11 Constable Close

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1469862
Date first listed:
26-Mar-2020
Statutory Address:
London, NW11 6UA

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
London, NW11 6UA

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

County:
Greater London Authority
District:
Barnet (London Borough)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ2588588197

Summary

House, built in 1923/4 by John Carrick Stuart Soutar for Edwin John Tanner in a late-C17/early-C18 style, accessed by a carriage drive running between Constable Close and Meadway Close.

Reasons for Designation

11 Constable Close, a house of 1923-1924 designed by John Carrick Stuart Soutar, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a particularly accomplished house by JCS Soutar, long-time architect to the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust; * the stylish, nuanced design demonstrates Soutar’s talent for combining authentic historical forms with enlivening architectural detailing; * for use of materials, texture and visual interest being provided by the use of red brick for recessed pilaster strips and floating hoodmoulds, contrasting with the brown brick used in the main; * the exterior survives remarkably intact; * the internal plan form is illustrative of the way of life for which the house was commissioned.

Historic interest:

* as a significant commissioned house within the original Suburb, designed by the architect responsible for overseeing the realisation of the surrounding streetscape.

Group value:

* standing within the wider context of Hampstead Garden Suburb, 11 Constable Close’s immediate vicinity contains numerous houses by Soutar, including Heath House on the adjacent plot, 1 Turner Drive to the north-west, and Soutar's own house at 7 Turner Drive, as well as the varied group on the east side of Turner Close, all listed at Grade II; 1 Meadway Close by Arnold Mitchell, immediately to the north, is also Grade II.



History

Hampstead Garden Suburb, described by Nikolaus Pevsner in 1951 as ‘The aesthetically most satisfactory and socially most successful of all C20 garden suburbs’, was founded in 1907, at the instigation of Dame Henrietta Barnett (1851-1936). A committed social reformer, Barnett had worked with Octavia Hill, and was married to Samuel Barnett, vicar of St Jude’s in Whitechapel, where the deprivation inspired her to provide better housing for the poor. Anxious that a new station at Golders Green would lead to development to the north of Hampstead Heath, where the Barnetts had a rural retreat, Henrietta Barnett campaigned successfully to secure acres of farmland for ‘a garden suburb for all classes’, with a Heath Extension as an internal green reservation. The land was owned and administered by the new Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, but most of the early housing was put up by co-partnership companies, based on commercial return combined with co-operative ownership. The initial investment (£5) put this housing within the means of skilled artisans, clerks and tradesmen. Private housing was built with the advice of the Trust, particularly regarding the choice of architect. Construction began on the first part of the Suburb, the ‘Artisans’ Quarter’, in 1907. The Suburb quickly grew, incorporating newly acquired land; the New Suburb to the east was begun in 1911, but largely developed after 1919. Another large tract developed after the First World War was outside the architectural control of the Trust, and another, containing the golf course, was developed mainly in the 1930s.

From 1906 to 1914 Raymond (later Sir Raymond) Unwin was architect to the Trust, his practice, Parker and Unwin, having prepared a preliminary plan for the garden suburb in 1904, at which time Unwin was involved in designing the first garden city, at Letchworth. Unwin’s picturesque plan – which harnessed natural contours and features to create varied groupings of houses arranged around greens and closes – was facilitated by the Hampstead Garden Suburb Act of 1906 which overrode local bye-laws regulating street layouts, as well as limiting the density of housing within the Suburb. The informal neo-vernacular idiom which informs the design of the Suburb was established by Unwin in the Artisans’ Quarter. Edwin (later Sir Edwin) Lutyens was appointed consultant architect in 1906, and developed Unwin’s plan for Central Square as a more formal space, designing its two churches (St Jude’s and the Free Church, funded by the Baptists) and the Institute (now Henrietta Barnett School); the late-C17/early-C18 style employed by Lutyens in his houses influenced the work of other architects employed in the development of the Suburb, with neo-Georgian being the dominant style for the larger houses after 1918. Those who made important contributions to the development of the Suburb included MH Baillie Scott, Courtenay Crickmer and Geoffrey Lucas; Michael Bunney, E Guy Dawber, W Curtis Green, Edwin Palser, Herbert A Welch, TM Wilson, CH James, CHB Quennell, GL Sutcliffe, though over sixty others were involved in the original Suburb.

