The Quadrangle, Herne Hill
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- 1-7, 7a, 8, 8a, 9-12, 12a, 13-17, 17a, 18-36 The Quadrangle, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9QR
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- Statutory Address:
- 1-7, 7a, 8, 8a, 9-12, 12a, 13-17, 17a, 18-36 The Quadrangle, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9QR
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- Lambeth (London Borough)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
Philanthropic housing development for professional unmarried women, consisting of small flats arranged around a quadrangle. Built in 1911 to the design of Edward A. Ellis, for the South London Provident Society, and extended to Ellis’s 1914 design in the early 1920s; alterations of 1964 and later.
Reasons for Designation
The Quadrangle, Herne Hill, a housing development for working women built in 1910-1911 by the South London Provident Society to the designs of Edward A Ellis, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for an architectural treatment ideally suited to the purpose of this suburban domestic complex for women, blending Tudor-style timber-framing for a sense of permanence, with more light-hearted ‘Queen Anne’ touches; * the overall planning of the complex provides individual privacy as well as promoting a sense of community, with open walkways giving access to individual front doors within the enclosed space; * the complex remains substantially intact, both externally and internally, retaining original fixtures including doors and windows, chimneypieces, tiling; surviving internal joinery includes balustrade partitions defining bed recesses; * the integrity of the overall planning, and the legible plan-form within the individual flats, together with significant surviving features, makes this is an instructive and significant survival. Historic interest:
* as a very complete and illustrative residential complex for professional women, built at a time when accommodation for emerging groups of working women was being defined; The Quadrangle is a relatively early suburban example of this building type.
* with Dorchester Court, listed at Grade II, a moderne development of flats arranged around a courtyard, built in 1933-1934 to the designs of Leslie H Kemp and Frederick Tasker, which stands a short distance to the north. Immediately to the east of The Quadrangle is a listed private house of 1936 by the same architects.
The Quadrangle, Herne Hill, was constructed in 1910-1911 by the South London Provident Society with the intention of providing homes for unmarried women aged over 35, and is one of a number of residential developments of differing types built for working women in London in the late C19 and early C20, responding to the need created by the growing number of women working outside the home. In 1910, the year work began on The Quadrangle, the social reformer Mary Higgs published her landmark work ‘Where Shall She Live? The Homelessness of the Woman Worker’ for the National Association for Women’s Lodging-Homes; Higgs concentrated on the lack of accommodation available for women in the lower-earning professions and clerical jobs.
From the 1880s, there had been a number of developments built to serve professional women in central London, such as Sloane Gardens House, built for the Ladies’ Associated Dwellings Company, which opened in 1888, providing mostly single bed-sitting rooms, with some cubicles available; the serviced building included a communal library, music room, and dining room. Similar projects included the Chenies Street Chambers in Bloomsbury, opened in 1889, and the York Street Chambers in Marylebone, opened in 1892, both for the Ladies’ Residential Chambers Company. From 1900, women’s hostels developed as a hybrid of ladies’ chambers and the working men’s hostels which had been provided in London from the early 1990s. Pioneering examples were built by the Brabazon House Company – Brabazon House of 1902 and Hopkinson House of 1905 – both on Vauxhall Bridge Road; providing a greater proportion of accommodation in cubicles, with more generous provision of public rooms, these were for women on lower incomes. Similar projects were undertaken by the YWCA. The provision of women’s lodgings in the suburbs was largely to take off after the First World War. However, a development comparable with The Quadrangle had been completed in 1909: Waterlow Court, designed by M H Baillie Scott (and listed at Grade II*), was built by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company at the instigation of Henrietta Barnett, founder of Hampstead Garden Suburb, within which the complex was set. This carefully detailed Arts and Crafts complex arranged three- to five-room flats around a courtyard – rendered internally with exposed timber-framing above brickwork to the external walling – providing considerably more space than inner-London accommodation of the same date.
Tenants at The Quadrangle were to be professional – working in or retired from employment such as the civil service, education, or medicine. The development was built on the site of 32 and 34 Herne Hill, which were demolished. The developer was R A Sanders, MP for Yeovil, and a prominent local landowner; the architect was Edward A Ellis of 18-19 Fenchurch Street. The original 1911 development contained 21 flats, including one for a resident warden: each had a living room with a fireplace, and either a bed recess or a separate bedroom; a kitchen (consisting of a scullery and larder), and a WC. There were communal bathrooms and laundries; in 1913 a kitchen block with a small covered yard was built projecting from the north-west corner of the quadrangle. Above the entrance archway was a common room, in which residents might entertain visitors, and to the west of the quadrangle were spacious communal gardens. In 1914 Ellis prepared plans for enlarging The Quadrangle with a further 15 bed-sitting rooms in a wing extending into the gardens from the north-west corner of the existing quadrangle; due to the outbreak of war, construction did not commence until the early 1920s.
