Pembroke Studios


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Pembroke Studios (nos 1-13), Pembroke Gardens, London, W8 6HX


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Statutory Address:
Pembroke Studios (nos 1-13), Pembroke Gardens, London, W8 6HX

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

Greater London Authority
Kensington and Chelsea (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Artists’ studios and accommodation, 1890-1, built by CF Kearley. The interiors of studios 5, 6 and 11 are not of special interest and are excluded from the listing.

Reasons for Designation

Pembroke Studios, a group of 12 artists’ studios of 1890-1, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the Queen Anne-style gatehouse is a reflection of the architectural fashions of the period, and though less richly detailed, the studios themselves are a well-composed group and built to a high standard in good-quality materials; * Planning interest: the staggered, eastern elevations of the terraces allow an uninterrupted, true north light to each unit, which are laid out in the form of a mews between Edwardes Square and Warwick Gardens; * Interiors: the double-height studio spaces and large areas of glazing survive in the majority of units, as do, in No 3, the original internal layout and fixtures; * Artistic interest: also in No 3, there is a wall painting of a dancer, possibly connected to Isadora Duncan’s period of occupation in 1899; * Degree of survival: the number of architecturally accomplished multiple studios that survive in a legible state is relatively low, and despite various alterations, the function and original form of the group remains fully coherent; * Historic associations: a long list of artists have occupied the studios, including, in the later-C20, prominent figures, including Rosoman and Hockney, and the studios feature clearly in a number of artworks.


Pembroke Studios are a group of 12, speculatively-built artists’ studios dating from 1890-1 by builder Charles Frederick Kearley; the architect is unknown.

The late C19 saw a sharp rise in the number of artists' studios in London, particularly in Camden, Hampstead, St Johns Wood and Kensington and Chelsea. Studios fall loosely into two types: the individual and usually architect-designed buildings seen, for example, in Holland Park Road, Melbury Road and Tite Street; and the multiple studios, often speculatively built and often set behind the street frontages. Pembroke Studios is of the latter type, built in the form of a mews between Edwardes Square and Warwick Gardens.

Speculative studio development of this kind started in the late 1860s in Camden, moving to Kensington in the 1870s, with the Avenue, Fulham Road built by Charles Freake (Grade II), and reaching a peak in the 1880s and 90s. By 1914, when the market virtually dried up, there were some 150 properties of this type in London ranging from pairs to groups of as many as thirty. Of these, approximately sixty multiple studios in Kensington and Chelsea contained 293 individual units. Consequently the number of artists recorded in these studios is extraordinarily high, counting many artists of great merit.

In plan, multiple studios vary from the single storey arrangement, to the stacked five-storey block, such as that at 77 Bedford Gardens (1882) and the flatiron site at Thurloe Studios (1885-7), to the mass of Lansdowne House by William Flockhart (1900-1, Grade II), and from the richly detailed to the functional. Some blocks reflect social change, notably the increase in female artists, and included a custodian's flat.

The design of later C19 studios was consciously pursued, to accommodate the needs of the client, the model and the artist, and likened to the medieval hall house. While the single studios were often opulently finished, the speculative, multiple developments usually aimed for the provision of high-density utilitarian space often behind an architecturally enriched façade echoing the aesthetic trend of the day, intended to impress potential clients. This is precisely the case at Pembroke Studios, which includes 12 units accessed via an ornamental gatehouse with caretaker’s lodgings. The restricted site required clever planning in order that each unit achieved uninterrupted north light, and slight differences in planning and layout of each resulted in a range of sizes of units, with, and without, domestic accommodation.

