15, 17 and 19 Shelton Street


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1378653

Date first listed: 15-Jan-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Nov-2016

Statutory Address: 15, 17 and 19 Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9JN


Ordnance survey map of 15, 17 and 19 Shelton Street
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Statutory Address: 15, 17 and 19 Shelton Street, London, WC2H 9JN

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

County: Greater London Authority

District: Camden (London Borough)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: TQ3009081032


Terrace of C18 and C19 houses and shop fronts, including the entrance to Ching Court, created or restored 1983-5 by the Terry Farrell Partnership as part of the regeneration of Comyn Ching Triangle.

Reasons for Designation

15, 17 and 19 Shelton Street, including the entrance to Ching Court, created or restored in 1983-5 by the Terry Farrell Partnership are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architect: a significant, formative scheme by a leading British architect and exponent of postmodernism;

* Architectural interest: part of a spatially powerful, mixed-use regenerative scheme, marked by bold form and detail, notable in Farrell's new entrance to Ching Court, based on an intellectual understanding of historic precedent, interpreted in a witty postmodern idiom;

* Contextual placemaking: a masterly exercise in placemaking, eliding the old and new, that recognised the scale and patina of the original (and then recently listed) buildings and spaces in the creation of Ching Court;

* Degree of survival: very little altered, retaining Farrell's entrance to Ching Court and restored facades, their detail, fixtures and fittings, and internal public spaces;

* Historic interest: an early and exemplary project in urban contextualism, reflecting the emerging philosophy of conservation and regeneration.


SITE HISTORY Comyn Ching Triangle in its present form is the result of a regeneration project, executed in three phases from 1978-91 by the Terry Farrell Partnership. The project integrated the restoration of existing C17, C18 and C19 listed buildings and shop fronts with the design and erection of new buildings and the creation of a new public space, in a mixed use development. It occupies one of the triangular blocks that radiate from the Seven Dials, laid out in 1692 by Sir Thomas Neale, and is bounded by Monmouth Street to the W, Mercer Street to the NE and Shelton Street to the SE, and at its core is Ching Court, and a public thoroughfare through it, created in 1983-5.

The regeneration of Comyn Ching Triangle was central to Farrell's work in the Covent Garden area, following Clifton Nurseries (1980-1). It is a significant example of his approach to urban contextualisation from the 1980s, in its pragmatic elision of a new urban plan and structures with the existing scale, fabric and patina of the essentially C17, C18 and C19 streetscape.

Farrell created a new landscaped, public space in the centre of the site, an area which had previously been gradually built over, obscuring the original building line. New entrances from Monmouth Street and Shelton Street provided access to this courtyard, and a diagonal public route across it, while a series of added entrances at ground floor level within the courtyard provided access to the upper floors of the existing buildings and gave prominence to the rear elevations which had been previously hidden by extensions and years of accumulated buildings. At the corners of the site new buildings replaced redundant commercial premises, while the intervening street frontages of existing commercial premises, most of them listed buildings of C17 and C18 origin, were renovated. Integral to the project was the reinstatement and refurbishment of the premises and showroom of the longstanding occupants, Comyn Ching ironmongers, at 17-19 Shelton Street.

The historic streetscape is made up of traditional London three and four storey buildings, now mostly with added attics or mansards and with basements. Most are conventionally constructed in red, plum and stock brick, some with red brick or engineering brick dressings, some stucco rendered or painted, and have slate and tile roofs.

The scale, forms and palette of materials and colours used in the new buildings at the corners of the site complement and provide both a unifying identity and new vitality to the scheme. They are clad in traditional materials interpreted in a forward-thinking way, while windows and bold Mannerist entrances are coloured turquoise blue and deep red. Throughout, the scheme is unified by Farrell’s interpretation of the Comyn Ching logo – paired inverted ‘Cs’ which are a signature of the metalwork. At the core of the site, Ching Court is a discrete and tranquil paved court, which creates a seamless connection with the buildings. Sloping from N to S, it is reached by semicircular steps descending from the N entrance and shallow stepped paving rising from the Shelton Street entrance. The corner rotundas, prominent rear entrances, modelled rear windows, masonry parapet walls, kerbs and a built-in seat to the rear of Mercer Street, place the buildings within the landscape. Varied forms of steel balconies, window guards, and later planters also designed by Farrell, and bearing the CC logo, provide context within the idiom of the site.

