Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1983.
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In this section
- The Area after 1878
The Area after 1878
The failure of Corbett and McClymont in 1878 did not, at least immediately, lead to dereliction on the estate. Apart from the intimacy of Tomlin's knowledge of his neighbourhood on the Gunters' behalf, Corbett and McClymont retained enough interest in the area to control such matters as external painting, to look sharply after arrears of rent, to encourage one or two private schools to set up there, and to wish for any sales to be to owneroccupiers. (fn. 345) Other parts of their property passed to their banks — Coutts bought eighty-eight houses (fn. 346) (as well as acquiring a large interest at Westgate (fn. 347) ) and the firm's former receiver, W. F. Marreco, himself picked up twelve houses in Ifield Road at £100 each. (fn. 348)
To the landlords Robert and James Gunter the ground rents of all this property developed since 1850 were worth perhaps some £3,560 and £2,330 per annum respectively, for about sixty-three acres. The capital and reversionary value of the land, prospective upon the expiry of leases betwen 1931 and 1984, was, of course, enormously increased.
Moreton Gardens and Terrace and Cresswell Gardens
One area of house-building remains to be mentioned. In 1867 Robert Gunter bought Hawk Cottage, at the northeastern boundary of his land south of Old Brompton Road (F on fig. 58 on page 196; fig. 59 on page 202), from the Atwood family of market gardeners. (fn. 349) This was not far from the builder John Spicer's houses in Bolton Gardens and before February 1875 Gunter had evidently come to an agreement with Spicer for the redevelopment of the site of Hawk Cottage and of Moreton Tower to its west and of Cresswell Lodge to its south. In that month he granted Spicer the leases of three newly built houses at the western end of the area. (fn. 350) Two were semi-detached and lay in the angle of Old Brompton Road and the northern limb of The Boltons (then named as part of Gilston Road). The more southerly house of this pair faced west to the latter roadway, and was designated No. 1 Moreton Gardens, and the more northerly, facing Old Brompton Road, was numbered 2 Moreton Gardens. Both were renumbered as 189 Old Brompton Road in 1937. The third, numbered 3 Moreton Gardens, was detached and faced Old Brompton Road to the east of No. 2, being redesignated No. 185 Old Brompton Road in 1937 (Plate 79d). Neither building is quite in the manner adopted for the Redcliffe Estate. Both are completely stuccoed in front. No. 189 attempts an un-Godwinian suavity in a rather French way, while No. 185 is a quite confident exercise in the Royal-icingon-the-cake style.
The first occupant of the southern part of No. 189 (No. 1 Moreton Gardens) was Jenny Lind (Goldschmidt) from 1874 until her death in 1887. (fn. 351) The northern part (No. 2 Moreton Gardens) was first occupied, in 1877–88, by Sir Frederick Milbank, M.P., a noted game shot, who had previously lived at No. 5 Cromwell Gardens. In 1877 he had Morris and Company design him a stained-glass window here. (fn. 352) The semi-circular bow window on the west front was added by C. G. F. Rees, architect, in 1906. (fn. 353)
Spicer was then taken up with his activities north of Old Brompton Road, and the sequence of Moreton Gardens was not continued until after his death in 1883. What followed was more closely allied than anything hitherto built on the Gunters' estates south of that road to what was happening northward. Like much of the building there the work was done under leases granted by Robert Gunter to which G. J. Spicer, a solicitor and John Spicer's son, was a party evidently by right of an agreement to which his father had been entitled. The leases here were granted between May 1884 and September 1885. (fn. 354) They encompassed not only the extension of Moreton Gardens but the creation of a small new street opening off Old Brompton Road across the former sites of Hawk Cottage and Cresswell Lodge. Nine terrace houses were built eastward of No. 185 Old Brompton Road, called 4–12 (consec.) Moreton Gardens (since 1937 Nos. 167–183 odd Old Brompton Road). Between them and a further four houses called Nos. 1–4 Moreton Terrace (now Nos. 159–165 Old Brompton Road), which brought the development along Old Brompton Road to the eastern boundary of the Gunter estate, an angular road, Cresswell Gardens, was opened southward to connect with the northern end of Bolton Mews (now Cresswell Place). Four terrace houses were built on the east side of this street and nine on the west, the latter backing on the pleasaunce of Moreton Gardens itself. In that respect they are akin to the houses of the various 'Gardens' north of Old Brompton Road. To some of those they are allied also in their architecture. This is of 'Queen Anne' fashion, in yellow and red brick and terracotta, not noteworthy in itself but showing, like some of the houses to the north, the intrusion into the Gunters' estates of architects seemingly independent of the estate surveyor. Here the builders brought their own architect. They were the firm of John Matthews and Andrew Rogers, who were together or separately the recipients of or nominators for such leases (at Nos. 4–12 Moreton Gardens, now Nos. 167–183 odd Old Brompton Road) as were not made to G. J. Spicer himself. Their architect, who submitted the proposed layout to the Metropolitan Board of Works on their behalf in 1883, was Maurice Hulbert. (fn. 355)
