was rebuilt in around 1909–10 to designs by F. M. Elgood with stone carvings by A. J. Thorpe. Together with its neighbours to the south, Nos 114 and 116, it was reconstructed behind the retained façade in 2005–9 as consulting suites and a pathology laboratory for the London Clinic by the architects Floyd Slaski Partnership. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Today, Marylebone generally, and Harley Street in particular, is most closely linked with front-rank medicine and private consultants. From the mid eighteenth century, proximity to London’s teaching hospitals became important for top medical men who held prestigious posts in them. Closeness to aristocratic patients was another major consideration. By the 1840s there were sufficient eminent physicians and surgeons in Cavendish Square and Queen Anne Street to act as a magnet for others. However, around this time those at the top of their profession were as likely to reside south of Oxford Street as north. The medical directory for 1854 shows an even distribution between Marylebone, Mayfair and Bloomsbury.

    Detail of the door to No. 72. The size and number of doctor's brass plates were strictly controlled by the Howard de Walden Estate, with regular checks against the Medical Directory to weed out interlopers.

    Detail of the door to No. 72. The size and number of doctor’s brass plates were strictly controlled by the Howard de Walden Estate, with regular checks against the Medical Directory to weed out interlopers. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Harley Street’s subsequent primacy is probably accounted for by its immediate proximity to Cavendish Square – the acme of fashionable Marylebone. Even by 1874, when Harley Street’s significance was already established, being close to the square still mattered. In that year Sir Alfred Baring Garrod, physician and gout specialist, moved from 84 Harley Street further south to No. 10 simply to be nearer to Cavendish Square. Twelve years later the surgeon Sir John Tweedy’s move in the opposite direction, from No. 24 to No. 100, was regarded by colleagues as committing professional suicide.

    For most of its history, the southern end of Harley Street was the more fashionable address. Nos 6 and 8 to the left were built in 1825-7, probably by the architect Thomas Hardwick.

    For most of its history, the southern end of Harley Street was the more fashionable address. Nos 6 to 10 (to the left) were built in 1825–7, probably by the architect Thomas Hardwick. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    As fashionable society ebbed away from Marylebone in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a similar shift of smart medical practice might have been expected, but that never happened. By then many patients of all classes were travelling to see doctors rather than the reverse. But the main reason seems to have been that once a distinct medical community had been established it was found to be enormously beneficial to those within it. This professional interaction is recalled in many memoirs of consultants, who placed great value on the ability to call on the advice or second opinion of a neighbour. In the twentieth century there was also an active policy on the part of the Howard de Walden Estate to preserve the Marylebone grid as a medical enclave.

    Nos 51 (left) and 53 Harley Street. No. 51was built in 1894 to designs by F. M. Elgood for the surgeon William Bruce Clarke on the site of the Turk's Head pub. No. 53 was designed by Wills & Kaula and completed in 1914-15 as a home and practice for the surgeon and urologist Frank Seymour Kidd.

    Nos 51 (left) and 53 Harley Street. No. 51 was built in 1894 to designs by F. M. Elgood for the surgeon William Bruce Clarke on the site of the Turk’s Head pub. No. 53 was designed by Wills & Kaula and completed in 1914–15 as a home and practice for the surgeon and urologist Frank Seymour Kidd. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    The image of the Harley Street doctor relies much on the traditional kind of premises he inhabited. The standard London town house needed little alteration to turn it into a doctor’s house. Ground-floor front rooms became waiting rooms instead of dining rooms, with a consulting room either immediately behind or in the closet wing.

    Nos 82 to 86 Harley Street. No. 84 in the centre was rebuilt in 1909 to designs by Claude W. Ferrier. The neurologist Walter Russell Brain had consulting rooms in No. 86 (on the left) in the 1960s.This retains its rich Georgian interior and was home to Russian ambassadors after 1780, including Count Simon Woronzow and Prince Andreyevich Lieven.

    Nos 82 to 86 Harley Street. No. 84 in the centre was rebuilt in 1909 to designs by Claude W. Ferrier. The neurologist Walter Russell Brain had consulting rooms in No. 86 (on the left) in the 1960s. This retains its rich Georgian interior and was home to Russian ambassadors after 1780, including Count Simon Woronzow and Prince Andreyevich Lieven. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Originally, the doctor’s dependants occupied the remainder of the house above, but after families moved to the suburbs, houses might be converted or rebuilt as suites of consulting rooms for multiple medical occupation.

    40 and 42 Harley Street show the contrasting architectural taste of the 1890s (No. 42 on the left, by C. H. Worley) and 1930s (No. 40 on the right, by Charles W. Clark, architect to the Metropolitan Railway Company). No. 40 was designed to resemble a private house but provided suites of consulting rooms behind a modish Art Deco entrance hall. No. 42 decked in Worley's characteristic orange-pink terracotta was given Jacobean-style interior decor.

    Nos 40 and 42 Harley Street show the contrasting architectural taste of the 1890s (No. 42 on the left, by C. H. Worley, brother of Robert J. Worley) and 1930s (No. 40, on the right, by Charles W. Clark, architect to the Metropolitan Railway Company). No. 40 was designed to resemble a private house but provided suites of consulting rooms behind a modish Art Deco entrance hall. No. 42 decked in Worley’s characteristic orange-pink terracotta was given Jacobean-style interior decor. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    In the later twentieth century many consultants gave up their private rooms for the better-equipped universities and hospitals. In their place came alternative practitioners and aesthetic therapists for whom the individual consulting rooms in elegant domestic settings provided a soothing backdrop. In the latest conversions encouraged by the Howard de Walden Estate there has been a policy of reconstruction to create purpose-built consulting suites over reinforced basements, allowing the latest diagnostic equipment to be installed behind retained facades, which preserve the historic character of the district.

    Early twentieth century Birn Brothers postcard, poking fun at the Harley Street consultants and their patients. © H. Martin. Reproduced by permission of H. Martin

    Early twentieth century Birn Brothers postcard, poking fun at the Harley Street consultants and their patients. © H. Martin. Reproduced by permission of H. Martin

     

    Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street

    By the Survey of London, on 22 September 2017

    Daunt's Bookshop, Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Howard de Walden Estate and the Survey of London Historic England

    Daunt’s Bookshop, Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Howard de Walden Estate and the Survey of London. © Historic England

    Daunt’s in Marylebone High Street is a favourite destination for book lovers. With its top-lit gallery, a remarkable Edwardian survival, it has one of the most distinguished interiors in the country. James Daunt took over the premises in 1989–90, initially specializing in travel books, and expanded into the next-door shop in 1999. But there had been a bookshop here since 1860. At that time it was in the hands of Francis Edwards. He had married in 1855 Sarah Anne Stockley whose father, Gilkes Stockley, was a bookseller with a shop in Great Quebec Street near Portman Square. After the marriage, Edwards took over Stockley’s business and five years later, with a growing family, moved to the High Street. He took the lease of what was then No. 83A. It became No. 83, as it is now, in 1927 (until then the present 83A was No. 83).

    Detail of the gable of No. 83 Marylebone High Street photographed by Chris Redgrave

    Detail of the gable of 83 Marylebone High Street photographed by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    The High Street as it developed during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was as mixed in shopping and business character as any London high street. In the early 1830s Thomas Smith, in his invaluable Topographical and Historical Account of St. Mary-le-Bone, summed up its humdrum character in a single sentence: ‘The houses have nothing to recommend them in point of architectural beauty, being plain brick buildings; and from their having been built at various periods are destitute of uniformity; they are, however, principally occupied by respectable tradesmen’.

    Marylebone High Street, Daunt's bookshop and on the right No. 83 A built around 1859. Photographed by Chris Redgrave.

