A hotel, dating from 1869-70, attributed to WH Hawtin for Thomas Morgan.
Reasons for Designation
The former Palace Hotel is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the façade is a highly ornate composition with good surviving carved stonework
* Interior: the bar areas, though reordered, are striking and have elaborate and opulent detailing
* Interior: there are remnants of the scheme to provide different classes of rooms for the different classes of railway traveller
* Historic interest: it is a memorial to the unrealised railway extension
The former Palace Hotel, originally the Railway Hotel, was built in 1869-70 and was a speculative development by Thomas Morgan designed to take advantage of a new railway station planned nearby. It is attributed to WH Hawtin, based on the distinctive draughtsmanship of some unsigned plans. It was intended to have hotel rooms arranged and decorated according to the class of rail passenger who would stay in them: first, second and third. The Palace remained in use as a public house until the early years of the C21, when the property was sold, and the pub closed. The ground floor has been reordered and has since resumed trading and the upper storeys, which have undergone much subdivision, are used for domestic accommodation.
MATERIALS: The building is of limestone ashlar, with ashlar stacks to the party walls, and a slate roof.
PLAN: The building is a quadrant plan on a corner plot; with a range running roughly north-west.
ELEVATIONS: It has three storeys with an attic above the quadrant and a basement, and in total comprises a six-window range. The main elevation, which is higher, follows the corner onto West Street, and the left-hand wing, which sits in Lawford Street, has lower floor heights and a blank right-hand party wall. To the central, curved section, the ground floor is particularly highly decorated, with an arcade of semi-circular arched windows and doorway, the wall surfaces articulated by vermiculated pilasters, foliate capitals, entablature and modillion cornice. The first floor has banded rustication, frieze and cornice and pilasters with sunken panels, and a central window with a balcony of turned balusters; the second floor has similar pilasters, frieze and dentil cornice. The second floor window is flanked by Assyrian style herms. The left hand wing continues the arcading at ground-floor level and there is a frieze above which runs the length of the building and is inscribed IMPORTERS OF FINE WINES AND SPIRITS/ WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANT. There are windows with eared architraves and lion heads to the first floor and the second floor windows have swags to the lintels. The steep, curved corner roof is flanked by tall coped walls with stacks.
INTERIOR: On the ground floor there is a bar servery within the corner range; the bar back is formed from an arcade of semi-circular arches on twisted brass columns with petal-relief capitols, echoing the form of the windows. There are egg and dart and dentil mouldings, and moulded fruit corbels at the arch bases. Behind the columns are pilasters with fielded panels, and there are fielded panels on the bar cornice. There is an elaborate ceiling cornice with egg and dart, flower-trellis and grape mouldings. The north range has a lower floor level and is beneath an inserted mezzanine floor. It has similar decorative motifs as the main bar. There is a dog-leg closed-string stair with square newels and fielded panelling beneath the banister. The mezzanine floor bisects the arched windows of the north range, it has some fielded panelling and contains the lavatories. There is a second stair to the north with a simple moulded and chamfered newel post and stick balusters. On the first floor there are elaborately moulded cornices and a ceiling rose. There is a cast iron fire place with red tiling and painted slate surround with moulded corbels. On the second floor there is a similar, less ornate fireplace. Within the attic storeys the inside of the clock-face is exposed and there is access onto the flat roof of the north range. Throughout the upper storeys of the building are solid fielded panelled doors.