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    Archive for the 'South-East Marylebone' Category

    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.

    37 Harley Street

    By the Survey of London, on 9 September 2016

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England). 

    Perhaps one of the most widely admired late-nineteenth century buildings in South East Marylebone is 37 Harley Street, built in 1897-9 to designs by Arthur Beresford Pite. It is remarkably different from the houses and flats around it, and when newly built the architectural press proclaimed it to be ‘nothing short of a revolution in Harley Street architecture’.

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of oriel window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).  

    Marylebone was once the heartland of Beresford Pite’s London buildings, and his office was just around the corner at No.48 where he added turquoise mosaic tiles to the ground-floor front. Many of his Marylebone buildings have gone, although his earlier 82 Mortimer Street survives, with its still arresting sculptural window treatment. At both houses Pite was working with a local building firm, Matthews Brothers. But while the Mortimer Street house was built with a specific client in mind, the anaesthetist Dudley Buxton, this one in Harley Street was a speculation. This was a boom time for medicine in the area, when houses were being snapped up by physicians and surgeons as homes with consulting rooms, and so it was designed with that end in mind.

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of bay window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The Georgian house that formerly stood at this corner was narrow and relatively small, without back yard or mews. By shifting the main entrance from Harley to Queen Anne Street (without altering the address) Pite created a more open and versatile layout within. But the real charm of the building is on the outside, in the use of warm Bath stone, a rarity hereabouts, and the harmonious integration of the architectural sculpture that adorns it. It is not bold and thrusting, as in the Mortimer Street figures, but sinuous and restrained.

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of bas-relief panel by Schenck depicting anatomy (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The success of the sculptural element can be ascribed at least in part to the close collaboration between architect and carver. The many bas-relief panels of allegorical figures are the work of the architectural sculptor Frederick E. E. Schenck. Low-relief friezes on the bay windows are arranged with figurative subjects, flanked by flowing branches and leaves, representing Grammar, Astronomy, Justice and Philosophy, with Poetry represented by Homer. A dramatic winged figure atop the oriel symbolises Fame.

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of Schenck panels on the oriel window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The first occupants in 1901 were (Sir) Edward E. Cooper, an underwriter (later deputy chairman) at Lloyds, talented amateur singer, chairman of the Royal Academy of Music and future Lord Mayor, and his wife (Lady) Leonora.

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of the iron railings (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The Coopers later moved out to Hampshire and by 1905 the surgeons Edred Moss Corner and (Sir) Percy William George Sargent were both practising and resident here; Corner’s son, the botanist Edred John Henry Corner (d. 1966) was born at No. 37 in January 1906. Other medical men associated with the building included the surgeons Sir Henry John Gauvain and Sir James Cantlie, both in the 1920s.

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

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of coloured glass in the circular window in the door (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    Though now subdivided and in mixed residential and office use, the building  retains much of its original character.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, first-floor landing with Pite-designed stair balustrade and coloured glass in landing window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, first-floor landing with Pite-designed stair balustrade and coloured glass in landing window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    Text taken largely from the draft chapter from the forthcoming South East Marylebone volumes, which can be found online here.

    Cavendish Square 5: the Duke of Cumberland’s statue

    By the Survey of London, on 19 August 2016

    This is the fifth instalment in an occasional series of posts about Cavendish Square. John Stewart’s Critical Observations on the Buildings and Improvements of London (1771) said of Cavendish Square that ‘the apparent intention here was to excite pastoral ideas in the mind; and this is endeavoured to be effected by cooping up a few frightened sheep within a wooden pailing; which, were it not for their sooty fleeces and meagre carcases, would be more apt to give the idea of a butcher’s pen’. This was a satirical allusion to the square’s new statue of the Duke of Cumberland, the ‘Butcher of Culloden’, commander at that final and decisive defeat of the Jacobite rising in 1746. All the same, the square was indeed let to a butcher for grazing.

    Critical Obs

    John Stewart’s Critical Observations, 1771.

    The gilt lead equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland had been erected in 1770 at the cost of Lt. Gen. William Strode, who had fought under and befriended the Duke, and whose own memorial in Westminster Abbey records him as ‘a strenuous assertor of Civil and Religious Liberty’. At the time Strode lived on Harley Street, on the north-east corner with Queen Anne Street. The Duke’s sister Amelia, who had paid for a lead statue of George III for Berkeley Square in 1766, lived at the west end of the north side of Cavendish Square. Strode conceived what was London’s first outdoor statue of a soldier in 1769, the same year he was alleged to have withheld clothing from his soldiers, a charge of which he was acquitted at a court martial in 1772.