After a lapse of years the next major building operation marked a complete break with the past. West of South Bolton Gardens the entire site of Coleherne House and Hereford House was devoted by General James Gunter not to a modernized version of the street layout of the Godwins' day but to a great aggregation of flats in three blocks, called Coleherne Court and built in 1901–4 (Plate 101b). The building-owner was Henry Bailey, an active intermediary in the construction of flats in other parts of Kensington, and the contractor T. W. Brown of Hornsey. The architect for the ground landlord was Walter Cave, who was then or soon became the Gunters' estate surveyor. Some role was also played on Bailey's behalf by the experienced architect of blocks of flats, Paul Hoffmann, who worked for Bailey elsewhere. (fn. 356) The flats were conventionally planned and commodious without being exceptionally large (five rooms, a servant's bedroom, domestic offices, two water closets and a bathroom), and at £130–£160 per annum were neither cheap nor extremely expensive. (fn. 357) Some twenty already appear as occupied in the Post Office Directory in 1903. The style shows an interesting application to a massive undertaking of a partly Georgianized Arts-and-Crafts manner of the sort more usually employed for individual houses. The motifs are effectively distributed to avoid both monotony and overbusyness. The texture of careful brickwork, smooth ashlar and occasional sunny stone-carving is a kind of metaphor of the 'good manners' doubtless cultivated by the first occupants. Using similar, if richer, quasi-pediments as on the Gunter estate's humbler houses of this period in Fulham, the style externally is undoubtedly Cave's —not monumental, but quiet, cheerful, salubrious and sensible. Altogether Coleherne Court looks rather like what it is— the work of a slightly advanced gentleman-architect who had played cricket for Gloucestershire. (fn. 358)
The South Bolton Gardens Area
Meanwhile the area of villas around South Bolton Gardens (until 1906 named Bolton Gardens South) and the northern limb of The Boltons (Gilston Road until 1913) had become more emphatically separated from Old Brompton Road by the building of Nos. 1–8 (consec.) Bolton Gardens in 1863–4 and of Nos. 159–189 (odd) Old Brompton Road in 1875–85 (see pages 210, 229).
South Bolton Gardens by no means fell out of favour. In 1880 the thirty-six-year leasehold tenure of Bladon Lodge fetched £3,500 whereas in 1859 the fifty-nine years of the lease had sold for £2,310. In 1883 the former White Cottage, renamed Rathmore Lodge, was greatly extended for a banker, John Turnbull, by the architects Wallace and Flockhart. (fn. 359)
In 1901–4 Coleherne Court rose to the west, on the other side of The Little Boltons, and Sir Robert Gunter brought the style of the same architect to South Bolton Gardens when in 1903 Walter Cave designed two short terraces of houses to flank Osborn House, three to the east and two to the west. Those to the east were numbered 4, 5 and 6, Osborn House was numbered 7, and the two houses to the west 8 and 9. Cave exhibited the designs at the Royal Academy (Plate 101a). Each new house was planned 'with a view to combining a small bachelor's house with servants' accommodation and a large studio', and an alteration to a similar use by a not-impoverished artist was intended at Osborn House. In each house, including the latter as it was meant to be altered, the ground floor was to accommodate bedrooms and the first floor one large studio with a small 'model's room' off it or upstairs. Externally the new houses were to be in a Voyseyish Arts-and-Crafts suburban style, with very big studio windows divided by the unmoulded stone mullions and transoms favoured by Cave elsewhere, and placed under gables in the grey-green slated roofs. The elevations were rough-cast. Osborn House was to be altered externally, in an even more mixed vocabulary of architectural styles and with a more adventurous arrangement of window-openings. In the event Osborn House was not altered, but Nos. 4–6 and 8–9 were built in 1904–6 by F. G. Minter under leases granted in 1906 by the son of Sir Robert Gunter (d. 1905), Sir R. B. N. Gunter. (fn. 360) A glimpse of the range Nos. 4–6 in an old photograph seems to show that these, at least, were built with smaller windows on the north side than originally intended. (fn. 361) All seem to have been disposed of quite quickly. At No. 8 the first occupant in 1906 was (Sir) William Orpen, who painted the Hommage à Manet there and retained the house as his studio until his death in 1931. In 1907–9 his friend, the dealer and art collector (Sir) Hugh Lane, also lived there. (fn. 362) Nos. 8 and 9 survive, as does Osborn House, but the site of Nos. 4–6 has been taken into that of the Bousfield School.
