*George Basevi (1794-1851)

* “son of George Basevi, whose sister, Maria, had married Isaac Disraeli and was the mother of the earl of Beaconsfield.” (Jewish Encyclopaedia) “The family were of Sephardic Jewish origin, and Basevi’s father remained a member of the congregation of the Bevis Marks Synagogue until 1817.” (Wikipedia)

From ‘Twickenham: Churches’, in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington, ed. Susan Reynolds (London, 1962):

“…The Montpelier chapel did not materially relieve the pressure on the parish church, and in 1839, following the failure of plans to repew St. Mary’s, a committee was formed which opened the church (see image above) of HOLY TRINITY, Twickenham Green, in 1841…The church was designed in the Perpendicular style by G. Basevi. His low, white-brick building now forms the aisled nave to which an apsidal chancel and transepts were added in 1863.”

From the website Parks & Gardens:

“George Basevi was an architect and surveyor active in the early- to mid-19th century. He was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society.

Basevi was born in London, England on 1 April 1794, the son of George Basevi senior, a London merchant and educated at Dr Charles Burney’s school in Greenwich and later at the Royal Academy Schools.

In December 1810 he became a pupil of John Soane. In 1815, he visited Paris with his brother and, a year later, after finishing his architectural training, began a study tour of Italy, Greece and Turkey which lasted three years.

In 1820, Basevi exhibited a drawing of the temple of Hephaestos at the Royal Academy and opened his own practice in Albany. The following year, he was appointed surveyor to the Guardian Assurance Company, and soon began designing churches, for the commissioners of the 1818 Church Building Act, as well as country houses, terraced houses in London’s squares, almshouses, clubs, university buildings, as well as several other commissions. 

Of all his works, his most well known is perhaps the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England. His designs for this were selected, in 1834, out of 36 other entries in an open competition. Begun in 1837, Basevi died before it was completed. C. R. Cockerell and then E. M. Barry were appointed as his successors on the project.


His last major work was with Sidney Smirke, on the Conservative Club, St James’s Street, London (1843–5).


Basevi died soon afterwards, tragically falling from the west tower of Ely Cathedral while inspecting repairs, on 16 October 1845. He was survived by his wife, Frances Agneta Biscoe, with whom he had 8 children. It was at the east end of Ely Cathedral that he was buried.”

‘Mr Basevi advanced towards one of the recently opened windows along a broad beam, from both sides of which the flooring had been removed.

He was cautioned as to certain nails sticking up in the beam, but scarcely had the words dropped from Mr Stewart’s lips when Mr Basevi tripped and fell through an aperture in the floor onto the vaulting over the arch under the tower distance of over 40 feet.

His hands were unfortunately in his pockets, which prevented his making any effort to recover his balance, or to catch hold of the adjoining beams. He died almost immediately.’ (Fitzwilliam Museum)


From: ‘The Smith’s Charity Estate: Bonnin, Basevi, and Pelham and Egerton Crescents’, in Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton, ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1983):

“…The trustees covenanted to provide a communal garden in Pelham Crescent (now London SW7) for the occupants of the houses in the crescent and Pelham Place. Basevi designed the iron railings enclosing the garden (which were removed during the war of 1939–45) and they were manufactured by May and Merritt at a cost of £333. Thomas Gibbs undertook the planting in the garden…

“Set into the railings of Pelham Crescent Gardens, Fulham Road.
“1 Thess. 1-3″ is a biblical reference, the text of which reads: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father”. Seems people back in 1877 were expected to have so much of the Bible off by heart that one could just give a reference and passers-by would instantly call the text to mind and realise that Trotter was a faithful, hard-working bloke.
Mrs Trotter erected this as a memorial to her husband, at an expense of £70. Robert Trotter is believed to have been a magistrate born c. 1797 in London, who lived at 26 Thurloe Square, died there on 27th December 1877.
The indefatigable MDFCTA have another three Trotter fountains: in Notting Hill, Blackheath and one way out in Waltham Abbey.” (London Remembers)

The distinguished ensemble of stucco-faced houses in Pelham Crescent and Pelham Place for which Basevi and Bonnin were responsible remains amongst the most attractive in this part of London. The two continuous ranges in the crescent, consisting of thirteen houses to the east of Pelham Place and twelve to the west, have three main storeys with basements and attics. At the corners with Pelham Place and in that street itself there are no attic storeys (apart from two later additions).

The facades are treated with the kind of austere Graeco-Roman detailing which Basevi handled so well, those in the crescent being slightly more embellished. There the enclosed porches framed by pilasters with highly individual palm-leaf capitals, the horizontal channelling of the stucco on the ground storey, the stringcourse at second-floor sill level and the crowning balustrade were all faithfully executed from Basevi’s drawings, as was the unusual provision of casement windows with balconies on both the ground and first floors. The ironwork of the balconies is, however, more ornate and less in keeping than the simple geometrical pattern of interlacing lozenges prescribed by Basevi, but the area railings, with the ‘spear’ heads matching the palm leafs of the capitals, are as he intended. The six-panelled doors shown in the drawings were replaced by equally elegant four-panelled ones, some with narrow bands held in place by studs…The fanlights were also varied in execution…

Those at the corner with Pelham Crescent, which are numbered 14 and 15 in the crescent,

have porches and ironwork in common with the remainder of the crescent on their south fronts, with the bizarre effect that the balcony ironwork on the principal façade of each house differs from that on the return front. This was not anticipated by Basevi, whose drawings show the same ironwork used in both streets. No. 15 Pelham Place, the centre house on the long west side, is singled out for a different treatment and has a blocked parapet instead of a balustrade, wide architraves to the windows and a continuous balcony at first-floor level with railings which may be of a later date.

