Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1983.
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CHAPTER VII - The Brompton Hospital Estate
This chapter describes the buildings of Brompton Hospital itself, and the area immediately to the west which was purchased by the governors of the hospital from the fifth Earl of Harrington in 1853 and on which Nos. 80–108 (even) Fulham Road, Nos. 9–17 (consec.) Onslow Gardens and the houses in Foulis Terrace, Neville Street and Neville Terrace were erected.
The initiative for the foundation of the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest came from a young solicitor, Philip Rose. Apparently a clerk in Rose's firm had fallen ill with tuberculosis but could not obtain admission to any of the general hospitals in London which, because of the long-lasting and frequently terminal nature of the illness, invariably had rules specifically excluding patients suffering from consumption. Accordingly, in January 1841 Rose, who was then only twenty-four years old, wrote a number of letters to friends and associates urging the need to remedy this situation. His brother-in-law. Dr. William Harcourt Ranking, who was physician to the Suffolk General Hospital, helped to draw up a prospectus, and at a meeting held in Rose's house in Hans Place in March of that year a resolution was passed to establish a special hospital for consumptive patients. (fn. 1)
The first hospital to cater largely for sufferers from tuberculosis and other chest illnesses was the Royal Sea-Bathing Hospital at Margate (originally the Margate Infirmary), which was founded in 1791 In London, however, the only special hospital for diseases of the lungs was the Infirmary for Asthma. Consumption and other Diseases of the Lungs (later the Royal Chest Hospital), which had been established in Spitalfields in 1814, but by the 1840's even this solitary institution had ceased for a while to admit in-patients. (fn. 2)
There was thus a prima facie need for a hospital for the treatment of a disease which was becoming increasingly widespread as the population of the metropolis increased, and at a public meeting held in May 1841 and attended by several prominent members of the medical profession Rose's venture was given enthusiastic support. Appeals to the Victorian philanthropic conscience proved successful and by March 1842 funds were sufficient to allow an out-patients' department to be opened in Great Marlborough Street, Westminster. Later in that year a ten-year lease was taken of a detached house in Smith Street, Chelsea, called the Manor House, which was adapted to receive the first in-patients by September 1842. (fn. 3)
Most admissions were made on the basis of letters of recommendation from governors or subscribers, but the medical staff were able to choose a small number of in-patients from among the out-patients being treated by them. The administration of the hospital was vested in a court of governors which met quarterly, a committee of management which met weekly and a number of specialist committees, especially the influential medical commitee. Rose was honorary secretary from the hospital's foundation in 1841 to his death in 1883. He was a personal friend and financial adviser to Disraeli, and, largely through the latter's influence, he was created a baronet in 1874. (fn. 4)
In 1843 the committee of management decided to enlarge the Manor House and held a competition for a suitable design. The competitors’ instructions included directions from the medical staff that the wards were to be varied in size but should not contain more than eight beds, that they should open into corridors about nine feet wide and that they should be capable of being heated and ventilated without the use of open fires. (fn. 5)
A building committee was formed, but its early records have not survived and the precise sequence of events is unclear. The competition was advertised for September 1843 (fn. 6) and the award of a prize of thirty guineas to an unnamed winner was recorded in the annual accounts. (fn. 7) This was evidently Frederick John Francis, the eventual architect of Brompton Hospital, who was later said to have been chosen ‘out of above thirty competitors’. (fn. 8) By November, however, the building committee had decided that it was impracticable to extend the Manor House and, having resolved to seek a better site for a new building, asked ‘Mr Francis…to enquire at the Office of Woods and Forests whether any suitable plot of Crown land might be obtained for building’ (fn. 9)
The site eventually acquired 'after much difficulty’ was some three acres of land on the north side of the Fulham Road belonging to the Smith's Charity estate. It had formerly been part of the large nursery of William Malcolm and Company and was chosen partly because Brompton was considered to be one of the most salubrious neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the metropolis. The charity's trustees agreed to let the ground at a rent of £170 per annum with the understanding that they would sell the freehold to the hospital when its funds allowed. (fn. n1) The trustees insisted that their architect and surveyor, George Basevi, should not only approve the elevation and specifications of the hospital but also have the final word about the precise location of the building. He duly imposed a cordon sanitaire, about one hundred feet wide, between the eastern wing of the hospital and the boundary of the site on that side, thereby pushing the whole building over towards the western edge of its plot where the adjoining land did not belong to the Smith's Charity estate (see fig. 37). The hospital's governors later acknowledged that ‘from the position of the ground and other circumstances, the Building was almost necessarily placed at one extremity of it… Although this step seemed at the time to be a matter of necessity more than of choice, it was not done without deliberation.’ The acquisition of the land to the west, which formed part of the Harrington-Villars estate, thereafter became a major objective of the governors. (fn. 10)
After these negotiations with Basevi (for which he was paid a fee of £36 15s. (fn. 11) ), Francis's design was ready by 1 February 1844, when collectors’ cards bearing an illustration of the proposed building were issued. (fn. 12) What relationship the final design (Plate 62a) bore to the scheme which had won the competition is not known, but the differences between the new site in Brompton and the old one in Chelsea suggest that substantial changes must have been made. The H-shaped plan which Francis adopted was a conventional one for hospitals erected on relatively restricted sites, and the Tudor style which he employed was also a familiar idiom for such institutions, and one moreover with which he had had some experience as a pupil of Thomas Hopper, the architect of a number of Tudor Gothic country houses. (fn. 13) Basevi also used Tudor Gothic for almshouses and similar buildings, but whether he had any influence on the appearance of Brompton Hospital must be conjectural. Francis, who, like Rose, was only in his mid-twenties at the time of this, his first major commission, went on to develop an extensive and successful practice in partnership with his younger brother Horace. (fn. 14)
The hospital had to be erected in stages as funds became available, and the first part to be built was the west wing and half of the central linking block, including the main entrance. A formal building agreement with the Smith's Charity trustees was drawn up, and a contract was made with the builders George and William Bird of Hammersmith to complete the initial phase of the building programme for £11,290. The foundation stone was laid by the Prince Consort amid elaborate ceremony on 11 June 1844. (fn. 15)
The west wing was completed in 1846 and the first patients were admitted in that year. A small gabled porter's lodge was built to Francis's designs in the south-west corner of the grounds in the following year, (fn. 16) and in 1849–50 a chapel was erected to the north of the hospital, to which it was joined by a long corridor (see St. Luke's Chapel below). An Act of Parliament (passed in 1849) was needed to enable the chapel to be built, and the opportunity was taken to establish the hospital as a corporate body and obtain powers for it to buy land and grant long leases (fn. 17)
The benefactor who paid for the chapel, the Reverend Sir Henry Foulis, baronet, thereafter played a major role in the affairs of the hospital. He was appointed a vicepresident in 1849 and held the influential position of chairman of the committee of management from 1850 to 1875. Probably through his influence, his chosen architect for the chapel, Edward Buckton Lamb, was retained as architect for the completion of the main building in collaboration with Francis.
