Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1980.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
Mount Street: North Side
Nos. 1–5 (consec.) Mount Street, 3–7 (odd) Davies Street, and Carpenter Street Buildings.
The whole rectangle bounded by Mount Street, Davies Street, Mount Row and Carpenter Street was demolished for rebuilding in 1887. (fn. 2) The northern end of this site having been set aside by the Estate for working-class housing, a range of tenements was duly erected in 1888–9 by the Artizans', Labourers' and General Dwellings Company Limited to the designs of their architect, F. T. Pilkington. (fn. 3) These flats were in two parts; the main block (Carpenter Street Buildings) was of four storeys and faced in plain brick, with terracotta or dyed-concrete dressings, but towards Davies Street (Nos. 5 and 7) there was a shop with some larger flats above and the elevation was correspondingly richer (Plate 19a). A further single-storey shop at No. 3 Davies Street abutted on to the larger building behind, facing Mount Street.
Here a range of five shops with chambers over was planned. Since some of the existing tenants from the site commanded adequate means and included two estate agents, a consortium was formed and Ernest George and Peto were chosen as architects. (fn. 4) They soon produced a capable, disciplined design in their Francois Premier manner, entirely symmetrical towards Mount Street yet with angled corners and a variety of straight gables and bay windows (Plate 89d, and see Plate 19a). The shop fronts and copings were to be of Portland stone, the upper storeys in red brick with a peppering of cut and moulded ornament. The estate agents had their own architects, R. S. Wornum for Curtis and Henson at No. 5, a Mr. Russell for Arber, Rutter and Waghorn at No. 1. (fn. 5) But George and Peto appear to have planned all the flats above: 'in almost all cases the kitchens are arranged at the top, sometimes with their own small separate staircase carried through an intermediate floor, and with lifts from their cellars to these sky kitchens', commented The Architect. (fn. 6) The range was built in 1888–9 by B. E. Nightingale. (fn. 7)
In 1964 the working-class flats, Nos. 3–7 Davies Street and the eastern half of George and Peto's range (Nos. 1–3 Mount Street) were demolished. A large stone-fronted office building (No. 1 Mount Street) with shops in Davies Street (Nos. 1–7 odd) and flats behind in Mount Row (Connaught House) was erected here in 1965–7 by Construction and Design Services. The chief feature of this block is a spacious ground-floor office in Mount Street, designed by Misha Black, Kenneth Bayes and Alexander Gibson for the Chase Manhattan Bank. (fn. 8)
Nos. 6–9 (consec.) Mount Street, 1–8 (consec.) Carlos Place and 1–15 (odd) Mount Row.
Because of the large outlays anticipated for making the new curve of Carlos Place, the Estate decided in 1890–1 to develop along the curve with houses not shops, and to offer this site (in conjunction with Nos. 6–9 Mount Street, the west side of Carpenter Street and the south side of Mount Row behind) to 'one substantial firm of contractors' rather than to existing tenants. George Haward Trollope promptly offered to take the site, and in June 1891 a building contract was signed with his firm, George Trollope and Sons. For a ninety-year building lease of the front portions Trollope agreed to pay a shilling per square foot, 'as all the other shops in Mount Street have been rebuilt on ground rents of upwards of 1/-a superficial foot'; Nos. 6–9 Mount Street and 1 Carlos Place were to be shops with flats above, Nos. 2–8 Carlos Place private houses. (fn. 9) Construction proceeded in 1891–3 to the designs of J. E. Trollope of Giles, Gough and Trollope, who produced pleasing elevations in brick with Portland-stone dressings and some cut-brick ornament (Plate 34d in vol. XXXIX). Demand for flats at this time was evidently high, for these were all taken before completion, while several of the private houses were also agreed for at an early stage. (fn. 10)
The houses were destined for the top end of the market, and all had or have internal woodwork of Jacobean character. Inside No. 7 Carlos Place are some excellent mid-Georgian fireplaces, evidently imported, while No. 8 has the remnants of an elaborate French interior probably installed in about 1910, and a first-floor conservatory at the back. At No. 3 Carlos Place, Detmar Blow, sometime the second Duke of Westminster's private secretary, lived and worked rent-free between 1928 and 1939, the Duke having bought the lease for £6,000 and agreed not to collect rents during his lifetime. (fn. 11)
By a separate contract, Trollopes built stables at what are now Nos. 1–15 (odd) Mount Row in 1892–3. (fn. 12) At the corner with Carpenter Street, No. 1 Mount Row was converted in about 1919 into a mews house with elegant Empire interiors designed by Gilbert and Constanduros for the speculator Monty Matheson, and taken over in 1924 by the Baroness Marguerite de Brienen. (fn. 13) As the façades were not greatly altered, their Queen Anne character must have been at entertaining odds with the interiors.