    Marylebone High Street, Daunt’s bookshop and on the right No. 83A, built around 1859. Photographed by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    There was some small-scale mid Victorian rebuilding of shops and public houses as leases expired, but nothing to alter radically the look of the street until the late nineteenth century when the Portland (later Howard de Walden) Estate began a systematic policy of complete rebuilding as the condition for renewing old leases. When Edwards moved to the High Street it was to a late eighteenth-century building, although the neighbouring premises to the north (the present 83A) had been rebuilt the year before.

    The top lit gallery at the back of No. 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave.

    The top-lit gallery at the back of 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    Originally specializing in theology, the shop expanded under the management of Francis’s son, also Francis, to become one of the country’s leading antiquarian bookshops. Theology gradually gave way to a new emphasis on travel, topography and maps. Business evidently thrived, as Edwards embarked on a no-expense-spared rebuilding in 1908. By that time the family was no longer living over the shop, having moved out to the London suburbs, first to Ruislip and then to Northwood. Edwards chose W. Henry White as his architect, among the best of a handful of architects regularly employed on rebuilding schemes on the estate around this time. At the same time White also designed No. 84, the adjoining property to the south, in a similar vein, and a few years earlier had designed Nos 70 and 71 (built in 1903–4).

     Arched window at the end of the gallery at 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave.

    Arched window at the end of the gallery at 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    Nos 83 and 84 are an unmatched pair in red brick with plentiful stone dressings topped off by shaped gables, in the commercial Queen Anne style favoured by the Estate. The date 1910 can be seen on a shield above the three arched windows lighting the attic of No. 83. The elegant shopfront with its central doorway flanked by large plate-glass display windows also has a side entrance providing access to the upper floors, all framed by pink granite piers and stall risers.

    Shopfront of 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave.

    Shopfront of 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave. ©Historic England

    Francis Edwards died in 1944, but the shop remained in the family until the late 1970s. The business was subsequently bought by Pharos Books in 1982 and the shop was briefly known as Read’s of Marylebone High Street. Francis Edwards still exists as an antiquarian bookseller’s, with premises at Hay-on-Wye and in Charing Cross Road.

    Pediment over the entrance to Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England.

    Pediment over the entrance to Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England.

    The recent series of Who Do You Think You Are, featuring Charles Dance noted that Dance’s ancestors the Futvoyes had an art shop at No. 83 High Street in the early nineteenth century, and the Howard de Walden archive shows that Charles Futvoye was granted a lease of No. 83 in 1819. This was, however, not on the site of the present No. 83. It may have been the present 83A, or a house further to the north, long since rebuilt.

    University of Westminster, Marylebone Road campus

    By the Survey of London , on 1 September 2017

    South-east Marylebone is the home of the University of Westminster, founded in 1992. Though dispersed, its four main sites were inherited by the new university from the Regent Street Polytechnic via the Polytechnic of Central London (1970–92) and were purpose-built at various stages in that institution’s development. Whilst the Regent Street site goes back to the 1830s and the Little Titchfield Street site to the 1920s; the New Cavendish Street and Marylebone Road sites, planned simultaneously, are consequences of the great expansion of British higher education facilities in the 1960s, when the purposes of polytechnics were being reviewed and enlarged.

    The science and engineering buildings in New Cavendish Street were farmed out to private architects in 1962, but the task of building the reformed polytechnic’s other two new faculties on the former Marylebone Workhouse or Luxborough Lodge site, was left to the LCC’s in-house staff. By the time this even grander project started on site, the LCC had become the Greater London Council and its education powers for central London had passed to the Inner London Education Authority. So the official credits for the buildings as erected in 1966–70 were as follows: designers, the GLC Architect’s Department, Education Section, with Michael Powell as chief education architect, Ron Ringshall as job architect and Frank Kinder and J. Buckrell as principal assistants; builders, Taylor Woodrow Ltd; client, the ILEA on behalf of Regent Street Polytechnic, from 1970 the Polytechnic of Central London.

    Architectural model of proposed redevelopment of Marylebone Road campus (University of Westminster Archives, UWA/RSP/7/a/4/2)

    Architectural model of proposed redevelopment of Marylebone Road campus (University of Westminster Archives, UWA/RSP/7/a/4/2)

    The nearly four-acre site consisted of an extensive frontage to Marylebone Road, with a fair depth of land behind accessible on the east from Luxborough Street. It dropped down at the back, tapering slightly towards Paddington Street Gardens. The southernmost portion, furthest from the noisy main road, was reserved for the public housing that the LCC politicians had insisted must form part of the redevelopment. This was conceived as a single tower block (Luxborough Tower), standing directly behind a thinner second tower to its north designated as a student hall of residence. The educational buildings were divided by the architects into three, all set over a continuous concrete podium 3ft above Marylebone Road, allowing a deep basement at the back where ground levels were lower. The main road frontage was entirely taken up by a long, linear teaching building, reserved in the first place for the college of architecture and advanced building technology. At a central point the lower storeys of this monumental frontispiece opened up into a courtyard, backed by a T-shaped building dedicated to communal and service facilities of various kinds ranging from lecture theatres and a library to engineering construction halls underneath. The third element, the college of management, occupied a simple north–south block parallel to the western boundary, defined by the rear of flats in Chiltern Street. These latter blocks were linked by covered ways at first-floor level to the student hostel at the back, which comprised 178 study-bedrooms and 40 larger bed-sitting rooms for management students – many of whom were expected to be mature, short-course students on release from industry. Under the lee of the T-shaped block and facing Luxborough Street an extra single-storey building was slipped in, a local office for district surveyors.

    The setting of these separate elements round paved open space, sturdily shielded from the main road, offered the Polytechnic a campus air it had not previously enjoyed. On the other hand the frontage itself struck an urban and triumphalist note, not rare in public-sector architecture of the 1960s. The concept was of a concrete megastructure, forceful enough to command attention on a major traffic artery, articulated by insistent horizontals for the accommodation against verticals for the circulation, bristling with expressed escape stairs at the two ends, and crowned by a hefty overhang along its full length. The priority given to the overhang, which straddles both sides of the front building, was symbolic, for here were located the architectural studios. The teaching of architecture had been to the fore throughout the pre-planning process. The section of these rooftop studios, taking up the fifth to seventh floors, therefore received the designers’ best attention; along each of the frontage’s four divisions between the circulation towers and stairs ran three interconnected levels, with spaces of differing length, width and height, and sundry provisions for side and top lighting. Unlike the New Cavendish Street spaces, they were neither double-glazed nor mechanically ventilated, and so were subject to road noise and pollution.

    University of Westminster, Marylebone Road campus, 2014 (HEA photograph DP177601)

    University of Westminster, Marylebone Road campus, 2014 (photograph by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London) © Historic England (DP 177601)

    By the time of the opening in 1970 of 35 Marylebone Road, as the complex was first formally known, the Polytechnic of Central London had just come into being. So long had elapsed since the early enthusiasm with which it had been planned that it was received with some weariness, reflected in the equivocal reviews of the buildings. The thirteen-year gestation ought to have resulted in a ’singularly beautiful birth. In the event it could be said to have been multiple and unadorned.’ So wrote Alan Diprose, a senior lecturer in building technology at the Polytechnic, in a scathing appraisal for the Architects’ Journal. He found fault with many features from the disposition of the library and the canteens to the blatant separation of the educational buildings from the council housing by means of a ‘70 metre high air gap … the two towers present their backsides to each other in a permanently rude gesture of disgust’. [1]

    University of Westminster student housing tower at the Marylebone Road campus (left) and Luxborough Tower, looking east, 2014 (HEA photograph DP177602)

    University of Westminster student housing tower at the Marylebone Road campus (left) and Luxborough Tower, looking east, 2014 (photograph by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London) © Historic England (DP177602)

    Marylebone Road had been first conceived as a monument to the integration of construction skills; the grandiose title ‘College of Architecture and Advanced Building Technology’, which survived till the opening, reflected that. But the removal of science and much of engineering from the project and the substitution of management studies undermined that technocratic purpose. The whole vision of a superschool in construction – a ‘National College of Architecture’ – was already fading when the LCC became the GLC in 1965, and was to vanish entirely as the public sector lost glamour. Certainly the facilities which the Regent Street Polytechnic’s School of Architecture inherited when it moved to Marylebone Road in 1970 were far superior to those it had enjoyed in Little Titchfield Street; it was probably the best equipped such school in Britain. But the final organization and remit of the college of architecture remained unsettled till the last moment, and left critics with a sense of fragmentation rather than the promised integration. Already it was being hinted at the time of the opening that polytechnic schools of architecture and construction had failed to differentiate themselves from their university counterparts, except by the lower pay of their staff.