John Carrick Stuart Soutar (1881-1951) succeeded Unwin as architect to the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust in 1915, continuing in the role until his death. Soutar studied at Dundee University College, where he won the Queen’s Prize. Having completed his apprenticeship, he moved from Scotland in 1901, joining his older brother Archibald Stuart Soutar, also an architect, at the Housing Department of the London County Council. Their work included drawing up plans for cottage estates on garden suburb lines, the influence of the newly-established Hampstead Garden Suburb quickly becoming manifest in LCC designs. In 1910, the Soutar brothers won a competition for the design of a new estate at Ruislip and Northwood, Unwin being the assessor. Though the realisation of the scheme was halted by the war, the project established the brothers in independent practice, and they continued as partners following John Soutar’s appointment by the Trust, though the younger brother’s work on the planning and design of Hampstead Garden Suburb would occupy much of his career.

As well as managing and planning the estate, Soutar undertook the design of a large number of its buildings. His first design for Hampstead Garden Suburb was the Barnett Homestead, an Arts and Crafts block of flatlets for war widows (1916-1918); Southwood and Bigwood Courts, designed at the same time to serve a similar purpose, but not built till 1925, were in a Queen Anne Style, reflecting Lutyen’s work in nearby Central Square, and thereafter Soutar was strongly influenced by Lutyens, with whom he worked closely over many years. Soutar enlarged Lutyens’s Institute, and added its south wing (1918-1924), as well as the Henrietta Barnett Junior School (1938). Though he designed flats, offices and shops, Soutar’s main output was houses, his office being responsible for the design of more than 340, many of them built speculatively.

11 Constable Close was designed specifically for Edwin John Tanner and his wife Caroline in 1923-1924. Edwin Tanner came from an architectural family: his father was Sir Henry Tanner, Architect to the Office of Works, and both Edwin and his brother Henry trained as architects, though whilst Henry’s buildings included the Park Lane Hotel, Edwin does not appear to have been responsible for any noted works. The house occupies a prestigious double plot overlooking the Heath Extension, within the southern section of the original Suburb designated in Unwin’s plans for more lavish houses. Constable Close contains a number of houses by Soutar, whose designs dominate this part of the Suburb (the house he built for himself, Fairfield, is in Turner Drive), as well as by architects including Baillie Scott and T Laurence Dale. Heath House, immediately to the west of 11 Constable Close, was built by Soutar in about 1915, as was 1 Turner Drive, to the north-west; the plot immediately opposite number 11 to the north, 1 Meadway Close, was built by Arnold Mitchell in 1910. It has been suggested that one of Soutar’s assistants, Paul Badcock, may have had some involvement in the scheme.

The interior of the house was fitted out quite lavishly, particularly on the ground floor, employing a range of historicist styles: the hall and dining room had small-square panelling in C17 style with matching double doors and Tudor-arched stone chimneypieces, whilst the drawing room was Georgian in style, with panels of applied mouldings and a marble chimneypiece; compartmented ceilings were enriched with vine-motif plasterwork. The study had an Arts and Crafts-inspired brickwork chimneypiece, and glazed bookcases in stepped mahogany surrounds, and there was an open-well stair of Jacobean inspiration. The plan form of the house has changed little since it was built, though some alteration has taken place, including the replacement of the secondary staircase with a lift, and the insertion of a small stair giving access to the attic. All ground-floor features, including plasterwork, panelling, and chimneypieces, have recently (2020) been removed and the stair largely destroyed.

Details

House, built in 1923-19244 by John Carrick Stuart Soutar for Edwin John Tanner in a late-C17/early-C18 style, accessed by a carriage drive running between Constable Close and Meadway Close.

MATERIALS: brownish-red brick, laid in Flemish bond, with red brick to the corner pilasters, and a stone eaves cornice. The pitched roof is tiled, with hipped sections set at right-angles to west and east, and there are tall end stacks, asymmetrically positioned, in brown brick with recessed panels. The windows are casements with leaded cames.

PLAN: the house has a rectangular footprint, set on an east/west axis, and varied by projecting windows. The main entrance is set off-centre to the north, and there is a loggia to the south, with a central entrance. Attached to the east is the single-storey garage block, now enlarged by the addition of a swimming pool to the south-east; this addition does not contribute to the special interest of the building.