    Malcolm engraving

    J. P. Malcolm’s engraving of 1808 (© City of Westminster Archives Centre).

    The statue was by John Cheere, who had made another version of Cumberland for Dublin in 1746. The paunchy figure in modern dress faced north to the contemporary temple fronts of what are now 11–14 Cavendish Square (see earlier post). That the statue faced this way, presenting its rear to those who approached the square along the Hanover Square axis, may reflect where Princess Amelia and Strode lived. It also looked to Scotland. The statue was immediately ridiculed on aesthetic grounds; any politics in the gesture appear to have passed without published comment.

    Meekyoung Shin's soap statue, photographed in 2013.

    Meekyoung Shin’s soap statue, photographed in 2013.

    Lacking admirers, the statue fell into dilapidation. In 1868 the 5th Duke of Portland took it down, ostensibly to be recast. It never was, perhaps simply melted down instead. Its Portland stone plinth survived, with Strode’s inscribed dedication. By 1916 this had been encircled by a roof on thin columns to create a summer house. That lasted into the 1970s.

    Temporary Soap Staue, Cavendish Square, Marylebone, Greater London. Taken for The Survey Of London

    Meekyoung Shin’s soap statue in 2014 (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    In 2012 a replica of the lost statue was mounted on the plinth, made of soap on a steel armature by the Korean artist Meekyoung Shin as Written in Soap: A Plinth Project. She anticipated its gradual and scented erosion within a year, but its tenure was extended, her commentary on mutable monumentality complicated by endurance and popularity. An identical replica was installed at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, South Korea, in July 2013. The Cavendish Square statue was dismantled in 2016.


    Meekyoung Shin’s soap statue in 2015 (above and below).

    April 2015 (2)

    RIBA headquarters, Nos 66–68 Portland Place

    By the Survey of London, on 29 July 2016

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south west.

    RIBA Headquarters, view from the south-west (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Ian Nairn once noted the irony that the RIBA’s headquarters should be located in Portland Place: the one street in London he felt had been ‘most stupidly and selfishly and blindly ruined by twentieth-century R.I.B.A. members’. But George Grey Wornum’s building, with its sophisticated union of clean lines and classical proportions, is not one of those brutal transgressors.

    At the entrance, a pair of giant cast-bronze entrance doors, decorated with a series of charming relief sculptures, tell the story of London’s river and its buildings, modelled by James Woodford, to drawings prepared by J. D. M. Harvey.

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of bronze entrance door.

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of bronze entrance door.

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of bronze entrance door.

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of bronze entrance door.

    Inside, the entrance hall has a honey-coloured sheen from its yellow terrazzo floor slabs and polished limestone walls, incised with the names of RIBA Presidents and Gold Medallists. But it is the staircase that is Wornum’s tour de force. It is a dramatic space, dominated and held together by four giant fluted columns of green Ashburton marble, star-shaped in plan and without bases or capitals, that rise nearly 30ft to the coffered glass ceiling.

    Montage 2

    On the first floor is the principal reception room: the Henry Florence Memorial Hall.  Decoration is everywhere, with a patterned floor and splayed limestone piers carved with scenes of architecture through the ages (designed by Edward Bainbridge Copnall), and several fine wall carvings (also by Copnall), including one showing Wornum and Maurice Webb deep in conversation under the watchful eye of Ragnar Östberg. On the ceiling are sculptures by Woodford depicting the various building trades. Also in this room is a pine screen carved with twenty reliefs (by Denis Dunlop) representing culture and industry in India, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. Florence Hall, first floor, view from east

    Henry Florence Memorial Hall, designed by Wornum with his visit to Stockholm obviously very fresh in his mind (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of plasterer in Florence hall ceiling, first floor.

    Henry Florence Memorial Hall,  ceiling panel by Woodford (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Montage 1

    Henry Florence Memorial Hall, splayed limestone piers carved with scenes of architecture through the ages (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The British Architectural Library on the third floor was designed by Wornum in consultation with the RIBA’s then librarian Bobby Carter, with Moderne curved ends to its bookcases, and originally with a colour scheme by his wife Miriam (recently restored) of steel bookshelves enamelled in blue and yellow, and a brown cork floor.

    British Architectural Library (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    British Architectural Library (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    With grateful thanks to Eloise Sinclair who put this blog piece together based on the text in the draft chapter from the South-East Marylebone volumes, which can be found here.