    Courtyard of the Marylebone Road campus, c. 1971 (University of Westminster Archives, UWA/PCL/7/a/4/2/27)

    Courtyard of the Marylebone Road campus, c. 1971 (University of Westminster Archives, UWA/PCL/7/a/4/2/27)

    Since 1970 the site has seen both diversification and intensification of use. Architecture, construction and management are now among many topics taught at Marylebone Road under the University of Westminster, and the buildings have been several times altered and expanded to accommodate the various changes. The permeable front and paved court have disappeared, leaving very little of the site open to the elements. The most significant such changes were the infilling of the entrance void and erection of a canopy in 2002 by Dannatt, Johnson Architects, and their creation of the Hogg Lecture Theatre in the back block. This was followed in 2012 by a large-scale refurbishment by GM Rock Townsend, architects, which fully-roofed the open courtyard to create a new informal social learning space. Blighted by insensitive partitioning and subdivisions accumulated over the years, the open-plan layout of the architecture studios on the fourth and fifth floors was reinstated in 2015 by Jestico+Whiles, architects.

    Architecture studios, 2015 (© Richard McDonald, Jestico+Whiles)

    Architecture computer lab and lecture hall, 2015 (© Richard McDonald, Jestico+Whiles)

    Reference

    [1] Architect’s Journal, 2 June 1971, pp. 1245–64.

     

    Western District Post Office, 35–50 Rathbone Place (demolished)

    By the Survey of London, on 11 August 2017

    This, the second of our postal posts, is a complement to the story of the East London Mail Centre published here on 11 November 2016 with its mention of the narrow-gauge Post Office Underground Railway or ‘Mail Rail’. Since then, in July 2017, a section of Mail Rail has been restored to use and opened to the public at the Postal Museum at Mount Pleasant (see www.postalmuseum.org). This railway was a mail-transport line that connected Whitechapel to Paddington. Tunnels at a shallow depth (averaging around 70ft) and 9ft in diameter were built by John Mowlem and Company in 1914–17, though the tracks were not laid and equipment fitted until 1924–7 for what opened as the world’s first driverless electric railway.

    Another aspect of the line’s history relates to a site in south-east Marylebone, the area that is covered in the Survey of London’s forthcoming volumes 51 and 52, set for publication in late 2017. A site immediately above the mail-transport line in the West End, on the west side of Rathbone Place, suffered significant Second World War bomb damage. Despite the railway the Post Office faced growing problems with access and loading at its West End offices (Western Central District Office, New Oxford Street: Western District Office, Wimpole Street; and Western District Parcels Office, Bird Street). This was said after the war to pose ‘the worst postal accommodation problem in the country’.1 It led to a decision to replace the last two depots and their underground stations with a new Western District Office at Rathbone Place. The site was designated for compulsory acquisition to this end in the London County Council’s Development Plan of 1952, and passage of the Post Office Site and Railway Bill in 1954 enabled the purchase of 2.3 acres, in the event voluntary. With Sir William Halcrow & Partners as engineers the railway was expensively diverted from a diagonal south-east to north-west path across the site to take on an east–west line for a station with two platforms square to the intended building. The cut-and-cover underground works were carried out in 1956–9. Elbow room thus gained permitted a facility less like a Tube station than the line’s earlier stops. Designs for the building above were reworked in 1960 by Alan Dumble, a senior architect in the Ministry of Works. Its first, in the event only, eastern phase was largely up by 1963. The new Western District Office was opened on 3 August 1965 by the Postmaster General, Anthony Wedgwood (Tony) Benn.

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. View from north east. Taken for the Survey of London

    Former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place, from the north east. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    On the long Rathbone Place frontage the building’s concrete frame was expressed in a 28-bay grid between Portland stone-faced stair towers. The fourth storey was set back leaving the structural frame as openwork. Along the pavement, mural artwork was intended but never made. A plan to extend westwards, also not seen through, meant that the utilitarian rear elevation was left starkly open to view from Newman Street behind a large parking yard. Here art did eventually arrive – the flank wall of 15 Newman Street facing the Post Office yard, and Oxford Street beyond, was the site of Banksy’s ‘One Nation Under CCTV’ mural of 2008.

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. Postal vans in the basement. View from the south. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    Vans in the basement of the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Inside the post office a ramp led to a basement with parking for vans above the railway station. When new this was among the most mechanized post offices in Europe, with chain conveyors in the upper-storey sorting halls and spiral chutes to despatch mail down to the railway. Its opening coincided with the introduction of post codes and the use of electromechanical sorting machines. The fourth floor housed a canteen and other facilities for staff who numbered more than a thousand. A reconfiguration in 1974–6 provided a bar, games room and lounge, and incorporated stained glass and war memorials from antecedent post offices. A small aedicular Ionic War Memorial of c.1920, transferred from the Wimpole Street office, faced Rathbone Place from 1981 to 2013.

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. Stair. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    Staircase in the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. sorting floor. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    Sorting floor in the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. sorting floor. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    Sorting floor in the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. sorting floor. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    Sorting floor in the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. sorting floor. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    Sorting floor in the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. snooker table in recreation area. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    The long disused games room of the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Royal Mail Rathbone place sorting centre.Rathbone place, Marylebone, Greater London. Pool and snooker tables in recreation area. Taken for The Survey Of London.

    The games room of the former Western District Post Office, Rathbone Place. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    The railway closed in 2003 by which time staff numbers had begun a steep decline justified by decreases in demand for the post. Remaining postal services in what had become the West End Delivery Centre relocated to Mount Pleasant in 2013. This shift had been long in the planning and in 2011 the Royal Mail Group with PLP Architecture had proposed redevelopment of the whole site as ‘Newman Place’, offices, shops and housing with a diagonal pedestrian throughway. Later that year Royal Mail sold the site to Great Portland Estates, retaining an interest through a profit-sharing agreement. A new scheme was prepared and granted planning permission in 2013. This enlarged project, designed by Make Architects (Graham Longman, lead architect), has led to Rathbone Square, two L-plan blocks enclosing a central open garden or courtyard landscaped by Gustafson Porter and rising six to eight storeys for offices to the south-east, 162 dwellings to the north-west, with shops, restaurants and bars. The post office was demolished in 2014 and the new buildings have gone up since. The dormant Mail Rail line has been retained.

    1 – British Postal Museum and Archive, POST 20/23, GPO report, January 1954

    Berners Hotel, the London Edition

    By the Survey of London, on 21 July 2017

    Berners Street Hotel Berners street, Marylebone. Entrance. Taken by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of (c) London Historic England

    Berners Hotel, Marylebone, now the London Edition. Entrance. Photographed in 2013 by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    The Berners Hotel is a rare instance of continuity in the area around Berners and Newman Streets. Though the current building dates only from 1905–11, the hotel can be traced back to 1826. In that year the pair of houses at 6-7 Berners Street were converted from a bank into a hotel, involving the dismantling of a massive strong-room at the back constructed of iron and stone. The bank had been established in 1792 by the firm of De Vismes, Cuthbert, Marsh, Creed & Company. Later known as Marsh, Sibbald & Co., it failed notoriously when one of the partners, Henry Fauntleroy, was hanged for forgery in 1824.