EXTERIOR: the north elevation is composed of three sections, the projecting, gabled outer sections being two windows wide, with recessed corner pilasters, and the central section being three windows wide; the fenestration is asymmetrical. In the central section, the windows are separated by brick pilasters, with the doorway to the east. At the corners, the recessed pilasters grow from integrated brick bases. The doorway is to the east, the two-panelled door being set back within a porch ‘in antis’. Set above two steps with horizontal-tiled risers, the doorway has a moulded stone surround with a pulvinated frieze below a shallow cornice; there is a rectangular geometric fanlight. Beside the doorway is a brass bell-pull in a small circular stone frame. At the centre of this section is a tall segmental-arched window lighting the upper part of the stair, with a narrow slit window below. The ground-floor windows are mullioned and transomed, with floating brick hoodmoulds; the first-floor windows are mullioned, with segmental-arched tops. Above each section is a central segmental-arched dormer window. In the symmetrical south-facing garden front, the central section is recessed between projecting wings, then filled by a loggia with three stone arches supporting a first-floor balcony with a pierced brick balustrade. The central round-headed doorway holds glazed French doors; to either side is a tall segmental-arched window. On the first floor is a central canted bay window to the balcony, flanked by windows reaching the eaves cornice. The south faces of the wings are articulated by receding planes, with a first-floor window in the central panel, which is flanked by narrow strips of red brick, and recessed pilasters to the corners; there are canted brick bays to the ground floor. Again, there is a segmental-headed dormer window above each section. A stone terrace has been constructed in the early C21, extending into the garden from the loggia, with ramps to east and west. The west elevation has a wide bay to the north, with a mullioned and transomed window to each floor; to the south is a double-height square bay window, nearly filled by a tripartite mullioned and transomed window on each floor. Above are two segmental-headed dormer windows. The east elevation is obscured at ground-floor level by the service/garage wing; above, the wide external stack rises through the centre of the elevation, ramped at eaves level. The north elevation of the eastern service/garage wing has two segmental-headed garage openings with replacement doors to the east and a round-headed doorway and horizontal window lighting the former scullery to the west; the south elevation has triple-arched openings to the swimming pool.

INTERIOR: the original ground-floor decorative scheme was of good quality, employing a range of historicist styles; all decorative features have now gone, though narrow hardwood floorboards survive, with some damage, throughout. The special interest of the interior, therefore, lies principally in its plan form, with some surviving features on the upper floors, as described below.

The porch leads into a lobby, divided by an archway. This gives access to a WC lit by a small window at right angles to the porch, and to the former study to the west; the study could therefore be accessed from the outside without the visitor entering the main part of the house. Entered from the lobby to the south is the central hall, which opens to the loggia and garden beyond. The arched windows to either side of the central doorway are provided with window seats. The ceiling is divided into two compartments by an axial beam; to the west is the fireplace, the chimneypiece gone. The north-east corner of the hall is partitioned, formerly enclosing the service stairwell, now occupied by the lift. A doorway to the north of this gives access to the service corridor, and formerly the service stair. Opening from the hall to the west is drawing room, and to the east is the dining room, both formerly entered through double doors. Both rooms have ceilings divided by two axial beams. A secondary door to the north gives access from the service corridor. The kitchen is in the north-east corner of the building, with a pantry to the west, the spaces now combined. The western part of the service/garage range provided the scullery and boiler room, with the double garage to the east; this area has undergone some reconfiguration. The main stair is at the centre of the building to the north, accessed from the hall, the finials, balusters and panelling removed in 2020.

Upstairs, moulded architraves surround the doorways; the doors have been removed. At either side of the house, large bedrooms have bay windows overlooking the garden, that to the west having been the principal bedroom, with sole access to the central balcony via a door in the corner; the eastern bedroom has a window in this position. These rooms have simple coved cornices. The western bedroom forms part of a suite, separated from the landing by a doorway with a leaded fanlight above, and with a dressing room to the north-west. Bathrooms remain in their original positions, to the east of the dressing room. The central room on the south side of the landing was originally the day nursery, with no direct access to the balcony outside, but with a window seat in the central canted bay window. The north-east bedroom was originally the night nursery. The former spare room to the south-east retains a fitted bookcase with original architrave, matching those surrounding the doors. The new attic stair has been fitted into a former lobby and cupboard to the east. In the attic, the original configuration is thought to survive much as planned, with some additional partitioning. There are leaded rectangular fanlights above the attic doorways, and a large original built-in cupboard survives to the south-west.

Sources

Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England. London 4: North, (2002), 139-155, 150
Davidson, D, 'Context, Texture and Restraint: John Carrick Stuart Soutar at Hampstead Garden Suburb' in Twentieth Century Architecture, , Vol. 12, (2015), 16-33
Websites
Biography of JCS Soutar in Dictionary of Scottish Architects, accessed 3 March 2020 from http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=203526
Hampstead Garden Suburb Virtual Museum - photograph of 11 Constable Close, accessed 12 December 2019 from https://hgsheritage.org.uk/Detail/places/constable_close_011
Hampstead Garden Suburb Virtual Museum, mentioning 11 Constable Close, accessed 12 December 2019 from https://hgsheritage.org.uk/Detail/collections/id%3A86
Other
Plans and drawings held by the London Metropolitan Archives

Legal

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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