Nos. 16 and 18 Pelham Place are exceptions to the general pattern and consist of an attractive pair of two-storeyed stuccoed houses with wide Doric porticoes (which were added in 1872), overhanging eaves and outside shutters to the windows.

‘a great portal finished by an open lantern of the outline of an Imperial crown to mark the character of this great national building’. (From a 1909 guide to the V&A, seen in distance, by its architect Aston Webb.)

Pelham Street, too, was to be set aside for semidetached pairs of ‘cottages’, and Basevi’s responsibility for the houses in this street probably extended only to approving the elevations and materials Partly no doubt because Bonnin let some of the ground to Jolley, who ran into difficulties, a very heterogeneous collection of houses was in fact erected along its length, most of which has been demolished. The two main groups to survive, Nos. 20–24 (even) and 51–61 (odd), are pleasant small two-storeyed stuccoed houses with basements. Nos 6–10 (even) were built under the agreement with James Bonnin junior in 1843 and are similar houses, but have been more altered.

In Pelham Crescent a barely perceptible splay to the houses compensates for the curve of the crescent. Here the end houses of each segment have extensions at the side containing the entrances, which were originally single-storeyed but which have now been heightened in two instances, and Nos. 14 and 15, at the corners with Pelham Place, have central entrances.

Shallow cornices and simple chimney-pieces provided the main decorative features before the embellishments made by later owners. (Sir) Nigel Playfair, the actor-manager, whose residence at No. 26 Pelham Crescent from about 1910 to 1922 is commemorated by a Blue Plaque, surprised his visitors by his taste in interior decoration which included a dark, bold wallpaper of peacocks, the use of black in the colour scheme of the house, and a yellow ceiling and walls to the dining-room.

“Sir Nigel Ross Playfair (1 July 1874 – 19 August 1934) was an English actor and director, known particularly as actor-manager of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in the 1920s.
After acting as an amateur while practising as a lawyer, he turned professional in 1902 when he was 28. After a time in F. R. Benson’s company he made steady professional progress as an actor, but the major change in his career came in 1918, when he became managing director of the Lyric, a run-down theatre on the fringe of central London. He transformed the theatre’s fortunes, with a mix of popular musical shows and classic comedies, some in radically innovative productions, which divided opinion at the time but which have subsequently been seen as introducing a modern style of staging.” (Wikipedia)

The architect Philip Tilden decorated No. 3 Pelham Crescent with an elaborate trompe I’oeil scheme in the early 1920’s when he took up residence there (remarking, ‘How very pleasant it is to live in a crescent’).


In May 1844 the trustees signed a building agreement with the governors of the Hospital for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest who soon afterwards built a new hospital on about three acres of the charity’s lands. The site was eventually sold to the governors in 1868 and the history of Brompton Hospital (as it became known) is described in Chapter VII.

Besides the houses already referred to, Basevi’s work on the Smith’s Charity estate also included St. Saviour’s Church


and Walton Place, both in Chelsea, as well as Sydney Place and perhaps part of Onslow Square in the area to the west of Pelham Crescent…”

On the same date, 25 July 1843, that James Bonnin junior had entered into his agreement to complete the building to Pelham Street, James Bonnin senior contracted to undertake a much more substantial development on the site of Brompton Grange. This was made possible by the financial difficulties of the singer John Braham which forced him to give up the mansion and its extensive grounds…

Like Pelham Crescent and its adjoining streets, the development appears to have proceeded rapidly and, judging from the rate of occupancy, successfully. Twelve houses in Egerton Crescent were in occupation by 1845…

Unlike Pelham Crescent, no drawings survive for Egerton Crescent, but there is no reason to doubt Basevi’s responsibility for the design. An obituary which appeared in The Builder shortly after his death and which was probably written by the journal’s editor, George Godwin the younger, a resident in nearby Alexander Square, stated that ‘the new part of Brompton Crescent’ was designed by Basevi, and in 1847 the trustees reimbursed Bonnin £22 which ‘he had paid Mr. Basevi for drawings’, perhaps for Egerton Crescent…”

RBKC: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Victoria Station, Victoria St, London SW1

