An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, Volume 2, West London. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1925.
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This Volume contains (in addition to the Terms of Appointment and official Report) a Sectional Preface, which, under subject headings, calls attention to any particularly interesting examples mentioned in the Inventory; an illustrated Inventory, with a concise account of the monuments visited; a list of monuments that the Commissioners have selected as especially worthy of preservation; a glossary of architectural, heraldic and archaeological terms; a map showing the topographical distribution of the scheduled monuments and an index.
With the second volume of the Inventory of the County of London a return has been made to the normal arrangement of the Commission's Inventories, the special conditions necessitating a departure therefrom, in the case of Westminster Abbey (London, Vol. I), being no longer operative in the larger area. Nevertheless, certain departures from our usual procedure have been found desirable in dealing with this purely urban district. The most important of these concern the divisional unit, the boundaries adopted being those of the Metropolitan boroughs instead of the civil parishes as heretofore. The choice of this arrangement was dictated partly by the indefinite nature of the parish boundary in towns and partly with a view to allocating the monuments inventoried to districts corresponding with the areas of local government.
One unavoidable result of the adoption of the Borough as the unit of description has been the separation of secular monuments from the account of the parish church. In consequence, streets which are far from one another are often described in close sequence, a fact which may disconcert the reader until he remembers that the index at the end of the volume makes them easy of reference when necessary.
The details of the arrangement otherwise correspond to those adopted in the Commission's Inventories of Essex. The boroughs are arranged alphabetically with an introductory paragraph calling attention to the more noticeable monuments in each borough.
The early part of the 18th century was a period of great building activity and expansion in W. London and this has rendered the date limitation of 1714 contained in the Commission's Terms of Reference a source of considerable difficulty. In few instances is the exact year of erection of a house preserved and it is obvious that the criteria afforded by style and decoration may sometimes be insufficient to determine on which side of the dividing line a given building should be placed. I can only say that the fullest consideration has been given to these monuments on the border-line and that if any have been passed over without mention their omission must not necessarily be assumed to be due to an oversight.
In the first place the Borough is located by reference to the Ordnance sheets (scale 6 inches to the mile) and by small letters in front of the number of each monument indicating the individual sheets when the borough extends over more than one sheet. In the case of churches, the description begins with a few words on the situation and material of the monument, together with a statement as to the development of its various parts. A second paragraph calls attention, when necessary, to its more remarkable features. This is followed by a concise description, mainly architectural, of its details. A fourth paragraph deals with the fittings in alphabetical order, while the concluding sentence gives a general statement as to the structural condition. The accounts of less important buildings, whether secular or ecclesiastical, are still further compressed, and, in the case of secular monuments, consist of a single paragraph, or of a mere mention of their situation if they belong to a group with certain characteristics described in a covering paragraph.
The standardization of the spelling of proper names in the Commission's inventories has always presented considerable difficulties and almost any system is open to criticism. It is well known that during the period covered by our terms of reference, and indeed to a much later date, the art of spelling was in a very fluid state, proper names especially being subject to a wide variation dictated partly by their phonetic values and partly by individual caprice. In the absence, therefore, of any final court of appeal, it has been thought best to abide, in the matter of place-names, by the spelling adopted by the Ordnance Survey, without prejudice as to its accuracy. In the matter of personal names, in treating of individual funeral-monuments, etc., the actual spelling of the memorial has been reproduced in the detailed description, while in the rest of the text the normal spelling of the name has been adopted.
The illustrations are derived from photographs taken expressly for the Commission, and reproduced by H.M. Stationery Office, whose work, I think, deserves special recognition. They have been chosen both for their educational and for their aesthetic value. Had appearance alone been made the test of selection, many more might easily have been included. The map at the end of the volume shows the distribution of the monuments.
To ensure clearness of description, all ancient churches not illustrated by historically hatched plans have been provided with key-plans to a uniform scale of 48 feet to the inch, with the monumental portions shown in solid black. The dimensions given in the Inventory are internal unless otherwise stated.
It may also be well again to draw attention to the fact that our Record Cards may be consulted by any properly accredited persons who will give notice of their intention to our Secretary, at 66, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.1. The cards contain drawings of tracery and mouldings as well as plans and sketches of the monuments—forming in truth the complete National Inventory—and will ultimately be deposited for reference in the Public Record Office.
As in the past, no monument has been or will be included in our Inventories that has not actually been inspected and the account of any monument of importance checked in situ by a member of our own investigating staff. In a work of such intricate detail there must be mistakes. But I hope these are neither numerous nor serious. A further guarantee of accuracy lies in the fact that my fellow Commissioners, Mr. Page and Mr. Peers, have revised the reports of the Inventories of secular and ecclesiastical monuments, while Mr. Montgomerie has visited and supervised the reports on earthworks. Further, the heraldry of the Inventory has been checked by the Reverend E. E. Dorling, F.S.A.; the descriptions of armour by Mr. J. Murray Kendall, M.B.E., F.S.A. (Assistant to the Secretary of the Imperial War Museum); the descriptions of glass by Dr. M. R. James, F.S.A.; the description of brasses by Mr. Mill Stephenson, F.S.A.; the spelling of names and descriptions of costumes by Mr. O. Barron, F.S.A.; and the accounts of Roman monuments by Dr. R. E. Mortimer Wheeler, F.S.A. (Director of the National Museum of Wales). Nevertheless, I shall welcome any corrections and criticisms that may be sent to me with a view to their possible inclusion in some future edition.
The plans of Chelsea Hospital, Kensington Palace, the Palace of Westminster, St. James Palace and Marlborough House are based on those of H.M. Office of Works. The plans of Holland House are based on those lent to the Commission by Lord Ilchester.
The success that has already attended the publication of the Commission's Inventories, and their value in securing the preservation of monuments of historical interest that otherwise might have been destroyed, leads me again to express a hope that the reduction of the work of investigation will be only temporary.