Mayfair House and No. 13 Carlos Place
Mayfair House and No. 13 Carlos Place (Plate 90d). Two quite noteworthy buildings of distinctly different scales on the west side of Carlos Place, both dating from the early 1920's, are connected with the histories of Nos. 47 and 48 Grosvenor Square to their north.
Under a plan of 1912 emanating from Edmund Wimperis, the two houses in the square were to be rebuilt with reduced depth, so that a further two houses and a bank could be fitted in facing Carlos Place. (fn. 14) At that time only No. 47 Grosvenor Square was rebuilt, but the demolition of stabling at its rear and some buildings at the corner of Carlos Place and Adams Row left enough space for the large Mayfair House to be erected on the site in 1920–1 by Holloway Brothers to the designs of Edmund Wimperis and Simpson (Plate 90d). The building consisted of a bank with four capacious flats (one for each floor) above. The treatment of the main elevation is richly neo-Georgian, with red brick, restrained stone dressings and carving (by Gilbert Seale and Sons) and a pediment at attic level. (fn. 15) In 1931 the freehold of Mayfair House was sold to the Westminster Bank Limited for £11,000. (fn. 16)
At No. 13 Carlos Place, strangely sandwiched between Mayfair House and No. 48 Grosvenor Square (eventually rebuilt as flats in 1927–8) is a small, somewhat altered façade in Daneshill bricks, with a pantiled roof and open attic sporting lion-head antefixes (fig. 77). This enigmatic building started life as a 'racquets court' for No. 47 Grosvenor Square; it was designed by E. Vincent Harris for Major Stephen Courtauld and erected in 1924. (fn. 17) There was no door or opening towards Carlos Place, but simply a large central niche wherein stood an impressive bronze figure by A. F. Hardiman of St. George, 'familiarly known to local taxi-drivers as "old George"'; this was removed to Eltham Hall around 1935. (fn. 18) In about 1953 the niche was lengthened into a door and small windows were inserted when the building became the O'Hana Gallery, (fn. 19) which extends back to include other former parts of No. 47 Grosvenor Square (see page 161).
The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place.
This establishment began life in 1815 as the Prince of Saxe Coburg Hotel, run by Francis Grillon, and was until 1917 known as the Coburg. (fn. 20) It is believed originally to have been an offshoot of Grillon's Hotel in Albemarle Street, founded in 1803 by the chef Alexander Grillon. (fn. 21) The original premises were three houses on the west side of Charles Street which Grillon acquired one by one between 1815 and 1820, and for two of which he was granted a new lease in 1824. (fn. 22) From early days the Coburg was a fashionable private hotel, and during a short stay in September 1832 the Duchess d'Angoulême was visited here by Queen Adelaide. (fn. 24) In about 1857 Grillon was succeeded as hotelkeeper by Auguste Scorrier. (fn. 23)
Though Scorrier wished to rebuild the hotel as early as 1884, his lease was extended to 1893 in order to avoid works before the new shape of Carlos Place had been settled. (fn. 25) At that date he was given rebuilding terms, but he had to agree not to have a public bar in the new hotel because the Estate feared that he might mortgage his contract to his solicitors, Young, Jones and Company, who also acted for brewers and distillers, and that the Coburg might thus 'become a large public house instead of a quiet hotel'. (fn. 26) In fact the solicitors turned out to have purchased Scorrier's lease, so the proviso had some point.
