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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Francis Goodge and William Goodge granted building leases of land on the south side of Percy Street in 1764 (fn. 1) and on the north side in 1766 (fn. 2); in 1770 28 houses were complete. There are now 37, the south side being numbered consecutively from No. 1 near the corner of Rathbone Street to No. 20 where it meets Tottenham Court Road and the north side from No. 21 next the Crab Tree in Tottenham Court Road to No. 37 which adjoins No. 2 Charlotte Street. Both sides exhibit (with two exceptions only) an unbroken uniform design, three storeys high in stock brick with red brick flat arches to the sash windows, of which there are three to each of the upper floors. Each house has a basement, with two windows, lit by an open area and its façade terminates in a stone moulded cornice and brick parapet, above which is a mansard roof with two attic windows, and plain brick chimneys. The brick facing of Nos. 6 and 12 and of the two houses immediately opposite them, Nos. 28 and 34, projects forward 4½ inches, as also does that of No. 30. The exceptions to the uniform design of the street occur in two of these, Nos. 6 and 34. Both houses have a single window on the second floor and No. 6 has a pair of windows only on the first floor. In No. 34 there is one circular headed window of Adam design and the ground floor has three arched openings with keystones to two windows and the door. Each house has a single dormer in the roof.
The windows were fitted with sash frames but it is doubtful if any of them retain their original material, while a few have been altered to casements. In Nos. 13, 24, 36 and 37 the sills of the first floor windows have been lowered to the floor level, the last two being provided with balconies. There are or were plain plastered string-courses at first floor level and others also in line with the sills, and fragments of the latter remain between the deepened windows. In Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 8 the middle first floor windows were heightened nearly to the second floor sills. In No. 28, the ground floor windows remain but their sills are lowered to the floor. Those of Nos. 22 and 24 were later provided with cement moulded architraves.
Most of the houses have had modern shop fronts inserted, especially on the south side, but in No. 8 and in nine fronts on the north side the original fenestration remains unchanged on the ground floor, although in some cases treated with cement. Original doorways are more numerous. They all appear to have been roundheaded and quite plain with red brick arches as in No. 8. In Nos. 2, 3, 5, 24 and 37 the ground storeys have been (at some time preceding the shop fronts) faced with plaster, treated with wide sunk horizontal grooves to represent masonry and quasi-voussoirs to the doorways. More interesting are the wooden doorcases which must have been added to Nos. 9, 13, 19, 20, 23, 31, 32 and 35 soon after the erection of the buildings. They have jambs with plain pilasters with moulded caps, a semi-circular head with key block and panelled soffit flanked by enriched consoles above the pilasters that support an entablature with a fluted frieze and moulded dentilled cornice. At No. 19 the cornice is missing. Three doorways, Nos. 12, 28 and 30, have later shallow porticoes with detached columns carrying a projecting entablature over each and a pediment under which the entablature is omitted. In No. 28 the columns have Doric capitals and in Nos. 12 and 30 they are Ionic.
The wrought iron railings, with spear-head tops and cast iron finials to the standards, remain in all the houses on the north side except in the case of the restaurant at No. 24, where the area is covered with pavement lights and at Nos. 27–28, where the ironwork is renewed. On the south side only Nos. 8 and 11 now have the areas uncovered. At No. 8 there is an additional tall standard of bar and scroll-work with an arm or bracket for either a sign or a lamp.
Alterations in the street include the 19th-century rebuilding of Nos. 4, 10 and 11. Four houses have been refaced without altering the design. Additional top storeys occur in Nos. 1, 24, 25, 28 and 33 while Nos. 24, 25 and 26 are entirely faced with modern cement.
Air-raid damage is responsible for the demolition of No. 21 and other houses have suffered. No. 22 is still derelict and No. 23 unoccupied. The upper parts of Nos. 15 to 18 and the angle of No. 20 have been repaired with stock brick following the original design.
The plans of all the houses in Percy Street seem to have been alike, the ground floor having a front room and an entrance hall, east or west of it, with an archway leading to the staircase behind and a back room narrower than that in front. The stairs are not all exactly alike; they are of doglegged type and mostly have cut strings with brackets carved on the end of the steps. The brackets are simple in outline, varying here and there in shape, and at No. 25 they are more elaborately carved with scrolls and foliage. The balusters to this stair are turned and fluted but most of the staircases have turned balusters only with the characteristic block introduced in the early part of the 18th-century while a few are straight balusters unturned. Some of the newels are turned and have ball finials, and all have ramped handrails. In some cases stone stairs and iron balustrades have been introduced.
Few of the rooms retain any special features. The ceiling of the front room on the first floor of No. 3 is of ornamental plaster, a rather heavy florid design showing French influence with scrolls, flowers and foliage and a cornice enriched with foliage and brackets. Another ceiling of similar type is in No. 29. (Plate 2.) Most of the hall passages and some of the rooms have moulded cornices, some with brackets or modillions. The care with which these interiors were designed is shown in the measured drawings on Plate 3. The passage has an arcade of four arches on each side and the front roon has a sideboard recess under an elliptical arch carried on Ionic columns.