Plans for the east wing and the remaining half of the linking block were submitted by Francis and Lamb in 1850, but work was not begun until the following year when a contract to build the carcase of the extension at a cost of £5,500 was concluded with H. W. Cooper, builder, of St. Pancras (fn. 18) Cooper completed the contract in 1853 but his tender for fitting out the building was too high and another builder, John Glenn of Liverpool Road, Islington, carried out this work for £4,854. (fn. 19) A kitchen and other offices were added at the rear of the linking block, and when the whole hospital was finally completed in 1854 it could accommodate 220 in-patients. (fn. 20)
In the building of the eastern half of the hospital Francis's design of 1844 was faithfully adhered to on the south front where the principal architectural effect was naturally concentrated (Plate 62a). Here the facade of red brick with blue-brick diapering is enlivened by prominent buttresses, a crenellated roofline and the plentiful use of Caen stone dressings in quoins, stringcourses, hood-moulds and, more extensively, in the three oriel windows which decorate the ends of the wings and the entrance tower in the centre of the linking block. The tower, which appears to have been modelled on the founder's Tower at Magdalen College. Oxford, had a broad flight of stone steps leading up to the principal entrance at first-floor level. The steps have recently been removed, however, for the erection of a sun lounge which projects in front of the former main entrance. The picturesque asymmetrical turret with a squat crocketed spire on the west side of the tower contains a spiral staircase which originally provided access to the medical officers’ rooms.
The east-facing facade of the later wing differs from the facade of the west wing in detail. The latter, which is now partly clad with Virginia creeper, has a narrow entrance bay flanked by octagonal piers, while the east wing has a wide projecting centre with a canted bay on each side of the entrance. The most prominent feature of the later wing, however, is a tower which was designed to house a ventilating shaft It is treated with marked architectural effect and decorated with small-scale battlements and finials at the top and blind windows on its sides, those on the upper stages filled with caned heraldic shields. The latter were favourite sculptural devices of Lamb, whose experience with towers at his many churches probably led to his assumption of the principal role in designing this one.
The planning of the hospital reflects the wishes of its medical staff as expressed in the instructions to competitors in 1843 (fig. 38). The low ground storey was originally occupied by the administrative offices, laboratory, dispensary and museum, and by the waiting- and consulting-rooms for out-patients. The first and second floors, both fourteen feet high, contained the wards for female and male patients respectively. These wards, though varying in size, were intended to hold no more than eight beds, and open on to long corridors or galleries, ten feet wide, which can be used as day rooms. To protect the wards from cold winds the corridors are arranged so that they occupy the east side of each wing and the north side of the central block. Dormitories for nurses and servants were provided in attic rooms on the north side of the hospital, Francis and Lamb having been specifically ordered to construct a servants’ staircase from which there would be no direct access to the ward floors. (fn. 21)
Much thought was given to the methods of heating and ventilating the wards and corridors so that an even temperature and constant supply of fresh air could be provided by artificial means, even though the wards were furnished with fireplaces. In the west wing the system used was one developed by Dr. Neil Arnott, a well-known physician and expert on heating and ventilation, whereby air warmed in a basement heating plant passed through openings in the walls and was eventually carried up to the roof. Difficulties in maintaining an even temperature were encountered, however, and when the cast wing was built Messrs. Haden of Trowbridge were called in to provide the necessary equipment. Their method required the erection of a ventilating shaft rising some twenty-five feet above the roof, and it was the need to accommodate this shaft which led to the erection of the distinctive tower above the east wing. (fn. 22)
Victorian mechanical ingenuity extended beyond the provision of a flow of warm air to the wards, for a description of the hospital in the annual report for 1856 described enthusiastically how, 'The steam, which heats the water both in the Kitchen and the Baths attached to the wards, turns the spit, grinds the coffee, and raises the lift which takes up the Patients’ meals hot from the Kitchen, as well as other necessaries; it also raises a lift for conveying those Patients to and from the galleries for whom exercise in the grounds is desirable.’
Inside the hospital there is understandably little in the way of decoration, Francis and Lamb having been specifically instructed in 1850 that there should be ‘no cornice or moulding or any expensive decoration of any sort’. (fn. 23) Nevertheless the main open-well staircase behind the former entrance hall has a balustrade and plain columns of stone and a vaulted ceiling of stained and varnished wood with large carved angels on the bosses. The board room at the north end of the east wing has deep wooden beams with Gothic tracery and a simple stone chimneypiece.