By 1963 The Quadrangle was in the ownership of the Women’s Outer London Residential Association, a charitable housing association. In that year plans were made for altering the flats to provide bathrooms. At the same time, the former common room (which had become known as the library) was converted to an additional flat, as was the former kitchen, by that time a boiler room; two further flats were created in the spaces occupied by the communal bathrooms.
Today, The Quadrangle is owned and run by the Truemark Trust, a charitable trust; a small number of the flats are now privately owned. Flats are no longer subject to the original conditions of eligibility, but the majority of the residents are women.
Philanthropic housing development of small flats intended for professional unmarried women. Built in 1911 to the design of Edward A Ellis, for the South London Provident Society, and extended to Ellis’s 1914 design in the early 1920s; alterations of 1963-1964 and later.
MATERIALS: the buildings have a red brick plinth, with a textured render, painted white, above; early photographs suggest that originally roughcast render was used. There are brick quoins and a modillion eaves cornice. The roofs are plain-tiled and there are axial brick stacks of Tudor inspiration, with heavy caps. There are also external stacks, to the north-east corner of the quadrangle, and to the outward-facing north elevation. Over each archway, leading into and out of the quadrangle, is a gabled bay with timber framing to the gable. There are timber galleries or walkways at first-floor level, with crazy-paved passages beneath. The majority of the original doors and windows survive: the windows are small-paned timber casements with ovolo-moulded glazing bars in early-C18 style, with iron fittings, whilst the doors have matchboard panels below and glazed panels with leaded lights above; many retain original door furniture: latches, knockers and letter boxes. Original cast-iron rainwater goods survive, the hoppers to the eastern frontage bearing the date ‘1911’.
PLAN: the original flats are arranged on two levels around a quadrangle, the south side being left open. The main entrance is set back from Herne Hill, with a drive passing through a carriageway at the centre of the eastern and western ranges. The 1920s range extends westwards from the north-west corner on a long rectangular footprint. Each flat has an external front door, with those at first-floor level being accessed via walkways within the quadrangle and on the later range.
Historically, the flat to the north of the principal entrance carriageway was occupied by the resident warden; this continues in use as a flat. The room above the carriageway was the common room, converted to a flat in 1963-1964. Laundry and bathroom facilities were located at the north-west corner of the quadrangle at both ground- and first-floor levels; these spaces were converted to flats in 1963-1964. The kitchen block which projected westwards from the north-west corner of the quadrangle, linking with the 1920s range, was converted to a flat in 1963-1964. Internally, the plans varied somewhat from flat to flat, but in general each flat in the original quadrangle had a small entrance lobby, giving access to a WC on one side, and a coal cupboard on the other. The lobby opened to a living room, with a bed recess in the majority of the flats; a small number of flats had a separate bedroom. A scullery – with a larder – was accessed from the living room. The original plans remain largely intact in most of the flats, though in each flat alterations have been made to provide a bathroom, taking space from the bedroom/bed recess, larder, and or living room. The standard plan of the 1920s range had a small entrance lobby opening to the living room, with a bed recess along one side of the living room; arranged along the rear of the flat were the service areas, with a lobby giving access to the scullery on one side (with combined larder and coal cupboard), and the WC on the other. Here, the bathrooms have been created either within part of the bed recess, or by enlarging the former WC.
EXTERIOR: the style of the development is eclectic, showing the influence of the Queen Anne Revival, with a strong Tudor element. A distinctive feature is provided by the timber-framed gables which mark the carriageway openings. On the outward-facing east elevation the common room above the central carriageway occupies a jettied bay supported on timber posts with moulded brackets. There is timber studding to the first-floor and gable; the common room window is mullioned and transomed with Tudor-arched openings below and shield motifs incorporated in the leaded lights above. Otherwise, this elevation has a neo-Georgian flavour, the tripartite ‘Serlian’ windows to the ground-floor having sunbursts to the arches. Doorways with timber hoods on moulded brackets give access to the ground-floor flats. The eaves are broken by plain gables, above tripartite windows. Within the quadrangle, the western face of the common room bay has a timbered gable above a doorhood with scrolled brackets, of early-C18 inspiration. The door is more elaborate than those found elsewhere, and is unglazed, its upper panels decorated with key pattern and its lower panel with concentric ellipses. The first-floor walkways are protected by painted timber balustrades with plain balusters interspersed with vase-shaped splat balusters, with a cut-out central lozenge. The balustrade has seen some replacement, following the original pattern, with the loss of the ball finials which originally topped the posts. The walkways are accessed by quarter-turn brick staircases, shown on the original plans; these have solid brick balustrades with curved copings and angle buttresses; beneath are storage vaults with arched brick openings.