    Berners Hotel. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Berners Hotel. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    No such notoriety was attached to the hotel. It was one of many, small family-run establishments in the vicinity of Oxford Street, where fashionable comers and goers mixed with longer-term residents. From the 1820s the private houses in Berners Street were increasingly being turned into lodging houses or shops. Pietro Rolandi’s Italian bookshop was one such at No. 20, a haven for literary and political exiles, which first opened in the same year as the hotel.

    Berners Street Hotel Berners street, Marylebone. Entrance lobby.Taken for Survey of London

    Berners Hotel entrance lobby. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    In 1880 the hotel’s then owner, Richard Kershaw, sold up to the Berners Hotel Company, which acquired building and fittings alike, barring a piano belonging to Miss Kershaw and an assortment of display cases of stuffed birds. The company lasted a decade, being sold on in 1890 through Thomas Ward, of the London Music Publishing Company, to Berners Hotel Ltd among whose subscribers journalists (Henry Sutherland Edwards and George Augustus Sala) and minor musicians were strong. The hotel was renovated, and shamelessly puffed by the new management for its association with Fauntleroy and its ‘interesting woodwork, carvings, painted ceilings, &c’. Appropriately, in 1895 Ward, its managing director, was charged with the Fauntleroy-like offence of forging bills of exchange to do with the supply of beer and spirits to the establishment.

    Berners Street Hotel Berners street, Marylebone. Entrance lobby.Taken for Survey of London

    Berners Hotel entrance lobby. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Not long afterwards another hotel opened near by in Newman Street, the York Hotel. Its manager was Emmeline Lawrence, known as Mrs Mary Clark. A Welshwoman of considerable ambition, she oversaw the expansion of the York Hotel and soon became manager of the Berners as well. Backed by a fresh company, the Hotel York Ltd, she determined to rebuild the Berners Hotel on a much-enlarged site. Slater & Keith were commissioned to design the new building, which went up in stages. The first part completed was at the back, at 82–83 Newman Street and 73–75 Eastcastle Street, wrapping round the Blue Posts pub at the corner. The second, much larger western phase hit a snag when two Eastcastle Street houses, scheduled for demolition but still occupied, collapsed in 1908, killing eight men, all Austrian, German, Italian or Swiss employees of the hotel. The management also fought but lost a long legal battle with the LCC about fire doors or screens in the hotel corridors.

    Berners Street Hotel restaurant interior, Berners street, Marylebone. view towards north west. Taken for Survey of London

    Berners Hotel restaurant interior, view towards north west. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    Once the rebuilding of the Berners Hotel had been completed in 1910, it was connected to the York Hotel by a subway under Eastcastle Street. The two hotels thus linked both had their main ground-floor public spaces facing west towards Berners Street, where spacious coffee rooms, lounges and main stairs were to be found. But they looked quite different. The York with its two corner tourelles belonged to the late Queen Anne manner affected by Slater in the 1890s, whereas the later and bigger block of the Berners, perhaps attributable to his partner Keith, is an altogether more pompous Edwardian production, neo-Georgian in style touched by Frenchness, with plenty of Portland stone and carving to set off the red brick, a pedimented entrance, and two storeys in the mansard roof. The lounge and coffee room were both double-height spaces, caked in opulent Edwardian plasterwork.

    Berners Street Hotel restaurant interior, Berners street, Marylebone. view towards south. Taken for Survey of London

    Berners Hotel restaurant interior, view towards the south. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    In 1912–13 Mary Clark tried to expand her hotel empire with an even larger scheme for the Princess’s Theatre site on Oxford Street, and in 1914–15 she ventured on a further new building at 74 Newman Street housing garages for her clients’ cars on two levels underneath five floors of open dormitories for maids. This landed her in financial trouble and she had to go. Under her successor, Henry L. Clark (no relation), the two hotels prospered. In the late 1920s hot and cold water, electric fires and phones were installed in every room; at this time the hotels claimed to be able to sleep 500–600 per night. The smaller York Hotel or Hotel York survived Government requisitioning in 1918 to acquire an extension designed by Slater & Moberly facing Newman Street (Nos 78–79) in 1932. But after it was requisitioned again during the Second World War it was not reopened, becoming a nurses’ home for the Middlesex Hospital in 1946, and then in 1997 a block of flats. The Hotel York Ltd maintained its independent management of the Berners Hotel till 1957.

    Berners Street Hotel Berners street, Marylebone. View of Stair from north west. Taken for Survey of London

    Berners Hotel, view of main stair from north-west. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    In 1972 the hotel was under threat, but following the intercession of John Betjeman (‘I don’t know who the architect was but he was somebody pretty good’) it was listed and survived. A long period of closure ended in 2013 when the Berners Hotel reopened as the London Edition, fully restored at the behest of Ian Schrager (as at the Sandersons Hotel), here working with ISC Design Studio and Marriott International. The main spaces have been generously restored but, as the management is keen to insist, ‘The London EDITION is no period piece … It is a potpourri of styles that only a sure hand could pull off’. [1]

    Berners Street Hotel Berners street, Marylebone. Plasterwork detail. Taken for Survey of London

    Plasterwork detail, Berners Hotel. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London © Historic England

    1.London Edition press release 2013

    Boulting & Sons

    By the Survey of London, on 19 May 2017

    At the corner of Riding House Street and Candover Street stands one of South East Marylebone’s architectural gems: a group of flats designed for T. J. Boulting & Sons. John Boulting & Son, furnishing ironmongers, were established perhaps as early as 1808 in two nearby houses. This is the date that is proudly displayed on the building, picked out in gold mosaic tiles along with the company name.

    Detail of 59-61 Riding House street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from southt. Taken for Survey of London

    Detail of 59-61 Riding House Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south. Taken for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Successive John Boultings died in 1863 and 1873, and a partnership dissolution between a third John and Thomas John Boulting was announced in 1879. Thereafter the firm was known as T. J. Boulting (& Sons).

    59-61 Riding House street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south west. Taken for Survey of London

    59-61 Riding House Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south west. Taken for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Among these sons was Percy Boulting, born about 1876 and seemingly architect-trained, to whose youthful aspirations the present buildings may well have been due. The firm had done well enough for members of the family, at first the father and then Percy’s brothers, to branch out into small property dealings on the Howard de Walden estate from the late 1890s. Naturally they took a special interest in rebuilding around their works. Their first venture appears to have been 40 Foley Street, a five-storey block of flats directly behind the Boultings’ address, built by John Anley in 1898. Its designers were then described as Clark & Hutchinson with Percy A. Boulting, in other words H. Fuller Clark and C. E. Hutchinson, two architects aged about 28 who had met in the office of Rowland Plumbe, plus the even younger Boulting. Later No. 40 was ascribed to Clark alone, and it is to him that the flamboyance of the Boultings’ cluster is usually credited. Clark’s masterpiece is the recasting of the Black Friar pub in the City; otherwise his work is little known, though he claimed to have a substantial practice.

    DP165743

    Flats built for Boultings at 40 Foley Street, designed by H. Fuller Clark, perhaps with H. E. Hutchinson and Percy A. Boulting. Taken for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Architecturally, No. 40 is an up-to-date but not eccentric performance which breaks into roughcast at second-floor level and terminates in two shaped gables. The plan follows the standard late Victorian arrangement in this quarter of two flats per floor, originally with a sanitary excrescence at the back in the form of a central stack of bays shared between two flats. Clark & Hutchinson promptly followed up in 1899 with a second block of flats opposite, Belmont House, 5–6 Candover Street, built this time by A. A. Webber. Here a similar plan is fronted in a weightier, fussier idiom, with a great belt of purple brickwork enveloping the first floor and a dab of Art Nouveau lettering.