“The LCDR’s station on the east side of the site opened two years later on 25 August 1862 with a trainshed roof designed and constructed by their engineer Sir John Fowler.” (Network Rail)
“This separation of the two stations was maintained until railway grouping in 1923 when both the LBSCR and the SECR became part of the Southern Railway. The Southern Railway set about integrating the two stations, opening up archways in the party walls that divided the two halves.” (Network Rail)
“The ‘Brighton side’ was regarded as superior given it was the departure station for many travellers heading for the fashionable seaside resort or to their country homes in Sussex. The London,Chatham & Dover, on the other hand, was used much more by the working class, particularly for dockworkers and merchant seamen travelling either to the East End of London for the docks or Chatham for the shipyard. This subtle distinction clearly amused Oscar Wide as it was the basis of a humorous exchange in his 1895 play The Importance of Being Earnest. The main protagonist, Jack Worthing – aka Ernest – relates how he was found as a baby in the cloakroom at Victoria station, stressing it was on the Brighton side in order to try to bolster his credentials as a gentleman, only to elicit a famous putdown from Lady Bracknell, who was never going to be won over: ‘The line is immaterial.’” (Wolmar, 2020)

From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:

“Of far more lasting significance than these lost terminus stations were the other three incursions across the river, ending at Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations. Victoria, the first of these to be authorized by Parliament, was a good example of how railways developed in this period. Its genesis is a complex story involving half a dozen competing railway companies that sometimes cooperated on mutually beneficial projects, but inevitably eventually fell out.”

“Royal Waiting Room. Despite the grandiose name, this is now just a set of retail stock rooms. Originally, this is where the Royal Family would enter the station. You can see the outside entrance to this on Hudson’s Place – it is the entrance with the columns to either side.” (Londonist)
Detail showing Queen Victoria’s Royal Cypher.
“The cost of the huge train shed required by Parliament in the face of concerns from the residents meant there was no money left over to provide an impressive station frontage – that would only come with a refurbishment of the station and its associated hotel in the early twentieth century. Therefore, apart from Fowler’s train shed, which survives today, there was only a wooden frontage and palisade that was meant to be temporary but actually lasted forty years. Designed by the company’s resident engineer, Robert Jacomb-Hood, the station was built on the level, not least because raising it on a viaduct like several other terminuses in London would have created more noise for the local residents. The western side of the station, which was for the trains of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, opened in October 186o, four months after the bridge became available.” (Wolmar, 2020) “Access to Victoria Station was to be reached by the newly constructed Grosvenor Bridge, the first railway bridge to cross the Thames in London and designed for the Victoria Station & Pimlico Railway by John Fowler. Fourteen acres of land had been purchased for the new terminus.” (Network Rail)
“The traditional Sussex shield (first known recording in 1611 by John Speed) Azure, six martlets or.” (Wikipedia)
Sir Charles Langbridge Morgan CBE (1855 – 1940) was a British civil engineer. Morgan became chief engineer of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1896 and directed improvements to London Victoria station and Grosvenor Bridge. He employed Gilbert Seale, a particularly accomplished architectural modeller, to add decorative interest to blank walls.
“The hotel comprised 300 rooms, and there was a direct entrance to the building from the ‘’Brighton’’ station concourse. The hotel agreed to pay a sum to the LB&SCR for every passenger which used the concourse entrance.” (Kent Rail)
“Built by the Victorian railway pioneers in 1862, The Grosvenor Hotel Victoria ushered in a Golden Age of travel. It has been restored to its former glory and is Grade Il listed. Developed by a wealthy building contractor, Sir John Kelk, whose firm had built Victoria Station and its railway bridge. Sir Kelk, in turn, awarded the design of what was to be London’s grandest hotel to the well known architect J.T. Knowles. A design plan for the hotel was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition for 1860, and The Grosvenor first opened to guests in 1862 – just one year after the completion of London’s Victoria Station. Published in The Building News, December 13, 1861.” (archiseek)
“Both companies decided to upgrade their respective stations towards the end of the nineteenth century. The London Brighton & South Coast Railway moved first, buying the independent Grosvenor Hotel next to their part of the station in 1899 and extending it to form their new frontage. Designed by LBSCR’s chief engineer Sir Charles Morgan it was built in red brick and adorned with a large clock set in a scroll, giving it an elaborate Edwardian Baroque style to compliment the Grosvenor Hotel. The old trainshed roof was replaced to cover newly extended platforms which could receive longer trains. With an exclusive entrance in Buckingham Palace Road also created for use by the royal family, the new station opened in 1908.” (Network Rail)

Palladium House / Ideal House / 1-4 Argyll Street, London W1

From the Historic England entry:

“1-4 Argyll Street. Formerly known as Ideal House.

Corner office block. 1928-9 by Raymond Hood in collaboration with Gordon Jeeves, extended northwards in 1935. Polished black granite facing, metal casement windows, enamel trimmings; flat roof not visible. 7 storeys with a recessed attic storey. 7 windows wide on upper floors to Great Marlborough Street, 11 windows to Argyll Street where they are arranged in spaced groups of 4 and 7 bays, reflecting two phases of construction. Ground floor with large flat arched display windows and doorways pierced without moulding but emphasised by inlaid frame of bronze champlev enamelled plates in formalised lotus and jazz-moderne geometric patterns in a range of yellows and oranges, greens and gold. Plain openings with metal casements to upper floors. The champlev motifs appear again as a frieze pierced by the 6th floor windows and reappear on the stepped and coved main cornice and similarly coved attic cornice, each of Egyptian inspiration.

