Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation southern block, gates, gate piers, wing walls and railings facing Fulham Road

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1457123

Date first listed: 05-Oct-2018

Statutory Address: 446 Fulham Road, London, SW6 1DT

Map

Ordnance survey map of Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation southern block, gates, gate piers, wing walls and railings facing Fulham Road
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Location

Statutory Address: 446 Fulham Road, London, SW6 1DT

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

County: Greater London Authority

District: Hammersmith and Fulham (London Borough)

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Grid Reference: TQ2558777266

Summary

A charitable foundation providing housing for disabled former servicemen, built in 1917-1923 to the designs of Inigo R Tasker in an English Baroque style with later additions and alterations.

Reasons for Designation

The southern range of the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation, Fulham Road, London, together with the gates, railings and gate piers and wing walls facing the roadway, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * the building is an accomplished design by Inigo Tasker in the revived English Baroque style of Christopher Wren, the architect of Greenwich and Chelsea hospitals; * it provides the foundation with a fitting outward face and contains flats which house ex-service personnel; * the gates, gate piers and railings include a memorial of the wars and campaigns of the First World War and are an elegant accompaniment to the design of the southern range, facing Fulham Road.

Historic interest: * the building is a testament to the desire to house and care for servicemen after the First World War and was founded as a result of the charity of many individuals and institutions across England. Oswald Stoll’s war seal fundraising campaign provided quality affordable accommodation for disabled servicemen, an achievement recorded in a central panel on the building.

History

Sir Oswald Stoll was a theatre entrepreneur, whose holdings at one time included the Hackney Empire and the London Coliseum. Stoll was a philanthropist as well as a businessman and he was concerned at the neglect which those returning from the Crimean War had suffered. This inspired him to help servicemen returning from the First World War, who were disabled after active service, and to set up what was originally called the War Seal Foundation in 1917.

To fund his project, Stoll devised a ‘war seal’, a diamond-shaped stamp used to seal the backs of letters. Five million of them, costing a halfpenny each, were sold in Stoll’s own theatres and distributed for sale at Boot’s chemist shops and twenty thousand were sold in the first few hours. The sale of war seals was taken up at a variety of locations, including railway stations, hotels and department stores such as Selfridge's and Harrod's. The success of the war seal fundraising campaign enabled Stoll to set in motion his original plan to provide quality affordable accommodation for disabled servicemen returning from the war.

A site was found at Fulham for what were originally known as the War Seal Mansions. The foundation stone was laid in 1917, and building completed in 1923 in two main phases. The first of these, to the north of the site, was designed by Joseph and Smithem in 1916. It comprised three parallel wings, containing flats. To the west of this arrangement were other buildings, containing the recreation room and medical facilities. Between 1920 and 1922 these three wings were extended and a new range forming a façade along Fulham Road was added, to the designs of Inigo Tasker. The completed building provided 138 apartments for seriously wounded ex-servicemen and their families. On-site amenities included lifts, a medical treatment centre, a chemist and a workshop and a gymnasium. Stoll was knighted for this work in 1919 and died in 1942, five years after the War Seal Mansions had been renamed in his honour as the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation.

A threat of structural failure of the concrete balcony access to many of the flats led to a wide-ranging redevelopment scheme during the 1980s. All of the balconies were rebuilt and made wider in the process. The majority of the non-residential amenities were replaced in about 1984 by new, purpose-built blocks, either added to the original western block, which was shortened at its northern end, or else built as free-standing buildings to the west of the site. The original three wings to the rear of the road front were reduced to two by the demolition of the central wing. At the same time the foundation became a housing association, although still based around ex-service personnel and their needs. The configuration of many of the flats was revised and the original arrangement of a bay-windowed sitting room, flanked by bedrooms, with a bathroom and kitchen at either side of the western entrance hall, was altered to provide more, smaller flats. Original doors and windows were replaced in the late C20 and early C21.

Details

A charitable foundation providing housing for disabled former servicemen, built in 1917-1923 to the designs of Joseph and Smithem about 1916 and Inigo R Tasker, about 1920, in an English Baroque style with later additions and alterations.

MATERIALS & PLAN: the front facing Fulham Road has red brick walling, laid in English bond, with Portland stone dressings. To the rear are landings with iron balustrades and colourwashed walls. The plan was originally E-shaped, with three ranges of flats extending to the north of the present front range (as expressed by the large arches on the southern front). The easternmost of these three wings survives to its full original length, and the west wing has been partially demolished and extended. The central wing was demolished and replaced by a garden. The buildings which form the community have now been redeveloped as a rectangular enclosure with ranges of later-C20 and C21 buildings of different dates surrounding this central area. The basic unit of habitation was initially a flat with a living room at the centre of its eastern side with a canted bow window, but this has been altered to provide more, and smaller, flats. The bay window motif can be seen across the building. On the western balcony side of each flat is the entrance, kitchen and bathroom.