    Commemorating Lord Byron on Holles Street

    By the Survey of London, on 20 May 2016


    Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips (Reproduced via Wikimedia Commons).

    That Lord Byron was born in Holles Street in January 1788 seems clear. His mother Catherine had returned from Paris a month before his arrival to live in rented rooms there. These rooms have been identified variously as No. 16, which stood on the west side of the street, near its north end, or via a supposed renumbering as No. 24, eight doors further south. It was at No. 24, on a house rebuilt in 1852, that the Society of Arts commemorated Byron in 1866–7 with the first of its round blue plaques. But there had been no renumbering and, in any case, letters from Catherine Byron are addressed simply as from ‘Holles Street’ – no evidence for any house number has been traced. The plaque disappeared in 1889–90 when John Lewis redeveloped this stretch of the street. Lewis commissioned a bronze half-length profile of Byron from the sculptor John Edward Taylerson as a replacement. This was housed within a large Portland-stone aedicule on the second floor of the new frontage at No. 24 in 1900, and was exploited by Lewis for marketing and propaganda purposes during a hot-tempered dispute with the Howard de Walden Estate over the conversion of the old house at No. 16. The Byron aedicule was destroyed by aerial attack in 1940 and Tom Painter designed a modest bronze portrait plaque for a pier between the rebuilt department store’s windows in 1960. This was taken down and replaced in 2012 by a City of Westminster plaque that bears the message (misquoting the poet), ‘Always laugh when you can it is a cheap medicine’.


    Plaque designed by Tom Painter for John Lewis, now replaced (By Miezian via Wikimedia Commons).

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    Cavendish Square 4: No. 20 (the Royal College of Nursing)

    By the Survey of London, on 29 April 2016

    This is the fourth instalment in an occasional series of posts about Cavendish Square. Outward appearance belies the fact that there is a substantial early Georgian house at 20 Cavendish Square. It is enclosed within a shell of the 1930s that was part of an extensive redevelopment of a larger corner site as premises dedicated to the nursing profession.

    P_1_34 Cavendish Square

    20 Cavendish Square (to centre), c.1910 (Royal College of Nursing Archives).

    The plain brick-fronted three-storey house was built in 1727–9 by George Greaves, a Clerkenwell carpenter. Its first resident was Francis Shepheard, a former MP who had moved from the Whigs to the Harleyite Tories. He was a wine trader and East India merchant in the steps of his father Samuel, who had been Robert Harley’s financier and was Deputy Governor of the South Sea Company from 1713. Francis inherited a fortune when his father died in 1719.


    Plans of the ground floor and first floor of 20 Cavendish Square, showing the layout of the eighteenth-century house and later extensions of 1921-6 (© Survey of London, Helen Jones) Please click here to download a pdf version of the plans.

    A broad five-bay front permitted a central entrance, but in an almost square plan there is an unusual layout. The house’s finest feature, a painted staircase, among the best of its kind in London, is oddly situated in the south-east corner. The great expense of such decoration may have obliged Shepheard to avoid an open-well entrance-hall form in favour of a dog-leg stair walled off from the entrance hall. This meant orienting the stair to rise from back to front, forcing a landing against the front wall and so causing irregular fenestration. The town-house aesthetic was evidently, and even more than usual, internal. The main staircase walls display two large architectural capricci, attributed by Edward Croft-Murray to John Devoto, the principal scene painter at the Drury Lane Theatre at the time. There are also trophies and grisaille figures of the Arts on the landing and of Music below the southern capriccio, these more in the style of James Thornhill. The ceiling, in contrast, is painted in the manner of William Kent, with gilded hatching and grisaille caryatids supporting a trompe-l’oeil dome.

    Howard de Walden Project. Royal College of Nursing, 1a Cavendish Square, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of stair. View from east.

    View of the painted staircase at 20 Cavendish Square, showing the southern capriccio attributed to John Devoto (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).


    Howard de Walden Project. Royal College of Nursing, 1a Cavendish Square, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of stair. View from west.

    View of the painted staircase at 20 Cavendish Square, looking north-east from the first-floor landing (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The next most impressive space in the house, to the north-west on the ground floor, is a fully pilastered room. The quality of this room, and the fact that its Ionic pilasters are sunk at the corners, hint at involvement on the part of James Gibbs, who was stationed just around the corner on Henrietta Street at the time. An imposing marble chimneypiece has a swagged frieze with a Medusa-like mask, plaits tied under her chin, a type widespread in the 1730s. However, flanking eagle-headed terms suggest the fireplace could be datable to the 1750s as double-headed eagles featured in the coat of arms of William Wildman Barrington, 2nd Viscount Barrington. He moved in when he became Secretary at War in 1755. During his tenure the house became known as a place for parties. The Barrington family continued to occupy the house up to 1888.