The first artists known to have worked at the studios were Henry Detmold, one of the founders of the Newlyn School, and Henry Ryland RI. Numerous notable artists, designers and related professionals have lived and worked in the studios, including Gertrude Wadsworth (c1862-nd), Herbert James Draper (c1863-1920), Byam Shaw (1872-1919), Joseph Crosland McClure (c1872-1940), Jess Lawson Peacey (c1885-1965), Julian Phelps Allan (1892-1996), Donald Gilbert (1900-61), Oliffe Richmond (1919-77), Franta Belsky (1921–2000), Michael Andrews (1928-95), architect Serban Cantacuzino (b 1928), Bernard Cohen (b 1933), photojournalist John Raymond Garrett (b 1940) and Henry Korda (b 1957).

John Young-Hunter, son of a wealthy artist occupied studio 3 in 1899, and provides an account of having sublet it to the dancer Isadora Duncan while he went to paint in Brittany. Numerous complaints from the other occupants of the studios quickly ensued: his tenant ‘who along with her friends was hilariously noisy both inside and out the studio, a rented piano adding an accompaniment to the din throughout the night’ (1963), and paid no rent. Young-Hunter’s close friend George Watson occupied the next studio, and ‘got Isadora to pose for a portrait, but one ‘sitting’ seems to have been as much of her society as he could content with’. An un-signed wall painting of a dancer survives in studio 3, and may date from this turbulent episode.

More recently, the studios have been occupied by Leonard Rosoman (1913-2012), David Hockney (b 1937), the architect Philip Dowson (1924-2014) and Eileen Hogan (b 1946). Leonard Rosoman occupied studio 7 for over 40 years; his portrait ‘Lord Esher in a Studio at the RCA’, 1978, despite the title, depicts No 7 Pembroke Studios’ distinctive north window. Hockney’s studio interiors feature in a number of his lithographic and photographic works, and much of his research on the use of optical devices in historic realist painting was undertaken at Pembroke Studios; many of his experiments with camera obscura and camera lucida were undertaken in studio 5. Portraitist Eileen Hogan took on Rosoman’s studio following his death, and her ‘Self Portrait in Pembroke Studios’, 2016, draws on Rosoman’s experimentation with perspective.

Following the Second World War studios 5 and 6 were rebuilt due to bomb damage, though as domestic accommodation, rather than in their studio form. The double-height studio of 11 was subdivided with the insertion of a floor, and the large N-facing window was altered to suit the new, domestic, use. Many of the other studios have had alterations to the balconies and ancillary rooms, but retain the double-height studios.


Artists’ studios and accommodation, 1890-1, built by CF Kearley.

MATERIALS: the buildings are constructed from buff stock brick laid in Flemish bond, with red brick dressings. The roofs are slate, occasionally replaced by synthetic slate, and there are brick chimneystacks.

PLAN: accessed by an ornamental gatehouse set back from the N side of Pembroke Gardens, the studios consist of two terraces of six units orientated N to S, in the manner of a mews between Warwick Gardens and Edwardes Gardens. The studios have a long central courtyard garden, enclosed by a wall to the N end.

The units differ slightly in size and internal layout, though each was built with a double-height NE facing studio, with ancillary rooms on the W, with a stair up to a mezzanine balcony and additional rooms. In No 11 the studio has been subdivided with the insertion of a floor in the double-height space. Nos 5 and 6, to the N of the W terrace, were rebuilt as domestic accommodation following bomb damage in the Second World War, on the same footprint.

The small gardens to the rear of the eastern terrace are linked in order to provide rear access. There was also a passage to the rear of the western terrace, though the small doorways between the backyards have been blocked.

EXTERIOR: the gatehouse is a single storey with a mansard attic clad in slate. It has three bays with a central Renaissance-style archway, and canted bay windows to either side, each with a dormer above lighting the attic. The archway has a moulded red brick architrave with a keystone, and stepped pilasters with bas relief foliate panels, with a fascia and deeply moulded brick cornice, topped with a segmental pediment. A brick up-stand on the roof demarcates the extent of the gatehouse, and on either side adjoins the side walls of the two, southernmost studios, which have pitched roofs, moulded brick chimneystacks, and irregular fenestration.