The architects for the new building, chosen by Eustace Balfour from a list of three advanced by Young, Jones and Company, were Lewis H. Isaacs and Henry L. Florence, a well-known firm that specialized in hotels and had recently built Holborn Town Hall; the builders, Langdale, Hallett and Company, were nominated by Scorrier. (fn. 27) Demolition took place in the spring of 1894 and the new buildings were finished in 1896. By then Scorrier had died and the building contract had been assigned to an 'influential proprietary syndicate', the Coburg Hotel Company, in which Sir J. Blundell Maple had a large interest. His firm of Maple and Company was responsible for decorations and furnishing throughout. Mr. Kossuth Hudson having been installed as first manager, Sir Blundell Maple was soon entertaining foreign dukes to luncheon in the completed hotel. (fn. 28)
The exterior of the Connaught, in a simple red brick with plenty of stone-mullioned windows, is not an inspiring performance, but much of the original lateVictorian richness and amplitude remains within. An irregular reception room to the left of the entrance, screened off from the main lobby by columns, was at first a smoking-lounge 'with tempting divans'; opposite, the old morning- or reading-room with high panelling and a deep frieze is well preserved. In the centre is an open-well staircase entirely of teak, while the famous oak-panelled dining-room (originally the coffee-room) faces Adams Row. There were two private suites of reception rooms on the ground floor, and at upper levels the floors were divided into sizeable suites, decorated in different styles. (fn. 29)
In 1898 an iron and glass shelter was constructed in front of the main entrance despite the opposition of the London County Council, who eventually agreed to tolerate it (Plate 91d). In the following year Maple and Company built some additional bedrooms, but the hotel was not further extended until around 1950, when Darcy Braddell and Humphry Deane carried out a long-intended scheme to build over the last bay of the hotel towards Mount Street, which had previously been restricted to two storeys, (fn. 30) and to make a new rear entrance. This was done in a manner hardly diverging from the original style. In 1930 the freehold of the Connaught was sold by the Estate, but promptly repurchased after the war of 1939–45. The hotel is now managed by the Savoy Hotel Company.
Nos. 10–12 (consec.) Mount Street and 8–11 (consec.) Adams Row.
This range of a shop and a bank with flats over was built in 1894–6. The auctioneers Walton and Lee, displaced by the Coburg Hotel, were the rebuilding tenants for No. 10, but no tenant could be found for Nos. 11–12, which were therefore in February 1894 offered to George Trollope and Sons, who 'had many men out of employ'. H. C. Boyes was chosen as architect by Walton and Lee, and his stiff but friendly five-bay design (with oriels and central doorcase reminiscent of Norman Shaw's New Zealand Chambers) was carried out by Trollopes. (fn. 31) The premises at the rear, Nos. 8–11 (consec.) Adams Row, have all been rebuilt in recent years.
Nos. 13–26 (consec.) Mount Street and 12–20 (consec.) Adams Row
Nos. 13–26 (consec.) Mount Street and 12–20 (consec.) Adams Row (Plate 34a, fig. 20c in vol. XXXIX). This was the last and one of the longest of the ranges rebuilt in Mount Street. It was erected by Holloway Brothers in 1896–8 to the designs of Herbert Read and Robert Falconer Macdonald, and replaced old shops and the extensive Trafalgar stables behind. By 1896 the demand to rehouse displaced businesses in Mount Street seems to have declined, as the terms for building nine shops with rooms above and stabling were offered direct to Holloways, who requested their frequent associates Read and Macdonald as architects. Their polished design, with neat red-brick and gabled elevations in the Tudor style, stone ground storeys, mullioned bays above, and inventive shop fronts in Arts and Crafts taste, was soon accepted; the fronts of the stabling were simpler but in character. During construction, the central shops at Nos. 17–21 were thrown into one for Phillips's Limited, glass and china dealers, but the entrance to their shop has since been transformed into a circular window. Behind in the mews, No. 16 Adams Row has been entirely rebuilt since 1960. (fn. 32)
Nos. 27–28 Mount Street and 34–42 (consec.) South Audley Street.