The next period of change was in the prosperous years of 1927–9. In 1918, after the rather abortive attempt by Sir R. B. N. Gunter (d. 1917) to auction off his estate in Kensington, representatives of the Gunter family had sold the freehold of Bladon Lodge, subject to a leasehold interest expiring in 1930, for £3,600. In 1927 a merchant banker living in Rutland Gate, C. L. Dalziel, contracted to buy it from the then owner for £14,000 and paid another £2,000 for the last three years of the lease. (fn. 363) He then employed Clough Williams-Ellis to extend the house in 1928 by adding wings to east and west, and to make a new entrance from South Bolton Gardens via a loggia and paved courtyard (Plate 99). The work received some publicity. (fn. 364) Bladon House was bombed during the war of 1939–45, and in 1947–8 proposals were made by Victor Kerr and Colbourn on behalf of A. E. Marples, and by Austin Blomfield on behalf of a client, for blocks of flats to be built here, but the site was already destined to become part of a school site. (fn. 365)
In 1929 Nos. 8 and 9 were altered and united by J. E. Forbes and J. Duncan Tate for the latter's friend, Sir William Orpen, who then held the lease of both houses. The work resembled, though with a more modernistic flavour, that at Bladon Lodge in so far as it showed a taste for loggias opening to formal courtyards with pools in them, and made gestures towards the Mediterranean (Plate 100). Similarly also, the publicity included an article in Country Life. (fn. 366)
In the same year the architect D. Barclay Niven designed a two-storeyed neo-Georgian house for his own occupation on the north side of South Bolton Gardens, behind No. 2 Bolton Gardens, called South Lodge. (fn. 367) This site has now been taken into that of the Bousfield School.
At Sidmouth Lodge Samuel J. Waring of Waring and Gillow (later Baron Waring) had contracted with Sir R. B. N. Gunter in 1917 to buy the house for £6,600. He did not do so and in 1920 sold his option at a profit of £900 to Doctor N. S. Mercer, physician, of Omaha, Nebraska. In 1926 Doctor Mercer turned himself into a property company, Realtor Securities Company Limited, and in 1930 it became known that he proposed to build a block of flats on the site, designed by J. Stanley Beard and Clare. Very widespread objections arose from neighbouring residents, directed at the local authorities. They were without effect upon the London County Council, but while they were still being voiced Doctor Mercer sold the site, in March 1931, to the Post Office. The price was £21,000. The intention of the Post Office was to use the site for the Frobisher (automatic) Telephone Exchange. This large but low-built and easily ignored building, now the Earl's Court Telephone Exchange, was erected in 1939 to designs made in the Office of Works. (fn. 368)
The last domestic buildings to be noticed are on the site of the former Rathmore Lodge. These are what is now No. 50 The Little Boltons (still called Rathmore Lodge), and the terrace of 'town houses' south of it, numbered 38–48 (even) The Little Boltons. They were built c. 1961–2 in a neo-Georgian style to designs by Stone Toms and Partners. (fn. 369)
A more notable work, changing the character of the area, is the Bousfield Primary School. The site of the school occupies that of Bladon Lodge and Nos. 4–6 South Bolton Gardens, the eastern part of the roadway of South Bolton Gardens, and the former Nos. 1–6 Bolton Gardens. All these sites were bought freehold by the London County Council in 1949–54, at a total cost of £23,800 for six lots. (The largest single price, £7,250, was paid for the smallest site, on the north side of South Bolton Gardens, occupied by the war-damaged remains of White Cottage.) (fn. 370) The school was built in 1954–6 for the London County Council to designs by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (assistant-incharge George Agabeg). The contractors were W. J. Marston and Son. (fn. 371) The low-built plan, the peep-holed brick walls along Old Brompton Road and The Boltons, the small watercourse boundaries and the paint-box colours are perhaps appropriate.
The Gunter Estates since 1905
Sir Robert Gunter (created a baronet in 1901) died in 1905, leaving some £650,000, of which about £35,000 was paid in estate duty. His brother James died in 1908. (fn. 372) In 1917 Sir Robert's son, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir R. B. N. Gunter, put the land in Kensington he had inherited from Sir Robert Gunter up for auction, together with other land so inherited in Fulham and Chelsea, at a reserve price of £500,000 for properties worth some £17,000 per annum in ground rents and some £1,900 per annum in rack rents. (fn. 373) The Star newspaper interpreted this as meaning that 'the great ground landlords of London think it wise to sell out lest after the war the unceremonious methods of the Defence of the Realm Act should be applied to ground rents,' and hoped that before the subsisting leases expired 'the London tenant and London ratepayer will have a look in.' (fn. 374) The auction was unsuccessful, by a little, in achieving the reserve price for the estate as a whole, and the subsequent bidding for smaller lots left several unsold. Sir R. B. N. Gunter died two months later, in August 1917. (fn. 375) In 1928 property in this area continued to be owned by Sir R. V. Gunter as descendant of Sir Robert Gunter and by Mr. R. G. Gunter as descendant of General James Gunter, (fn. 376) and the Gunter Estate still exists.