INTERIOR: not inspected. HISTORY: this building was constructed for the National Radiator Company, and was a reduced version of the American Radiator Building on Bryant Park, Manhattan, the New York premises of the National Radiator Corporation by Raymond Hood, the parent company of the English firm. The black and gold colours reflect the livery of the company. It comprised a ground floor show room with lettable offices above. Originally the building comprised the southernmost four bays, but was extended by a further seven bays to the north in 1935. A very unusual instance of a London-scaled American tower block design, embellished with the sort of Art Deco or ‘Moderne’ details in fashion following the Paris Exhibition of 1925. This is the only European building of Raymond Hood, described by A. Saint as the ‘wittiest and most thoughtful of the inter-war New York skyscraper architects’. The enamel surround to the Argyll Street entrance was removed and is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum.”

London Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, London W1

From: an entry by John Earl in The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres, 1750-1950 – a Gazetteer (2000)*:

*updated version of Curtains!!! (1982).

“On the site of the eighteenth century Argyll House, the London Palladium is the successor to the Corinthian Bazaar of 1868


and Hengler’s Circus of 1871. It was built by Walter Gibbons in 1910 as a palatial variety theatre to rival the London Coliseum, the Hippodrome, the Palace Music Hall and the Lyceum (during that theatre’s short music hall life). The façade, modified and with lively sculpture added by Matcham, is a striking relic of the old Corinthian Bazaar, a painted stone classical temple front with Corinthian columns on tall pedestals.

The booking hall, which has its own separate entrance (formerly a passageway through to Haig’s wine merchants building, now incorporated in the Palladium complex), is as big as a branch post office. Also now linked to the theatre is the adjoining, altered Georgian house, No 8 Argyll Street.

Foyers and bars are generous with most of the original ornament intact. The grand staircase and Cinderella Bar, in particular, have recently been magnificently restored to Matcham’s original detailed designs. Big, but remarkably intimate auditorium, wider than it is deep, a late and magnificent creation of the variety palace boom. Elaborate ceiling with laterally elongated dome. Two balconies spanning the auditorium with no intermediate support. Boxes at three levels in paired arched niches. Fine proscenium arch. The style was described as ‘French Rococo’ but the ornaments are variously derived and freely juxtaposed in a piece of bold Matcham mannerism.

Some basic fabric to the left of and behind the main façade and also backstage was incorporated from earlier buildings, a typical theatre-builder’s procedure for time-saving rather than cost reduction.

Of the select company of giant variety houses built in the West End in the decade before the Great War, the Palladium has the most complex building history. The way in which Matcham adopted earlier fabric, turning Owen Lewis’s front into one of the most remarkable theatre façades of its time, demonstrates architectural skill of a high order. The Palladium is one of the finest surviving examples of his later work.

The Survey of London account is full and authoritative.”

“The Thames shouldered its way past Blackfriars Bridge, impatient with the ancient piers…”*

*J. G. BALLARD, in Millennium People (2003).


Jacqueline Banerjee writes at The Victorian Web:

“Blackfriars Bridge, EC4, a Grade II listed road bridge for pedestrians and vehicles crossing the Thames from Blackfriars on the north to Southwark on the South Bank. Designed by Sir William Cubitt’s son Joseph (1811-1872), whose most notable work was for the Great Northern Railway. Cubitt’s colleague was a “Mr. H. Carr, M. Inst. C.E.” but despite Cubitt’s request, Carr’s name was not given in the records (“Obituary”). The five-arched bridge was built from 1864-69, using both cast iron and wrought-iron, granite, brickwork, and Portland stone.

The bridge has a number of ornamental touches, as required by the committee in charge. In particular, the piers have elaborately carved capitals, with birds and a floral design by John Birnie Philip, and there are floral studs on the ironwork of the arches and criss-crossing “trellis” over them, with a foliate pattern on the cornice above. Another ornamental touch is the Gothic style of the balustrade along the top (see listing text). Less happily, at the design stage there was a “Battle of the Bridge,” over whether it should have three or five arches: according to Cubitt’s obituarist, this is what resulted in “cross traffic” at the north end and the “awkward shoulder” on the south end.

Nevertheless, after much wrangling the bridge was successfully completed and opened by the Queen on the way to opening the Holborn Viaduct, on 6 November 1869. Unfortunately for Cubitt, perhaps, this last major work of his was upstaged by the next item on the royal agenda that day. The Times report did describe the bridge as “another grand avenue of approach from south to north, equal, if not superior, to existing communications across the Thames at Westminster and London-bridge,” but added, with some enthusiasm, “London has many bridges but only one Viaduct.” Cubitt, described in his obituary as a self-effacing man, might not have minded that his achievement was somewhat overshadowed.