This large corner block with its longer front to South Audley Street, originally consisting of shops, five houses, and the Audley Hotel, was built to the designs of Thomas Verity in 1888–9. The old buildings on the site included the Bricklayers' Arms at the corner, which the Duke allowed Watney and Company to continue (with the more respectable name of the Audley Hotel) only in exchange for a surrender of the lease of the Three Compasses elsewhere in Mount Street. (fn. 33) Following a meeting of tenants involved in August 1887 Verity was appointed architect, though he had to change his first elevation for the pub, which the Duke opined was 'too ginpalace-y in Mount Street' and wanting in solidity on the ground floor. The building contract was exchanged in July 1888 but there was some delay during construction (undertaken by Green and Son of Hackney), as some tenants differed from Verity over the appointment of a quantity surveyor. The facing materials for the stripey elevations were brick and pink terracotta supplied by J. C. Edwards of Ruabon. Within the main bar of the Audley, some characteristic late-Victorian woodwork and a pleasant clock contribute to the atmosphere. (fn. 34)
Audley Mansions: Nos. 44 Mount Street and 56 South Audley Street
Audley Mansions: Nos. 44 Mount Street and 56 South Audley Street (Plate 90a: see also Plate 33d in vol. XXXIX). Hearing in November 1883 that this important corner site was available for rebuilding, the architect J. T. Wimperis applied on his own behalf for terms to build 'first-class' residential chambers and shops. Following approval of his plans, William Brass and Son erected Audley Mansions in 1884–6. (fn. 35) Wimperis's design was for a compact but tall block of red brick with Portland-stone dressings in a full Queen Anne style. In accordance with the Duke's intentions there was a shop (now a bank and much altered) facing South Audley Street (Plate 77d), while towards Mount Street the appearance was purely residential. There are central gables on both fronts and a prominent bow at the corner.
Nos. 45–52 (consec.) Mount Street
Nos. 45–52 (consec.) Mount Street (Plate 90a). Since the Duke had decided that Mount Street west of South Audley Street should be free from commerce, rebuilding terms for these sites were not offered to existing tenants, but (as a rare experiment on the Estate's part) were made public in an advertisement seeking tenders for the construction of first-class houses without stabling. Only three offers were received, from George Trollope and Sons, William Willett, and Matthews, Rogers and Company, all approximating to a shilling per square foot. Trollopes were favoured by the Grosvenor Board, and a contract was duly made in June 1891, apparently without approval of plans; building was completed in 1893. (fn. 36) As in Carlos Place, the eight houses were designed by John Evelyn Trollope (not by W. D. Caröe, as first reported in The Architect). (fn. 37) They are decent essays in a gabled, loosely Queen Anne or Tudor manner, in red brick with some Portland stone and with two varieties of bay windows. The houses are not deep, but the interiors have generous wooden staircases, and reception rooms with bays at the back as well as the front. Trollopes found no difficulty in letting them quickly. Among first occupants were Viscount Walmer, M.P. (later second Earl of Selborne) at No. 49, Sir John Dickson-Poynder, M.P., at No. 50, and the Hon. Lady Henrietta Grey-Egerton at No. 51. (fn. 23)
At the back of these buildings, in Reeves Mews, there now stand three blocks of flats, all in the neo-Georgian manner—No. 6, built in 1951–3 to designs by Messrs. Joseph, Park Mount Lodge of 1964–6 by Nicol Stuart Morrow, and No. 10 of 1965–8 by Robertson Ward Associates. (fn. 38)
Nos. 53 Mount Street and 34–42 (even) Park Street.