Building or rebuilding in this area between the wars of 1914–18 and 1939–45 was very scanty outside the area of South Bolton Gardens already described. One small development near that locality in 1937 was the building of three neo-Georgian houses at Nos. 10, 11 and 12 Cresswell Gardens to designs by Hoare and Wheeler. (fn. 377) This was on land at the back of Nos. 3 and 4 The Boltons. A little studio-building that still catches the eye was similarly erected at the back of No. 21 Tregunter Road in 1930 for the sculptor (Sir) Charles Wheeler, who at that time occupied the latter house, and survives as No. 22 Cathcart Road: the architect was possibly C. D. St. Leger. (fn. 378)
One considerable inter-war building was of quite different character. This was at the site of Walwyn House, formerly Brecknock Villa, in Old Brompton Road at the west corner with Finborough Road. In 1887 that house had been taken by the newly founded Jubilee Hospital, which maintained fourteen beds there. A private charitable institution, it catered solely for the 'sick and needy poor'. Nurses lived in houses in Finborough Road. The name was subsequently changed to the Fulham and Kensington General Hospital and in 1921 'Chelsea' was added. (fn. 379) In 1930 the old house was replaced by a new building, erected by Holloway Brothers at a tendered price of about £70,000, (fn. 379) to designs by Aston Webb and Son (that is, Maurice Webb). After renaming as the Princess Beatrice Hospital it was opened in 1932. This building represents, however, only two-thirds of the intended design, the southern wing never having been added. The six storeys above the lower ground floor included in 1932 private wards on the second floor. (fn. 380) In 1971–2 the hospital was converted to an obstetric unit and closed in 1978. In 1982 it was being altered and extended as 'single-person dwellings' for a housing association. (fn. 381)
Since the war of 1939–45 more new work has been done, partly on bomb-damaged sites. The Bousfield School has already been noticed. Some of the earliest post-war building was of public-authority housing in flats for the Royal Borough of Kensington. At the south-east corner of Cathcart Road and Hollywood Road Corbett House was built for the Borough in 1949–51 to designs by Gordon Jeeves. (fn. 382) Further west, in Finborough Road, blocks of flats were erected to designs by the Borough Engineer at Nos. 115–119 (odd) (1952–3, tender accepted at £10,875), Nos. 123–137 (odd) (1953–5, estimated cost £30,422 plus £2,600 for the site), and Nos. 169–179 (odd) (1955–6, tender accepted at £27,537). (fn. 383) At Nos. 140–144 (even) a block was built in 1955–6 for the Borough to similar designs by John Grey and Partners, who also designed the present Nos. 82 and 84 Redcliffe Square built in conjunction with Nos. 123–137 (odd) Finborough Road (final account for both £35,727). (fn. 384)
A more important development by the Borough was of five blocks in 1969–71 at a site of two and a quarter acres comprising what had been Nos. 63–79 (odd) and 62–78 (even) Finborough Road, Nos. 81–91 (odd) Ifield Road and Nos. 53–61 (odd) and 44–52 (even) Tregunter Road. In 1961 the Pettiward Estate had contemplated redevelopment in that area and in 1965 was given outline planning permission for five blocks rising to a maximum height of eight storeys. (fn. 385) In 1967, however, the Borough decided to buy out the Pettiward Estate's interest for £336,660, and in 1969 approved a scheme by Triad, Architects and Planners, for 126 flats of one to five rooms. This provided for 'a low-rise development having no lifts and a maximum "walk-up" of three floors'. The arrangement 'aimed at minimising the noise and disturbance likely to be caused by the heavy traffic in Finborough Road'. A tender was accepted at £663,187. (fn. 386) By 1973 occupants were petitioning the Borough for their windows to be double-glazed against the noise of traffic. (fn. 387)
A private block of flats, Finborough House (H. M. Grellier and Sons, architects), was put up in c. 1956–7 at Nos. 29–39 (odd) Finborough Road. (fn. 388)
New houses have already been mentioned in Redcliffe Road (1951–2, see page 176), The Little Boltons (1961–2, see page 231) and at the Fulham Road end of Hollywood Road (1971–2, see page 179). Others have included Nos. 81 and 83 Finborough Road (completed in 1958 by G. D. Fairfoot, architect (fn. 389) ), No. 30 The Boltons (1958 (fn. 390) ), No. 35a Tregunter Road (1961, Daniel Watney, Eiloart, Inman and Nunn, architects (fn. 391) ), the reconstruction of Hollywood Mews (1960–2, Diamond, Redfern and Partners, architects (fn. 392) ) and an extension to No. 29 The Boltons (1971–3, City Design Group (A. V. Peel), architects (fn. 393) ).