Cubitt’s was not the first bridge at this spot. Looking at the history of this Thames crossing, the Survey of London tells us:

In 1756 the Mayor, Aldermen and Commons of the City of London obtained authority by Act of Parliament to build a bridge at Blackfriars, the third bridge across the Thames to be erected in the London area. It was designed by Robert Mylne. The first pile was driven in 1760; it was made passable as a bridle way in 1768 and was opened to traffic in 1769. It was made free of toll in 1785. Mylne’s bridge lasted just over 100 years. Its decay was hastened by the increased scour in the bed of the river following the rebuilding of London Bridge.

Similarly, there were two railway bridges here, this time of course both from the Victorian era. The first was again designed by Joseph Cubitt, here working with F. T. Turner, and it was built 1862-64 in the run-up to the new road bridge, and for many years crossed the river in tandem with it. It was built to carry the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (see Weinreb et al. 72-73). This bridge was taken down in 1984.

“As part of the Thameslink Programme, the platforms at Blackfriars station have been extended across the Thames and partially supported by the 1864 bridge piers. The project is designed by Will Alsop and built by Balfour Beatty. The work also includes the installation of a roof covered with photovoltaic solar panels. It is the largest of only three solar bridges in the world (the others being Kennedy Bridge in Bonn, Germany, and Kurilpa Bridge in Australia). Other green improvements include sun pipes and systems to collect rain water.” (Wikipedia)

The only Blackfriars Railway Bridge that we see today is the one designed later in the period by John Wolfe Barry in partnership with Henry Marc Brunel (1842-1903), Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s second son. This one was built from 1884-86. It too has five wrought-iron arches faced with cast iron, but since it now has solar panels above it, it looks rather different from the way it looked in the past. This one was originally built to carry the Holborn Viaduct Station Company Railway over the river.”

From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:

“This spate of railway development did not meet with universal
approval. The most controversial aspect was the construction of
a key link over the Thames through Blackfriars. The first section
of the Metropolitan Railway completed in 1863 had its terminus
at Farringdon, which could also be reached by Great Northern
services running underneath King’s Cross station. The London,
Chatham & Dover, whose services at the time terminated at a
station called Blackfriars, which – unlike a successor of the same
name – was on the south bank of the Thames,

“It was opened in 1864 with the name Blackfriars but closed less than five years later when it was replaced by the station now called Waterloo East (originally named Waterloo).In 1886 the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) opened a station on the north bank of the river called St. Paul’s – this was renamed Blackfriars in 1937.The former entrance to the South Eastern Railway Blackfriars station under the railway bridge on Blackfriars Road itself is still clearly visible. In 2005 the bricked-up former street-level entrance and original wording were restored. At track level, widening of the viaduct on its north side is the only indication of its site. In July 2009 planning permission was granted for a café to be built over the entranceway to the station.” (Wikipedia)

saw this as an opportunity to run services further north using the Metropolitan’s tracks. Amazingly, the Chatham obtained Parliamentary authorisation to build Blackfriars Bridge and to run a line to Ludgate Hill, a few hundred yards further north, which opened in the summer of 1865, and the following year the connection with the Metropolitan was completed, giving London its first north-south connected rail route.”




“…the mode would some time or other overtake them, as a clock that stands still is sure to point right once in twelve hours”*

*Joseph Addison (1672 – 1719), quoted in “The Spectator” (1886).

Hidden London observes: “it was common practice to arrange a rendezvous beneath some well-known clock”.

After all, a public clock in its heyday was designed to be noticed, was likely to be unique, and carried its own silent reproach to the latecomer.

The article continues: “in October 1931 Selfridges unveiled what one writer called ‘London’s newest meeting place’. Other commentators hailed it as ‘one of the sights of London’ and a ‘horological masterpiece’.”

Christian Wolmar wrote in 2020: “Agreeing to meet people ‘under the clock at Charing Cross’ became a music hall joke with a louche undertone…Meeting under the clock at Waterloo became even more of a commonplace than the equivalent at Charing Cross.”

The Irish Film Institute introduced “Under the Clock” (2018):

“This documentary (from the makers of Older than Ireland) celebrates the century-long tradition, firmly embedded in the hearts and minds of Dubliners, of meeting under Clery’s clock. This once-popular meeting place provides a starting point for a fascinating journey through Ireland’s under-explored social and sexual history, its dating culture, the role of women in Irish society and the marriage ban. This history is told through the recollections of ordinary people who stood under the clock, filled with nervous anticipation, bravely awaiting the arrival of their dates.

Under The Clock brings together stories of hope and disappointment infused with gentle humour, and stories that will be fiercely nostalgic for the tens of thousands of people who met under the clock of Clery’s once-bustling department store.”

