Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1949.
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LXXXIX—PARK VILLAGE WEST
The "Villas" comprising Park Village West and Park Village East are important examples of the romantic element introduced into domestic architecture by John Nash. John Summerson says of them that "they were among Nash's very last works and are full of interest. The houses are very small and often charmingly planned. Some are 'Italian' some 'Gothic,' some affect a kind of châlet style. Building this essay in the picturesque compensated him for having to leave out the clusters of villas he planned for the park itself. Trees, water, fanciful gables and balconies—all the properties of the romantic village scene as illustrated in the almanacs and the keepsakes are here. . . . During the last years of Nash's life and after his death the villages were completed by his pupil and successor, James Pennethorne. To-day, Park Village West survives and half of Park Village East, the other half having been erased by the railway. They are, in a sense, ancestors of all picturesque suburbia. Up to the war, housing estates were still being laid out very much on these lines with "no two houses alike." It would be difficult to find a prototype for these much earlier than Nash's Park Villages. (fn. 127)"
Park Village West lies within a triangle, with Albany Street on the west and the Regent's Canal to the north-east, the Barracks in Albany Street being to the south. The villas are grouped round an irregular horse-shoe line that leaves and re-enters Albany Street.
Nos. 1 to 7. These six cottages, leased to John Nash in 1824, form a single block with three grouped to face north and a couple on each side as return wings, one of which looks on Albany Street. The rustic motives are here somewhat tentative and do not break the serenity of the long low stucco front controlled by its simple parapet and cornice. But the casement windows in groups of two and three lights and the canted bays with their roofs forming a porch for the entrance, have since become familiar features everywhere. The entrances, with their four-centred arches, are seen through pairs of columns, classical by association, but with Gothic profiles. The railings complete the cottage character of the design. (Plate 87.)
No. 8, assigned to Nash in 1824 and leased to Joseph Baxendale in 1839, (fn. n1) lies east of the last block between it and the canal, and is in the main a simple two-storey building with a low-pitched roof and sash windows. To the south is a wing with a steeper roof, the gable of which has a fanciful bargeboard with a deep projection. Otherwise this wing is treated classically, the lower storey having three pilasters carrying an entablature. The doorway is on the left between one pair of pilasters.
No. 10, north of the foregoing, was assigned to John Nash in 1824 and leased to the Rev. Horace George Cholmondeley in 1837. (fn. n1) It is a conventional design in stucco, two storeys divided by a plain band, sash windows and hipped slate roofs. No. 11, assigned to Nash in 1824 and leased to Adam Duff in 1836, (fn. n1) its neighbour farther north, is rectangular in plan with lateral projections and is covered with a simple hipped roof. The main front looks west and has three tall sash windows on the ground floor, each furnished with balconies. The three corresponding windows on the first floor have semicircular heads with an interrupted band at sill level and a continuous one at the height of the springing. The whole design is unusual and effective.
No. 12, north-west of No. 11, and on the turn of the lane, is a charming Italianate design with a three-storey octagonal tower towards the road. It was leased to Dr. James Johnson in 1824. (fn. n2) The eaves of the roofs are finely drawn and of wide projection, the low pitch giving an umbrella-like top to the tower, which is skilfully banded at each floor and dressed with appropriate classical treatment, with pilasters, entablature and pediment to its prominent doorway. The ground falls behind and the three storeys of this part of the house are all a stage lower than the tower. The balustrade of a wide balcony surrounds the canted bay towards the garden. The piers to the railings are circular, with moulded caps carrying well-designed urns. At the side of the entrance is a one-storey coach-house, now a studio, built much later than the house, with tetra-style pilaster treatment, pediment and three urns as finials. (Plates 87, 88.)
No. 13, west of No. 12, was also leased to Dr. James Johnson in 1837. (fn. n3) It is a pleasantly designed two-storey building in stucco, with no striking departure from contemporary usage. The division between the ground and first floor is firmly marked by a broad moulded band and the exaggerated projection of the eaves helps the horizontal effect. The front is divided laterally into three divisions by pilasters, the upper containing sash windows and the lower having a window each side of the entrance door, which is circular-headed with a fanlight. The ground floor windows have each narrow lights flanking the central sash and are recessed, each pair of lights being divided by narrow pilasters with brackets over. The lower pilasters are jointed to imitate masonry.
No. 14, leased to Dr. James Johnson in 1837, (fn. n3) adjoins No. 13 at right angles and is carried a storey higher, and although both houses have symmetrical fronts the marked difference in height introduces an element of surprise. The chief features in No. 14 are the bold bay windows to the ground floor and the jalousies to the windows of the first and second floors. Otherwise the house is a simple rectangular building, three windows in width on the front and one at the side. The ground floor is well raised above the surrounding level and the entrance is approached by a flight of six steps. It has a semicircular fanlight over with a hood that follows the outline of the arch. (Plates 88, 89.)
There are three original villas remaining within the island formed by the lane, all leased to John Nash in 1824. No. 17, the most northerly of the three, was intended to be in the late Gothic style with a steep roof terminating in gables with moulded parapets and central finials and pendants, the external angles having octagonal projections taken up in tall turrets that flank the gables. The Tudor character of the building is well maintained by the external chimney-stacks with octagonal shafts and the label mouldings over the windows. There is a bay window to the ground floor below the northern gable. The south looks towards the road and has a railed enclosure before it. Nos. 18 and 19 to the south, united by one angle touching the other, are more fanciful. There are bay windows, label mouldings and even battlements as well as separate shafts to the chimneys, but the gables, though steep in pitch, overhang and are supported by brackets. The porch to No. 19 has an elaborate imitation of a Gothic doorway, with a miniature oriel to the room over. Another house on the island site was mid-Victorian in date and character. It was completely destroyed in 1940–41.