In 1853 the governors purchased four acres of land on the west side of the hospital from the trustees of Lord Harrington. Most of this land was used for speculative house-building, which will be described below, but, as indicated earlier, a major reason for its acquisition had been the desire to provide extra space on the west side of the hospital. Accordingly half an acre was added to the hospital's grounds, which were laid out to Lamb's designs in 1854. (fn. 24)
In 1863 a report on the hospitals of the United Kingdom was submitted to the Medical Officer of the Privy Council by Dr. John Syer Bristowe, a physician at St. Thomas's Hospital, and Timothy Holmes, a surgeon on the staff of St. George's. Although the report generally favoured larger wards and natural ventilation in accordance with contemporary ideas on hospital design, its authors found much to praise at the Brompton Consumption Hospital, where ‘the small wards and heating of the air seemed to us to be well adapted for the class of cases’. They praised the ‘handsome’ building and the ample grounds in which patients could take exercise, and were impressed with the general management and arrangement of the institution. The specialist nature of the hospital generally kept it immune from the changing currents of thought on hospital planning; the small wards were retained and it was not until the very end of the nineteenth century that fresh air from open windows was considered to be more beneficial than artificial ventilation. (fn. 25)
Few changes were made to the original building during the nineteenth century. In 1855 Arthur E. Robinson was appointed surveyor to the fabric, but the office was soon allowed to lapse. (fn. 26) The decay of the external stonework began to cause problems, however, and in the late 1860's David Brandon was consulted on such matters. In 1871 the stone chimneys on the west wing proved so defective that they had to be replaced with terracotta ones in an Elizabethan style, and the need to obtain proper estimates for such work prompted the committee of management to appoint a permanent architect. The post was offered to George Pownall, who had acted as the hospital's surveyor during building operations on its estate to the west, but he declined and recommended his son-in-law, Henry Arthur Hunt junior, who was duly engaged at an annual salary of twenty-five guineas. (fn. 27)
During his tenure as architect and surveyor, which lasted until 1881 when he resigned and was replaced by Lewis Karslake, (fn. 28) Hunt carried out a number of small works. In 1872 a subway was constructed under Fulham Road to link the main hospital building with a group of houses on the south side of the road (in the parish of Chelsea) which the governors had purchased; John Aird and Sons were the contractors at a price of £1,150. (fn. 29) Two years later the porter's lodge was rebuilt on a larger scale to Hunt's design in red brick with Portland stone dressings; the builder, whose tender was for £1,691, was the hospital's former surveyor, Arthur E. Robinson. (fn. 30) In 1876 Messrs. Haden were called in to improve the heating and ventilation of the west wing and they recommended the construction of an extraction shaft similar to that on the cast wing. In order to save costs, however. Hunt was asked to design a smaller and less decorative tower, and the resulting unobtrusive addition was built in that year. (fn. 31)
A substantial bequest was made to the hospital in the early 1870's, and this enabled the governors to replace the houses on the south side of Fulham Road with one large building. In 1877 Hunt was asked to supply outline plans for the new building, but it was made clear to him that he would not necessarily be appointed as its architect. The committee of management was eventually asked to choose between three candidates, Hunt, Arthur Graham, who was recommended by Florence Nightingale, and Thomas Henry Wyatt. The choice fell on the last, no doubt because of his extensive experience in hospital design throughout the country. (fn. 32)
The instructions issued to Wyatt by the medical committee reflected the successful planning of the main hospital building, for he was asked to provide small wards, ideally holding five or six beds, and wide corridors, which, in the event, were similarly situated on the north and east sides of each ward. He was also given the general direction that ‘The Style of Architecture should be not inharmonious with that of the existing Hospital, carried out with due regard to economy in material and construction’. He responded by submitting sketch elevations in both Elizabethan and Queen Anne styles and the latter was chosen; a narrow preference for terracotta over Mansfield stone for the dressings was also expressed. Higgs and Hill were the contractors and the foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales on 17 July 1879. T. H. Wyatt died in August 1880 and his son, Matthew Wyatt, who had already largely taken over his lather's practice, replaced him as architect. The new building, or south block, was opened by the hospital's president, the fifteenth Earl of Derby, on 13 June 1882. The cost of the building was some £60,000. (fn. 33)
The south block of Brompton Hospital was originally an E-shaped building with its main front to Fulham Road and has a basement, four main storeys with an additional mezzanine floor in part of the tall ground storey., and extra floors within the roof. The style adopted by the Wyatts is a conventional Queen Anne in red brick with terracotta bands and dressings, sporting shaped gables at each end and a Dutch gable in the centre. Two octagonal turrets at the angles of the projecting centre bay, with two others at the rear, perform the same function as the towers on the earlier building in housing ventilating shafts. When opened the south block accommodated 137 in-patients, making Brompton Hospital, with over three hundred beds, by far the largest tuberculosis hospital in the country. (fn. 34)
In 1898–9 a nurses’ home was erected behind the south block, facing Chelsea Square, to the designs of Edwin T. Hall. A long, shallow building, originally four-storeyed with additional rooms behind a large segmental gable in the centre, it is in a transitional style between Queen Anne and free classicism in red brick with Portland stone dressings and bays The builder were Foster and Dicksee and the cost some £32.000. (fn. 35)
In the 1920's and 1930's some in-filling took place in the courtyards on the north side of the original building, but most additions were made on the south side of Fulham Road including an extension at the western end of the south block in a matching style and the construction of an extra floor within the roof of the nurses’ home. The hospital's architects during this period were Alfred Saxon Snell and Phillips, who had a large hospital practice. (fn. 36)
When the National Health Service came into operation in 1948 Brompton was placed in the category of teaching hospitals and became the official centre in London for instruction in diseases of the chest. Most of the extensive building work which has taken place recently has been in connexion with this teaching role. Initially a single-storey building capable of enlargement was erected on the east side of Foulis Terrace (thereby encroaching on the open space which had been acquired at high cost in 1853) and opened on 26 October 1949 as the Institute of Diseases of the Chest (now the Cardiothoracic Institute) of the University of London. (fn. 37) In 1958 a four-storey laboratory building was erected for the Institute at the northern end of this range. (fn. 38)
These building schemes were the work of Saxon Snell and Phillips, who also drew up designs for a further extension to the west of the south block in 1963, but in March 1964 the ill-health of the sole remaining partner, P. R. Rees Phillips, led to his resignation and the appointment of Adams, Holden and Pearson as architects to the hospital. (fn. 39) The latter completed the south block extension and undertook several additions to the Institute in phases during the 1960's. The work involved the addition of a second store) to the existing range along Foulis Terrace and the extension of the range to the south which necessi tated the demolition of Hunt's lodge. (fn. n2) In 1966 Adams, Holden and Pearson also designed the obtrusive projecting sun lounge which was added to the centre of the main front at first-floor level, to the considerable detriment of Francis's original elevation. (fn. 41)
Further structures, generally of prefabricated materials, have been erected in various parts of the grounds in a manner now common in older hospitals, and at the time of writing (1982) the proposed construction of a new chest and heart hospital in Chelsea which would absorb Brompton Hospital makes the future of the building uncertain.
St. Luke's Chapel
When Frederick Francis drew up plans for the hospital which was to be built on the new site at Brompton in 1844 he set aside a plot at the north end of the east wing for a chapel and made a drawing of his proposed design. (fn. 42) The building of the cast wing had to be delayed because of lack of funds, however, and a ward in the west wing was fined up as a temporary chapel, thereby depriving the hospital of much-needed bed space and making the provision of a permanent structure an urgent necessity.