[“In 1932, the Irish government, facing an economic downturn, introduced a marriage ban which required that female primary school teachers were required to resign on marriage…it remained in place until 1958.” Redmond, Harford (2010)]

Sometimes our implicit trust is undermined:

“Another outraged member of the public, trying to catch a train in Deptford (in 1840), complained that the various clocks on the station were not accurate. He saw it was ‘four minutes slower than your watch. It must be right you think because it belongs to a railway company.’ Not so, as in the station another clock was five minutes faster than the one downstairs and the train left as he was getting to the platform…” (Christian Wolmar)

The Black Friar, 174 Queen Victoria Street, Blackfriars, London EC4

From: Victorian Pubs (1984), by Mark Girouard:

“One of the exceptions suggests the way London pubs might have developed if the slump of 1899 had not taken place. The Black Friar, by the railway bridge in Queen Victoria Street, was remodelled about 1905, apparently not for a brewery but for a publican of the name of Petit. The architect was H. Fuller Clark, of whom little if anything is known, and the sculptor was Henry Poole, who was master of the Art Workers Guild in 1906. The theme of the remodelling was friars, the fat jolly friars invented by late nineteenth-century Academicians to titillate their Protestant buyers. Friars in bronze or marble carouse and gobble in a sumptuous setting of gold mosaic, striped marble, jokey texts and lush carving. In fact, the Black Friar bears the same kind of popular relationship to the Arts and Crafts movement as the pubs of the nineties did to its predecessor the Art movement. But although there are a few Arts and Crafts pubs scattered over the country, the style failed to catch on in the drink world; perhaps it was too close in spirit to the 1890s pubs to be what was needed once they were discredited.”

From pubheritage.Camra.org.uk:

“…On a sharply triangular site opposite Blackfriars station, the pub was built in 1871-2, but what makes it so special is a remodelling from about 1905 by the then publican, Alfred Pettitt, and his architect H. Fuller-Clark. Fuller-Clark trained at the Lambeth School of Art and began practice in 1893. His artist was Henry Poole R.A., and both men were committed to the Arts & Crafts Movement which embraced a love of high-quality materials, hand craftsmanship, and often a very free, original approach to design.

Before entering the pub there is much to admire on the exterior. There is a deep mosaic fascia carrying the words “Saloon / 174 / The Black Friar / 174 / Brandies” on New Bridge Street side. A grand segmental arched entrance on the far left is surmounted by stone carved figures and above it a colourful mosaic of two monks fishing. The exterior lobby itself has walls and ceiling of marble.

All along the exterior (well illuminated at night) are beautiful copper signs most featuring one or two friars such as a ‘Worthington Ales in Bottle’; two ‘Worthington Ales on Draught’ ones;

‘To the Saloon’, ‘Booths Gin’; and a couple of ‘Saloon Bar’ signs, one of which bears a couple of friars pointing you towards the saloon and helpfully tells you it is 9 yards away.

Above the corner door (no longer in use) is a ‘174’ in mosaic; a large stone figure of a friar; and a clock with a mosaic face. Above the Queen Victoria Street entrance on the right is a mosaic of a friar with wine in carafes flanked by stone carvings of friars. The fascia on this side has ‘Brandies’ in mosaic.

Throughout the pub are friars – or at least jolly, modern reinvented versions of them – they appear everywhere in sculptures, mosaics and metal reliefs. So we have a theme (what’s new about theming a pub?) based on the Dominican Friary established here in 1278. The whole thing is a glorious piece of nonsense but it’s carried off with wit and verve. The most prevalent activities concern the serious matters of eating, drinking and generally enjoying oneself. Hence over the left-hand bar is a scene entitled ‘Tomorrow will be Friday’ showing fish and eels being collected for the ensuing meatless day.

Saturday afternoon’ above the arches to the second room sees the friars gardening and gathering produce.

There is a magnificent fireplace recess, framed by a broad tripartite arch, which includes corner seats; a grate with fire dogs surmounted by imps; overmantel has bronze bas-relief of singing friars entitled “Carols”, flanked by two friars’ heads with swags above.

Above the seats are marble panels with mahogany surrounds, monks’ heads in copper relief and the word ‘summer’ on the left panel and ‘winter’ on the right panel.

A stained glass exterior window depicts a friar in a sunlit garden.

The most special space is the arched windowless room with a barrel vaulted ceiling approached through three openings from the saloon area and added as a snack bar under the railway in 1917-21.

There are two more copper reliefs on the pillars

and on the inside walls of the entrances are six more reliefs. The small room is lined with marble and alabaster and has a series of jokey scenes in bas relief and inscriptions. The end walls each have a bronze relief, the south wall one is entitled “Don’t advertise, tell a gossip” with a group of monks doing the weekly wash.

The north wall one is entitled “A good thing is soon snatched up” depicting monks pushing a trussed pig in a wheelbarrow.

On the cornice below, are devils representing music, drama, painting & literature. On the east wall are ‘Industry is all’ with a monk snoozing; ‘Haste is slow’; and ‘Finery is foolery’. On the west wall there is ‘Silence is Golden’; ‘‘Wisdom is rare’; and ‘Seize occasion’ has a friar boozing.

The wording is in good electro-gilt letters by the Birmingham Guild.

The figures are signed by Poole

and are found against the mosaic on the shallow vault. Side walls have six (I made it ten) alabaster capitals illustrating nursery rhymes,

Who Killed Cock Robin?
Frog Went A-Courting
The House That Jack Built
Little Miss Muffet
Humpty Dumpty
Simple Simon went a-skating
On a pond in June.
‘Dear me,’ he cried, ‘this water’s wet,
I fear I’ve come too soon!’
Simple Simon went a-fishing
For to catch a whale;
All the water he had got
Was in his mother’s pail.
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
Little Boy Blue
Little Polly Flinders
Little Jack Horner

16 smaller capitals illustrating Aesop’s Fables. Four marvellous lamp brackets

with alabaster figures of Morning,



and Night (each) holding up a bronze monk with water buckets.

