Tuesday, July 07, 2015

'The best surviving interior on the street'

Beware: the following may only interest the London domestic architecture geeks among us.

I'm always very interested in the history of our building, but ashamed to say often referring to it rather lazily as a 'Regency townhouse' due to it's 'demi-lune' overdoor so reminiscent of this style. After a little searching however, I've discovered the building is in fact much earlier, being built in 1738-9, making it early George III. The text below very flatteringly describes No. 21 as having 'the best surviving interior of the street', and we are happy to say it's still very much surviving.

Another pleasant discovery is the noting of an assumed previous resident, the artist George Clint (no relation to the 1970s funk pioneer), who exhibited from the house in 1805. 

All following text property of the British History Online Archive http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols33-4/pp202-205

Nos. 21 and 22 Romilly Street
These houses were built in 1738–9, under two Portland leases neither of which was a building lease. No. 21 was built under a sixty-five-year lease to Thomas Cuthbert of St. Anne's, described as 'gentleman' but probably the tallow chandler of that name, and No. 22 under a thirty-five-year lease to Jane Allam of Paddington, spinster, a descendant of Joseph Girle, the early lessee of all Soho Fields. The first occupant of No. 21 was Richard Stainsby, described as 'gentleman' and at one time nominal mortgagee of the Pitt estate. The painter, George Clint, exhibited from the same house in 1805.




The two houses are of closely similar proportions, each of them containing a basement and four storeys, and having a brick front three windows wide (pictured below). The fronts are now of little interest because that of No. 21 has been painted and that of No. 22 completely rebuilt in modern times. However, the original segmental gauged arches of the second- and thirdstorey windows can still be seen at No. 21, where the different character of the windows in the fourth storey shows this to be a later addition. The back wall of No. 21 is of purple-red brick, the windows with rough segmental arches and containing flush frames.

21 Romilly Street (Third from left) 1964, then as Taj Mahal restaurant.


The houses have the standard plan of a single front and back room, the latter with a dog-legged staircase beside it on the east and a projecting closet-wing on the north. The interior finishings are not well preserved and much of what remains has been concealed by asbestos sheeting. At No. 21, which has the best surviving interior in the street, the entrance hall and the first two storeys of the stair compartment are lined with ovolomoulded panelling in two heights. This is finished with a moulded dado-rail and a boxcornice, the hall having a dentilled cornice and a pair of plain pilasters flanking the entrance to the stair compartment. The lower flights of the staircase have been completely boxed in, but those at the top of the house have moulded closed strings, turned balusters, and column-newels with big square heads. Box-cornices are still visible in the ground- and first-floor rooms, the groundfloor front room having a dentilled cornice and the room above fragments of ovolo-moulded panelling.



Mouldings on ground & first floor stairs.

Panelling ground floor to bathrooms

Panelling Ground floor to bathrooms

Particularly interesting and possibly earliest balustrading, found at the very top floor landing.