The problem was resolved in 1849 when a new benefactor appeared in the person of the Reverend Sir Henry Foulis, ninth baronet, of Ingleby Manor, Yorkshire, prebendary of Lincoln and rector of Great Brickhill, Buckinghamshire. Foulis, who does not appear to have had any previous connexion with the hospital, offered to pay for the erection of a chapel as a memorial to his recently deceased sister, Sophia Frances Pauncefort Duncombe. He insisted on approving the design and arrangements for the chapel and chose F.B. Lamb as architect on the recommendation of Lady Frankland Russell, widow of Sir Robert Frankland Russell of Thirkleby, Yorkshire. The Frankland Russells, who were amateur stained-glass artists, had worked with Lamb on several churches in the North Riding. including All Saints, Thirkleby, which was being rebuilt at that time to his designs. (fn. 43)
An Act of Parliament was quickly obtained to allow the chapel to be built and consecrated and, as the governors had not let purchased the freehold of the whole hospital site, to enable the Smith's Charity trustees to give the site of the chapel gratis to the hospital. (fn. 17) Hopkins and Roberts of Islington, who submitted the lowest tender at £1,613. were engaged as contractors, and the foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Foulis on 30 August 1849. A separate contract was made with Samuel Pratt of New Bond Street, designer of wood carving, for executing the carved oak finings, including the pews, stills, pulpit, reading desk and altar table. Even with extras the cost was only some £2,500 for the chapel itself and a further £1,500 for the long range which connects it to the hospital. The completed chapel was consecrated on 27 June 1850. (fn. 44) (fn. n3)
In 1891 the hospital's committee of management decided to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the institution by enlarging the chapel and, on the suggestion of a member of the committee, chose William White as architect. He virtually rebuilt the chancel, which was enlarged in breadth, length and height as well as by the addition of an organ chamber on the north side, and he also built an aisle on the north side of the nave, re-using the original stonework as far as possible. The contractor was H. E. Nightingale of Albert Embankment and the total cost was over £4,000. The much-altered chapel was reconsecrated on 22 October 1892 (fn. 45)
E. B. Lamb was described by Goodhart-Rendel, in a term that has passed into the language of architectural criticism, as a ‘rogue-architect’ by which he meant one who used traditional styles in a highly personal and idiosyncratic manner that defied both imitation and analysis. (fn. 46) Lamb's eclectic use of Gothic forms at a time when Pugin and the Camdenians were steering the Gothic revival into strictly confined channels made him in many ways the arch rogue. The Ecclesiologist, that organ of Gothic rectitude and ritualistic orthodoxy, could never come to terms with his quirky genius. It viewed Brompton Hospital chapel ‘with a feeling of sadness’ that the munificence of Sir Henry Foulis had produced such a debased building, (fn. 42) failing to recognise that in Foulis Lamb certainly had an ally, and, moreover one who no doubt felt that the broad evangelism implicit in his architect's approach to church architecture was appropriate for a congregation which would not for the most part be using the chapel from choice. Much of Lamb's work in the chapel has, however, been ‘tamed’ by White's alterations and by the removal of some of the decorative stonework, but what remains can be supplemented by early engravings and photographs of the exterior. Unfortunately, however, there is no record of the interior, and especially the chancel, as Lamb left it.
William White, on the other hand, was a member of the Ecclesiological Society and well-regarded in the 1850's and 1860's when his work was boldly innovative, (fn. 47) but by the time he was called upon to remodel the chapel he was in his sixties and had produced little of note for some years. His work there, though certainly worthy and producing a greatly increased sense of space, suffers in comparison with the exuberance of his predecessor's.
The chapel, which is faced with Kentish rag and Caen stone dressings, stands out in sharp contrast to the brick-faced hospital to which it is attached. Today it is largely hemmed-in by other buildings and the rationale for providing it with such an imposing appearance is not obvious, but when built it was surrounded on three sides by open fields and it was even raised on an artificial mound to make it more conspicuous, a reminder, no doubt, that the hospital was a lit object for Christian charity.
The chapel is connected to the hospital by a long, single-storey range which is faced with red brick at the hospital end and stone in front of the chapel. Here Lamb placed another short block crossways containing a gabled porch (now almost completely obscured), lobby and vestryroom. A bell-turret with an octagonal upper stage originally stood at the south-east angle of the two ranges but it has recently fallen victim to the persistent in-filling of the hospital's courtyards.
The west front of the nave in its original form (Plate 62b) well illustrated Lamb's style with its large five-light window, basically Perpendicular but decorated with crockets, ball-flowers and elaborate ‘cuspy’ tracery to use Goodhart-Rendel's adjective), set closely between buttresses with crocketed pinnacles. Additional pinnacles broke through the steeply raking sides of the gable and a trio of smaller pinnacles crowned the apex, the middle one carrying a cross. The rectangular openings above the window originally contained the arms and crest of Sir Henry Foulis. Such intricate, not to say finicky, decorative stonework is particularly vulnerable to decay, however, and much of it has been stripped off the upper part of the front including all but the topmost pinnacle. White may have made some alterations in 1891–2 but more recent repairs have also taken their toll. The west front of the aisle which was added in 1891–2 respects Lamb's basic forms and has a two-light window set between buttresses, three tiny blind lancets at the apex of the gable, a cross above and crocketed pinnacles on each side.
The sides of the nave are separated into three bays by buttresses with crocketed pinnacles, and have two-light windows with complex tracery characteristic of Lamb and lozenge-shaped openings inset with quatrefoils interrupting the parapet above. (Although the north wall was moved several feet outwards to accommodate the new aisle, Lamb's decorative stonework and windows were carefully re-incorporated to match the south side.) The short transepts, which The Ecclesiologist contemptuously dismissed as ‘ paddle-boxes’, were originally both fivesided but that on the north side is now flush with the aisle to the west.
The organ chamber, which projects slightly on the north side, is entirely the work of White, as for the most part is the three-bay chancel, the original chancel having been a bay shorter as well as narrower and lower. Some stonework was re-used and the five-light east window, more strictly Perpendicular in form than the west window, was reinstated in the new east wall, shorn of some of its more delicate tracery (Plate 62c). The two single-light windows on the south side of the chancel were preserved from the original structure, one of them having formerly been on the north side.
The main approach to the interior of the chapel is from the first floor of the hospital (the lowest ward floor) through the linking range along a corridor which descends gradually until the chapel's outer appendages are reached. Here the flat ceiling of the corridor gives way to open-timber roofs, supported in the entrance lobby on corbels decorated with monograms of Lamb, Foulis, his sister and (Sir) Philip Rose, the hospital's honorary secretary. After the long cloistral approach the nave unfolds quite dramatically, its most arresting feature being an open-timber roof in which hammerbeams, arched braces with traceried spandrels arranged both crossways and lengthways, diagonal ties, struts and pendants vie with each other in a manner described by The Ecclesiologist as ‘ decidedly astonishing… Such a chaos of carpentry so near our heads we have seldom seen.‘ Lamb was to produce even more remarkable displays in the vast timber roofs of later churches such as St. Martin, Gospel Oak, and St. Mary Magdalene, Croydon, but the effect in such a small chapel must have been even more startling before the north aisle was added and a solid wall pierced only by windows filled with stained glass enclosed the nave on that side. Now a stone arcade of wide arches carried on pillars of quatrefoil section with foliated capitals separates nave and aisle (Plate 63c).
