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The Survey of London


Recording the history of London's built environment since 1894


The ‘bijou’ or ‘dwarf’ houses of the Howard de Walden grid. Part 1: the Victorian and Edwardian periods

By the Survey of London, on 24 November 2017

The east–west streets at the northern end of the Howard de Walden Estate in Marylebone – Devonshire Street, Weymouth Street and New Cavendish Street – are notable for the prevalence of a particular building type: the so-called ‘bijou’ house fronting the main street at the corner of a mews, where established rights to light restricted building to two, or at most, three storeys. Sometimes detached, often double-fronted, these smaller houses made a major contribution to the streetscape where there had formerly been only the blank return walls of the big houses in the grander north–south streets like Harley and Wimpole Streets, or their lowly mews additions.

Though this was a predominantly turn-of-the-century phenomenon, there were antecedents. A little house facing Devonshire Street (now 117a Harley Street) had been partitioned out of a corner house on Harley Street (No. 117) by the mid 1840s. In 1855–6 a stuccoed, Regency-style two-storey house was added next door (now 21 Devonshire Street) on the site of a stable building at the corner with Devonshire Mews West, and was imitated twenty years later by a pair in like clothing on former mews plots on opposite sides of Weymouth Street (Nos 36 and 43, of 1870–4). But unlike the later examples, these do not appear to have been part of a conscious trend.

That trend began with Barrow Emanuel, partner in the successful London-Jewish architectural practice Davis & Emanuel. In 1886 he negotiated for a sublease of the old stable block at the rear of a corner house at 90 Harley Street, asking if the Estate would be happy for him to rebuild not with stables but with a small house facing Weymouth Street (now No. 32a). Its success encouraged Emanuel to do likewise in 1894–5 with the similar site opposite, at the rear of 88 Harley Street, where he built another new house (33 Weymouth Street); and he was disappointed in 1898 not to secure a further such plot on New Cavendish Street (No. 55), behind 67 Harley Street, but the fashion had by then caught on, and competition and prices were rising sharply. By that date Emanuel had built a comparable ‘bijou residence’ for his own use at 147 Harley Street (since demolished). No. 114a Harley Street, of 1903–4, erected facing Devonshire Street, seems to be the last of his creations of this type in the area.

The heyday of these mews-side houses was the early 1900s, up to the outbreak of war in 1914, during which period some dozen examples were erected in these three east–west streets. A few more were added in the late 1910s and 20s and then a remarkable group was commissioned by Bovis Ltd in the 1930s from three eminent modern architectural practices: 39 and 40 Devonshire Street (Burnet, Tait & Lorne, 1930–3), 22 Weymouth Street (Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Adrian Gilbert Scott, 1934–6) and 39 Weymouth Street (G. Grey Wornum, 1935). This says much for the good taste and connections of the Gluckstein and Joseph families, who oversaw the Bovis firm’s rise to prominence in the 1920s and 30s. (These interwar examples will be discussed in more detail in a later blog.)

Stylistically, the red-brick and stone Emanuel-era houses of the 1880s and 90s can be viewed as part of the Queen Anne and neo-Jacobean domestic revival that had proved popular in Kensington for large residences, but here on a more intimate scale. The occasional use of bay windows, porches or asymmetry added to the interest of their façades. Greater variety arrived in the early 1900s when neo-Georgian or freer Flemish styles were also adapted to such plots, and sometimes a more severe Baroque stone-fronted neo-classicism. Such houses were necessarily compact in plan but often offered a more convenient and modern arrangement than the older, bigger terraced house types, all the reception rooms being gathered together at ground-floor level, leaving the upper floor for main bedrooms and bathrooms. As a result they were suited to fewer servants and relatively cheap to run from the domestic point of view. For many turn-of-the-century residents who still preferred a degree of privacy or separation, this was a more attractive alternative to the expensive big houses than the increasingly popular blocks of flats. Though sometimes referred to (inaccurately) as ‘maisonettes’, they were more commonly known at the time as ‘dwarf’ houses, on account of their comparative lack of height.

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

Adjoining mews-end ‘dwarf’ houses on Weymouth Street: No 34 (right), of 1908 (designed by F. M. Elgood); and No 36, of 1874 (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

It has been suggested that this crop of stylish ‘dwarf’ houses was an attempt by the Howard de Walden Estate to reintroduce residential use in an area where commerce, medicine and institutions had all but taken over. But the process was driven more by speculators and developers than by the Estate; and though frequently proclaimed as ‘private’ residences, they were more often than not first taken by (and many seem always to have been intended for) medical practitioners as consulting rooms with living space above.

Individual examples:

114a Harley Street dates from 1902 and was the last of the architect Barrow Emanuel’s effective mews corner houses – asymmetrical, partially gabled, in red brick and warm stone, and with a pitched red-tiled roof pierced by dormers. Its first resident in 1905 was Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson (d. 1943), daughter of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. She was in private practice here as well as working at the women’s hospital on Euston Road founded by her mother, whose social reform agenda she shared, establishing a Women’s Tax Resistance League at this house in 1909. Subsequent practitioners at No. 114a included the neurologist and psychotherapist Dr Hugh Crichton-Miller (d. 1951), founder of the Tavistock Clinic.