    DP-165731

    Tower House, Candover Street. H. Fuller Clark and Percy Boulting, 1903-4. Taken for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Tower House, York House and Oakley House, encompassing the Boultings’ former premises and the Sir Isaac Newton pub on the corner, followed on in 1903–4. This time the architects were described as Fuller Clark and Percy Boulting, without Hutchinson: the builders were Smith & Co. of Mount Street. Again these are essentially five-storey flats, though the backs go one storey higher; here too were originally bare sanitary stacks of bay windows. The fronts are the reverse of bare. Among the tricks set to work are brickwork bands of startling hues, bay projections both canted and square, a bristling roofline and three separate fancily lettered mosaic panels advertising the Boultings firm and its wares (‘gas and electrical engineers’; ‘sanitary and hot water engineers’; ‘appliance and stove manufactory’).

    Detail of 59-61 Riding House street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south. Taken for Survey of London.

    Detail of 59-61 Riding House Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south. Taken for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    Colour was an evident preoccupation; originally three different cements were used, while the window joinery was all white apart from the bay windows, finished in stained oak. Despite the hint of Voysey about these elevations, they are entirely individual and indeed this building too was attributed to Clark alone when it was republished. The Boultings firm survived at 59 Riding House Street up until the 1960s. In 1978 the freehold of all their flats passed to the Community Housing Association, which employed Pollard, Thomas & Edwards, architects, to update them over the subsequent decade. Their changes included enlarging the sanitary bays at the back to form more generous kitchens.

    DP179720 - 59-61 Riding House Street detail

    Detail of 59-61 Riding House Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south. Taken for the Survey of London, by Lucy Millsom-Watkins © Historic England

     

    71–73 Great Portland Street

    By the Survey of London, on 28 April 2017

    Great Portland Street

    71-73 Great Portland Street, Joseph Emberton, architect, 1937. Photographed for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    This building is a little known work by Joseph Emberton, showrooms of 1937 that would have been more boldly Modernist but for compromises that arose from the fact that the freehold of this entire street block was held by the Crown.

    The site’s leaseholder from 1920 was Julius Turner (born Tanchan), who lived at 58 Portland Place and was a major figure in Great Portland Street’s motor trade through his control of Thorns. Turner stutteringly converted two shops for motor showrooms, first dubbed Crown Motors. In 1927 he asked the Crown Commissioners for a building lease at 71–77 Great Portland Street, wanting to build a ‘magnificent Motor Showroom’.  He was rebuffed. Trouble had been caused by his parking and washing of cars, ‘Mr Turner (who is a naturalized Polish Jew) is not a particularly desirable tenant’. A second approach in 1929 also failed, but a more modest proposal for refurbishment of Nos 71–73 for Thorns gained approval in 1931. Turner then fell ill, suffering what was called a nervous breakdown in 1933. He returned to the fray in 1934, submitting new plans for rebuilding Nos 71–73 as motor showrooms below workrooms and offices. His architect now was Emberton, and the scheme was bold.

    H. Meadows, the Commissioners’ architect, commented that ‘The proposed design conforms to present day architectural ideas of simplicity and utility. It is in contrast with its surroundings and for this reason is somewhat incongruous. The flat surfaces of the façade to the upper storeys in one plane rests apparently on the glass of the shop fronts of the ground floor and this has the effect of making the building appear to be lacking in adequate support. This is particularly emphasised on the angle of the building which is shown as a solid mass of walling unsupported by a curved plate-glass window.’ Told that the Crown could not object much more than to ask that ‘they adopt small letters instead of the monsters’, Meadows persevered in shriller terms: ‘the design violates the canons of good architectural composition by failing to satisfy the eye that the structure is self-supporting and therefore structurally sound … [it is] lacking in the element of apparent truthfulness, which is the indispensable quality of all good architecture. The proposals are of a revolutionary character architecturally and it is difficult to foresee what the reaction of the public is likely to be.’

    The project, which proposed a dark vitrolite cladding, like that of Fleet Street’s Daily Express building, anticipated Emberton’s designs for Simpsons Piccadilly by a year. Emberton was ready to compromise when the delays were deplored by Turner in May 1935 at which point he, with his brother Joshua Philip Turner and Harold Gershom Vickers, was fined £1,010 for under-declaring the value of four imported cars and thereby defrauding Customs of £453. The Crown Lands Advisory Committee, which included Raymond Unwin and Frank Pick, made no objections to Emberton’s design other than to a proposed seventh storey and to the vitrolite cladding, suggesting stone or reconstructed stone instead. Turner, who had relaunched as the Lansdown Trust, was given new leases in 1936 but his desire for a reduction in rent caused further delay. Meadows urged Portland stone cladding, but Emberton pointed out that Great Portland Street was ‘mostly a brick street’ and suggested yellow brick, with the shopfront to be clad in the Empire Stone Company’s artificial Portland stone. The showroom and workroom building went up in 1937, with Dorman Long & Co. steelwork, Hunziker bricks (new to the UK), and John Knox (Bristol) Ltd as builders.

    Motor showroom use was short-lived and the building stood empty after the war. Numerous and miscellaneous occupants since have come mainly from the garment trades, but have also included artificial-flower makers and, in the early 1970s, Hermes Computing Services Ltd’s punched-card service bureau. The ground floor has been reshaped and the building has lately been occupied by Motel, a fashion label.

    (all quotes are from The National Archives, CRES35/2962)

     

    ‘Portland House’: Robert Adam’s unexecuted designs for the Duke of Portland’s London residence

    By the Survey of London, on 7 April 2017

    The Adam brothers’ celebrated street improvements at Mansfield Street and Portland Place, carried out from the 1760s on the Marylebone estate of the Dukes of Portland, are among the many significant buildings covered by the Survey of London’s forthcoming volumes on South-East Marylebone. Less well-known, however, is the detached mansion that Robert Adam designed around 1770–2 as a new London residence for the 3rd Duke, to stand on a large site on New Cavendish Street, looking down Mansfield Street. Though it was never built, its story can be pieced together from designs in the collection of Adam office drawings at Sir John Soane’s Museum – the principal resource today for anyone wishing to study the work of the Adam brothers.

    William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. An engraving of 1785 after Sir Joshua Reynolds’ portrait of the Duke. British Museum, Prints & Drawings Dept (museum no. 1902,1011.3545) © Trustees of the British Museum

    William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738–1809), had recently married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, daughter of the 4th Duke of Devonshire, and was already embarked upon a career as a statesman that would see him appointed 1st Lord of the Treasury (the equivalent of today’s prime minister) on two occasions, in 1783 and 1807–9. But although he had succeeded to his father’s title in 1762, the 3rd Duke did not immediately inherit all his estates. By the terms of his father’s and grandmother’s wills, the Duke’s mother, Lady Margaret Cavendish-Harley Bentinck, the Dowager Duchess (1715–85), retained a life interest in the family’s lucrative Cavendish lands, and she also held on to her husband’s house in Whitehall – leaving her son short of funds and without a London residence. The situation was exacerbated by strained relations between the two. They argued over country seats, in the end engineering a ‘house swap’ (she favoured Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire, he preferred Welbeck, Nottinghamshire), and failed to see eye to eye on politics as well as family finances. The Duke was a Rockingham Whig, intent on curbing what he perceived to be an increase in royal powers under George III; she numbered the king and queen among her friends, and was especially close to John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, the royal favourite and prime minister in 1762–3, a man whom her son vehemently distrusted. The Duke complained to anyone who would listen that he was required to pay rent for a London house when he should have had access to the ducal residence in Whitehall. And so a new, Adam-designed townhouse at the head of Mansfield Street would suit his intended station as a leading politician and also act as a focus for his fast-improving Marylebone estate.

    Portrait busts of William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland, at centre, his wife Lady Margaret Cavendish-Harley at left, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu at right, in ovals, with coats of arms below, allegorical objects between, curtains at left and above, in ornamental frame. From a drawing by Vertue after a painting by Zincke, 1739. British Museum, Prints & Drawings Dept (museum no. 1849,1031.70), © Trustees of the British Museum

    In its size and scale the house that Adam designed, intended to be known as Portland House, was more like a country pile than a townhouse. In this and in certain elements of its internal planning it shared similarities with Lansdowne House, Adam’s first big private London commission, designed initially for Lord Bute but finished after his fall from favour in 1763 for his rival, another future prime minister, William Petty Fitzmaurice (1737–1805), 2nd Earl of Shelburne, later Marquess of Lansdowne.