    Measured drawing of the central part of the east side of the pilastered room (marked lounge on the plan) at 20 Cavendish Square (© Survey of London, Helen Jones).

    In 1894 Sir Charles Tennant bought the property as a wedding present for his daughter, Margot, and the Liberal politician Herbert Henry Asquith. The couple lived here with their children and servants before and after Asquith served as Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916. Margot Asquith was a political hostess with a reputation for extravagance. On departing for 10 Downing Street she noted, ‘All the colour, furniture, grates, curtains, and every chair, table, and rug in Cavendish Square I had chosen myself.’ This precedes the disarming admission that ‘It is a constant source of surprise to people of moderate means to observe how little a big fortune contributes to Beauty.’ (The autobiography of Margot Asquith, ii, 1922, pp.103 and 106) After their wartime return, their income much diminished, the Asquiths were obliged to sell in 1920, marketing the property as suitable for ‘a nobleman, embassy or family of distinction’ (Royal College of Nursing Archives, RCN/28/3).

    But Annie Pearson, Viscountess Cowdray, bought 20 Cavendish Square to be a clubhouse for nurses. She followed up in 1921–2 by funding rebuilding along Henrietta Street to form a headquarters building for the College of Nursing, established in 1916 in an office on Vere Street as a response to wartime exigencies, to support and advance the nursing profession. This was part of a phased campaign of redevelopment with Sir Edwin Cooper as architect throughout. The first phase included some internal remodelling of the house; Cooper’s neo-Georgian detailing is hard to distinguish from the eighteenth-century work.

    20 Cavendish Square (left), as refaced and raised in 1932-4 (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    20 Cavendish Square (left), as refaced and raised in 1932-4 (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The last rebuilding phase in 1932–4 followed the acquisition and demolition of a corner house. Cooper refaced and, through the ingenious introduction of bridging structural steelwork, heightened No. 20, which was used as the Cowdray Club up to 1974. The RCN has since carried out three refurbishments, the most recent of which in 2012–13 saw the opening on Henrietta Street of a public heritage centre with retail and museum elements.

    St Andrew’s Church, formerly in Wells Street, now at Kingsbury, Middlesex

    By the Survey of London, on 1 April 2016

    Remnants of old urban churches occasionally get reconstructed on suburban sites when they have outlived their usefulness. An example is Wren’s All Hallows, Lombard Street from the City of London, whose incongruous tower surprises motorists as they flash through Twickenham along the A316. But for a complete Victorian church, not of the first architectural order, to have been transferred lock, stock and barrel from the West End out to Metroland is surely unique. Yet that is what happened to St Andrew’s, Wells Street, Marylebone, rebuilt in 1933–4 as St Andrew’s, Kingsbury.

    St Andrews Church, Kingsbury,Greater London. Exterior view from south west. Taken for the Survey of London. ©

    St Andrew’s Church, Kingsbury, from the south-west (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave). If you are having trouble viewing images, please click here.

    The key to the reuse of the church was the wonderful treasure house of its fittings, recognized even at a time when Victorian art and architecture were generally held in low esteem. The Wells Street church had an unusual history. Like many Victorian churches it was erected to boost church accommodation and, hopefully, attendances, in a densely inhabited urban area. But not long after it was completed to designs by Samuel Daukes in 1847, a rival Anglican church, the celebrated All Saints, Margaret Street, was constructed just round the corner. Both were controversially High Church foundations and in their early days attracted fashionable congregations who came to admire their splendid church music and fine fittings. The actress Sarah Bernhardt was married at St Andrew’s in 1882, but the marriage did not last.

    St Andrews Church, Kingsbury,Greater London, Interior from south west in gallery. Taken for the Survey of London.

    View of the interior from the south-west (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The nave from the south-east (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The nave from the south-east (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    View through to the nave from the south aisle (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    View through to the nave from the south aisle (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The church’s third vicar was Benjamin Webb, secretary of the Ecclesiological Society and editor of its pugnacious journal, The Ecclesiologist. To keep up with All Saints, Webb commissioned fittings from the leading architects and artists of the Victorian church-building movement. Pugin had already contributed an altar and one window, and Butterfield (the architect of All Saints) a lectern.  To these Webb soon added a wonderful wall monument by William Burges to his predecessor, James Murray, and then a whole series of fittings by G. E. Street. Chief among these was the reredos, developed in stages to cover the whole east wall, with stone niches and alabaster figures and scenes carved by Webb’s protégé, the sculptor-carver James Redfern.  The font is also Street’s, but its tall canopy was added after Webb’s death by J. L. Pearson, who also tucked in sedilia beside the reredos. Add in copious stained glass by Clayton and Bell and some unusual decoration of the sacristy contributed by G. F. Bodley, and you have one of the richest collections of Victorian church fittings in existence.

