Queen's Hotel, Southsea
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- 2 Osborne Road, Southsea, PO5 3LJ
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- Statutory Address:
- 2 Osborne Road, Southsea, PO5 3LJ
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- City of Portsmouth (Unitary Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
The Queen's Hotel, Southsea, built in 1903-1904 (dated 1903) to the designs of Thomas William Cutler in Free Baroque style, with sculpture by Frederick E E Schenck. Enlarged by over a third in 1909-1910 by Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons.
Reasons for Designation
The Queen's Hotel, Southsea, built in 1903-1904 (dated 1903) to the designs of Thomas William Cutler, with sculpture by Frederick E E Schenck, and enlarged by over a third in 1909-1910 by Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for its lively design, demonstrating the versatility of the architect, TW Cutler; the careful early addition by the renowned firm of Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons is also of interest; * each of the three public elevations has a distinct character, expressing a different aspect of this prominent seaside hotel; * for the extensive and creative use of architectural terracotta in the elevations; * the inclusion of figurative and relief sculpture in terracotta by the noted architectural sculptor Frederick Schenk is of particular interest; * the grand ground-floor public spaces retain their plan, reflecting the original circulation and use; * the interiors retain original features including scagliola columns, marble flooring, chimneypieces and plasterwork, as well as a suite of decorative paintings reflecting the maritime setting of the hotel; * the building has an unusual porte-cochère, altered but legible, with a semi-circular carriageway contained within the envelope of the building.
* Portsmouth’s principal hotel, the building demonstrates the development of Southsea as a seaside destination, its success in the C19 continuing into the Edwardian period; * the hotel has played host to a number of notable people; Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and General Eisenhower were all guests during the Second World War.
* with Southsea Common, laid out as a pleasure ground in the mid-C19, and registered at Grade II; * with the numerous listed memorials on the seafront, notably the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial to the south, listed at Grade I; * with nearby mid-C19 listed buildings, including examples by TE Owen and HF Gauntlett.
Southsea began to develop from the 1810s as a residential suburb of Portsmouth, and a seaside resort, with the developer Thomas Ellis Owen playing a major role in the area to the north and east of the current Queen’s Hotel from the 1830s to the 1850s. In 1830-1843 Southsea Common, to the west and south, was levelled and laid out as a pleasure ground, with the Clarence Esplanade being created in 1852, and the Clarence Pier constructed in 1861, as a promenade pier and landing place for steamers.
It was in 1861 that the local architect Augustus Livesay built Southsea House, a large Italianate private residence on the site of the current Queen’s Hotel; this building was later converted to hotel use, but burned down in the 1901. Thomas William Cutler’s designs for a new purpose-built hotel were submitted by the owner GH King in 1902; the building, accommodating 63 guests and 33 staff, opened in May 1904. In 1909, the year of Cutler’s death, the firm of Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons was taken on to enlarge the building by more than a third, closely following the style and detailing of the original. The hotel established itself as Portsmouth's principal hotel, playing host to numerous illustrious visitors; Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and General Eisenhower were all guests during the Second World War. The hotel remains in use.
Thomas William Cutler (1841/42-1909) began in practice in 1866, becoming FRIBA in 1879. A versatile architect, Hermann Muthesius (The English House, 1904) mentions him amongst outstanding domestic architects of the day working in London, best-known for published projects for simple country houses in Vernacular Revival style; Cutler’s illustrated ‘Cottages and Country Buildings’ was published in 1896. However, Cultler also produced large-scale works in Classical and historicist modes. From 1888 he was responsible for the extravagant Italianate rebuilding of Avery Hill House, Eltham, complete with a vast winter garden (both buildings are listed at Grade II). Cutler had an expertise in hospital building, serving as architectural adviser to a number of medical bodies, and designed hospital buildings including the Grade II-listed Italian Hospital in Queen Square (1898-1899). His hotel work included the Grade II-listed 1895 Metropole Hotel at Folkestone (apparently plans were originally produced by James D’Oyley), as well as enlargements and rebuildings. His seaside designs included unrealised plans in 1899 for an entertainment complex (or Kersaal) at Ramsgate. Cutler was also a student of design: his ‘A Grammar of Japanese Ornament and Design’ published in 1880 helped promote enthusiasm for Japanese design in Britain. He is known to have been responsible for designing wallpaper, as well as church furnishings.
