Nos 40-46 Brook Street, a row of four Arts and Crafts-inspired terraced houses built in 1898-9 by Balfour and Turner for the Grosvenor Estate, together with its more modest attached mews building at No 40 South Molton Lane, built in 1899 also by Balfour and Turner.
Reasons for Designation
Nos 40-46 Brook Street, a row of four terraced houses built in 1898-9 by Balfour and Turner for the Grosvenor Estate, together with the more modest attached mews building at No 40 South Molton Lane, built in 1899 also by Balfour and Turner, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the terrace is a carefully-detailed and inventive composition by the distinguished architectural practice Balfour and Turner; the associated mews building, in a simplified domestic Arts and Crafts style, is a good example of this building type;
* Historic interest: part of the late-C19 development of this part of Mayfair for the Grosvenor Estate, of which Eustace Balfour was surveyor, the houses are good examples of luxurious yet restrained turn-of-the-century town houses in an Arts and Crafts idiom; the mews building, built immediately after the terrace by the same architects, has a strong historical and functional association with the houses it was designed to serve;
* Degree of survival: the exterior of the terrace survives essentially unchanged; the interior retains some opulent rooms, and good stairs; the outward appearance of the mews building, with its original openings, together with the relatively good survival of the ground-floor former coach-house and stable areas, makes this a legible example of its type.
Brook Street takes its name from Tyburn Brook, which still flows beneath South Molton Lane, the boundary between the Grosvenor Estate and the Conduit Mead Estate. First developed in the 1720s by Sir Richard Grosvenor, Brook Street contained houses of high quality, the residents including both aristocrats and wealthy tradesmen. Towards the end of the C18, the E end of the street, between Davies Street and South Molton Lane, began to take on a more commercial character, with a number of the houses on the N side acquiring shop windows, and others becoming hotels; in 1832 four houses on the N side, covering part of the corner site of the current Nos 40-46, were replaced to a design probably by Thomas Cundy, with a long shop front. Under the 1st Duke of Westminster, a major programme of rebuilding within the Grosvenor Estate took place, as part of which it was decided in the 1890s to restore this site to domestic use, demolishing six houses and rebuilding four as part of a single scheme. The Estate’s surveyor, Eustace Balfour, secured the contract for his own architectural firm, Balfour and Turner, in 1897, and Holloway Brothers were employed as builders. The original design was compromised at the request of Holloways, who obtained permission ‘to dispense with the high gables at the corner house of South Molton Lane [No 40] and also the turret’. The truncated tower has led to later criticism of the building: the account in The Buildings of England observes that ‘Only the polygonal ending… strikes a wrong note’. The building was completed early in 1899. In May that year, Balfour provided plans for the stabling behind the building in Davies Mews, the south side of which historically provided stabling for houses on the north side of Brook Street (now No 40 South Molton Lane).
Eustace James Anthony Balfour (1854-1911), who trained in the office of Basil Champneys, and Hugh Thackeray Turner (1853-1937), who trained in the office of Sir George Gilbert Scott, entered into partnership in 1885; both architects were active in the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Balfour was appointed Architect and Surveyor to the Grosvenor Estate in 1890, retiring from the post in 1909. Buildings by the firm for the Grosvenor Estate include residential buildings at Nos 2-10 Eaton Gate (1905), and No 17 Upper Grosvenor Street (1906-7), and 85A Duke Street with 1, 1A and 2 Duke’s Yard, a mews range of 1900-2.
During the 1930s the houses of Nos 40-46 Brook Street were converted to offices; this and subsequent phases of modernisation have resulted in extensive change to the interior. The mews building was converted to garages, presumably in the first part of the C20; the lodgings above are also now offices, and have undergone alteration internally.
Row of four terraced houses, 1898-9, by Balfour & Turner for the Grosvenor Estate, to a carefully-detailed and inventive Arts and Crafts-inspired design. The houses are now converted to offices. To the rear is the former stable and coach-house mews building, known as No 40 South Molton Lane, built in 1899 as an addition to Nos 40-46 Brook Street, also by Balfour and Turner, in a simplified domestic Arts and Crafts style.
NOS 40-46 (EVEN) BROOK STREET
MATERIALS: red brick, laid in English Garden Wall bond, with lavish Portland stone dressings.
The majority of the windows have original six-over-six horned sash frames. The roofs are tiled, and there are tall stacks with canted corners, banded in brick and stone. The rainwater goods are original. The rear elevation and stacks are of stock brick with red-brick dressings. There are original glazed doors to Nos 44 and 46; No 46 retains its fanlight.