    The chancel from the west (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The chancel from the west (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Detail of the reredos by G. E. Street (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Detail of the reredos designed by G. E. Street (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The altar designed by A. W. N. Pugin (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The altar designed by A. W. N. Pugin (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    The more conspicuous All Saints was better able to withstand the loss of local population and the vagaries of church attendance in twentieth-century Marylebone than St Andrew’s. A commission proposed in 1929 the unusual solution of taking the latter down and re-erecting it elsewhere. Kingsbury, a rapidly growing district of Middlesex next to Wembley, was identified as the best site; it had a small and inadequate ancient church in an enormous churchyard, so that was the place identified for its relocation. So in 1933–4 this ‘unique casket of architectural jewels and decorative treasures’ was removed and rebuilt in remarkably faithful form by the builders Holland & Hannen and Cubitts, under the architect W. A. Forsyth’s direction. The interior at Kingsbury looks almost the same as it did in Marylebone, but enjoys much better light as it is not blocked in by surrounding buildings.  Because the church is now free-standing, its sides and east end look a bit different. But standing as it does on an eminence above the road, St Andrew’s is now seen to superior advantage than when it was hemmed in among buildings along a nondescript Marylebone street.

    Monument to James Murray, by William Burges (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    St Andrews Church, Kingsbury,Greater London. Font from south west. Taken for the Survey of London.

    The marble font by G. E. Street, with metal cover by J. L. Pearson, viewed from the south-west (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Detail of the chancel screen (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Detail of the chancel screen (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    St Andrews Church, Kingsbury,Greater London.Pulpit Taken for the Survey of London.

    View of the metal pulpit by G. E. Street (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    St Andrews Church, Kingsbury, Greater London. West window stained glass. Taken for the Survey of London.

    The west window with stained glass by Clayton & Bell (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave).

    Shopping in style – D. H. Evans in 1937

    By the Survey of London, on 26 March 2016

    The name of D. H. Evans disappeared from Oxford Street in 2001, though it lingers in the memory of many. Since then it has been a branch of the House of Fraser, the company which has owned the store since 1954. Just over eighty years ago the present store was completed, officially opened in February 1937. It was designed by Louis Blanc in 1934 and constructed in two phases so that trading could carry on with as little interruption as possible. When it was completed, it made a dramatic impact, occupying an entire block, and rising higher than any of the other shops then standing on Oxford Street.


    Cover of the Coronation Brochure produced by D. H. Evans in 1937, with their new store circled, and showing how much higher it was than its neighbours along Oxford Street.

    With the coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth taking place on 12 May that year, the management of D. H. Evans produced a commemorative brochure for the occasion, which principally served as a promotion for their new store. Traditionally Oxford Street was included in royal processions, and the coronation that year was no exception. The street was part of a six-mile route taken by the new king and queen after their coronation from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace. Some press reports estimated that six million people descended on London for the occasion. All the shops were decorated with special window displays, and the street enlivened with flags and flowers. Royal monograms and coloured streamers abounded.

    Side elevation of D. H. Evans

    Perspective view of D. H. Evans from the Coronation Brochure. 

    Recent relaxation of the height restrictions imposed on trade buildings by the London Building Acts enabled the new store to rise to 100 feet, twenty foot more than the old limit and productive of an additional two storeys. The building was steel-framed, with solid concrete floors and faced in Portland stone above the pale-grey granite facing of the ground storey. The great height of the building gave it presence on the street and produced one of its most exciting spaces inside in the form of the escalator hall. This contained not just the sequence of escalators but also staircases and ‘high-speed’ lifts (the upper trading floor could be reached in one and a half minutes).

    Escalator Hall, D. H. Evans, from the 1937 Coronation Brochure

    Escalator Hall, D. H. Evans, from the 1937 Coronation Brochure

    In its finish and colour the escalator hall was also intended to be a glamorous focal point, a place to be seen, as well as from which to view all the store had to offer. The walls and pillars were of delicate beige-pink Travertine marble, the floors of polished cork, producing a ‘soft, brown glow’, the fibrous plaster ceiling was in a ‘modernistic design’, the sheen of metalwork on stairs, escalators and lifts was achieved in ‘silver and copper bronze surfaces, satin finished’.