RECEPTION On completion the scheme was admired and well received, notably in a critique in the Architects' Journal (6 March 1985), which praised its architectural assurance and ingenuity. 'Where old fabric has been kept it is revered and treated seriously, but in the final result we are not so much aware of the old and the new co-existing side by side as of one single lively identity embodied in the still recognisable historic streets'. (AJ 6 March 1985, 58). The project won a Civic Trust Award in 1987 and on 26 March 1999 the Seven Dials Renaissance Project was awarded an Environmental Design Award by the London Borough of Camden.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT Designs for the enabling stage were prepared from 1978 and executed on site from 1981 to 1983. Following the granting of listed building consent, the corner buildings at Seven Dials were demolished and the C17 panelled interiors and stairs from 51 Monmouth Street were removed and stored, to be reinstated in 55 Monmouth Street.

Phase 1 (on site June 1983, completed May 1985), entailed the restoration, conversion or part-reconstruction of 15 listed C17-C19 houses and shopfronts; and the creation of Ching Court and new entrances within it to the upper floors of Shelton Street and Monmouth Street buildings. It encompassed 53-63 Monmouth Street, laid out as a mix of offices on three storeys above retail on the ground floor and basement levels; 11-19 Shelton Street, arranged as a mix of flats on three storeys above retail at ground floor and basement levels; and 21-27 Mercer Street, arranged as four houses, for private sale.

Phase 2 (on site 1985, completed c1987) comprised a new building on the corner of Seven Dials, at 45-51 Monmouth Street and 29-31 Mercer Street, which provided four storeys of offices above ground and basement level retail premises. A new building on the corner site at 19 Mercer Street and 21 Shelton Street provided flats on six storeys and a basement.

Phase 3 (on site c1989, completed c1991), addressed the S apex of the site, 65-75 Monmouth Street and 1-9 Shelton Street. The restoration, conversion or part-reconstruction of four listed buildings (65-71 Monmouth Street) and four unlisted C17-C19 houses and shopfronts on Shelton Street, integrated with a new building at the S corner of the triangle, provided retail accommodation on the ground floor and basement, three storeys of offices above, with a residential top floor. 

ARCHITECT Sir Terry Farrell (b.1938) is a pre-eminent British architect and urban designer, of international standing. He has been a leading force in establishing postmodernism as an architectural presence in this country. After graduating from the University of Newcastle School of Architecture, Farrell took a Masters in Architecture and City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, where tutors included Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, whose work would later have a bearing on the postmodernist movement in Britain.

While working briefly for the LCC in 1961-2, Farrell was responsible for the Blackwall Tunnel Ventilation Towers (constructed 1961-4, each listed at Grade II, NHLE 1246736 and 1246738). After 15 years in partnership with Nicholas Grimshaw, which included the Herman Miller Factory, Bath (1976, listed Grade II, NHLE 1415261), Farrell set up practice independently. At that time he was also involved in Charles Jencks' Thematic House, London (1979-84), an early and important essay in postmodernism. Notable projects in Britain, the majority in London, include Clifton Nurseries, Covent Garden, (1980-1), TV am studios, Camden Lock, 1982, now altered; Comyn Ching, Seven Dials (completed 1985); Landmark House, City of London (1985-7), Charing Cross Station (Embankment Place), Westminster (1990); Alban Gate, 125 London Wall (1990-2); MI6 headquarters, Vauxhall (1993); also the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (1995). More recent projects range from the Home Office, London (completed 2005); the Great North Museum, Newcastle (completed 2009) to Bicester Eco Town, Oxon (ongoing). He established an office in Hong Kong in 1991, leading to a prolific practice in Asia, noted for Beijing South Station (completed 2008).

Farrell continues to be an important voice, contributing through published works to current architectural opinion. The Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment (2014) followed a commission from the Department of Culture Media and Sport.


Terrace of C18 and C19 houses and shop fronts, restored and in part remodelled 1983-5 by the Terry Farrell Partnership as part of the regeneration of Comyn Ching Triangle.

MATERIALS; buff-brown brick with similar dressings, No.15 stucco rendered, all with slate clad mansard roofs. Timber shop fronts and monumental entrances. Stone paving and masonry parapet walls, steel gates, railings, balustrades and window guards.

The scale, forms and palette of materials and colours used in the new work complement and provide both a unifying identity and new vitality to the scheme. Traditional materials are interpreted in a forward-thinking way, while windows and bold entrances are coloured turquoise blue, black and deep red.