Arthur (later Sir Arthur) William Blomfield (1829-1899) set up his practice in 1856, becoming renowned for Gothic revival ecclesiastical work, as well as for educational and public buildings. His sons Charles James Blomfield (1863-1935) and Arthur Conran Blomfield (1862-1932) joined the practice in 1890, continuing through the first part of the C20; AC Blomfield in particular established a reputation as an architect of note in his own right. Architect to the Bank of England, the Grocer's Company, and to Edward VII at Sandringham, the firm’s commissions for work on churches, country houses and public and commercial buildings included a number of notable alterations and additions, with both new works and additions being represented on the List.
Hotel, built in 1903-1904 (dated 1903) to the designs of Thomas William Cutler in Free Baroque style, with sculpture by Frederick EE Schenck. Enlarged by over a third in 1909-1910 by Sir Arthur Blomfield and Sons.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in English bond, with lavish use of buff terracotta, facing the raised ground floor and basement – with large mullioned and transomed windows to the ground floor – and as dressings, including the entablature with dentil cornice, pediments, banded quoins, window surrounds – many being eared, with triangular or segmental pediments broken by heavy keystones – and balconies. The mansard roofs are covered with slate, the roof to the 1909 section being slightly higher, with steeper slopes. There are brick ridge stacks with stone caps, those to the later part of the building being taller. The majority of the windows are uPVC replacements, though some original frames do remain, and the windows in the mansard roofs have mainly been replaced. A parapet which originally partially obscured the dormer windows was removed before 1909. Original cast-iron rainwater goods survive.
PLAN: the original 1903 range was roughly square on plan, slightly narrowing towards the east; the 1909 addition continues to narrow eastwards, creating a somewhat wedge-shaped plan. The original main entrance is to the north; this has now been superseded by the western entrance, from the parking area. The long southern elevation faces towards the sea, with entrances to both sections of the building. Each section of the building has a lightwell, that to the western section being partially filled at ground-floor level by a central domed vestibule, and by a lift shaft inserted in the 1920s or 1930s.
EXTERIOR: arranged over four storeys, with basement and attic, each public elevation has a distinct character, the variety of detailing providing both diversity and unity across the building. The hotel is announced by the prominent canted north-west corner, which rises to a tower in four stages, with a window bay to either side. At ground-floor level there is a decorative frieze above a bay window, the delicately moulded terracotta depicting young women in diaphanous dress forming corner piers, linked by floral swags, and with a central cartouche. Above, a tall blank frame containing applied metal lettering in place since early in the C20, reading ‘QUEENS HOTEL’ is topped by an open-bed pediment with swags framing the date ‘1903’. This supports a terracotta-faced octagonal stage with Doric columns enclosing a recessed window, the whole surmounted by a gadrooned terracotta dome supported on volutes.
The west-facing elevation, which faces towards Southsea Common and the (rebuilt) Clarence Pier, and is entered from what is now the parking area, has a symmetrical seven-bay frontage, defined by banded quoins, with an additional bay to the north, linking with the corner tower. The central three-bay section contains the entrance, now enclosed by a large glazed porch – thought to be interwar in date, this is of Classical inspiration, with corner columns topped by urns, a roundel frieze, arched windows to the front, and a ceiling of Vitriolite panels; the fascias are new. The stair itself appears to be a replacement (the original having been of similar type to those on the south front). The doorcase has pilasters with a form of Composite capital, and a segmental pediment filled by a swagged cartouche. The inner doorway to the hotel was originally preceded by a form of portico in antis, with balustrades openings to either side of the entrance; these have now been converted to windows with inserted mullions and transoms. The upper part of the section is recessed, with engaged giant Ionic columns separating lower windows with eared surrounds and heavy keystones, and upper oculi of the type seen at Wren’s Hampton Court, wreathed with laurel and garlanded. The pediment above is enriched with a festooned cartouche. In the outer bays, the windows to first and second floors have terracotta balconies with solid fronts decorated with Jacobean-inspired strapwork.