    Ground Floor

    Ground Floor, D. H. Evans, with the impossibly angular largely female shoppers parading along the wide aisles between display stands.

    There were six trading floors. On the ground floor were fashion accessories and fabrics arranged either side of a sweeping central aisle. Branching from each side ‘miniature, self-contained shops’ sold specific accessories or goods: stockings, gloves, handbags, lace, jewellery, perfume, fur trimmings, scarves, haberdashery, needlework, flowers, wools, or household stationery, each defined beneath its own canopy, with diffused light illuminating the merchandise displayed beneath. Fabrics had a larger area, occupying the rear half of the floor with separate sections for different types of material: plain silks, printed silks, tweeds, woollens, cottons, and lingerie fabric (staffed entirely by women). Here were also dress-making patterns, staffed by ‘expert saleswomen’ capable of giving sound and practical advice.

    One of the 'display corridors', bringing window shopping indoors.

    One of the ‘display corridors’, bringing window shopping indoors.

    The first floor was divided into three sections devoted to the principal items of women’s clothing: the hat, the coat and the frock. Display corridors ran around the floor designed to look like shop windows. Thought was given to the way in which people shopped in the arrangement of goods, so they were divided into price groups and size, but also for quick or slow shoppers.

    Millinnary department,

    Millinery department, where different areas were adapted to differing habits of the shoppers, whether they were fast or slow. 

    Hats were arranged on tall counters for quick shoppers, and mirrored alcoves for those wishing to make a leisured choice. A separate room was set aside for three-piece suits, and private fitting rooms, luxuriously appointed, were provided ‘in plenty’.

    The corset department.

    The corset department.

    Underwear, including night-clothes, was on the second floor. More display corridors lead to blouses and knitted jumpers, placed ‘for matching purposes, next to skirts. Knitted suits were in a separate room, and ‘tailormades’ supervised by a specialist tailor. Here too were shoes, furs, and bathing and beach wear. Furs were displayed against a background of Indian white mahogany, and there was a fur storage section resembling a small bank, with a vault of its own, while the cold storage in the sub-basement could store ‘many thousands of pounds worth’.

    the children's department

    The children’s department, which featured Peter Pan’s Playground. ‘The houses of Peter Pan and Wendy take the form of two huge trees which spread their branches over an enchanting ornamental pond and fountain.’

    The third floor contained three quite separate sections: the children’s department, household and travel. The children’s department was the largest, taking up about two thirds of the floor and not only selling outfits but also providing two playrooms for the under-sixes – Peter Pan’s Playground (see above).


    The Baby Shop

    The travel section sold school trunks, suit cases, rugs, foot muffs and ladies’ weather-coats and mackintoshes, while the household section included overalls, utility frocks, maids’ and nannies’ outfitting as well as bed- and table-linen etc.

    The beauty salon

    The beauty salon, offering sound-proof beauty rooms. 

    Half of the fourth floor was devoted to hairdressing and beauty salons, boasting ‘an all British staff’. All cubicles had padded comfort chairs, spring rests for the feet, a telephone, and sterilising cabinets – for disinfecting the instruments of beauty treatments. For beauty culture there were nine sound-proof beauty rooms with day or night lighting. Materials used were prepared in the company’s own laboratories, adjoining which were workrooms for the production of postiche. The rest of the floor was given over to the gifts department.

    The restaurant

    The restaurant on the fifth floor.

    The fifth floor was the highest one devoted to the public and contained the restaurant. Furnished in brown, beige and rose, down both sides were plush-seated alcoves while the rest of the floor had circular tables arranged in a grid of squares around the supporting columns, around the base of which were waitressing stations. The restaurant offered table d’hôte and à la carte meals, while a salad and sandwich room catered for customers with less time to linger. Two kitchens, one at either end, were fitted out with all the latest appliances.

    Ladies who lunch

    Ladies who lunch – enjoying a lettuce leaf or two, and a cigarette, in the fifth-floor restaurant at D. H. Evans in 1937


    The Builder, 8 Jan 1937, p.122; Coronation brochure, 1937

    The Langham Hotel

    By the Survey of London, on 18 March 2016

    The Langham Hotel of 1863–5 was London’s largest hotel when new, and among London’s largest buildings, a prime example of what were dubbed ‘monster’ hotels, more kindly ‘grand’. Following the railway-station hotel boom of the 1850s the Langham was a significant novelty for being dissociated from a terminus. The Langham Place site in a smart district was thought right for a hotel for its openness, therefore healthfulness. Distance from a railway station could be marketed as a virtue, but this was still a bold speculation that looked to American rather than local precedents.