Some mews have undergone 'gentrification' by successive changes difficult to document. The most extensive have been in Cresswell Place, where, for example, the 1960's brought new houses at Nos. 6 and 6a in 1963 (Bruce Henderson-Gray, architect) and Nos. 7, 7a and 7b in 1969 (M. Howard-Radley, architect). (fn. 394)
Greater interest attaches to the succession of houses built at Nos. 10–20 and 24 (even) Cathcart Road between 1953 and 1972. Here the location offered the opportunity for a sequence of south-facing houses to be built where the back gardens of Nos. 9–23 (odd) Tregunter Road abut on Cathcart Road at its retired and leafy junction with Redcliffe Road. The earliest house was at the east end, where No. 10 was built in 1953–4 to designs by Neville Conder (Casson Conder Partnership). (fn. 395) No. 12 was built behind No. 11 and No. 13 Tregunter Road in 1956–7 to designs by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, with an upper storey added to part of it in 1959 to designs by Anthony Mauduit, architect. (fn. 396) The next house westward, No. 18, was built behind No. 17 Tregunter Road in 1961 to designs by W. Paton Orr and Partner, with a second floor added in 1972–3 by Nerios Consultants Group, architects (Plate 101c). (fn. 397) The most recent dwelling is at No. 20, where the architect C. J. G. Guest designed the glass-clad house for his own occupation which was built in 1972–5 behind No. 19 Tregunter Road and received considerable publicity here and abroad (Plate 101c). In The Architectural Review it was acclaimed in 1976 as evoking and excelling 'the early Le Corbusier, the brilliant liberator of the upper middle class'. (fn. 398) Westward of Sir Charles Wheeler's studio at No. 22 (see page 231) is No. 24, built behind No. 23 Tregunter Road to designs by Sir Hugh Casson (Casson Conder Partnership), with Timothy Rendle as associated architect, in 1959–61. (fn. 399) This also attracted attention. The representative magazine of the day, House and Garden, said in 1964 that it was designed as 'an ideal London pied à terre for a busy businessman — and his wife', who had left their children at 'the perfect family home' in Hampshire. (fn. 400)
The most recent history of this whole area has been chiefly marked by the steep rise in the value, monetary and otherwise, put upon its houses. In The Boltons, large as the houses already were, a number of their owners enlarged them in the 1960's and 70's — for example, at Nos. 6, 7, 11 and 27. Since 1970 an extensive territory around The Boltons has been a Conservation Area. Early in 1982 The Daily Telegraph reported that houses in The Boltons 'command the sort of prices which few Englishmen can now afford'. (fn. 401) Here and in neighbouring streets basements are converted into swimming-pools, and in The Little Boltons the seventy-two-year lease of the house vacated by William Corbett on his bankruptcy is offered for sale a century later at £625,000, with a eulogy of the Victorian interior plasterer's 'superb cornice work'. (fn. 402)
The Church of St. Mary, The Boltons
Built in 1849–50 to designs by George Godwin the younger, this church has since been variously altered, principally in 1871 and between 1952 and 1966 (Plates 93, 94, fig. 69).
St. Mary's was the first 'ecclesiastical district' to be taken out of that of Holy Trinity, Brompton, to which in 1829 had been assigned much of the old Kensington parish south of the High Street and of Hyde Park. Like many Victorian churches, the impetus for its creation derived from a mixture of fervour for church extension and of desire to lend tone to a proposed estate development, in this case Robert Gunter the elder's. That the church should slightly precede the houses to be built around it was not unusual. The initial decision must have been taken by the vicar of Holy Trinity, the Reverend William J. Irons, in combination with Robert Gunter, who promised to give a site in the centre of the 'planted enclosure' planned for The Boltons. A sufficiently wealthy and 'energetic coadjutor' soon appeared in the person of the Reverend Hogarth J. Swale, the first incumbent of St. Mary's. (fn. 403)
In May 1849 George Godwin, acting as architect to the church and as estate surveyor for Robert Gunter, sent in plans to the Commissioners for Building New Churches with the news that Gunter wished to convey this site to them for a nominal £100, which he would then contribute towards the building work. (fn. 111) Next month Godwin published the design in his organ, The Builder, (fn. 404) and in August the foundation stone was laid. (fn. 405) In September Robert Gunter conveyed the site. (fn. 406) At the time of the consecration in October 1850 the church was finished except for the upper parts of the tower and spire, which were deferred for later completion. The expense was estimated at £6,000, most of which was given by Swale, with contributions from the Commissioners and other subscribers. The original contract for the nave was with James Barr, a plumber and glazier of Holborn, but, becoming bankrupt, he was succeeded during the course of the work by John Glenn, an Islington builder. (fn. 407) In December 1850 St. Mary's, West Brompton, (as the church was at first known) officially acquired a compact district stretching west as far as Kensington Canal, east as far as Selwood Terrace, and north not far beyond the Old Brompton Road. For the people of this area, then estimated at 3–4,000 in number, the church offered 700 sittings rather than the 500 at first envisaged: of these, 200 were free. (fn. 408)
As completed, St. Mary's was rigidly cruciform in plan, having a central tower and strongly projecting transepts but no aisles. The only divergences from this shape were a south porch and a small vestry north of the chancel. This arrangement made its appearance unusual, not to say eccentric, in a London suburb. The reasoning behind this plan is unknown. It may represent an experiment on the part of Godwin, then aged thirty-four and already attracting attention as the energetic editor of The Builder. Godwin, a restrained advocate of Gothic for churches but never a dogmatist on stylistic questions, had not so far as is known built a new church before, though he did hold the important post of architect to the celebrated church of St. Mary Redcliffe at Bristol. He was therefore reasonably knowledgeable in matters of 'ecclesiology', and may well have had a specific mediaeval village church in mind when designing St. Mary's, particularly at this stage in the Gothic Revival, when precedent was much emphasized.
The aisleless plan with transepts also allowed all parts of the congregation to come reasonably close to the lectern and pulpit, even if it excluded those in the transepts from a sight of the altar. Additionally, this type of church contributed towards retaining some rural feeling in the neighbourhood. A possible model for the plan is Shottesbrooke Church in Berkshire, which attracted some attention in the 1840's and was closely followed in Benjamin Ferrey's country church at Penn Street, Buckinghamshire. The style of St. Mary's, however, is distinctly later than the Early English of Shottesbrooke and Penn Street.