White's chancel roof is placid by comparison and relies for effect on simple hammerbeams ornamented with large caned angels and heraldic shields, the latter probably re-used from the original roof (Plate 63b). (fn. 48)
Besides the roof of the nave, the main interest of the interior of the chapel lies in its fittings and stained glass. Most of the stained and varnished oak fittings designed by Lamb and made by Samuel Pratt remain and have been supplemented by others in a matching style. They include the pulpit, reading desks, altar table, altar rails, low chancel screen and the stalls and pews. The bench-ends are for the most part decorated with conventional fleur-de-lis poppyheads but are occasionally embellished with the arms and crest of Sir Henry Foulis. The crest, consisting of a cross surmounting a crescent, is a ubiquitous feature of the chapel's decorations in wood, stone and tile. Its use was defended by Lamb as symbolising the triumph of Christianity over paganism, but The Ecclesiologist could not refrain from wondering what particular triumph of Christianity over Islam had taken place in Brompton. Some of the pews are provided with arm rests for the benefit of weaker patients, not, as was mischievously stated in some quarters, for the governors and subscribers. (fn. 49) A small stone font inset with painted ceramic panels of New Testament scenes in blue on gold, signed and dated J. Rochefort 1875’, (fn. c2) stands in the south transept.
The remodelled chancel incorporates Lamb's caned stone fittings including florid two-part sedilia with the usual cross and crescent motif (fig. 40), two canopied niches in the angles of the cast wall which originally displayed the Ten Commandments, and an equally elaborate aumbry on the north side of the sanctuary. The mason who was paid extra for work on the sedilia was ‘ Mr Bellini’, perhaps William Bellenie of Fisher Street, Red Lion Square. (fn. 50)
The chapel is particularly rich in stained glass, most of it donated by benefactors at the time of building and of Lamb's own designing. In 1849, on proposing that the west window should be filled with heraldry, he was asked to prepare a plan for all of the windows (fn. 51) and his monogram appears on several, while others arc sufficiently similar to be confidently attributed to him. Most of the designs, in bright reds and blues against backgrounds of yellow stain with scrolled patterns, illustrate New Testament themes, with a special emphasis on healing and ministering to the sick. In execution the figures are often naively treated, but the identity of the manufacturers is unknown. The west window is the most elaborate and, in the main lights, depicts the twelve apostles under canopies. The heraldry so much favoured by Lamb is used principally in the south transept window where the committee of management chose to honour Foulis by placing his arms and crest and those of his sister. (fn. 52) A small window in the entrance to the nave depicting the widow's mite has Lamb's monogram and a pair of dividers at the bottom, and was a gift of the architect himself. (fn. 53)
The glass in the north transept window, which takes St. Cecilia playing the organ as its theme (appropriately, as the organ originally stood in the transept), was presented and probably designed by Lady Frankland Russell. The window at the west end of the north aisle, which dates from 1892, was designed and made by A. L. Moore and Company of Southampton Row. (fn. 54) The east window, also originally filled with stained glass, is now mostly clear.
The land which was purchased by the governors of the hospital from the trustees of the fifth Earl of Harrington in 1853 was the southern half of an irregularly shaped parcel of ground, about eight acres in extent, which lay on the east side of the lane variously known as Selwood, Sallad or Swan Lane. This eight-acre piece had formed a detached part of the large Harrington-Villars estate and had been divided, together with the remainder of that estate, between its aristocratic co-owners in 1851, the southern four acres devolving on Lord Harrington. The northern part, which had fallen to Baron Villars, had subsequently passed into the hands of the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851 who in turn conveyed it to the Smith's Charity trustees in exchange for other land (see page 103).
The whole eight-acre site has particular significance in the history of gardening. Here in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century Richard Sel(l)wood ran a famous nursery, and in the mid eighteenth century, when the tenant was John or Jean Rubergall, it was noted for the cultivation of lettuces. (fn. 55) In 1789 William Curtis, the author of Flora Londinensis and the founder of The Botanical Magazine, took over from Rubergall as tenant and moved the botanical garden which he had opened in Lambeth in 1779 to this spot. The Brompton Botanic Garden, as it was known, covered about three and a half acres, almost exactly conforming to the area which is now occupied by the streets and houses on the hospital's estate, while the remaining four and a half acres to the north were used for experiments in agriculture. After Curtis's death in 1799 his partner William Salisbury kept the garden here until 1808 when he moved it to Sloane Street, Chelsea. (fn. 56) He continued to use the ground at Brompton for a nursery, however, until 1829 when he was succeeded there by David Ramsay, whose establishment was known as the Queen's Elm or Swan Lane nursery. Ramsay's son, David Allan Ramsay, was the tenant when negotiations were taking place between Lord Harrington's representatives and the hospital authorities, and after vacating the nursery he pursued a chequered career as a builder on the Ladbroke estate in northern Kensington. (fn. 57)
The governors of the hospital had cast anxious eyes on this piece of ground from the moment that they had acquired the site for their new hospital from the Smith's Charity trustees in 1844. Forced by the Charity's surveyor to build the hospital closer to the western boundary of their plot than they would have wished, they viewed ‘ the attainment of this additional land as an object of the deepest importance to the well-being of the [hospital]; whether it be considered merely as adding to the present recreation-ground for Patients, or for the more important purpose of preventing the close proximity of other buildings, or for a still more lasting object, of the allowing of a future extension of the Building in that direction’ . (fn. 58)
After the partition of the Harrington-Villars estate in 1851 the hospital was under the impression that it had been promised first refusal of Lord Harrington's plot, but in the autumn of 1852 it was perturbed to learn that the Earl had concluded an agreement with the builder William Jackson to cover all of his estate with speculative housing, including the four acres in question. The surveyor George Pownall, who had previously warned the hospital that Lord Harrington's land was about to be offered for speculative development, was immediately authorized to treat with Jackson for the purchase of his interest and with Lord Harrington for the conveyance of the freehold. Pownall was in a good position to negotiate, for as surveyor to Baron Villars and H. B. Alexander and as agent for (Sir) Charles James Freake he was already much involved in the complex arrangements for the disposal of land in South Kensington which had followed the Great Exhibition of 1851. (fn. 59)
The precise area of the land was four acres and ten perches, and Jackson, on agreeing to relinquish his interest for £500 per acre, was promptly paid the requisite £2,031. (fn. 60) By February 1853 Pownall had concluded terms with Lord Harrington for the purchase of the freehold for £13,195 (£3,248 per acre), the Earl agreeing to wait three years for payment and in the meantime to receive interest at three-and-a-half per cent on the sum. A formal agreement to that effect was drawn up in May 1853, and the purchase money and interest were paid in full in April 1855 with the help of a loan of £9,000 from the hospital's honorary treasurer, John Labouchere, who was a partner in Williams and Deacon's Bank. As soon as the deed of sale had been signed a mortgage was arranged with three spinster sisters who were clients of the law firm of Philip Rose, the hospital's honorary secretary, to repay Labouchere's loan. (fn. 61)
In all the hospital had paid slightly over £16,000, or almost exactly £4,000 per acre, for the land, a sum which was higher, though not substantially higher in some instances, than the prices paid by the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851 to acquire their estate a little to the north. (fn. 62) Understandably, the governors felt called upon to include a long justification of the purchase in their annual report for 1853.