The gatehouse arch leads to a central courtyard garden, enclosed by the two terraces and a boundary wall to the N. Each studio consists of a rectangular gabled range running E-W, with canted corners on the E side, and an entrance block adjoining the NW corner. All are orientated in the same direction, with large areas of glazing at their NE corners in order to provide the necessary even north light. Thus, the courtyard-facing elevations of the E and W terraces are quite different, though are unified by the rhythmical arrangement of the tall shaped gable ends of each unit. The western elevation of each terrace is heavily articulated, with the deep recesses between the gables forming entranceways on the western terrace, and forming part of the rear gardens on the eastern terrace. The eastern elevations of each terrace are a roughly continuous line. On the courtyard elevations, the gable ends of each studio have red brick quoins and dressings, and have a large, roughly central window lined in red brick with a segmental arched lintel. On the western terrace these were originally glazed with two pairs of casements and fixed, multiple-pane top lights; on the eastern terrace, the windows were originally blind, though many have had smaller openings inserted. Doorways are set within the entrance blocks between the gables; most have double doors with four-over-one fielded panels, many with glazing inserted into the upper panels. On the eastern terrace, these entrance blocks are a single storey with a mansard attic with a pitched dormer; on the W, they are two storeys with a pair of casement windows to the first floor.

Nos 5 and 6 stand at the northern end of the W terrace, and were rebuilt following the Second World War on the same footprint and using similar materials. They continue the rhythm of the terrace through the projecting gable end and the recessed entranceways.

INTERIOR: the interiors are characterised by the double-height studios with their ‘broken back’ windows, where the large N windows adjoin an inclined skylight. Mezzanine balconies look onto the studio, and living quarters are to the W and NW.

In most of the studios, the balcony has been extended to provide additional space on the first floor, and the layout of the ancillary rooms and stairs has often been altered. Although these modifications have taken place, the staircases and balconies are of special interest as they contribute to the form as designed.

Nos 3 and 7 appear to retain their original plan, and in No 3 the simple timber balustrade to the mezzanine balcony, with stick balusters and moulded handrail, survives. Upstairs in No 3 is a wall painting of a dancer, possibly connected to Isadora Duncan’s 1899 occupation.

* Pursuant to s1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the interiors of studios 5, 6 and 11 are not of special interest and are excluded from the listing.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: there is a pair of brick piers with iron gates leading to the gatehouse, flanked by low walls with an iron screen and higher walls at either side, enclosing the forecourt.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 29/06/2017


Books and journals
Bernstein, Susan David, Roomscape: Women Writers in the British Museum from George Eliot to Virginia Woolf, (2013), 200
Cherry, Bridget, Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England London 3: North West, (1991), 518
Walkley, G, Artists' Houses in London, (1994), 147
Young-Hunter, John, Reviewing the Years, (1963)
‘The Story of Narcissus Done Into Dance by Isadora Duncan 1898 July 18’, Box 3 , Folder 4, Howard Holtzman collection on Isadora Duncan, ca. 1878-1990, accessed 21/12/2016 from
Interview with Serban Cantacuzino, Romanian Cultural Centre Lodndon, 30th September 2006 , accessed 27/01/2017 from
Nesta MacDonald, Isadora Reexamined, Dance Magazine, Vol 51, July 1977, 51-65, accessed 20/01/2017 from
'Pembroke Studios', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, accessed 21/12/2016 from
'The Edwardes estate: Pembroke Square, Pembroke Gardens and Pembroke Road area', in Survey of London: Volume 42, Kensington Square To Earl's Court, ed. Hermione Hobhouse (London, 1986), pp. 268-282. British History Online , accessed 7/11/2016 from
‘Suicide of a London Artist’, St James's Gazette, 07 April 1894, 11
LB Kensington & Chelsea, Special Planning Guidelines, Artists' Studios (2004)
'Miss Blanche Williams, copies after Velasquez and Goya', London Daily News, 12 July 1902, 5


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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