Facing Osborne Road, the north elevation of the original building is of eight bays, being symmetrical apart from the westernmost bay which is represented by the corner. The central three-bay section is slightly lower and slightly recessed: at the centre is the original main entrance, intended for carriage access, the doorway flanked by Ionic columns on which kneel large draped semi-nude female figures, supporting an open-bed segmental pediment, and creating a frame for a tall mullioned overdoor light. In the frieze to either side the words, ‘QUEEN’S’ and ‘HOTEL’ are moulded in the terracotta. The eared doorcase has a scrolled keystone and a pulvinated frieze with a projecting cornice festooned with pomegranates. This was designed for the use of carriages, and to either side of the central doorway is an arched opening which gave access to a semi-circular carriageway, lined with terracotta, by means of which guests could be delivered to an inner, bolection-moulded doorway with a central cartouche below a modillion cornice. This function appears to have come to an end during the building’s first decade: the plans for the 1909 alterations show the openings as they are at present, with the lower part filled with terracotta, leaving a lunette above with glazing bars incorporating a pediment. The carriageway now contains timber partitioning, but original terrazzo flooring and cast-iron drain covers survive. Above the entrance is a double-height aedicule representing the main stair having a convex opening containing a pedimented window beneath an arched window, the pediment of the aedicule breaking through the cornice. The central section is flanked by narrow four-storey projecting bays with banded quoins, distinguished by swags above an eared ground-floor window with a heavy keystone, and an oculus at third-floor level. The 1909 extension complements the original work without imitating it, using similar window surrounds and banded quoins. Maintaining the rhythm of the frontage, the Blomfield addition balances the three taller easternmost bays of the original with three bays to the east, defined by banded quoins, and topped by a square dome with a smaller cupola, balancing the dome to the north-west. The central entrance section, balancing that in the original section, is lower, and five windows wide. The doorcase – the terracotta now largely painted – has a broken pediment; above, a frontispiece of terracotta rises through the first and second floors, having an œil-de-bœuf to the first floor with a festoon above. The ground-floor windows to the east of the entrance have been formed the two glazed shopfronts shown on the 1909 plans.
The eastern elevation of this range is not given an architectural treatment, presenting blind walls to the north and south ranges, to either side of a light-well. The elevation is partly obscured by a later building.
On the south elevation, facing towards the garden with the sea beyond, the original frontage has a six-window section between two wider and slightly projecting ‘pavilion’ bays, with banded quoins, and pediments broken by festooned oculi. A central stair leads to a loggia at raised ground-floor level, fronting the dining room; the terracotta balustrade of both stair and loggia has enriched mirror balusters. The stair narrows towards the top, opening to a section which breaks forward from the terrace creating additional circulation in front of the central column. The loggia has an arcade on Ionic columns, the two western bays now glazed. The loggia supports a balcony with a continuous strapwork front; a balcony in similar style extends across four bays at second-floor level. To either side the bays have double-height projections clad in terracotta, their mullioned windows having a central arched section, topped by brickwork balconies with central terracotta cartouches. Opening on to these are tripartite windows in a Serlian arrangement beneath a segmental pediment. The 1909 addition almost mirrors these details, creating a new symmetry by transforming the original eastern pavilion into the central one, and adding a further six-window section, with a terminating pavilion. On the later section, however, the loggia – incorporated into the ballroom – projects slightly; stone frames within the arched openings, and a stone backing to the balustrade, indicate that this section was always glazed. The staircase is wider, spanning two archways, thus removing the need for the projecting upper section.