Following their success at Nos. 45–52 Mount Street, George Trollope and Sons treated in July 1893 to build houses on the whole of the frontage of Park Street between Reeves Mews and Mount Street as well as on the ground between No. 52 Mount Street and the corner. Trollopes used these sites in 1895–7 to add a single house (No. 53 Mount Street) to their previous range and build a quite separate set of five houses along Park Street (Nos. 34–42 even); all these were again designed by John E. Trollope of Giles, Gough and Trollope in a more pronouncedly Queen Anne version of his normal red-brick style. (fn. 39) Trollopes had at first wished to build the whole of the Park Street front down to the corner with Mount Street to a unified design, and in December 1895 Giles, Gough and Trollope's drawing for this was in fact published; (fn. 40) but by then Lord Windsor had agreed to take the two corner plots, throw them into one, and build what became the important No. 54 Mount Street to his own architect's designs (see below). J. E. Trollope's own scheme was therefore curtailed along Park Street to five houses. At No. 42, on the corner with Reeves Mews, he seems to have collaborated with the architect M. E. Collins to produce behind a standard façade a house of greater elaboration, boasting florid Jacobean interiors which until quite recently survived in good condition. (fn. 41) The other houses adhere quite closely to the type of plan used at Nos. 45–52 Mount Street, except at No. 34 Park Street, where major alterations were undertaken in 1913–14 by the occupant, James de Rothschild (Plate 90b). He virtually rebuilt the front with a bow window on the upper storeys, replanned the garden with trellis screens and a pergola, and installed some elegant interior fittings including one room with a fireplace and doorcase in Chinese taste. Architects for this work were Romaine-Walker and Jenkins, and builders George Trollope and Sons and Colls and Sons. (fn. 42)
No. 54 Mount Street
No. 54 Mount Street (Plate 87, fig. 78: see also Plates 36a, 37, fig. 23d in vol. XXXIX). This opulent town mansion was built for Lord Windsor in 1896–9 by George Trollope and Sons to the designs of Fairfax B. Wade. It is now occupied as the Brazilian ambassador's residence.
Lord Windsor, later first Earl of Plymouth (1857–1923), was notable as a connoisseur and patron of the arts, especially architecture. On the strength of his extensive property and mining interests he had already built a lavish country house, Bodley and Garner's Hewell Grange (1884–91); this, though fastidiously detailed, was slightly cold and academic, so for his London house he perhaps hankered for something more exuberant. In 1892 Windsor applied (through Fairfax Wade) for a renewal of the lease of his previous house at No. 53 Grosvenor Street, but this was refused. (fn. 43) By autumn 1895 he had decided to take the large site under Trollopes at the corner of Park Street and Mount Street and to commission a new house from Wade. Trollopes were not at first happy with the change, and it appears that Wade was prevented by building regulations from carrying out the elevations he at first devised for the Mount Street façade. But by 1896 minor disagreements had been settled, partly through the personal mediation of the Duke of Westminster in Lord Windsor's favour, and construction was ready to start. (fn. 44)
At that date the site of No. 54 Mount Street overlooked the garden of Grosvenor House. It is possible that Wade had been initially recommended to Lord Windsor by the Duke, who had employed him on some minor work at Eaton Hall and a church in Chester in the 1880's. Though favoured by one or two aristocratic patrons Wade was not a prolific architect, and his career had recently suffered a severe blow following an accident which confined him to an invalid chair for the rest of his life. From 1896–8, therefore, he was in partnership with H. Garton Sargent, but there is no evidence that anyone but Wade was involved in the designs for No. 54 Mount Street, one of several works of the late 1890's in which he employed a form of 'Arts and Crafts' classicism alien to the tenor of his earlier domestic architecture. (fn. 1)
Windsor and his architect plainly wished to build the ideal of a palatial town house without sparing expense, convenience or time. Windsor was certainly exceptionally patient, for as late as 1900, when the Architectural Association was taken by Wade on the second of two visits that his client allowed round the house, some work still remained to be done: 'Lord Windsor possesses the somewhat rare virtue in a client, not requiring the overspeedy exit of the British workman from his domain, and he wisely prefers maturing ideas at leisure instead of hurriedly committing them indelibly to the precious woods and marble, which in the hands of the architect have become of such enhanced beauty'. (fn. 45) While the functional arrangements were of special concern, they were subordinated to a plan of novel formality expressive of the fulsome tone of aristocratic life at the turn of the century (fig. 78). Similarly in elevation, the house marks a return to the full classic manner, however freely treated (Plate 36a in vol. XXXIX). It is based upon an amalgam of motifs from the Wren period of English architecture with hints from French classicism, but such features as the windowleading and the prominence of the downpipes and roofs (the latter covered by Westmorland slates of graduated size and uneven texture) are deliberately unclassical. The elevations of thin brickwork set off with Portland-stone bands, dressings and very naturalistic ornamental carving, and the ubiquity of marble veneers and round-arched forms within, are all characteristic of Arts and Crafts houses of the period.