21 Devonshire Street, of 1855–6, appears to have been the first purpose-built ‘dwarf’ house in the area. It is a simple two-storey box, but with a subtly arranged, stuccoed front incorporating broad relieving arches to the ground-floor fenestration and a bowed central first-floor window. It was a speculation by the Norwich lawyer Merrick Bircham Bircham, who had recently taken on the lease of 117 and 117a Harley Street, in whose grounds it was built. But Bircham’s lease referred to it as a ‘dwelling and studio’, so it is possible that it was purpose-built for its first resident, the sculptor Joseph Durham, who lived here from 1856 until his death in 1877. Many of Durham’s best-known works would have been modelled here, including his monument to the Great Exhibition (unveiled 1863), now outside the Albert Hall. The iron-and-glass canopy to the entrance is an addition of 1910 by Claude Ferrier.

Howard de Walden Project. 21 Devonshire Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south west.

21 Devonshire Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

38 Devonshire Street is a double-fronted, red-brick mews corner house of 1902–3, given a neo-Elizabethan twist by double-height bays and heavy, stone-mullioned and transomed windows. The architects were Edward Barclay Hoare and Montague Wheeler. Always in medical use, it was recently refurbished by a private dental practice, who added basement seminar rooms. For over ten years in the 1950s–60s, Stephen Ward, the osteopath at the centre of the Profumo Affair, had his consulting rooms at No. 38. No evidence has come to light to support the repeated claim that his client Lord Astor (who gave him the use of a weekend retreat on the Cliveden Estate) bought the house so that Ward, then in financial difficulties, could continue to occupy it rent-free. There were complaints of noisy female guests in Ward’s apartment many years before the scandal erupted in 1963, by which time he had moved with Christine Keeler to a flat in Wimpole Mews, though he continued to practise at No. 38.

Howard de Walden Project. 38 Devonshire Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from north east.

38 Devonshire Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

32a Weymouth Street, the first of the area’s late Victorian and Edwardian ‘dwarf’ mews corner houses, was designed by Barrow Emanuel and built in 1886–7 on a site formerly occupied by stabling in Devonshire Mews attached to Nos 90 and 90a Harley Street. Its vernacular Queen Anne Revival style, in red brick with stone dressings, and the two-storey, double-fronted design set the tone for many of the others that followed. Attractive sunflower panels enliven the brickwork and there are carved arabesques to the stone entrance porch and a small monogram (‘BE’) set into the front wall, commemorating the architect. The first residents in the later 1880s and 90s were the cigar importer Arthur Frankau and his wife Julia (née Davis) – better known for her popular novels of London-Jewish life under the pseudonym Frank Danby.

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

32a Weymouth Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

93a Harley Street (Harley Lodge) is another fine example of the double-fronted mews house rebuildings, this time of the early 1900s. Like its dourer stone-fronted equivalent at 90a Harley Street it was designed in 1911 for the developer Charles Peczenick by Sydney Tatchell, but on this occasion in a more playful red-brick and stone neo-Georgian manner, with a degree of asymmetry within the flanking pedimented end bays. In medical use from the beginning, it is now, like many of its type, a private dental surgery.

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

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

93a Harley Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

More of a Baroque air attaches to its neighbour of 1908–10 at 1a Upper Wimpole Street, the work of W. Henry White, with its prominent Flemish-looking gables and giant scrolls. The first-floor window shutters were originally painted green to complement the cherry-red brickwork. The house was a speculation for Samuel Lithgow, the Wimpole Street solicitor and Progressive LCC representative for St Pancras. Its first occupant from 1910 until at least 1937 was Peter Lewis Daniel, a senior surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital, who had a private practice here. Having been in medical use for some time, in 2012 the house was the subject of a high-tech conversion to a five-bedroom family home (by Urban Mesh Ltd).

Howard de Walden Project. 1a Weymouth Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south.

Howard de Walden Project. 1a Weymouth Street, Marylebone, Greater London. Detail of gable, view from south.

1a Upper Wimpole Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

55 New Cavendish Street is another of the area’s characteristic mews-side houses, with its stripey red-brick and stone gables, and bows to the front ground-floor drawing and dining rooms. It was built in 1901 to designs by W. Henry White, perhaps reusing an earlier design that he had published in 1888. The developer was the surgeon and cinema pioneer Dr Edmund Distin Maddick.

Howard de Walden Project. 55 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south east.

55 New Cavendish Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

59 New Cavendish Street is a double-fronted ‘dwarf’ house, though here on a more lavish scale, being entirely fronted in Portland stone in a strong Baroque neoclassical style. Set behind a carriage sweep, it has a prominent central entrance porch with a pediment and heavily blocked columns. It was built in 1910 by Kingerlee & Sons to the designs of F. M. Elgood and was another of the speculations in the area funded by the solicitor Samuel Lithgow. The first occupants, there until the 1940s, were Reuben Goldstein Edwards and his wife Edith. He had made a fortune from Edwards’ Harlene hair restorer and colourant. Edith’s philanthropic work later earned her an MBE, and during the First World War their house was given over to the Red Cross Central Workrooms for the production of hospital garments for the wounded. Since the Second World War it has been predominantly in commercial or medical use.

Howard de Walden Project. 59 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from south.

59 New Cavendish Street (photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Survey of London, © Historic England)

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.