Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1980.
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Three Kings Yard
Three Kings Yard, so named from a tavern which formerly stood at its entrance, retains best the discreet, almost secretive character of the early mews on the estate. Its entrance has been widened by the demolition of buildings in Davies Street, but it remains private and has a gate and a gatekeeper's hut. There is also an additional inner yard extending north-south behind the houses on the east side of Grosvenor Square and approached under an archway in the middle of a picturesque range of stables and garages with living quarters above which was built across the width of the east-west arm of the mews. This range, now numbered 5–8 and 21–22 Three Kings Yard, was designed by Joseph Sawyer and built in 1908–9 by Higgs and Hill, the site being offered to the latter because the Grosvenor Board intended part of the new stables there to be used with No. 51 Grosvenor Square, which Higgs and Hill were then in course of rebuilding, also to Sawyer's designs. For this range Sawyer provided a red-brick and stone façade of two main storeys and an attic with coarsely ornamented dormer windows. Above the archway a low pyramidal roof supports an ornate cupola containing a clock which the estate surveyor, Eustace Balfour, insisted 'should not strike'. The felicitous decision to erect such a building here could only be carried out because the building regulations relating to the width of public ways did not apply in this private mews. (fn. 1) It may be noted that some quarter of a century earlier the architect R. W. Edis had wanted to erect an archway over the entrance to the mews from Davies Street in connexion with the rebuilding of Nos. 39–45, and had even been prepared to do so at his own expense, but his scheme had not been carried out. (fn. 2)
On the south side of the yard the former stables and coach-houses belonging to houses in Grosvenor Street have been rebuilt or converted. Generally they have plain rendered façades of modest scale, but at No. 1 a six-storey building in red brick was erected in 1933 4 to the designs of Toms and Partners in connexion with the rebuilding of No. 32 Grosvenor Street. (fn. 3)
On the north side, Nos. 23 and 24 were perhaps erected in 1891 when George Trollope and Sons made extensive changes at Nos. 69 and 71 Brook Street, and have two brick storeys and a third within a steeply pitched roof. Nos. 25 and 26 are straightforward conversions of stables and a coach-house into garages and flats above with white-painted brickwork. At No. 27 the façade towards Three Kings Yard was altered in 1952 (fn. 4) but at the rear, facing the back garden of No. 65 Brook Street, is a little-altered elevation in stock brick of the stable block erected in 1811–12 when No. 65 was rebuilt. No. 28 dates from 1975–6, Chapman Taylor Partners being the architects, and has two main floors and a tall attic storey. (fn. 5)
In the inner yard recent rebuildings have left little of note except at No. 14 where the stables of No. 4 Grosvenor Square were replaced in 1931–2 by a handsome neo-Georgian building erected as the Chancery of the Italian Embassy to the designs of Alexander Burnett Brown and Ernest Robert Barrow at a cost of some £21,250. The materials used are carefully picked small-sized bricks in various tones of red and reconstructed Portland stone. The 'Italian character' which was supposed to be imparted to the building is perhaps best seen in the decorated wroughtiron grilles to the ground-floor windows. A grand, pedimented portal in the centre forms an impressive termination to the vista from Davies Street through Sawyer's archway. (fn. 6)