    Adam’s designs for Portland House were for a rectangular, two-storey block set within extensive grounds, with a garden to the rear and an entrance courtyard in front. The house itself would have been a fairly standard neo-Palladian affair, with seven central bays recessed behind projecting three-bay end wings. The entrance front was marked by a central portico with columns of what look like Adam’s favourite ‘Spalatro’ order – an invention of his own, based on a late-Roman capital he had seen in the Peristyle of the Emperor Diocletian’s Palace at Spalato on the Dalmatian coast (now Split, Croatia).

    ‘Principal Front of a House for His Grace the Duke of Portland’. Adam office elevation of c. 1770–2. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Adam vol. 29/2. Reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum

    Portland House was to have had a lower ground floor given over mostly to servants’ rooms and storage, but with a gentleman’s library in a bowed room at the rear, and a bedchamber for the Duke and ‘Book room’ alongside. The principal state rooms were placed centrally on the floor above, with dressing rooms for the Duke and Duchess to either side. These connected with the little single-storey bays shown in shadow at each side of the mansion in the elevation, where there were to be powdering and retiring rooms, privies and water closets. There would have been further rooms on the first floor and in an attic within the hipped roof.

    One of a pair of Adam office plans shows a proposed design for the house’s lower ground floor, with a rectangular courtyard in front, lined with coach-houses and stables on one side, kitchens, sculleries and more service buildings on the other. This plan matches the elevation, and shows how the portico served as a porte-cochère, with a curved ramp for coaches leading up to the main entrance. Also, in this plan an entrance screen wall and gateway is set quite a way back from the road, with more stabling and coach-houses in front.

    Plan of the Ground Story of a House for His Grace the Duke of Portland’. Adam office design of c. 1770–2. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Adam vol. 29/4. Reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum

    A first-floor plan offers an alternative arrangement, for a far more dramatic circular courtyard, surrounded by a roofed and colonnaded walkway. An accompanying section shows how this colonnade connected directly to the house, dispensing with the portico. This arrangement required further alterations to the design of the house, with windows at a higher level on the piano nobile, to allow light to enter the main rooms above the courtyard structure. Apparently this was the design chosen by the Duke.

    ‘Plan of the Principal Story of a House and Offices, For His Grace The Duke of Portland’. Adam office design of c. 1770–2. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Adam vol. 29/5. Reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum

     

    ‘Section through The Gateway, Circular Court and Body of the House, For His Grace The Duke of Portland, Fronting Mansfield Street’. Adam office design of c. 1770–2. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Adam vol. 29/3. Reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum

    The Adams had been experimenting with colonnaded courtyards in house designs since the 1750s. Although their prime inspiration was always Italy, and in particular ancient Rome, there is a heavy debt to French plan-types, particularly Parisian hôtels, in their mansion schemes of the early 1760s. An unexecuted house of c.1764, intended for Lord Shelburne near Hyde Park Corner, was set behind a large front court, as was another design of the same date for a house for Lord Holland at The Albany, Piccadilly. Also, an early Adam brothers’ plan of around 1767 for the house they built for General Robert Clerk at the south end of Mansfield Street, facing Duchess Street, had the lower part of the house arranged in a curve and fronted by a semicircle of columns forming a carriage-way, in a similar manner to Portland House.

    ‘Gateway for Portland House’, Adam office design of c. 1770–2. This worked-up office version, with doors in the centre of the curved linking walls rather than windows, probably matches the rectangular courtyard plan for the house as shown in the ground-floor plan reproduced above. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Adam vol. 29/6. Reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum

    Other surviving drawings include an office elevation of a screen wall and gateway to stand on New Cavendish Street in front of the courtyard, in the form of a triumphal arch, closing the vista up Mansfield Street. A second version, in pen and pencil, apparently in Robert Adam’s own hand, has detailed measurements added to it, in preparation for drawing up estimates.

    Design for a gateway for Portland House. This rendition in pen and pencil, in Robert Adam’s own hand, has had measurements added to help with working out an estimated cost, as mentioned in Robert Adam’s letter of February 1772 to the Duke, quoted above. Sir John Soane’s Museum, Adam vol. 51/98. Reproduced by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum

    As the Duke was both short of funds and overindulgent in his spending, a house on such a scale was evidently beyond his means. Unfortunately, the scheme also coincided with a reversal in the Adam family’s own fortunes, brought on by their attempts to develop the Adelphi and Portland Place at the same time. The Portland House project was still in hand in February 1772, when Robert Adam wrote to the Duke with a price for the ‘great gate’, porter’s lodges and some of the circular walls, and he sounded hopeful of further progress:

    as Your Grace was so good as say, you would do every thing that should be necessary, to finish the end of the street, towards Your Grace’s House. I have therefore got an Estimate made of the great gate & porter’s lodges, with the circular walls that form the Entrance, & now take the liberty to send it enclosed, that Your Grace may consider it & if approved of, it will be of great Service, both to your Grace’s estate & to us, to be allowed to proceed with it this Season. [1]

    But within a year the project had been dropped and the Duke was happy to let part of the site to the builder–developer John White for houses on the east side of Harley Street. The ground fronting New Cavendish Street was then leased by the Duke and the Adams to the architect-builder John Johnson, who erected the present Nos 61–63 there in 1775–6 (these will be the subject of a future blog post).

    For a time around 1773–4 the Adams seem to have considered re-siting their ‘hotel’ for the Duke of Portland to the west side of Portland Place, where they had been planning at least two other very large aristocratic houses, for the Dukes of Kerry and Findlater, but this plan also failed to materialize, and the Duke of Portland when in London continued to live mostly at Burlington House, courtesy of the Duke of Devonshire. In 1807, when he was made 1st Lord of the Treasury for the second time, the Duke moved to 10 Downing Street, which was then as now the official residence of the 1st Lord of the Treasury (not the prime minister, though in modern times the same person has usually occupied both posts).

    The Adams must have remained on reasonably friendly terms with the Duke, as they were allowed to continue to work on Portland Place, even though its completion was delayed until the 1790s by unfavourable economic conditions and the Adam brothers’ own financial problems; by then both Robert and James Adam were dead. Their cause may have been aided by the Duke’s friendship with their nephew, the Rt Hon William Adam of Blair Adam, the son of Robert and James’s older brother John Adam. A lawyer and advocate by training, and later a judge, he was one of the 3rd Duke’s great allies in the Whig party when it came to boosting party morale and raising funds in preparations for the general election of 1790.

    Acknowledgement

    Special thanks are due to Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings at Sir John Soane’s Museum, for supplying the images of the Adam designs for the Duke of Portland’s house; these are reproduced here by courtesy of the Trustees of the Soane Museum. The catalogue entries for these drawings in the Adam office collection at the Soane can be found by following this link. A discussion of the designs also features in Fran’s book Robert Adam’s London, published to accompany the exhibition of that name recently held at the museum. See here for further details.