EXTERIOR: the show front faces south onto Fulham Road. It is symmetrical with five principal bays, which form an A-B-C-B-A arrangement, and are divided by panelled pilasters. There is an entablature above the second floor, which runs along the front and the flanks and has a blank frieze. The ground floor level has rock-faced, banded rustication and windows are sashes with moulded ashlar surrounds. At the centre of the front is a canted, bay window which extends upwards for the full four storeys and has a hipped, ashlar roof. It is flanked by sashes of 4x4 panes, and the ashlar surrounds of these lateral windows are joined between the first and second floors to form one continuous panel, with projecting aprons below the second floor windows, which connect with the projecting triple keystones above the first floor windows. The fourth floor has paired windows which rest on the cornice and above these is a wide, segmental parapet, entirely of ashlar, which bears the inscription ‘SIR OSWALD STOLL FOUNDATION’. Above the inscription is a diamond-shaped panel surrounded by a carved wreath, similar in appearance to one of the war seal stamps. The bays at far right and left are similar with central canted bays and joined sash windows at either side of them. The bay windows have flat heads and the parapet takes the form of a balustrade. The second and fourth bays, to either side of the centre, have large entrance arches, of three-storey height, which lead through to the rear. These have banded rustication and a large-scale cavetto moulding, with voussoirs which connect to the underside of the entablature. Above each of these is a tripartite window at fourth-floor level. The panelled pilasters which divide the bays terminate as piers at the level of the parapet. They were originally crowned by iron finials, but these have been removed.

The west flank is blind, but has a central marble tablet, divided into three parts by engaged, Ionic columns which rest on brackets and rise to support an open, segmental pediment. This pediment is flanked by the dates ‘1914’ and ‘1919’ in relief. The central panel records the establishment of the foundation: ‘THE WAR SEAL FOUNDATION WAS INITIATED A.D. / 1915 BY SIR OSWALD STOLL AS HIS TRIBUTE TO / ALL WHO FOUGHT AND SUFFERED IN THE GREAT WAR. / PRIMARILY THE OBJECT WAS TO ERECT, EQUIP AND / MAINTAIN SELF-CONTAINED RESIDENTIAL FLATS, WHEREIN / DISABLED EX-SERVICEMAN COULD LIVE WITH THEIR / FAMILIES AND OBTAIN FOR THEMSELVES ON THE / SPOT THE AFTER-CARE AND AMELIORATIVE TREATMENT / NECESSARY TO THEIR WELL-BEING AND COMFORT. / THE NECESSARY FUNDS WERE RAISED BY THE SALE OF / WAR SEALS AT ONE HALFPENNY EACH, BY DONATIONS AND BY / THE ORGANISATION OF VARIOUS FORMS OF PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT / IN BRITAIN AND THROUGHOUT THE EMPIRE DURING THE WAR / AND FOR SOME TIME AFTER THE DECLARATION OF PEACE. / THE FOUNDER PERSONALLY BORE ALL THE COSTS OF OFFICE / ADMINISTRATION AND PROPAGANDA AND GAVE THE FREEHOLD / OF THE SITE NOW OCCUPIED BY WAR SEAL MANSIONS, FULHAM. / THIS TABLET IS ERECTED AS AN ABIDING TOKEN OF GRATITUDE / TO ALL WHO CONTRIBUTED, BY MONEY OR SERVICE, TO THE SUCCESS / OF THE SCHEME AND PARTICULARLY TO THOSE HERE RECORDED.’ There follow the names of members of the royal family and the managing council, which included Mrs Asquith, Jesse Boot and Gordon Selfridge, and honorary consultants. The lateral panels list the principal donors, drawn from a wide social and institutional range. Below this two further tablets at ground floor were added subsequently and record the change of name of the managing company from The War Seal Foundation to The Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation in 1937 and the Presidents of the foundation.

The rear of the building has a series of external landings and dogleg staircases which give access to the various flats. The staircases have their original balustrades, but the landings have been replaced. Doors and windows have also been replaced, but their openings appear to be largely unchanged. The two large arches have brick voussoirs and the intrados of each tunnel-vaulted archway has finely-laid brickwork.

INTERIOR: the interiors of the flats was not inspected. Three of the administrative offices in the western block were viewed and had no original features.

Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the eastern and western ranges attached to the northern side of the range facing Fulham Road, together with the later-C20 balcony landings which provide entrance to the flats to the rear of the southern range, facing Fulham Road, are not of special architectural or historic interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: to the front of the south front are iron railings, with Portland stone piers and to the western end of these is a tripartite gate arrangement which has a central driveway flanked by pedestrian entrances, all with wrought and cast-iron gates. The drive gates have a ramped head and dog bars to their lower body with a scroll work crest and lock rail. The flanking stone piers are panelled to their south faces and inscribed with the names of battles and campaigns. These are land battles to the eastern pier: MONS; MARNE; AISNE; YPRES; FESTUBERT; SOMME; ANCRE; ARRAS; MESSINES; CAMBRAI and LE CATEAU and sea battles to the western pier: HELIGOLAND / BIGHT; FALKLAND / ISLANDS; DOGGER / BANK; JUTLAND / BANK and SURRENDER / OF THE / GERMAN / NAVY. They have cast metal lanterns to their tops. The pedestrian gates are flanked by attached Ionic columns which bear open, segmental pediments. The left hand pediment holds a tablet inscribed ‘IN HONOUR / OF ALL OUR / BRAVE MEN’. The right hand tablet reads ‘THE EMPIRE’S / TRIBUTE TO / THE VALIANT’. This appears to be the work of Joseph and Smithem. To the left of the gates, and attached to No 448 Fulham Road is a portion of rusticated wall which bears a rectangular plaque honouring the fortitude and sacrifice of those who have served in the armed forces since 1919. The railings to the east of these gates, which connect to the range of about 1920 are likely to be designed by Inigo Tasker and to date from about 1920. They continue to the east along Fulham Road and have pointed spear heads and dog rails to the lower body. A stone pier marks the eastern end. Panels are divided by openwork iron piers of square section which have cast and wrought decoration.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 17/12/2018

Sources

Books and journals
Cherry, Bridget, Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England London 3: North West, (1991), 249
Hasted, Rachel, Domestic Housing for Disabled Veterans 1900-2014, (2016), 14

End of official listing