Once in possession of the land, and having set aside about half an acre to add to the grounds of the hospital, the committee of management sought to promote speculative building development on the remainder. By April 1853 (before the formal agreement with Lord Harrington had been signed) Pownall had prepared a scheme for letting the ground to Charles Delay of Lower Belgrave Place (now Buckingham Palace Road), builder, and a building agreement was drawn up in July. Delay, who had been the building lessee of No. 10 Beauchamp Place in 1844, when he was described as a plasterer, (fn. 63) was currently engaged in the building of the Oratory House in Thurloe Place as a sub-contractor of William Jackson and it seems likely that he was recommended by the latter. One of his sureties for carrying out his contract with the hospital was William Wright, manager to Jackson's brother, the contractor Thomas Jackson. The other surety was Charles Richardson of Paddington, a lime merchant.
The plan accompanying the agreement shows the present layout of streets on the estate, with a total of eightyseven house plots marked out. No doubt this was merely meant to be a general guide as under the agreement Delay was required to build only sixty-nine houses and to finish the development within six years. He or his nominees were to be granted leases for terms equivalent to ninety-seven and three-quarter years from 24 June 1853 at a total ground rent for the whole area of £120 in the first year, rising to £700 in the fifth and succeeding years. The houses were to be built according to plans and elevations previously submitted to, and approved by, the hospital's architect and surveyor, that is Pownall, who was to be paid four guineas per house ‘ for his time and trouble in and about the arrangement of the Plans and the superintending the building of the several messuages’. A long schedule of building materials to be used included the stipulation that, apart from internal partitions where place bricks were permissible, the brickwork was to consist of well-burnt grey stocks; the scantlings of the timber were also specified. (fn. 64)
While Delay was preparing the ground and laying foundations, however, the committee of management had second thoughts about how much land they should incorporate into the grounds of the hospital and asked the builder what price he would accept for surrendering the eastern of the two blocks delineated on the plan, up to the street now called Neville Street. On being told that he would want £2,000 and a proportionate reduction in his ground rent, the committee resolved to re-acquire the ground, George Godwin senior, acting on Delay's behalf, sought to modify slightly the terms which the committee thought had been agreed, and angered them by a ‘ peremptory’ letter demanding that the revised terms should be accepted at once. They refused, and later attempts by Godwin to be more conciliatory failed, the committee taking such umbrage over Godwin's tone that they resolved to have nothing more to do with the matter and ordered Delay to proceed with his contract forthwith. In the event Godwin had done his client no favour and the stoppage of building works while negotiations were proceeding may have contributed to difficulties which Delay subsequently encountered. The involvement of Godwin in this affair. however, raises the possibility that he may have designed the houses in Fulham Road and Foulis Terrace which were built under the agreement with Delay. (fn. 65)
Delay commenced building in earnest in November 1853 along Fulham Road, where the houses were originally named Rose Terrace after (Sir) Philip Rose. (fn. 66) The first block to be built, Nos. 80–92 (even), included the Rose public house, for which Delay sought a licence in February 1854. (fn. 67) In March of that year he applied to the hospital for mortgages, ‘ the Committee having kindly offered to assist him with advances’, and £3,000 was lent in the name of the Reverend Sir Henry Foulis, the chairman of the committee of management. (fn. 68) A further £1,500 was borrowed on a mortgage of the Rose public house to a client of Rose's law firm. (fn. 69) All seven houses, which, apart from the Rose, had shops on the ground floor, were completed and occupied by the end of 1855. (fn. 70)
In April 1855 Delay, who had established himself as the proprietor of the Rose public house, thus combining the callings of speculative builder and licensed victualler in a manner by no means uncommon in the mid nineteenth century, began building in Foulis Terrace, which was so named after Sir Henry Foulis. (fn. 71) In July of that year, however, his existing building agreement was replaced with a new one, partly because the hospital had now completed the purchase of the freehold of the land but mainly because Delay wanted some of the provisions modified. On reflection the committee of management probably thought that their treatment of him in the autumn of 1853 had been rather harsh and they extended the time limit for completion of the development by eighteen months, granting at the same time an initial period at a peppercorn rent. The new agreement also contained a clause allowing Delay to erect a church or chapel in lieu of some of the houses, a necessary stipulation for he had already received a request to make a plot available for a chapel and had obtained the committee's approval. The schedule of materials was shorter, one change requiring external walls, where not stuccoed, to be faced with malms. (fn. 72)
The mid 1850's were troublesome years for builders, and the easing of the conditions of his contract was probably designed to tide Delay over a period of financial stringency, but by January 1856 Pownall was having to urge the committee to grant him further assistance ‘ in the unfavourable state of the money market’. ‘ I believe’, he wrote, ‘ that but for the unforseen difficulties which the State of Public affairs has brought on all speculations similar to that under consideration, Mr Delay would have had no difficulty in obtaining the necessary funds to carry on his Building operations from the ordinary sources, but with the high interest which money now bears, a preference is given to other and more available security's [sic] and he has had and still has difficulty in obtaining sufficient funds to carry on the speculation with advantage to himself or to the Governors of the Hospital, who considering the high price they have given for the land are greatly interested in getting the property covered with Buildings and the ground rent secured at as early a period as possible.’ The committee accordingly resolved to lend Delay a further £5,000, making £8,000 in all, and were told that this sum, together with £2,000 from one of Rose's clients, would enable him to finish the houses in Foulis Terrace and Fulham Road. (fn. 73) Williams, Deacon and Company lent £5,000 to the hospital to cover the advance to Delay, both transactions being at the same rate of interest of six per cent. (fn. 74)
Delay was further helped by the purchase of No. 14 Foulis Terrace for £950 by the hospital as a residence for its chaplain, (fn. 75) and the remaining houses in the terrace and Nos. 94–108 (even) Fulham Road were begun in 1856. (fn. 76) In the autumn of that year, however, the development received a serious set back when Delay became insane and was confined in the Grove House Asylum at Bow, (fn. 77) He died a year later, in August 1857. (fn. 78)