    Reference

    1. University of Nottingham, MSS and Special Collections, PwF 35

     

     

    The Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street

    By the Survey of London, on 17 March 2017

    The present synagogue was built to designs by C. Edmund Wilford & Sons in 1956–8, replacing its bomb-damaged predecessor of 1869–70.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland street, Marylebone, Greater London. Exterior view from north east. Taken for the Survey of London.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. Exterior view from north east. Taken in 2013 for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    Jewish West Enders were obliged until well into the nineteenth century to attend long-established places of worship in the City of London, notably the Great Synagogue in Duke’s Place, Aldgate. In 1842 the Reform congregation broke this tradition with a modest synagogue in Burton Street, Bloomsbury, moving to Margaret Street in 1849. Fearing loss of worshippers to this convenient address, the Committee of the Great Synagogue agreed in 1850 to fund a new branch synagogue in the West End. The site selected lay behind 43–47 Great Portland Street, but the building there soon proved too small and could not be extended. In 1866 a Great Synagogue subcommittee headed by Sir Anthony de Rothschild was appointed to find a new site near by and build afresh for 800 worshippers, with two ministers’ houses attached. They promptly secured the houses at 133–141 Great Portland Street. The budget was ample, as the synagogue was prospering; Messrs Rothschild had promised £4,000. The committee decided against a competition and chose as architect Nathan Solomon Joseph, son-in-law to Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi and creator of the United Synagogue, the federation to which the Central, as the congregation was by now called, adhered from 1870. Joseph presented a Moorish design in 1867, arguing that Gothic and Classical styles were both unsuitable, whereas the Moresque was well adapted to an ‘ecclesiastical’ building yet had advantages of ‘elasticity’ and economy. He was asked to present an alternative Italianate version, but the original was preferred, with modifications. That design was built in 1869–70.

    Survey of London (Marylebone). 40-36 Hallam Street, Westminster, London. View from west.

    40-36 Hallam Street, Westminster, London. View from west. Photographed in 2014 by Lucy Millson-Watkins for the Survey of London © Historic England

    The Central has been described as the first thoroughly Oriental-style synagogue, not just in Britain but beyond. The Great Portland Street front was an eccentric confection in brick and two types of stone, culminating at the north end in a tower-like feature over an entrance porch with a horseshoe arch. The interior, spacious, high and light, faced south like the present building, culminating in a richly decorated apsidal space for the ark. Windows and arches were round-headed, with an orientalizing horseshoe profile above the arches over the galleries, and round clerestory lights incorporating Star-of-David tracery. Cast-iron columns, painted at first, marble-clad from 1876, carried the galleries and roof, which was divided by ribs. The rabbis’ houses at the back along Hallam Street (Nos 36–40) survive, their two-tone brickwork and Moorish detail having a hint of the Great Mosque at Cordoba.Embellishments took place over the years, the grandest being the replacement of the central almemar with an elaborate new one in marble, presented in 1928 by the 2nd Lord Bearsted in memory of his parents; Joseph’s original almemar (or bimah) was relegated to the Margate synagogue. But the building was burnt out by a fire bomb on 10 May 1941, the congregation returning to a temporary building on the site in 1948.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street,Marylebone, Greater London, Interior view from south east.Taken for the Survey of London.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. Interior view from south east. Photographed in 2013  for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    Meanwhile plans for a full rebuilding were hatching. The architects Shaw & Lloyd worked up a radical proposal in 1947, with the synagogue turned across the axis from Great Portland Street to Hallam Street, set over social space and flanked by narrow courts, with a taller block at the back facing Hallam Street, presumably for letting. Having done all the war-damage costings and negotiations, in 1954 S. John Lloyd presented a fresh scheme for a 1,028-seater, to be built of reinforced concrete with a Portland stone front to Great Portland Street.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street,Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of theTebah from north east. Taken for the Survey of London.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of the Tebah from north east. Photographed in 2013 for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    There were tensions at this juncture, as the United Synagogue authorities were pressing for a fresh place of worship at Marble Arch and the abandonment of the Central. Isaac Wolfson and his son Leonard, resident in Portland Place, resolved things by offering £25,000 towards rebuilding the Central, which meant that, with war-damage compensation, rebuilding would cost the congregation little. The United Synagogue sent a long list of possible architects to the building committee, who shortlisted three, not including Shaw & Lloyd. At Leonard Wolfson’s request they added an outsider, C. Edmund Wilford. It seems that Wilford had shown him some sketches which, United’s president Ewan Montague agreed, showed ‘a most interesting approach to the theme of Synagogue architecture which hitherto in our experience has tended to be somewhat hackneyed’. But when Wilford was confirmed and met the building committee, he was told that the external elevation ‘should be on traditional lines’. [1]

    Wilford had made a name with cinemas before the war. He had no known connection with the Jewish community, but may have worked for the Wolfsons’ company, Great Universal Stores. He and his assistants were directed to look at synagogues in London and perhaps also Venice. The result, built by Tersons Ltd in 1956–8, was a conventional, dignified building with close correspondences to its predecessor but an internal touch of cinematic glamour.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street,Marylebone, Greater London. Detail showing Torah Ark. Taken for the Survey of London.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail showing Torah Ark. Photographed in 2013 for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    The Great Portland Street façade is mainly clad in Portland stone, but the plinth and the columns flanking the high and hooded windows are of red Swedish granite. At the north end the entrance doors are set back in a high frame clad in gold mosaic. There is also a subsidiary entrance from Hallam Street. The galleried interior gives a powerful impression of height and restrained opulence.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street,Marylebone, Greater London. View of east windows. Taken for the Survey of London.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View of east windows. Taken for the Survey of London in 2013 by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    The focus is on the ark at the south end, which stands in an outer surround of red mosaic embellished by flanking lions on tall pillars of gold and an inner frame of Sienna marble. The bronze metalwork to the ark doors and elsewhere, made by the Brent Metal Company, is strong, spiky and characteristically 1950s. The other main feature is the almemar, clad in red marble, with attached panels carved in low relief.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street,Marylebone, Greater London. Detail showing east stained glass window. Taken for the Survey of London

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail showing east stained glass window. Photographed in 2013 for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave.  © Historic England

    After completion, the synagogue windows were filled over a fifteen-year period with colourful glass made by Lowndes & Drury to designs by David Hillman. There is a hall below the worship area, and the circulation spaces including the stairs to the galleries are generous.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street,Marylebone, Greater London. View of stair. Taken for the Survey of London.

    Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View of stair. Photographed in 2013 for the Survey of London by Chris Redgrave. © Historic England

    Reference

    [1] London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/26712/15/2334

    South-East Marylebone Old and New

    By the Survey of London, on 24 February 2017

    In 2017 the Survey of London will publish two volumes (Nos 51 and 52) covering a large swathe of the parish of St Marylebone, an area comprising much of the West End north of Oxford Street, otherwise bounded by Marylebone High Street and the Marylebone Road, west and north, and Cleveland Street and Tottenham Court Road to the east. Like many of London’s place-names, Marylebone means different things to different people. To some it connotes the Marylebone Road and its penumbra, scarred by grinding traffic, to others the area adjacent to the two Marylebone Stations, main-line and underground, while those with a sense of civic history may call to mind a once-proud parish stretching from Oxford Street through St John’s Wood to the edge of Kilburn. By far the most famous association is with Lords, and the Marylebone Cricket Club founded in 1787. But the enduring image of Marylebone as a district is of the grid of alternating streets and mews, leavened by the occasional square, that picks up the West End’s uncertain structure beyond Oxford Street and shakes it into order and urbanity.

    The aura of south-east Marylebone is various. Time-honoured medical connections have bequeathed cosmopolitanism and gravity to the central grid. Here patients for private clinics or guests at serviced apartments and hotels alight at the kerbside, chauffeurs linger on the qui vive for parking attendants, and pedestrians scurry rather than saunter, pressed forward by the rhythm of the streets. A mundane mews behind may be disrupted by a vision of nurses on tea-breaks clad in overall green, or a lorry backing in with oxygen canisters. Marylebone High Street and its boutiques draw their constituency of well-heeled shoppers and loafers. Yet Paddington Street Gardens and Marylebone Churchyard close by convey an air of ease, with old people reflective on benches or gaggles of schoolchildren on the grass. Lunchtime sprawlers in Cavendish Square are different – a mélange of shop assistants, office workers and tourists taking their breaks. On the fringes of Fitzrovia, the livelier portions of Great Titchfield Street and its surroundings exude conviviality, mixing pubs, small shops and cafés even now not all gentrified, patronized by the copious media businesses that have spread outwards from the BBC and taken over the premises of the dwindling garment trade.