PLAN: the building occupies a triangular corner site, with the house entrances on Brook Street, which runs from W to E, forming an acute angle with South Molton Lane to the E; the corner is marked by a tower. Three of the original houses had a rectangular S/N plan, with the corner house, No 40, having a triangular plan, including the corner tower.
EXTERIOR: each of the houses is built over four storeys with attic and basement, with stone bands defining the storeys, and a deep projecting cornice. The frontage to Brook Street, has an ordered but asymmetrical appearance. Eleven windows wide, the fenestration does not follow a consistent pattern from one house to the next, arranged under five banded crow-stepped gables – each having two windows – with paired gables to No 40. The ground and first floors are partially enclosed by an asymmetrical stone projection, unified by a recessed panelled frieze running above the ground floor. The structure provides porches to the entrances supported by stylised Doric columns with octagonal shafts on bases, and double-height bay windows to Nos 42-46, with a second-floor balcony surrounded by a wrought-iron balustrade. The bay windows are linked by arches, one framing a first-floor balcony. The polygonal corner tower has stone quoins to the angles, and the stone banding continues into the tower from the frontage, whilst the panelled frieze appears as individual panels between the ground- and first-floor windows. Above the first floor is a deep projecting cornice on sturdy corbels. The parapet has raised corners suggesting merlons. The windows to the ground and second floor of the tower hold casement with leaded lights, now painted. The NE elevation, to South Molton Lane, has stone-framed windows with two pairs to each floor, and an additional central window to the fourth floor. There are modern bars to the ground-floor windows. There is a side entrance to the S with a six-panelled door, reached by late-C20 metal steps bridging the area. The ‘public’ exterior of the building is completed by a further elevation angled to the N beneath a gable, with angled stone quoins framing a recessed face with paired windows. The stock-brick rear elevation of the building has red brick surrounding the window openings and forming quoins to the rear stacks. The basement and ground floor project, leaving a narrow passage between the rear of the building and No 40 South Molton Lane.
The building is surrounded by a basement area, lined with white-glazed bricks – brown to the building itself – and accessed by stairs from the pavement. The area is screened by iron railings with ball finials, between wrought-iron panels. On the S elevation, in front of the gate to the area of No 46, a painted sign indicates that the basement was used as a wartime shelter.
The conversion of the four separate houses to a single office space has resulted in the plan of the building being altered, with numerous openings made in the party walls between the houses, and reconfiguration of space. However, the form of the historic building remains legible, with three of the four original open-well stairs remaining – the stairwell of No 42 now contains a lift shaft. Some good rooms survive, and there are other noteworthy features scattered through the building; five-panelled doors, architraves, moulded cornices and skirtings survive well throughout, though there are also replacements.
The part of the building formerly comprising No 40 is the most intact, and on the ground floor, the decorative scheme is largely complete. The entrance lobby has a plasterwork roundel to the ceiling, together with a moulded cornice, dado and skirting. There is a small chimneypiece with a plain moulded timber surround, marble cheeks and hearth, and a cast-iron register grate with Gothic detailing. This leads to the octagonal stair hall, with its chequered marble floor and plasterwork ceiling. The stair here has unpainted balusters, lacking the differentiated starter-newel; the plainer post is thought to be a modern replacement. Beneath the stair is a cupboard with its original doors. The chimneypiece has a husk drops to the jambs and a corbelled mantelshelf; above is an overmantel mirror in a neoclassical surround. The grate is decorated with a scrolled pediment. Doors leading to the principal rooms have overdoors with scrolled pediments over swags. The room to the N, with canted corners, has rococo plasterwork to the ceiling, but has lost its fireplace. The corner room, within the tower, has ceiling plasterwork in a rococo pattern with scrolling acanthus; the eared wall mouldings may be modern; the elaborate chimneypiece has an eared surround, and a pulvinated frieze with a central swag, beneath a moulded shelf. To the W of the entrance the front room has neoclassical plasterwork to the ceiling, and a neoclassical chimneypiece with palmette and anthemion to the frieze. An œil-de-bœuf window in the N wall lights the stair. On the first floor the octagonal stair landing retains plasterwork mouldings to the ceiling. The tower room on this floor has a rich decorative scheme with plasterwork mouldings to the ceiling and walls, and an elaborate overdoor with a central urn; the chimneypiece in this room has acanthus corbels and a frieze with floral roundels. A blocked archway, with narrow Ionic pilasters, formerly led into the adjacent triangular room, with its balcony. The principal stair in this part of the building reaches only to the second floor, beyond which the upper floors are accessed by a plain secondary stair to the NE.
