Tavistock Square

Sponsor

English Heritage

Publication

Author

J. R. Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey (editors)

Year published

1949

Supporting documents

Pages

97-98

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'Tavistock Square', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 97-98. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=65183 Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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LXVIII—TAVISTOCK SQUARE

The eastern side of the square, the work of James Burton, was the earliest part erected and was completed soon after 1806 (see p. 93). It has now been entirely rebuilt but some records were made before it was destroyed. The design was severely simple but most effective, and it is important because it set the key to the character of the development that followed in the immediate neighbourhood. From the general view (Plate 46) it will be seen that the houses were four storeys in height, over a basement. Burton's scheme was the familiar one of combining the two centre storeys, which were of brick, in one order, supported on the ground floor of rusticated stucco as a base, and separated from the third floor or attic, also brick, by a bold continuous stucco entablature. The horizontal division was further emphasized by an unbroken balcony with iron balustrade at first-floor level. The modelling of this very long front, which measured some 420 feet and comprised 18 houses, was effected with extreme economy but was none the less successful. The central block of four houses and the end blocks of three projected forward slightly, and on each of these latter wings an additional projection was schemed to set up six Ionic pilasters in the main order to the first and second floors., (fn. *) These pilasters give emphasis to the ends of the whole block and give it completeness without unduly altering its appearance as a row of houses. The pilasters enclose the central five of the nine windows on each floor of the wings, and the doorways of the three houses are all grouped symmetrically below this feature. Above the pilasters, in the attic storey, are small terminal pilasters, diminishing towards their bases (Plate 46). The entrance doorways had wide double doors within an architectural frame with reeded columns, set below a segmental arch that enclosed cobweb fanlights. The wrought-iron railings were of spear-head shape with cast vases to the standards and the lamp supports were of elaborate scroll-work (Plate 49).

The opposite (west) side of Tavistock Square was built by Thomas Cubitt in 1825–6 (ref. 92) and remains a very complete example of his work (see photograph, Plate 50, and measured drawing, Plate 51). Though based on Burton's design on the east side and keeping his general proportions, it developed his theme, giving it more variety and, as Mr. Summerson remarks, showing a great advance in finish and workmanship. (ref. 93) The number of houses is seventeen, the five centre ones being crowned with a balustraded parapet and three of them set forward to form tetrastyle porticos, the middle one with four three-quarter Ionic columns and those at the side with Ionic pilasters. The latter feature is twice repeated at each end of the block, with one house intervening between those with pilasters. The attic has plain pilaster strips where columns or pilasters occur below, and there is a simple moulded parapet each side of the central balustrade. The ground floor of the houses treated with columns or pilasters has rusticated stucco and that of the others is plainly rendered. The door openings are arched with ornamental fanlights over the doors.

Cubitt was very successful with his treatment of the ends of his palatial blocks of houses. The south side of Endsleigh Place (Plates 55 and 56) is composed entirely of the north returns of the west side of Tavistock Square and the east side of Gordon Square. Each block has angle pilasters, Ionic and Corinthian respectively, and a pair of pilasters frame the centre windows, carrying up the lines of the entrance porches below. On each side of these, on the three upper floors, are blank window recesses with stucco framework. The garden wall between is pleasantly treated with a central pedimental gateway flanked by a balustraded wall.

The north side of Endsleigh Place is described in Section LXXI (p. 103). The north side of Tavistock Square has been re-built.

Inhabitants

No. 30.1850–1851, Sir Richard Madox Bromley (1815–1865), civil servant. From the Admiralty he was made Secretary to the commission for auditing public accounts (1854) and was Accountant-General of the Navy during the Russian War. He was made K.C.B. in 1858 and was Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital.
No. 34.1890–1895, Rev. George Rawlinson (1812–1902), Canon of Canterbury. He took an active part in shaping the Oxford University Act of 1854. He was the author of important works on ancient history, chiefly concerning the Eastern empires and his History of Herodotus was a comprehensive account of the historian and his times.
No. 36.1871–1896, Sir John Simon (1818–1897), sergeant-at-law. Barrister, Middle Temple 1842. Liberal M.P. for Dewsbury, 1868–1888. Was an úntiring advocate of Jewish interests and a founder of the Anglo-Jewish Association.
No. 37.1848–1890, William Smith, possibly the lexicographer, knighted in 1892, who lived from 1813 to 1893.
No. 39.1832–1846, Sir Thomas Joshua Platt (1790?–1862), barrister, Inner Temple, 1816; baron of the exchequer, 1845–1856.

Footnotes

* of these pilasters appear on the left of Plate 46. The northern end had already been removed when the photograph was taken.

References

92. M.L.R. 1825/13/740 to 747.
93. J. Summerson, Georgian London, p. 175.