    The Langham Hotel (by The Langham, London, reproduced with a Creative Commons licence via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 (])

    The Langham Hotel (by The Langham, London, reproduced without changes under a Creative Commons licence via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]). If you are having trouble viewing images, please click here.

    The Langham Hotel Company Limited set out to build a hotel ‘on a scale of comfort and magnificence not hitherto attained in London’. [1] Its ‘very respectable’ directors were a solid bunch of mercantile men, headed by two aristocrats stooping to trade – Henry Chetwynd-Talbot, 18th Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot, as president, William Coutts Keppel, Lord Bury, as vice president. Among the directors was Peter Graham of Jackson & Graham, a high-class Oxford Street furnishing firm. The adjacency of several embassies including the American consulate inspired hope of accommodating diplomats. Imminent completion of the Metropolitan Railway with its station at the top of Great Portland Street would, it was claimed, make up for the absence of a main-line terminus.

    A design competition was won by John Giles, a novice architect. He was persuaded to work with the more experienced James Murray, whose designs for the interiors were regarded by the competition committee as especially good – the forced partnership ended up in court over ownership of the drawings. Giles was probably responsible for the floor plan and exterior, Murray for details of the internal layout. Lucas Brothers, who had recently finished the London Bridge Railway Terminus Hotel, were contractors and major shareholders. Jackson & Graham supplied furniture and brought in Owen Jones to design interiors.

    The hotel opened in June 1865 with the Prince of Wales and 2,000 others in attendance to see London’s most splendid hotel, spread over ten floors including basements and attics, and overall half again bigger than the Grosvenor Hotel of 1862. It aimed ‘to suit all from princes to the middle-classes’. [2]

    The Langham Hotel, drawn from measured survey. Please click to download a high resolution version of the drawing (© Survey of London, Helen Jones with Andy Crispe).

    The Langham Hotel, drawn from measured survey. Please click to download a pdf version of the drawing (© Survey of London, Helen Jones and Andy Crispe).

    Plans of the ground floor and first floor of the Langham Hotel (© Survey of London, Helen Jones and Andy Crispe)

    Plans depicting the layouts of the ground and fifth floors of the Langham Hotel in 1907. Please click to download a pdf version (© Survey of London, Helen Jones).

    The report of the opening in the Illustrated London News neatly summarizes how the hotel was received:

    The style of architecture would be called Italian; it is, however, plain, simple, and substantial, and singularly free from meretricious ornament. It includes large drawing-rooms, a dining-room, or coffee-room, 100 feet in length, smoking-rooms, billiard-rooms, post-office, telegraph-office, parcels-office, &c., thus uniting all the comforts of a club with those of a private home, each set of apartments forming a ‘flat’ complete in itself. Below are spacious kitchen, laundry, &c., and water is laid over all the house, being raised by an engine in the basement. Some idea of the extensive nature of the establishment may be formed when we add that its staff of servants number about two hundred and fifty persons, from the head steward and matron down to the junior kitchenmaid and smallest ‘tiger’. The ‘Langham’, on an emergency, can make up as many as 400 beds. The floors are connected with each other by means of a ‘lift’ which goes up and down at intervals. It is as nearly fire-proof as art can render it. [3]

    Giles’s exterior, yellow Suffolk bricks (commonly known as “Suffolk Whites”) with Portland stone dressings, is heavily indebted to the Grosvenor. It is Italianate, but picturesquely so, with consciously eclectic Gothic elements and an eventful skyline with French pavilion roofs. The shape of the site was a gift, allowing, even forcing, some break-up of the cuboid massing to the east, the locus for an asymmetrical parti with a pointily domed tower and a big two-storey bow. The building was praised – ‘The points which call forth admiration are the union of regularity with picturesqueness, so desirable in town architecture; the subordination, at least in the side, of detail to general effect, and the reserve and simplicity which are manifest in a great part of the work.’ [4] Many have since disagreed, but a century later Henry-Russell Hitchcock judged the building ‘a rich and powerfully plastic composition, most skilfully adapted to a special site, and more original than most of what was produced in the sixties in Paris’. [5]

    Monster Mash

    The rich sculpture which adorns the eaves cornice and imposts of the lower-storey window arches (© Survey of London, Derek Kendall, 1988).