The garden terrace is a noticeable feature of the Mount Street frontage. Beneath this extends a basement compact in accommodation but large and specialized; according to Muthesius it contained usable space amounting to over twice that of the overlying storeys. (fn. 46) An exceptionally wide front area, and a passage vaulted in concrete and lined with blue and white tiles, give the basement a lightness and spaciousness rare in London houses.
The entrance hall is the most dramatic part of the house (Plate 37 in vol. XXXIX). Since the basement storey is high, the main floor is correspondingly elevated; by projecting the centre right out to the pavement Wade was able to bring the normal steps up to the front door inside the house and create a split-level hall. These seven broad marble steps lead up to a cavernous landing vaulted elliptically and with free-standing piers to left and right screening passages, while the enclosed stairs begin ahead. The marbles on floor and pier here came mostly from Lord Windsor's Penarth quarries. (fn. 47) To the left of the hall are the study and morning-room arranged en suite, with the fireplace in the study placed off-centre to look along the axis of the morning-room. The study is panelled in walnut, the morning-room in cedar; here as in other rooms, the joinery details are unusual. Opposite is the dining-room, altered between the wars by the insertion of oak panelling and Tudor-style fireplaces.
The stairs open out at the half-landing and return in a double flight to first-floor level. While the sides of the staircase here are lined in pinkish marble, the backdrop is a frame once filled by a vast blue cartoon of the Apocalypse by Burne-Jones. (fn. 45) From the top of the stairs the upper hall progresses in a series of saucer-domed bays to a dais over the entrance (Plate 87a). These bays are separated by pairs of engaged columns with Cipollino shafts, intricately carved Derbyshire capitals, and purple Brescia panels in between; (fn. 48) the door frames in each bay were all originally of dark woodwork, with flower-pieces painted above. Two double doors connect the upper hall with the drawingroom, which has been slightly altered but retains its succulent plasterwork (Plate 87b). It has always been painted white, set off originally by mottled marble fireplaces, dark doors, and uncovered expanses of wide floorboards. At the north end double doors open to give a view over the staircase. On the other side of the hall are the 'Green Room' and the 'Boudoir', arranged en suite. The green room has a coved plaster ceiling carrying high-relief putti and garlands (Plate 87c); its walls were once covered with a florid paper, and built-in settees divided the room into two. Beyond, the boudoir had a light-painted dado, a flock paper and a plain coved ceiling.
Second-floor level is reached by the secondary stairs, which debouch on to a spacious vaulted landing lined in ash, with stubby columns at the corners. The wide corridors here and on the floor above are fitted with clothes cupboards, as there were by choice no fitted cupboards in bedrooms. Another practical feature at this level concerns the light well: 'Mr. Wade is evidently not enamoured with white glazed bricks in areas etc. and has rather provided wall brackets for scaffold boards at intervals to facilitate frequent colouring'. (fn. 48) The bedroom suites have mostly been altered, but one or two fireplaces with majolica tiles survive.
After Lord Windsor (by then the Earl of Plymouth) left No. 54 Mount Street in 1919 the house underwent minor alterations by Maurice Webb of Sir Aston Webb and Son, mostly in the basement and at bedroom level. (fn. 49) Weetman H. M. Pearson, from 1927 the second Viscount Cowdray, then occupied the house, altering the dining-room, and in 1940 the lease was taken by the Brazilian government as their ambassador's residence. Since then, a discreet addition has been made at third-floor level facing east. Altogether this fine house survives in excellent condition.