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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
The portion of Gower Street that lies in the parish is that north of Francis Street. It was earlier known as Upper Gower Street. The whole street is now numbered consecutively from south to north, the odd numbers being on the west and the even numbers on the east.
The first six houses on each side, Nos. 87–97 (west), and Nos. 88–98 (east), are on the site of Cantlowes Close and building leases were granted for their erection by Francis, Duke of Bedford, in 1789. (fn. 74) There is a break of 4½ inches at the north end of each block of six, which, apart from the difference in architectural character, marks the boundary of the site.
Each of these houses is three storeys in height above a basement, with stock brick facings, plain papapet and slate-covered mansard roofs with dormer windows lighting the attics. No. 91 has had its front wall raised to convert the attic into an additional storey. The first and second floors have each three sash windows and a stone string-course runs at first-floor sill level. In place of the northern window on the ground floor is the entrance beneath a semicircular brick arch. The moulded head of the door frame, which breaks forward over side pilasters, is set above springing level, making the fanlight contained in the arch segmental in shape. The entrances are wide, with generous stone thresholds and steps, the impression of width being increased by the skilful treatment of the wrought-iron railings. No. 90 retains its tall curved lamp standard with an interlacing pattern of wrought iron. The ground floors of Nos. 95 and 97 have been rendered in cement and jointed to resemble masonry. The fanlights on the east side of the street are more elaborate than those on the west. The interiors of these houses have contemporary fireplaces one of which, with fluted frieze and pilasters, at No. 98, is illustrated here (page 78). There is much well wrought enrichment as shown in the arch and cornice to the hall of the same house (see above). Measured drawings of the exterior are given on Plate 29.
The next ten houses (Nos. 99 to 117) on the west, (fn. 75) and nine houses (Nos. 100 to 116) on the east, (fn. 76) were built on the six-acre field belonging to the Southampton estate. Those on the west were leased in February, 1790, and those on the east (excepting Nos. 114 and 116), in March of the same year, by Lord Southampton to Alexander Hendy, or to the carpenters and others who were apparently Hendy's nominees. No. 102 was an exception and was leased to Thomas Newte, Esq.
The houses are of the same size as those to the south, each of the upper storeys being three windows wide. There are, however, variations in their elevations. On the west side Nos. 99, 101 and 103, have an arcaded front to the ground floor, with three arches each. Their doorways are flanked by small Doric columns which are oval on plan. No. 105 has been rebuilt or re-faced. Nos. 107, 109, 111 and 113 have all been rendered in cement and otherwise altered, the doorways to the first and last being bricked up. The other entrances have small panelled pilasters to the doorcases. No. 115 retains its brick front and has balconies to the three first-floor windows and No. 101 its tall lamp standard.
On the opposite side of the street, Nos. 100 to 116 were built uniformly but Nos. 102, 108 and 110 have been badly damaged in the airraids. Nos. 114 and 116 have had a good deal of alteration, with new stone doorways and railings of a modern pattern. The old doorways were particularly well designed. Under a semicircular arch, and an inner arch within this, is a fanlight with nine radiating divisions and a concentric band with lozenge pattern. Each doorhead has a cornice and fluted frieze, broken by a central panel and two rams' heads which are directly over pilasters which separate the door from narrow side lights. Beneath the rams' heads are carved festoons reaching halfway down the pilasters. The doors are sixpanelled, the four above being fielded and the lower flush. Each door has a broad stone threshold in front, approached by three steps, and the railings are of good standard design. The lamp standards remain at Nos. 100 and 102.
North of No. 117 on the west comes the Mortimer estate (see p. 76). The original leases range from 1811 to 1819, (fn. 77) but all the houses seem to have been uniform in design and erected together. Nos. 119, 121, 123 and 125 on the west side remain largely as built. Nos. 127, 129 and 131 have had certain alterations to make them into one building and the remainder (Nos. 133 to 137) have been entirely reconstructed. The original houses are four storeys in height over a basement, and two windows wide on the upper floors. The ground floors are rendered and cement-jointed to imitate masonry, each doorway having a wide semicircular arch and two-light window alongside, under the latter segmental arch at Nos. 119 and 121, but square-headed for the remainder. The doors are six-panelled with a bead down the centre and those of Nos. 119 and 121 are flanked by fluted columns, supporting a moulded head set above springing level with a fanlight filling the tympanum; the others, which are later, have a lion's head over panelled pilasters. There is a plain cement string at first-floor level with balconies, which have a good continuous interlacing pattern of ironwork. (The balcony has been removed from No. 121.) Each of the upper floors has two rectangular window openings with a moulded string under the sills of the third-floor windows. The parapet has a plain coping. The entrance is approached by a threshold raised on four steps flanked by the railings that guard the areas. The doorways of Nos. 127 and 131 have been converted into windows, the original windows being here square-headed. The houses on the Mortimer estate on the opposite side of the road have been removed and their site absorbed in University College, which is described separately.
The only house of interest north of University College on the east side is No. 140, the shop of Messrs. H. K. Lewis & Co., Ltd., booksellers (Plates 31 and 32). This is an excellent design in stucco, the first-floor windows being contained within an arcade of three arches. Above these are the three windows of the second storey, the whole being surmounted by a deep cornice and parapet with three panelled blocks, the central one being the width of the middle window. The shop front is particularly good, and is designed in four divisions (central door, a window each side and house door on the right) contained by pilasters with palmette capitals. An unbroken entablature forms the fascia, with ornamental architrave and a good balcony balustrade above. The house door has a large circular panel in the centre.
Opposite, on the west side of the road, are Nos. 169–173, three houses with stucco fronts. The doors and windows on the ground floor are arched. No. 169 has a continuous balcony at the first floor, while the remainder has sections of railings to each window. Between the first and second floors is a panelled string, and above the second floor is a moulded cornice and parapet. The mansard roof has attic dormers. The iron railings at street level are of good design and an arched lamp-bracket survives at No. 169.
Gower Street Chapel. Just north of Grafton Way on the west side of the street, between Nos. 141 and 143, stood Gower Street Chapel, erected in 1820 (fn. 78) by seceding members from William Huntingdon's Providence Chapel, which was originally in Titchfield Street but was rebuilt in 1811 in Gray's Inn Road. The first minister was the Rev. Henry Fowler, of Birmingham, and he was succeeded by a Mr. Blackstock in 1848. He resigned shortly after and the chapel was bought by the Rev. Arthur Triggs, of Plymouth. (fn. n1)
Note: In the neighbouring Upper Thornhaugh Street (now Huntley Street), lived Mary Moser (d. 1819), flower painter, only child of George Michael Moser (1704–1783), chaser and enameller. Her flower painting won her fame and she decorated a room at Frogmore for Queen Charlotte. She was a foundation member of the Royal Academy and married (1793) Captain Hugh Lloyd of Chelsea. Mrs. Lloyd died at Upper Thornhaugh Street and was buried at Kensington.