    The sculptural detail repays close examination. Below the heavy eaves cornice there are griffins and sphinxes, some addossed and seated, others rampant yet bovine, made of moulded cement on slate armatures. Livelier and lither stone-carved creatures, more griffins, lions and lizards, grace the imposts of lower-storey window arches. These ‘semi-Gothic Grotesques’ were harshly judged – ‘Their antics … have an artificial and done-to-order look about them, very different from the grim humour of ancient work.’ [6] Hitchcock, who suspected the influence of Viollet-le-Duc, saw ‘elephantine playfulness’, which seems fairer.

    In December 1940, bombing destroyed the building’s north-east corner and, with consequent flooding, the hotel closed. The BBC took up occupation from 1941, using the premises as offices and studios to 1986. Reconversion to hotel use in 1987–91 was by Hilton International.


    [1] Morning Post, 30 June 1862, p. 2

    [2] The Times, 12 June 1865, p. 9

    [3] Illustrated London News, 8 July 1865, p. 12

    [4] Building News, 20 Oct 1865, p. 72

    [5] Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architecture, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 1958, p. 16

    [6] Building News, 20 Oct 1865, p. 727

    Former General Medical Council offices, 44–50 Hallam Street

    By the Survey of London, on 4 March 2016

    (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    Former General Medical Council offices, 44-50 Hallam Street, from the south-west in 2015 (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins). If you are having trouble viewing images, please click here.

    The southern part of this building (to the right in the picture above) was erected in 1915 to house the General Medical Council (formally the General Council of Medical Education & Registration of the United Kingdom). The Council had begun to investigate a move to larger premises from its offices at 299 Oxford Street in 1903, during the presidency of Sir William Turner. The initiative was seen through a decade later by Sir Donald MacAlister, the Council’s President from 1904 to 1931 and a physician and administrator renowned for his great intellect, probity and firmness. In 1912 a committee was formed to oversee the move. MacAlister was joined by Dr (Sir) Norman Moore, representing the Royal College of Physicians, (Sir) Charles Sissmore Tomes, the Council’s treasurer and chairman of its dental committee, Sir Henry Morris, a recent past President of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Sir Francis Champneys, an eminent obstetrician. An enquiry to the Howard De Walden Estate in 1914 elicited the offer of a development site at 44–48 Hallam Street. The northern part of the building, always intended, was not added until 1922–3. The Dentists Act of 1921, seen through by the Liberal politician Francis Dyke Acland, had established the Dental Board of the United Kingdom to take on the GMC’s oversight of dentists and to deal with the scourge of unqualified dentistry. To maintain good communications with the Council, the new Board, chaired by Acland, built the interconnected premises next door.

    (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    Detail of the bas-relief over the entrance, by Frederick Lessore, depicting the cult of Asklepios and his extended family (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    Detail of sculptural ornament at the centre of the bow, with the bowl of Hygieia between the windows (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    The architect at both stages was Eustace C. Frere, of South African origins and Beaux-Arts trained, and the builders Chinchen & Co., of Kensal Green. Robert Angell had prepared plans in 1914, but Frere was preferred, probably because of family connections. The building is distinctive in Hallam Street for its clean Portland stone elevation – Frere was able to steer the Council away from a cheaper brick alternative by saving money in other areas. It is more widely unusual for its synthesis of neo-Georgian form and proportion with Neo-Grec ornament. Above the original entrance in what was at first an otherwise symmetrical front elevation, a once fine but now weather-worn lintel bas-relief by Frederick Lessore follows the suggestions of Dr Richard Caton, a member of the council, in depicting the cult of Asklepios (seated, left) and his extended family whose members represent aspects of medicine. This ‘frieze’ has a Greek-fret continuation across a full-height bow bearing more relief sculpture by Lessore and his assistants. Diminutive caryatids grace the tops of mullions, symbolising the Council’s functions, and the bowl of Hygieia is at the centre of the bow between the upper storeys where a council room was placed under a dining room. These spaces were laid out between separate staircases for members and the public and in front of committee rooms. The extension has similar external detailing, its tall windows lighting a board room. A second entrance was formed in its south bay around 1960 when the Medical Protection Society took the building’s northern parts. Since 2010 No. 44 has been a conference centre, Nos 46–50 three duplex apartments.

    (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    Radiator casing in former committee room (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    Council room internal windows (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).

    Public staircase (© Historic England, Lucy Millson-Watkins).