    Parts of south-east Marylebone have resisted change during the last century. The following photographs taken by Bedford Lemere & Co. at the turn of the nineteenth century are shown alongside recent photographs by Chris Redgrave.

    Debenham and Freebody department store during construction, 27–37 Wigmore Street, in 1907 (Historic England Archive)

    Former Debenham and Freebody department store, Wigmore Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from north west.

    Former Debenham and Freebody department store, 27–37 Wigmore Street, in 2013 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    The south side of Wigmore Street offers a sudden change in scale and monumentality with the silvery bulk of No. 33, built as headquarters for the drapery business of Debenham & Freebody in 1906–7. A public offer was made in 1907 to help pay for a grand reconstruction of the Wigmore Street premises, ‘rambling and incoherent’ after 90 years of piecemeal development. The London Scots architects William Wallace and James Glen Sivewright Gibson were chosen to design the new building. The frontage was conceived as symmetrical across the whole of the block, but because of the bank there is an extra bay at the west end, devoted originally to a discrete fur shop. A giant arcade runs across the ground and first floor, with plate-glass windows to what were originally single large shops either side of the entrance, their semi-circular tops lighting the first-floor showrooms. Three segmental pediments top three bays set slightly forward with paired giant-order Corinthian columns of grey-green Truro marble forming a vestigial screen to the third and fourth floors. Decoration is mostly channelled ‘stone’ work to the first floor, applied garlands, and two seated female figures within the central pediment, all executed in Doulton’s Carrara Ware. Crowning all is a columned lantern-turret on an octagonal plinth.

    46 and 48 Portland Place in 1903 (Historic England Archive)

    Howard de Walden Project. General view with 46 & 48 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. View from north west.

    46 and 48 Portland Place in 2013 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Nos 34–60 is the best run of surviving Adam-period houses in Portland Place, still with its eye-catching stuccoed and pedimented central pair at Nos 46 and 48, with their ingenious mirrored angled entrance doors. It is here that one gets the strongest sense of the Adam brothers’ original palace-front design concept. Various alterations have changed the appearance of the middle pair at Nos 46 and 48, marring though not completely obliterating the powerful original composition. Its crowning balustrade has gone but for once, when the upper floor was extended around 1870, rather than building up the front wall as elsewhere in the street, the builders left the central pediment in situ, with an enlarged mansard roof and dormers rising behind. Like its partner opposite (No. 37, now demolished), this façade was faced entirely in stucco and decorated with a frieze, pilasters, roundels and characteristic Adam panels of griffins and urns of the same material. Unusually the rusticated ground floor has the windows flanking the entrance set within relieving arches. Particularly elegant is the shared entrance within a shallow apse under a segmental arch, with the two doorways set at an angle.

    28 Portland Place in 1903 (Historic England Archive)

    28 Portland Place in 2013. (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    28 Portland Place in 2015 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    No. 28 Portland Place retains its Adam pediment and Ionic pilasters (though both were raised in the nineteenth century to accommodate an extra storey), as well as a later Doric entrance porch. Despite many changes it still exudes an aura of old-world elegance. Though it was sold by the Goslings to the Institute of Hygiene in 1928 and has been in institutional or corporate use ever since, No. 28 is still a first-rate example of a London society townhouse adapted and added to over time by one family. The interiors have survived well, of which the most notable is an exceptionally fine ballroom, comprising a suite of linked first-floor drawing rooms fitted out in an elaborate late-Victorian Adam Revival style, with an abundance of painted and gilded plaster decorations and a figurative front-room chimneypiece in the manner of Wyatt.

    11 Harley Street in 1903 (Historic England Archive)

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    11 Harley Street in 2013 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    9 and 11 Harley Street are tall red-brick rebuildings, of 1891 and 1886 respectively, in similar styles, with plentiful stone dressings and pediments. No. 9 was designed by F. M. Elgood as a speculation for W. H. Warner (of Lofts and Warner, estate agents). Elgood was also involved in the design of No. 11, one of his earliest works in the area, whilst still in partnership with Alexander Payne (to whom he was articled) as Payne & Elgood. Their client was the physician and surgeon William Morrant Baker. The building was extended to the rear in 1906 for another doctor, the dermatologist J. M. H. McLeod. Stone figures on the gable were removed in 1937.

     

    Bedford & Co. offices at 24 Wigmore Street in 1894, No. 22 to the right (Historic England Archive)

    18–20 Wigmore Street in 2014. (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    18–24 Wigmore Street in 2014 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Nos 18–22 Wigmore Street were built by Holloway Brothers in 1892–3 to the designs of Leonard Hunt, as showrooms and offices for the piano manufacturer John Brinsmead & Sons. The business, founded in 1837, moved to No. 18 (then 4) in 1863 and subsequently expanded into 20 and 22. The works moved from Charlotte Street to Kentish Town in 1870, and by 1893 produced around 3,000 pianos a year. Hunt’s building, expensively finished with mahogany panelling and leaded glass, was ‘one of the sights of fashionable London’. The ground floor was given over to display space, divided by a hallway with pavement lights illuminating basement showrooms, the upper floor comprising offices and chambers. In 1895 a recital room was added at the back of the basement, seating 130. Lit from two sides with leaded windows, it had mirrored columns and fully-tiled walls. Bedford & Company, surveyors, had offices next door at No. 24. Brinsmeads went out of business in 1922, but was re-established at 17 Cavendish Square in 1924. Lloyds Bank acquired the Wigmore Street building, creating a strong room within the former recital room, and subletting the western shop, which retains a 1928 neo-Georgian bronze shopfront fitted for the opticians Curry & Paxton. The upper floors were converted to flats in 1933.

    34 Weymouth Street in 1910 (Historic England Archive)

    34 Weymouth Street in 2014. (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    34 Weymouth Street in 2014 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    On the other side of Upper Wimpole Street, of 1908 in a strong, shaped-gable style, is 34 Weymouth Street, by F. M. Elgood for the developer W. H. Warner. Here the gables have oculus windows with attractively sculpted stone surrounds and festoons beneath, the work of A. J. Thorpe, who was also responsible for the carved stone consoles to the door surround.

    30–31 Wimpole Street in 1917 (Historic England Archive)

    30 wimpole street and New Cavendish Street corner 8 bit

    30–31 Wimpole Street (left) and 30a and 30b New Cavendish Street (right) in 2014 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Though treated as one architectural piece, this large and imposing Portland stone corner block of 1910–12, extending round the corner into New Cavendish Street, appears to have been a joint redevelopment and was built as four separate ‘houses’, each originally comprising doctors’ consulting rooms on the lower floors and residential accommodation above. The two properties facing Wimpole Street (originally numbered 30 & 31) were designed by F. M. Elgood, working for the developer Samuel Lithgow. But the two houses fronting New Cavendish Street (30a & 30b) were by Banister Fletcher & Sons, acting for Dr James Lennox Irwin Moore, who had consulting rooms at 30a – and it was these two ‘doctors’ houses’ that attracted attention in the architectural press. The style is a muscular free Jacobethan, with mullioned and transomed windows, and a stone balcony resting on decoratively carved console brackets, all topped off by pedimented gables with deep modillion eaves  – offering a strong contrast to Wimpole House opposite, with its dressing of florid salmon-pink terracotta. The composition is stylistically dissimilar to most of the Edwardian buildings on the Howard de Walden estate (and is none the worse for that) but there are a few oddities about the design. For instance, above the deep modillion cornice on the New Cavendish Street elevation, instead of gables as elsewhere, broad dormers flank a flat-roofed pavilion with a concave façade in what appears to be Bath stone but is probably coloured render. In terms of their construction, the buildings made use of expanded-steel reinforced concrete, with interiors awash with oak panelling and polished oak to the floors and staircases.

    In advance of the publication of Volumes 51 and 52 of the Survey of London, on South-East Marylebone, in 2017, the draft chapters have been made freely available online.