PLAN: a terrace of two-bay houses of three storeys and attics, the ground floor of No.15 containing Farrell's monumental entrance to Ching Court and to upper floor flats, Nos. 17-19 being the restored Comyn Ching shop. The upper floors, as elsewhere on the Shelton Street buildings which overlook Ching Court, are in residential use. EXTERIOR 15 SHELTON STREET: the ground floor contains the monumental entrance to Ching Court, flanked by entrances to the upper floor flats. The architectural vocabulary is one of strong geometrical form and robust, oversized mouldings, as if inspired by oriental gateways and by the European Baroque. The retained C19 outer architrave has three orders of moulded jambs with lions' head mask capitals and a restored C19 fascia. Set within it is a timber architrave of the reconfigured shop front with a glazed overlight and open side entrances, set on a masonry plinth. Behind it, Farrell's timber gateway has moulded piers on square masonry bases and a deep moulded oversailing cornice, cranked upwards, and painted deep red as if lacquered. It frames a covered lobby, panelled in timber reminiscent of the C18. Shallow steps to the sides of the entrance rise to doorways to the first floor flats. Doors, here, and in the passage have plain, almost flush, square or rectangular panels and are painted black. The passage beyond is lined in masonry piers, treated as ashlar, which carry robust moulded brackets and cornice, all painted red. It has a paved floor laid out in a grid of polished masonry with unpolished inset squares, which leads to the threshold to Ching Court. The passage is closed by an inner steel gate, in a geometric pattern.

The upper floors have recessed six over six pane sashes, on the second floor with flat arches, on the first floor beneath shallow segmental arches, and also with Farrell's window guards with the reversed CC Comyn Ching logo.

17-19 SHELTON STREET have an impressive and complete C19 shop front, restored by Farrell. Symmetrically arranged, it has a central entrance with paired part-glazed doors beneath a rectangular overlight with robust radiating glazing bars. Flanking it are two-bay shop windows with segmental heads, fixed lights with slender glazing bars and pointed heads, panelled below with diagonally set boards. Outer bays have blind entrances, that to the right with an original door in a reeded surround, to the left a simplified C20 version. Both have similar lower panels to the window bays, four, moulded recessed upper panels and rectangular overlights, also with radiating glazing bars. The intervening moulded pilasters, paired at the outer bays, have lions' head mask capitals. The entablature has a reeded outer edge and Farrell's Comyn Ching number plates. Upper floors have paired six over six pane sashes beneath flat arches, being taller on the first floor, which also have Farrell's window guards, with the reversed CC Comyn Ching logo. All three houses have added flat-roofed dormers, enlarged on No.17. REAR: the rear entrance to Ching Court has a wide, moulded doorcase in a bold mannerist interpretation of the C18 Baroque, the upper timber section, painted turquoise blue, mounted on flared, moulded, masonry parapet walls. Heavily moulded cornices, with a concave centrepiece, rise over the entrance which is recessed in diminishing square-section architraves and beneath a small convex canopy which responds to the cornice above. The parapet walls curve to contain the paved threshold, laid out in concentric rings of paving with a polished centrepiece, and from which shallow concentric steps rise to Ching Court.

Full-height rear ground floor windows lighting the stairwell in the shop are part sunk below the level of the court, and cut through the moulded masonry plinth behind a stepped area; these vary in depth according to the slope. The rear entrance to No.17 has a panelled door with square glazed lights, as elsewhere, in a robust moulded architrave, painted black with a narrow cornice band painted deep red. Upper floor windows are restored, generally six over six pane sashes with slender glazing bars. At No.15, above the main entrance, they are painted deep red.

INTERIORS: the entrances to upper floor flats, beneath the gateway, open onto offset, acute angled stairwells, remodelled in the 1980s in late-C18 manner. They have pine, closed string, dog leg stairs with turned balusters and newels of alternating square and cylindrical section, and a concave bottom step. Window reveals have panelled linings, doors are of six panels in simple moulded architraves. The shop has bold 1980s box cornices and a stair within the shop leads to a basement gallery.


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

Legacy System number: 477987

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
The Master Architect Series: Terry Farrell: selected and current works, (1994)
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: London 4, North, (1998 revised 2001), 318
Davies, Emma (ed), Collage and Context Terry Farrell The Partnership's Complete Works 1981-1991, (2013)
'Historic Precedent: the rehabilitation of the 18th century buildings in the Comyn Ching triangle at Seven Dials in Covent Garden' in Architects' Journal , , Vol. 181 no.10 , (6 March 1985), 47-58
'Facsimile Facades for Comyn Ching?' in Architects' Journal , , Vol. 173 no.14, (8 April 1981), 629
'Post-modern: continuity in the work of Farrells 1981-2011' in Architecture Today, , Vol. 222, (Oct 2011), 2-23

End of official listing