The 1920s range to the north-west is in a similar style to the original development, though somewhat simplified. The central gable is not timbered, but instead is simply a raised section of the tiled roof, with a louvered gablet. The brick stacks are simpler in form than those in the main quadrangle, with a single projecting band. The flats are entered to the south, the ground-floor flats being entered from a raised stone-paved walkway, with steps to east, west and centre; the first-floor flats are accessed via a timber walkway, as in the main quadrangle, but with a central timber stair, with two opposing flights rising joining in a single upper flight.
INTERIORS: a limited number of flats (numbers 6, 18, 20, 21, 32 and 35) were inspected (2019), understood to provide a representative sample of the different types of flats, and the varying levels of survival. The former common room, now flat number 12a, was also inspected.
In general, the original fitting out of the flats was simple, with surviving features identifiable in many flats. Those in the main quadrangle had wooden floors to the living areas and black and red tiles to the lobbies; the WCs were tiled to shoulder height. There was a picture rail to the living room, and cement skirtings with an incised bead. The doors in the service areas were boarded, with plain panelled doors to the living areas. In the flats inspected, doors remain in the lobbies for the coal cupboard with a cupboard above. Most of the flats inspected have Edwardian cast-iron chimneypieces, of differing designs. A number of flats are understood to retain glass-fronted bookcases in the living rooms. A notable feature surviving in most of the flats is the balustrade which framed the upper part of the opening to the bed recess; of painted timber, this consisted of three chunky vase balusters separated by diagonally-set stick balusters on a moulded rail, supported at either end by concave brackets.
Flat number 21 – on the first floor at the south end of the western range of the quadrangle – is one of those designed with a separate bedroom, which here occupied the southern part of the living space. The western part of the bedroom, which contained its own corner fireplace, is now a bathroom, and the surviving bed area is now open to the living room; the balustrade which frames the enlarged opening is understood to have been brought from another flat (number 15). A new window has been inserted in the south wall, lighting the bed area. Throughout the flat the floor coverings and internal doors have been replaced, the chimneypiece has been replaced, and stained glass has been inserted in the glazed panel of the front door. Flat number 6 – on the ground floor at the centre of the north range of the quadrangle – has a distinctive plan, sharing its entrance lobby with number 7; WCs are located to either side of the lobby, accessed from the lobby rather than being contained within the flats. (The same plan is found in flats 16 and 17 above.) The coal cupboard, at the north end of the lobby, has been integrated into the former scullery (now kitchen), and a bathroom has been created by combining the former larder with part of the bed recess. Otherwise, the area survives as a bed recess, with its balustrade intact. This flat has a glass-fronted bookcase, possibly original, with alterations; other cupboards within the flat are more recent. In both flat number 18 and flat number 20 – on the first floor in the western range of the quadrangle – the scullery, now kitchen, is in north-west corner of the flat; the former larder, to the north of the service area, has been opened into one end of the bed recess to create a bathroom. In both, the bed recess survives in use, with its balustrade intact. Number 18 has exposed timber floors and original internal doors, as well as a small bookcase set into the living room wall, above the coal cupboard. Number 20 has a simple timber chimneypiece.
Within the flats in the 1920s range, the bed recesses appear not to have had a balustrade, but instead to have been framed by two simple ogee brackets; these survive at number 32, where there is a small window between the lobby and the bed recess. Both number 32 and number 35 (first-floor flats) retain small cast-iron chimneypieces. Number 32 survives relatively intact, with a bathroom created by expanding the WC area. Number 35 is much altered, with the removal of the scullery wall; the entrance lobby survives, with its cupboard above, and the position of the former bed recess is indicated by the survival of the southern section of partition, with a single attached bracket.
The former common room is a large rectangular space with evenly-spaced timbers to the ceiling. The substantial fireplace opening indicated on plans is no longer apparent. The area to the south of the entrance has been enclosed to provide a bathroom.
Books and journals
Bird, E (author), Price, F (author), Lambeth's Edwardian Splendours, (2013), 74
Jeynkyns, P M (author), The Book of Herne Hill, (2003), 83
Gee, E, '"Where shall she live?": Housing the New Working Woman in Late Victorian and Edwardian London' in Brandwood, G, Living, Leisure and Law: Eight Building Types in England 1800-1941, (2010), 89-109
Drainage plans, 1911 and 1914, in Lambeth Archives
E Bird, The Quadrangle, Social History in the Making (Herne Hill Magazine, Autumn 2018)
Photographs, circa 1914 and 1925, in Lambeth Archives (SP4245/1 and 2)
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