The stairs of Nos 44 and 46 both have unpainted newels and handrails; the balusters are turned, the newel-posts have a flattened bun finial, and the starter-newels are panelled; from the second floor the stair is simplified, with stick balusters and narrower newel-posts with ball finials. The entrance hall, rear passage, stair hall and stairwell of No 46 retains original recessed panelling, and a moulded cornice. The rear ground-floor rooms, formerly belonging to Nos 44 and 46, have a vaulted ceiling with central glazed skylights of painted glass. On the first floor, the large central front room, formerly belonging to No 42, retains plasterwork to the ceiling and a bolection-moulded chimneypiece. On the second floor, the SW room formerly belonging to No 46, retains a substantial panelled wooden firesurround. The central room, formerly belonging to No 42, has a compartmented ceiling, but has lost its fireplace; the room above has a similar ceiling.
The two upper floors have few historic features throughout the building, and are of lesser interest internally. The basement is also thoroughly modernised, though the original stairs remain; the north-western room (the current plant room), retains a kitchen fireplace, and to the W there is a strongroom with a Ratner ‘patent thief resisting door’; there are also original doors to the surrounding basement areas. Apart from these features, the internal basement is also of lesser interest.
NO 40 SOUTH MOLTON LANE
MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond with glazed brown brick to the ground floor. The roof is tiled and the windows are timber mullioned windows with casements, some retaining historic glass, though some have replacement frames. There are two tall brick stacks with splayed caps.
PLAN: the building stands immediately to the N of 40-46 Brook Street, on a W/E alignment, with its entrance elevation facing Davies Mews, and its canted north-eastern elevation making the corner with South Molton Lane.
EXTERIOR: the principal elevation is of three bays, with a wide carriage entrance to the W, and a central stable entrance, each with a timber bressumer, and replacement folding doors below multi-paned transom lights. The sides of the central entrance have channels cut for a roller grille; the curved bricks to the sides of the western entrance have been cut. To the E is a doorway with a segmental head, holding its original four-panelled door. Sheltering the openings is a shallow tiled canopy. To the first floor, there is a central four-light casement, with two-light casements to the outer bays; all the windows have transom lights. The attic has three dormer windows. The roof angles to cover the gabled side elevation, with an additional narrow bay turning a further 120 degrees. There is a segmental-arched doorway to the N, containing a three-panelled door; the windows on this elevation – one beside the door, two the first floor, and one to the attic – have segmental heads. The narrow bay has a single first-floor window. The blind rear elevation is faced in white-glazed brick.
The SE corner of the building, linking Nos 40-46 Brook Street and No 40 South Molton Lane, is a single-storey block, also in red brick, but with stone dressings, with a canted bay to the NE. Two stone-framed windows are linked by moulded stone string-courses, and there is a moulded stone capping to the parapet. A deep flying buttress descends from the rear elevation of 40-46 Brook Street, to rest on the parapet of the linking block. There is a basement area here, lined with glazed bricks as at 40-46 Brook Street. The area is screened by iron railings with elongated vase-shaped finials.
INTERIOR: inspection of the ground-floor interior spaces was restricted. The walls of the large former stable area are lined with glazed bricks – brown below the dado and cream-coloured above – with some areas having later tiles. The majority of the area is floored with narrow bricks laid diagonally to feed drainage channels; the front is floored with tiles laid in a herringbone pattern, thought to be later. There is a suspended ceiling. The area may formerly have been divided to provide a tack-room to the E, accessed directly from the street; a stack rises in the SE corner, though no evidence of a former fireplace was seen. A former doorway between the stable and the coach-house is blocked, being tiled over on the stable side; on the coach-house side the segmental-headed opening remains. The walls of the coach-house area retain their complete glazed brick scheme. To the SW, and currently largely obscured by the suspended ceiling, is a pitched lantern, bringing light from the gap between the buildings. The floor is stone.
The linking block contains a short stair leading downwards from Nos 40-44 Brook Street, and leads to an enclosed stair with a modern handrail rising against the NE wall of the stable, to the former lodgings above, with access from the street via the NE door.
On the first and attic floors, the former lodgings have been converted to office space, and few historic features remain, the space having been reconfigured, and chimneypieces removed. The stair between these floors does remain, with turned balusters and newel-posts with ball finials. Apart from the stair, these areas are of lesser interest.
The basement, which was not inspected, can be accessed from the basement of 40-46 Brook Street. There are two rooms, with walls of exposed brick. In the SW corner is a steep timber stair, connecting with the area beneath the lantern.