Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Richmond upon Thames (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ 17964 71709



22/33/10051 1-16 Spenser Court



Courtyard development of flats, arranged in four linked blocks. 1954-5 by Eric Lyons for Bargood Estates Ltd, subsequently Span Developments Ltd; Geoffrey Paulson Townsend developer, G Scroble project architect, Wates builders. Brick cross- and partition walls, concrete, 'Eternit' block and tile hanging. Flat felted roofs. Two brick stacks to each block. Nos. 1-4 to west abut Marlowe Court, Nos. 5-8 form the northern side of the courtyard and Nos. 9-12 and Nos. 13-16 the eastern; Nos. 13-16 also abut Nos. 1-3 Marlowe Court. Nos. 1-4 and 5-8 a rectangular block of six bays divided by exposed ends of brick crosswalls, entrance way and staircase in third bay from north of Nos. 1-4 and from west in Nos. 5-8, which is set at right angles to the rest. The other blocks of five bays with central entrances, Nos. 13-16 set back. All long facades have full-width timber windows of three square lights per bay, some with top-opening casements, the storeys divided by tile hanging. Entrance bays have, to front, large plate glass windows to left of entrance divided by horizontal panel, and to rear, ground floor entrance way, vertical staircase window of two lights to first floor and louvres to both storeys. Living rooms denoted by two deeper windows at sill level and with window boxes to each storey; other bays with one blind light in alternating composition. Rear fenestration in mirrored composition about centre. Nos. 9-12 north bay of west facade blind, instead having square lights to each storey of north end with 'Eternit' panel between. This pattern repeated at south end of Nos. 13-16. Staircase halls have paved ground floors, terrazzo stairs. Steel balustrade and handrail, timber panels on first flight and to top landing. Entrance to Nos. 1-4 with glazed half screen of timber with inset panel for flat name and number. Those to Nos. 5-8, Nos. 9-12, Nos. 13-16 at side of timber-clad store. All these stairwells have blue glass to their store doors, save Nos. 9-12, which have green. Interiors of flats originally with timber floors and some with sliding living room partitions, but have not been inspected.

Spenser Court is one of the largest of the courtyard developments at Parkleys, the first and largest - and perhaps the most influential - of Lyons's schemes for Span. Eric Lyons and Geoffrey Townsend met in the late 1930s and renewed their partnership after wartime service. They developed a number of small private developments in the south west London and north Surrey borders, until in 1954 Townsend set himself up as a developer and was forced to give up his RIBA membership. This is their first mature work, and their first as Span Developments Ltd. It is on the site of a nursery, and the blocks of flats were carefully laid out so that existing trees were kept, and the nursery stock and its gardener were taken over as part of the developer. It is laid out as a series of cul-de-sacs and pedestrian courtyards contrasted with larger blocks on the edges of the estate. The combination of two- and three-storey blocks is distinctive to Parkleys, while that of brick and tile hanging was repeated in subsequent Span works, particularly at Blackheath. Their mixture of old materials used in a modern manner makes for a particularly humane environment that was much admired. Lyons's squares and terraces, so distinctive here, were a modern vernacular answer to the Georgian tradition of central London, set in lush suburban landscaping but at such relatively high densities (about 80 persons per acre) that Span were frequently in dispute with planning authorities. Parkleys was developed for the first-time buyers, and Span was one of the first companies to promote the endowment mortgage. It is also the first example of the system of residents' management companies set up by Span which has kept most of their developments in such exceptional condition. Each leaseholder contributes to the funding of paid maintenance staff, and is a member of the management company that runs the estate. Eric Lyons was admired for 'bridging the gap' between speculative work and the creativity many architects of his generation only found in the public sector. 'Twenty years ago he would have been regarded as barely respectable, today he is important. He may even come to be looked back upon as a key figure' (Architectural Review, February 1959). As has happened. The opportunity to work in such a close partnership with a sympathetic developer enabled Lyons to pursue his own ideas in materials, layout and design. Yet the blocks had to be simple, for 'the architect has to design and organise so that buildings can be produced at the same cost as a builder's scheme providing the same accommodation (Architects' Journal, 20 January 1955).

Listing NGR: TQ1796471709


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
'Architects Journal' in 20 January, (1955), 72
'Architect and Building News' in 27 November, (1957), 715-24
'Architectural Review' in February, (1959), 108-120
'Architecture and Building' in August, (1955), 289-94


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 15 Mar 2007
Reference: IOE01/16352/11
Rights: Copyright IoE Miss Patricia Philpott. Source Historic England Archive
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