Delay's widow, Ellen, and his clerk of works, Robert Wright, struggled on with the speculation. They found it difficult to dispose of any of the houses in Foulis Terrace and placed the blame on the unpleasant sight of male patients exercising in the hospital grounds opposite, ‘ walking up and down smoking and expectorating’. They requested that the west side of the hospital should be used by the female patients, who would presumably behave with more decorum, but had to repeat the complaint several times before the committee of management took action. (fn. 79) In 1858 six of the houses in the street were leased to John William Sanders of Guilford Street, St. Pancras, builder, who was presumably called in to assist with the development. (fn. 80) None of the houses in Foulis Terrace (with the possible exception of the chaplain's house) were occupied before that year. (fn. 70)
Early in 1859 Ellen Delay asked the committee of management to accept the rent which had been reserved to date—some £440—instead of the higher rent which was then due under the building agreement and to postpone further the date when the full rent of £700 would be due, ‘in consideration of the unprecedented difficulties which have attended the working out of this contract and the severe losses that both she and her late husband have sustained’. The committee were sympathetic and Philip Rose in reply suggested that Mrs. Delay might like to give up the undeveloped part of the land which she held under the agreement. She readily consented, and in return for the hospital remitting an outstanding mortgage debt of £2,200 and paying her £200, she also surrendered her interest in four houses in Fulham Road, Nos. 96, 98, 102 and 104, which had not yet been let. (fn. 81) The hospital soon found a purchaser who was prepared to pay £650 for each of these houses, but after some legal difficulties had arisen, he was eventually granted long leases at rents of £60 per annum per house. (fn. 82)
The houses in Foulis Terrace were all taken by 1860, but some of the houses and shops in Fulham Road were not occupied until 1861. (fn. 70)
The undeveloped ground was let within a short time of its surrender by Mrs. Delay. The builder who took it over was Thomas Stimpson of Brompton Row, Brompton Road, a carpenter by trade. (fn. 83) He agreed to build at least fifty houses at an ultimate ground rent (after five years) of £260 per annum, thus making up the £700 which had been anticipated under the original agreement with Delay. As before, Pownall was to approve the elevations, and brief general specifications were appended to the building agreement. (fn. 84)
Stimpson was fortunate in taking over the speculation during an upturn in the building cycle when demand was high and credit plentiful, but he was also assisted by a loan of £2,000 from the hospital. (fn. 85) The building agreement was signed in November 1859 and by May 1863 he had been granted leases for a sufficient number of houses to secure the whole of the ground rent of £260 for which he was liable. Under the terms of the agreement he was entitled to receive any subsequent leases at a peppercorn rent, but he proposed that another £100 in ground rents should be created in return for a payment to him of a sum equivalent to twenty years’ purchase, namely the £2,000 which he owed to the hospital. The committee agreed, the remaining leases were granted by mid 1864 at ground rents amounting to £100, and his debt was cancelled. (fn. 86) Stimpson built forty-nine houses in all in Neville Street, Neville Terrace and Onslow Gardens, the shortfall being accounted for by the erection of a school behind Onslow Chapel, and only one of the houses appears to have been still unoccupied at the end of 1865. (fn. 70) The reason for the street name Neville is not known, but it does not appear to have had anything to do with the hospital.
The first lessees of the individual houses in Neville Street and Neville Terrace included a number of persons connected with the building trades, nearly all with local addresses in Brompton and Chelsea, who were evidently assisting Stimpson with the development. They were George Brown, plumber and builder; Henry Joseph Chappell, smith; Charles Dunning, carpenter and builder; James Edwards, builder; Thomas Emery, plumber; William Morgan of Albert Terrace, Knightsbridge, builder; Christopher Richard Surrey, builder; John Henry Surrey, builder; George Taylor, ironmonger; and Thomas Tozer of Crescent Mews, Belgrave Square, builder. (fn. 87)
The leases of Nos. 9–16 (consec.) Onslow Gardens (fn. n4) were divided between Alfred Williams of Pelham Street, who initially described himself as a builder and later as architect and surveyor, and Thomas Wyatt of Maddox Street, Mayfair, and later Sydney Street, Chelsea, architect and surveyor. (fn. 88) No. 16, of which Williams was the lessee, was sold in 1864 for £2,250 to the two daughters of William Makepeace Thackeray, who had had to move out of their father's house at No. 2 Palace Green after his death on Christmas Eve 1863. (fn. 89) Alfred Williams, who was for some time assistant district surveyor and later district surveyor for South Kensington, took up residence himself in 1865 at No. 17 Onslow Gardens (formerly No. 15 Neville Terrace), where he shared an office with the then district surveyor, T. L. Donaldson, their former premises having been in Pelham Street on the site of the present London Transport offices. Williams was not the first lessee of No. 17, however.
By 1863 the hospital was receiving the full ground rent of £700 which Pownall had thought that the estate would bear. In addition it had obtained an extension to its grounds which he considered to be worth £100 per annum, and if this is added to the £700, the governors had paid almost exactly twenty years’ purchase for Lord Harrington's land. This was by no means an excessive rate, especially as the hospital had a valuable reversionary interest in the houses which had been erected. Despite the delay in the completion of building development, the hospital had, indeed, fared rather well from its investment in contrast to the sad fate of the first developer.
The houses built under the auspices of firstly Delay and secondly Stimpson fall into two groups, the earlier houses having fully stuccoed facades and the later ones grey brick with stucco dressings. Of the first group, the two terraces at Nos. 80–108 (even) Fulham Road, which have three storeys above ground-floor shops, have been greatly mutilated, only the Rose public house retaining an impressive display of dressings with faceted quoins, elaborate architraves to the windows and a bracketed cornice.
Foulis Terrace consists of a symmetrical group of fourteen houses, each originally of four main storeys (the additional storeys at Nos. 10 and 11 dating from 1875 (fn. 90), with Doric porches and standard Italianate features above. The balconies at first-floor level have iron railings which are identical in pattern to those used by C. J. Freake on the neighbouring Smith's Charity estate. Inside, according to a description in 1858, the houses had a dining-room and library on the ground floor, two drawing-rooms on the first floor and five bedrooms and a dressing-room on the top two floors. (fn. 91)
The houses built under the agreement with Stimpson display a number of variations on the Italianate theme. Nos. 9–l6 (consec.) Onslow Gardens are divided by Neville Street into two groups of four tall, impressive four-store), houses, in which the bold Tuscan porches, well-spaced window-openings with wide architraves, prominent stringcourse at third-floor level and crowning entablature with dentil cornice and guilloche-band frieze convey an air of solid prosperity (Plate 63b).