St. Mary's was built of Kentish ragstone, with dressings of Bath stone from Combe Down and parapets and cornices of Caen stone. In style, the church generally follows orthodox Decorated models, with flowing tracery in all the windows, four competently detailed tower arches and some internal fittings of stone on fourteenth-century lines. But there are small touches of the individuality which became more marked in later Gothic works by George and his brother Henry Godwin. On the outside, the roofs are confined by parapets pierced with trefoils, while the west end is broken into by a blunt projection housing the stair to the gallery and by a sharply detailed bellcote (reduced from Godwin's first design). The tower, octagonal lantern and steeple (all designed in 1849 though not built until 1856) are of a Northamptonshire type: they have a heaviness as alien to earlier nineteenthcentury church-building as to mediaeval tradition, although the conspicuous angels round the base of the spire are pleasantly distinctive (Plate 93).
Inside, there was originally no direct communication between the nave (necessarily broad, because there are no aisles) and the transepts. The nave itself has a rude braced collar roof resting on carved corbels representing the twelve apostles; the transepts have simple open roofs, but that in the chancel is boarded. As first completed in 1856, the tower was open up to the lantern stage. The walls throughout were rendered with lias. As for original fittings, there was an organ in the north transept, a stone pulpit and desk beneath the tower, and unusually elaborate sedilia (carved by Swales and Boulton, architectural sculptors of Lambeth) in the chancel (Plate 94a, 94c). The sedilia alone survive, along with the stone font, which at first stood in a central position at the west end. The tower and chancel floors were laid with Minton tiles, and there were simple painted decorations by W. H. Rogers against the east wall. Of stained-glass windows four were already in place at the time of consecration, two in the chancel and one in the nave by Powells, and one in the north transept by O'Connor: the east window, an Ascension scene by Hardman, followed shortly afterwards. (fn. 409)
Since Godwin's original arrangements conformed with the low-church school of Anglican worship, that easily provoked journal, The Ecclesiologist, pronounced them 'not what we should have expected from the Vicar of Brompton, the services being read from a desk of stone in the lantern. The chancel is filled with stall-like seats of deal, and there are sedilia in the sanctuary. We were, we own, not a little scandalized to see a central block of inferior free seats up the middle of the nave. Really Mr Irons ought not to have sanctioned such an outworn corruption in 1850. . . . Neither can we approve of the plan. The cruciform church without aisles, with clustered lantern-piers, and the desk and pulpit in the lantern, and a door in one of the transepts, is an auditorium disguised, rather than a place of collected worship:—the congregation being divided into three perfectly distinct bodies, (arranged on the radiating principle), of which the largest is entirely invisible to the two smaller ones, who sit facing each other like adverse squadrons,—the pulpit and desk forming the centre of radiation, and the altar standing quite out of sight of the two minor congregations.' (fn. 410)
Subscriptions for completing the tower and steeple of St. Mary's were opened in October 1854. The work, under Godwin's supervision, was undertaken by the wellknown builder George Myers in the latter half of 1856 at a cost of approximately £1,000. (fn. 411) Further alterations were made, according to the church guide, in 1865, when G. E. Street was brought in to move the organ to a gallery, still in the north transept. (fn. 412) From about this time the churchmanship at St. Mary's became perceptibly 'higher'. A new vicar, William Thomas Du Boulay, who served here between 1868 and 1909, redecorated the chancel in 1870 and moved the choir hither from the west gallery, so that the stalls extended into the space under the tower. William Pepperell, visiting the church in 1871 after this rearrangement had been made, sourly noted the changed tenor of services under Du Boulay and complained that 'the whole aspect of things in the chancel looks towards Ritualism'. (fn. 413) (fn. n1) But the acoustics and aspect of the church remained unsatisfactory. In 1871–2, therefore, a large new north vestry was built, the organ was moved into the area taken up by the former vestry, the space under the tower was filled in with a groined vault of wood, and angled arches were contrived left and right of the western tower arch to connect the nave and transepts (Plate 94b). The architect for this work, records B. F. L. Clarke, was Joseph Peacock (who also designed the church school in Gilston Road a few years later, Plate 95), and the contractor was T. H. Adamson and Sons of Putney. (fn. 414)
Between 1867 and 1874 the parish of St. Mary's was reduced by the successive creation of districts for St. Peter's, Cranley Gardens, St. Augustine's, Queen's Gate, St. Jude's, Courtfield Gardens, and St. Luke's, Redcliffe Square. At about that time the church became generally known as St. Mary's, The Boltons rather than St. Mary's, West Brompton. Within the building, a new organ was acquired in 1881 (fn. 415) and in 1882 and 1885 windows by Mayer and Company of Munich were installed. (fn. 416) Rather later, in 1902, the old deal seats in the nave were replaced with oak ones and side gangways were formed. (fn. 417) Inter-war changes to the fabric were not extensive, though as early as 1920 there was talk of whitening the walls and bringing the altar forward to a position under the tower, under the architectural direction of W. A. Forsyth. (fn. 418) Some small war memorials were erected, chiefly in the south transept, while in 1929 a curate undertook extensive diapering work throughout the church; of this, no trace remains. (fn. 419)
Major alterations were made to the interior of St. Mary's from 1952 onwards, following bomb damage and neglect during the war of 1939–45. Romilly Craze of Milner and Craze was appointed architect and in 1952–3 started on a scheme of pallid de-Victorianization. The High Altar was brought forward to a position under the eastern tower arch, the old chancel became a Lady Chapel, and the south transept was rearranged. A new pulpit, lectern, stalls and communion rails were installed, mainly made of oak from previous fittings. At the same time the walls were whitewashed, the font was painted over, and much of the remaining painted glass was removed from the windows. In 1954 a new east window designed by Margaret Kaye was put in at a cost of £2,000. A little later, in 1959–60, a new organ was erected in the west gallery and the old space north of the chancel was converted into a chapel by David E. Nye and Partners, architects. In 1964 a further large coloured window with 'mosaic' patterns was installed at the west end by Messrs. Harper and Hendra. Finally, in 1965–6 Romilly Craze built a two-storey church hall in stone, attached to the south side of the chancel and reached from the south transept. (fn. 420)
The Church of St. Luke, Redcliffe Square
This church, built in 1872–3 to designs by George and Henry Godwin, was the third and last of the Godwins' three churches on the Gunter estates in West Brompton and Earl's Court (Plates 96, 97, 98, 108, fig. 70), the others being St. Mary, The Boltons (1849–50) and St. Jude, Courtfield Gardens (1870).