Just above the seating on the north wall is a further relief entitled “Contentment surpasses riches” depicting a sleeping monk surrounded by fairies, executed with mother of pearl and semi-precious stone inlay.

This is just above a “window” which is an arrangement of mirrors with red marble colonnettes. Further mirrors here enhance the small space.

This area now has a sign “Table Service Only’ and all the tables are set out for diners. Everywhere the craftsmanship is of the highest order, even down to the details of the doors.

The curved bar counter is no ordinary affair, being made of marble and timber with a buff marble top.

Originally the main bar was divided by screenwork (hence the friars outside in the copper signs directing saloon-bound customers). Clearly therefore the pub had two separate rooms in Mr Pettitt’s day and it is not hard to work out where the division would have run. As the two rooms were not originally connected, that no doubt explains why Pettitt and Fuller-Clark felt at liberty to more or less repeat the ‘Saturday afternoon’ scenes in both areas.

By 1905 the great pub boom around 1900 had come to a halt and it is interesting to speculate how many other pubs might have been decorated on such lavish and original lines had it not done so. Occasionally there were extravagant evocations of the good old days of yore such as the great ‘medieval’ hall at the must-visit 1920s Cittie of York not so far away in High Holborn. The interior of the Black Friar has featured in films such as Maurice (1987, Director James Ivory) and in the 1978 remake of The Big Sleep (Director Michael Winner) which features Robert Mitcham”.

Henry Poole (1873 – 1928)

From: sculpture.gla.ac.uk:

Henry Poole RA. Born 28 January 1873. Died 15 August 1928. Active: 1894 – 1928. Country of birth and death: England. Sculptor, watercolourist.

Born in Westminster. He was the son of Samuel Poole (born c.1839 in London), sculptor. Henry’s brother, Samuel Poole Jnr. (born c.1871) was a painter. Henry studied at South London Technical School of Art c.1888 and then at the Royal Academy Schools between 1892-7. He was a pupil of Harry Bates and George Frederic Watts. Poole worked with the architect E.A. Rickards on many public buildings and monuments including Westminster Central Hall and Cardiff City Hall. For the latter building Poole created one of his most important sculptures, Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerallt Gymro), the Norman-Welsh clergyman and chronicler.

He worked for the army school of camouflage founded by Solomon Joseph Solomon, at Hyde Park during World War I.

Poole was made Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in 1921 and worked there till his sudden death in 1928.

There are architectural sculptures by Poole on buildings in Bethnal Green, Deptford, and Rotherhithe. Among Poole’s other commissions are: statues of Lord de Vesci, Earl Cowper, and Sir Daniel Cooper; statuary groups for the United Kingdom Provident Institution, Strand, London;…

Three pediment sculptured figures rescued from the United Kingdom Provident Institution building at 190-196 Strand (demolished 1970s), now in Milford Lane, London WC2.

…the Council Chamber, Birmingham; the King Edward Memorial, Bristol; the bronze lions for the Shanghai Bank (later recast by William Wagstaff in Hong Kong for the additional branch of the bank opened in 1935); a statue of St. George in the Chapel of St. Michael and St. George, St. Paul’s Cathedral; the war memorial at Evesham; the memorial to Captain Albert Ball, V.C. airman, Castle Green, Nottingham…”

From Speel.me.uk:

“His own father had been an architectural carver, and much of Poole’s work was architectural sculpture, particularly for buildings by the architectural partnership Lanchester and Rickards. Among his works for them include a group for Cardiff City Hall (Patriotism and Unity – noted on this page), decorative sculpture for Deptford Town Hall, the work for 144-146 New Bond Street,

“Commercial and gallery premises. 1912 by E A Rickards, of Lanchester and Rickards, for Colnaghi to display fine art and antiques for sale. Sculpture by Poole. Portland ashlar, slate roof. Suave Franco-German Baroque style. A rare early C20 gallery survival.” (Historic England)

and the elegant high relief spandrel figures of angels for Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, shown below.”


Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1

From Historic England entry:

“Public library. 1893 by Francis J R Smith. Red brick with extensive stone dressings, tiled roof with crestings. Iron railings in front. Nine-bay range, variously three storeys and two storeys with dormers set behind parapets, all over basement. Projecting three-bay centrepiece makes this a tripartite composition, the central bay of each block of three bays with crested gables adorned with stone finials in profusion. Balustraded parapet and ornate moulded brick stacks. All windows with stone mullions and transoms, in 2-3-2-3-canted 4-3-2-3-2 formation. Projecting central bay over main entrance: stone porch with Ionic pilasters supporting entablature dated 1893 with dedication to the parishes of St Margaret and St John.