The houses in Neville Street are much smaller, the majority having only three storeys above basements, and the decorative motifs are more crowded. Each side of the street consists of a terrace of thirteen houses in which the three houses in the centre and two at each end are advanced slightly from the general building line. On the east side Nos. 1–2 at the south end and Nos. 12–13 at the north end have an additional full storey above the cornice, but on the west side the symmetry is rather surprisingly destroyed by the omission of the extra storey from Nos. 25–26. The addition of attic storeys with dormer windows to some of the other houses commenced as early as 1871 when it was stated that ‘ any addition to the houses in Neville Street will be for the interests of the Hospital’. (fn. 92)
In Neville Terrace the house fronts are less standardised and display an almost playful combination of decorative motifs (Plate 64c), perhaps the result of an attempt to produce a foil to the dour and at that time unfashionable late-Georgian houses of Selwood Terrace opposite. At the south end of the terrace No. 1 and the entrance bay of No. 2 share a wide gabled facade which is set back, presumably to avoid encroachment on the view of the Onslow Chapel to the south. Alterations were soon made to several of the houses. No. 17 Onslow Gardens (originally No. 15 Neville Terrace) was raised by a storey in 1872 and further altered in 1875, and extra storeys were also added to No. 8 in 1878 and No. 4 in 1885, although the hospital's architect, Lewis Karslake, did say of the latter addition that it would be ‘ a decided improvement as regards the interior of the house but will damage the general appearance of the Terrace’. (fn. 93)
The census of 1871 was the first to be taken after all of the houses on the estate had been completed. (fn. 94) Apart from the shops with living quarters above in Fulham Road, which are perhaps best placed in a separate category, there are sixty-three houses in Foulis Terrace, Neville Street, Neville Terrace and the small part of Onslow Gardens which belongs to the estate. Three of these houses were being looked after by caretakers on the night of the census while awaiting new occupants, and of the other sixty, nine were used as lodging-houses (seven of them in Neville Street) and No. 13 Onslow Gardens housed a girls’ boarding-school. The remaining fifty houses had 284 occupants, of whom 107 were servants, an average of 5.68 persons (including 2.14 servants) per house. The biggest households were in Onslow Gardens, where three of the resident families each had five servants. The total number of occupants in the nine lodging-houses was sixty-three, an average of exactly seven per house; most of the lodgers described themselves as annuitants or shareholders. Some even had their own servants, but in six of the lodginghouses only one general servant attended to the needs of everybody else.
Apart from the three caretakers, nine lodging-house keepers and headmistress of the girls’ school, there were fifty householders, of whom seventeen lived off the proceeds from rents, government funds, stocks and shares or annuities. This large rentier element was, however, actually outnumbered by those belonging to the professions, who totalled twenty-two. They included four solicitors, three barristers, three retired army officers, three music teachers (all living in Neville Terrace), two clergymen (the chaplain of Brompton Hospital and a curate of Holy Trinity, Brompton), a civil engineer, an artist, an artistic repairer (from the South Kensington Museum), a physician, a dentist, an architect and surveyor (Alfred Williams at No. 17 Onslow Gardens), and an ‘ editor and journalist’ (Leslie Stephen, who was living at No. 16 Onslow Gardens with his first wife, Harriet Marian, the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, and her sister, Anne, later Anne Thackeray Ritchie). Nine of the householders were connected with commerce and industry—two merchants, a ‘ warehouse man’, a linen manufacturer, a commercial traveller (who was not present on the night of the census but whose wife described his occupation in those words), two builders (Thomas Stimpson at No. 1 Neville Street and Christopher R. Surrey at No. 10 Neville Terrace), an upholsterer and a retired contractor. The remaining two householders were clerks in the civil service.
In Fulham Road all but one of the houses (No. 96) were occupied by the families and assistants of the proprietors of the ground-floor shops. The households were generally small with one, or sometimes two, servants, and in some instances none at all. The exceptions were a draper who occupied three of the houses and had fourteen assistants living-in as well as four servants, and the publican of the Rose who had three servants. Two of the houses were divided, the other occupants being an annuitant and a shareholder, and the head of the household which occupied the premises above a lock-up wine shop at No. 96 also derived his income from dividends. In all there were ninety-nine occupants of the fifteen houses, of whom eighteen were servants and eighteen more were shop assistants.
The expansion of the hospital since the war of 1939–45 has led to the adaptation of several houses on the estate to provide services for the hospital or accommodation for its staff, while other houses have been let on a short-term basis so as to be available for similar uses in the near future. In Neville Terrace, however, houses have continued to be let on long leases or sold freehold, a policy first introduced in 1979, amid the uncertainties brought about by leasehold reform legislation and when attempts to sell houses on eighty-year leases were proving unsuccessful. (fn. 95) The governors have used the proceeds from the sale of houses in Neville Terrace to purchase property in King's Road, Chelsea, adjacent to the site of the proposed new chest and heart hospital, for much the same reasons that induced their predecessors to buy the land adjacent to Brompton Hospital some 130 years ago.
Onslow Chapel, Neville Terrace
This chapel (now demolished) was built in 1856 for an interdenominational congregation which had been meeting for some years in the former premises of the Western Grammar School on the site of the present No. 2 Alexander Place (see page 85). The first minister, the Reverend John Bigwood, was a Baptist, and the chapel quickly became known as the Onslow Baptist Chapel.
The chapel was a substantial building finished in Kentish rag with Bath stone dressings and was later described as ‘ one of those early attempts of the Nonconformists to establish a better style of architecture in their buildings for public worship’ (Plate 64a). The towers with octagonal open belfries and spires which flanked the west front were conspicuous landmarks in the district before many of the surrounding houses and churches were built. The interior had a western gallery and an unusual arched ceiling divided into compartments by beams and intersecting ribs with enriched bosses at their main junctions. The architect was William Mumford and the builder was Thomas Rudkin of St. Giles in the Fields. A large hall which served as a schoolroom and lecture-hall was erected in 1862 behind the chapel, facing Neville Street.
The contract price for the chapel was £2,369 and the entire cost was estimated at the time of building to be about £3,500 The cost of the hall was said at the time of opening to be £900, but in 1872 it was stated that about £6,000 had been spent on both structures. A lease of the chapel site was granted by the governors of the hospital in 1856 at a ground rent of £42 per annum, and another lease of the hall was granted in 1862 at a further annual rent of £10. (fn. 96)
The chapel continued to be used until shortly after the war of 1939–45, but after standing empty and decaying for some years it was demolished in 1961. (fn. 97)