As has been seen, a church had been envisaged by Corbett and McClymont to lend tone to their developments so early as 1866 and by March 1868 was destined for a location in Redcliffe Square. (fn. 207) In November 1869 they applied for a district which it might serve to be taken out of the parish of St. Mary, The Boltons. (fn. 421) A year later The Builder reported that George and Henry Godwin, whose St. Jude's, Courtfield Gardens, close by, was just being finished, had designed for Redcliffe Square a 'church of large size' which was shortly to be started. (fn. 422) This appointment proceeded directly from the Godwins' role as estate surveyors to the Gunter brothers in South Kensington and their more recent employment as architects for Corbett and McClymont's houses in Redcliffe Square. Robert Gunter promised to give the site, whilst by an arrangement formalized in January 1871, Corbett and McClymont undertook to find the funds for a church to cost at least £6,000 and seating 900 persons. (fn. 423)
In the event money proved harder to obtain than at St. Jude's, where a single contributor paid for the church almost entirely. By the spring of 1871, the chief responsibility for fund-raising had been taken up by the first incumbent, the Reverend William Fraser Handcock, a clergyman of some private means. Previously vicar of St. Luke's, Cheltenham, Handcock brought with him from that parish not only a dedication for the new church but also a temporary wooden structure to serve until a permanent edifice could be funded and built. This wooden church, duly cased in iron at extra cost so as to conform with London building regulations, was put up on the site of the future Nos. 29–33 (odd) Redcliffe Square and opened in July 1871. (fn. 424)
The permanent St. Luke's was commenced in 1872, having by this time grown in ambition to 1,200 sittings and an estimated £17,000 in cost, of which £9,000 had been promised, mainly it appears by Handcock 'and his friends'. (fn. 425) Corbett and McClymont did not themselves undertake the building work, which was entrusted in two stages to Hill and Sons of Islington. The contract for the foundations proceeded from February 1872. Because the ground had previously been taken out to great depth for brick-earth, particularly under the position of the tower and chancel, and therefore had to be re-excavated and filled in with a deep bed of concrete, this expense amounted to the unusual sum of £1,732. Piers to support the nave columns were connected by brick arches, The Building News reporting: 'The church, in fact, stands upon a number of legs, and these legs have good shoes for them'. (fn. 426) The contract for the superstructure, valued at £13,409 but later increased, followed on from July 1872. (fn. 427) The total cost at the time of consecration in August 1873 was reckoned at £17,532, and the final number of sittings was between 900 and 1,000. (fn. 428)
St. Luke's today does not much differ from its state at the time of its completion in 1873. Like St. Jude's, Courtfield Gardens, it affords insight into the thinking which governed the planning and design of a moderately ambitious mid-Victorian Evangelical church in what, it was hoped, would be a prosperous London suburb. As regards ecclesiastical style, the Godwins (of whom Henry rather than his better-known and busier brother George was possibly the more active on this project) occupy a position halfway between such pioneers of 'advanced' church architecture as Street and Butterfield, who worked mainly for Tractarian clients, and men like Teulon, Lamb and Bassett Keeling, whose buildings were usually for the Evangelical wing of the church. All three churches built by the Godwins on the Gunters' estates were originally Evangelical in character and 'vigorous' in style, but at St. Luke's neither tradition was aggressively pronounced. Thus the six-bay nave was broad and the chancel was comparatively short, and the design allowed for a future gallery at the west end. On the other hand, an apsidal east end was provided, the chancel was modestly raised, and the altar was the undivided focus of attention (fig. 70).