Two pairs of panelled doors reached up steps and under segmental, much moulded arch. End bays with single double doors; these and the ground floor windows excepting those immediately adjacent under swan’s-neck pediments with lavish volutes; the first floor windows over these with segmental pediments. The other bays set between pilasters and with relief panels, three per floor, depicting -in medallions -on the ground floor Spenser, Shakespeare and Chaucer,

Dryden, Milton and Tennyson; the upper row armorial roundels. Interior is remarkably complete, and small scale. Screens divide lending library from reading area and entrance. Cast iron balcony round lending library, which retains original panelling and partitions beneath trabeated ceiling and early bookstacks, now rare. Rarer still is the book lift from the basement, reflecting the original ‘closed access’ system of storage and selection.

Included as one of the most impressive civic designs of its day in London, executed in an intricate Jacobean style, The sculpture, executed by Henry Poole, is of special interest.”

From the Historic England entry:

“The Westminster Baths and Wash House was opened in 1893, on the site of earlier baths which were built in 1851. The building housed two swimming pools, slipper baths and a wash house. The swimming pools were demolished in the 1970s, though the facade was retained. The building was later used as the Abbey Centre, a conference and community centre, with a cafe known as Wash House Cafe.”

Chris Partridge posted at Ornamental Passions on 19 August 2009:

“The old Westminster Public Library, now an Indian restaurant, may have been built as part of the same complex as the old Public Baths next door, and by the same architect, but the sculpture could not be a greater contrast.

The young Henry Poole’s bathers are vigorous and completely contemporary, and there is even a hint of the future Art Nouveau in their strong swirling patterns and the sunburst.

“Henry Poole studied with G. F. Watts and was a Studio assistant on Physical Energy.” (London Remembers)

The library sculpture, on the other hand, is official, off-the-shelf and retrograde: heads of literary men of undisputed classic status. The sculptor seems to be unrecorded, so I imagine they were bought from one of the usual firms such as Daymond or Seale.
Shakespeare and Milton are at centre stage, as always on Victorian libraries…”

Non Mihi, Non Tibi, Sed Nobis*

* “Not for me, not for thee, but for us”, motto of the Metropolitan Borough of Battersea.

From Draft Chapter 1 in Survey of London:

“The largest addition to Battersea Library was the semi-separate reference library extension, built in 1924–5 on ground east of the children’s library with a frontage towards Altenburg Gardens. The site had been used since 1898 as a vestry depot.

A new reference library had long been wanted. Funding only became possible after the 1919 Libraries Act abolished the limitation of the library rate to a penny. Special permission to build was needed from the Board of Education, because post-war regulations discouraged the diversion of labour from housing. A deputation from the Council urged the merits of the collection of reference books and the inadequacy of the existing room, adding that ‘in the bad housing conditions in many parts of Battersea, boys and girls who were studying for scholarships or in other ways trying to improve themselves, found it very difficult in the evenings to carry on their studies’.

T. W. A. Hayward, the Borough Surveyor, is credited on the foundation stone, and may be responsible for an unexciting design for a smaller two- storey extension on the same site, entered from the existing library, not Altenburg Gardens. The true designer of the outstanding reference library as built, however, was Henry Hyams, an obscure but intriguing figure, who had spent time in central Europe in the Edwardian decade before settling in Devon. He had advanced views – Esperanto, theosophy – perhaps atypical of a Hackney publican’s son, and had spent time in Wandsworth jail during the First World War for his trenchant pacifism. Given Battersea Council’s radical leanings, it is perhaps not surprising that Hyams was appointed Hayward’s architectural assistant in January 1924, aged 44. As drawings for the library are dated March 1924, this assured if eccentric design must have been his first work for the Borough Council.

The reference library was built by direct labour.

Its style is distinctively late Arts and Crafts. The front is an assemblage of red brick, low mullioned windows, triangular roofs and stone-dressed gables,

with a swooping boundary wall filled with iron railings (replaced since the war).

The library behind was designed to carry an extra floor above that never materialized. The room features robust oak gallery fronts and doors and is top-lit with a shallow, glazed barrel vault supported on cast-iron columns. These columns have quasi-Celtic capitals like those Hyams used in the lower hall of Battersea Town Hall the following year. Other lavish details include sweeping door-handles

which follow a design Hyams had used for Deller’s café in Paignton,


decorated downpipes with dates,

?BBC, for Battersea Borough Council

copper lamps,

and the Council’s motto ‘NON MIHI, NON TIBI, SED NOBIS’ carved over the entrance. The reference room is the least-altered part of Battersea Central Library, whose strength in architecture and design books still reflects Inkster’s acquisition policy of the 1890s, influenced by the number of building workers in Battersea.”

“Battersea experienced very rapid population growth over the next two decades; by 1881 it numbered 107,000 inhabitants, and as a result, both overshadowed the much smaller Wandsworth, and had ambitions to regain its autonomy. In 1887 the Wandsworth Board adopted the Libraries act and began making plans for library provision; it established temporary library facilities at two locations (on Battersea Park Road, and on the Latchmere Estate) and engaged Laurence Inkster, who had experience as the borough librarian of South Shields.(Wikipedia)