The interior of St. Luke's, with its strong distinction in height between nave and chancel, recalls the churches of Street (Plate 97). The nave arcade, of thirteenth-century character, rests upon columns formed from drums of Hollington stone. Above, the walls are of pink tuck-pointed bricks, relieved by lively patterns in several colours and pierced by lancet windows in the clerestory. Originally the brickwork was also exposed in the aisles, above the chancel arch and in the chancel, but these walls are now whitewashed. The roofs are all of open timber: the most elaborate is in the nave, where carved stone corbels carry arched braces with pierced panels, while each of the principals rises to an orthodox scissors truss. Where tracery appears, as in the aisles, the large west window and the sanctuary, it is geometrical. The tile floors which originally extended throughout the church, were supplied by Minton, Hollins and Company. There is much rich carving, notably round the chancel arch, where the angel corbels in Caen stone are handsome. Most or all of this was performed by Richard Boulton of Cheltenham, who also supplied the lectern, the reading desk which once stood centrally (both of 1873 and later amalgamated), the reredos, sedilia and connecting blank arcade in the apse (1874) and the pulpit (1876), all boldly figurative pieces in marble, alabaster and Caen stone. (fn. 429) Probably also by Boulton are the alabaster altar rails and bronze gates (1881 or shortly thereafter), the twelve stone statues of saints and Protestant divines fixed above the nave columns (the gift of Handcock, 1889), and the dramatic alabaster font, consisting of an angel holding a scallop shell — a copy of Thorvaldsen's Angel of Baptism in Copenhagen's Lutheran Cathedral (before 1889, Plate 98). (fn. 430)
The exterior of St. Luke's (Plates 96, 108), like that of many High Victorian churches, is broken somewhat affectedly into separate elements; nave, chancel, aisles, south vestry (with a choir vestry beneath), tower and porch are all strongly differentiated. At the south-west angle an attached baptistry with a tall eight-sided roof draws the attention. The tower rises over the north-east vestry to a tall lantern stage with geometrical windows, above which an octagonal steeple rises to 158 feet. The materials of the exterior are Kentish ragstone with Box-ground Bath dressings, (fn. 266) perhaps a curious choice considering that the interior is of brick. The roofs were originally in two tones, of grey and purple slates, but they are now of only a single hue.
How far the cost of this expensive church had outrun available funds appears from the correspondence of William Corbett. To get St. Luke's finished, Handcock had evidently issued promissory notes against loans on the guarantee of Corbett and McClymont. By the autumn of 1873, only a few months after the consecration and with money due to the builders, Corbett was having difficulty in amalgamating the loans and confessed to feeling 'very uncomfortable as to what is to be done'. (fn. 431) By the end of the year there was talk of the church changing hands, (fn. 432) but the immediate crisis passed, to recur in 1878, when Corbett and McClymont encountered difficulties and were declared bankrupt. Before they suspended payment in May 1878 there was a flurry of activity relating to St. Luke's. In January, Corbett reported to his solicitors that Handcock's notes 'are now causing us much trouble,' adding that 'some of the P. Notes are at high interest; as Clergymen's Bills are difficult to deal with.' (fn. 433) Soon afterwards Corbett strongly complained to Handcock that he had paid out £3,000 on these notes in the previous fifteen months and that 'there is now upwards of £12,000 running, and the various holders of P. Notes are objecting and making and raising difficulties as to the continuing of the loans.' (fn. 434) As a result of this Handcock spoke of retiring, as 'the debt on the Church was so large he could not cope with it.' (fn. 435) In the event this did not occur, Handcock remaining until 1892. But there is reason to suppose that Corbett and McClymont's failure in May 1878 was not unconnected with St. Luke's, for a bill of Handcock's was dishonoured immediately before they suspended payment. Over the ensuing eighteen months Corbett strove desperately to secure money from Handcock and his friends, but in the main his efforts appear to have been unfruitful. (fn. 436)
These events may help to explain why St. Luke's has not been greatly altered since its completion. As there appear to have been no proper endowments, the incumbent's income depended entirely upon pew rents, which declined as the district began to fall in tone from the Edwardian period onwards. A small church hall was built in 1896–7 to designs by one William Murray of Kingston Hill, on the site of three stables in Adrian Mews off Ifield Road. (fn. 437) But no vicarage was provided, a house in Redcliffe Square eventually being bought on lease in 1918. Thereafter the parish was often in financial difficulties. (fn. 438)
Within the church, the largest single alteration occurred at the west end, where in 1920 a large and elaborately carved organ case made by W. Aumonier was installed as a war memorial. (fn. 439) Later, in 1930, oak panelling was installed in the choir, small changes were made in the sanctuary, and a memorial chapel was formed at the end of the north aisle, all to designs by A. B. Knapp-Fisher. (fn. 440) Then in 1938 the tiling on the floors of the choir and sanctuary was replaced with marble under the supervision of J. Ernest Franck, architect. (fn. 441) The main post-war alteration has been the whitewashing of the aisles and chancel.
Among the few memorials, one of interest is a tablet with a portrait relief in the north aisle by E. E. Geflowski commemorating Ave Merwanjee Bhownagree (d. 1888). The original stained-glass windows in the apse, given by Robert Gunter, have now gone following war damage, but there is glass by Ward and Hughes in the lower lights at the west end (1880). The various later windows are of no special interest.