INTERIOR: the west entrance gives access to a grand lobby with a coffered ceiling, painted panelling and a floor of black and white chequered marble. Beyond a screen of red scagliola Ionic columns, at the centre of the original building, is a domed vestibule; columns support the roof on four sides, framing arched openings to north and south, and a neoclassical marble chimneypiece with console brackets to the east. The lunettes are painted with scenes of British maritime history, whilst the pendentives appear to illustrate the four winds. The glass of the dome is painted with grotesque ornament, with framed heads representing the months. The base of the dome is encircled by a gilded wreath of fruit and flowers. The northern entrance provides access to the entrance lobby and vestibule via a stair which divides at the top, leading northwards to a small porter’s room overlooking the entrance (now a WC), and southwards to a stair lobby, protected by a balustrade of mirror balusters. The lobby has a barrel roof, the ribs decorated with wreathed flowers, fruit and acanthus; the main stair rises to the north, with the domed vestibule to the south. To the north of the entrance lobby, the corner is occupied by the tea room, entered through a scagliola doorway fitted with later doors, truncated by an inserted reception area. The tea room retains a modillion cornice, a screen of black scagliola Ionic columns, and raised and fielded panelling. There is a large bar, recently installed. To the south of the lobby is the bar area, also with a modern bar; this room has an elaborate Edwardian Baroque chimneypiece and overmantel arrangement, the eared chimneypiece flanked by consoles, with a strapwork frieze, and with festoons surrounding a mirror. The dining room along the south front is accessed by glazed doors in keyed arched openings from the bar and domed vestibule. The ceiling is in three compartments with console cornices, the compartments enriched by panels with eared plasterwork frames of wreathed flowers and fruit. The walls are defined by applied mouldings. At either end of the room is a circular vent with an ironwork grille surrounded by a plasterwork frame of acanthus and fruit. In the 1909 part of the building, the ballroom reflects the form of the dining room, continuing along the south front, though in this room an additional section is provided by the projecting loggia, divided from the main part of the room by a screen of Ionic columns. There is a buffet area at the east end within the pavilion bay, defined by Ionic pilasters. The ballroom ceiling is coffered, central panels having been added recently concealing lighting. The walls are panelled; at the east end a fireplace is incorporated, though the decoration of the opening cannot be original. The central area of this section of the building contains the lightwell and stairs, whilst the northern area, which is of lesser interest, is given over to offices and WCs, with some partitioning and few historic features.
The main stair, to the north of the 1903 building, is of tight open-well form, somewhat constrained by the angle of the north side of the building; the upper sections are cantilevered, with columns at the turns. The lower section of the moulded mahogany handrail with a terminal oak leaf scroll is supported on brackets; the upper sections to third-floor level are supported on iron balustrades alternating mirror and stick balusters, and above with only stick balusters. The large stair windows have original frames with decorative stained glass. The stair treads are marble to second-floor level. The main stair in the 1909 part of the building has a wider open well, with a geometric iron balustrade. The bedrooms on the first to third floors have undergone modernisation together with some minimal reconfiguration for the provision of bathrooms. Surviving historic features include moulded cornices, skirtings and architraves, and some panelled door openings; all fireplaces have been removed, and doors replaced. In the corridors, panels concealing lighting and services have been inserted below ceiling level on the first and second floors, but original cornices survive above. The third-floor corridors have false ceilings. Some areas were undergoing renovation at the time of inspection (March 2020). On the fourth floor, originally occupied by servants, the layout appears to remain intact. Corridors have plaster skirtings with bead mouldings, and some plain moulded archways. Timber architraves survive to the doorways and windows, with a panelled doorway to the corner tower room; a small number of simple Edwardian chimneypieces remain though the majority have gone.
The basement is accessed by a number of stairs in the northern part of the building. At the centre of the 1903 building is the former kitchen – a large square room lined with white-glazed bricks, now partly painted – with a doorway and windows opening to a wide passage to the north. The large opening for the kitchen range remains. Within the room, pipes and services have been inserted below ceiling level, and windows have been partly obscured; an unfinished doorway has been broken through to the south-west. In the south-west corner of the building is a former reception room, now disused, with a screen of square panelled columns to the south, a compartmented ceiling with egg and dart moulding to the beams, and an elaborate brown-glazed ceramic chimneypiece, incorporating a mirrored overmantel. Below the western entrance are the men’s WCs, which retain a row of tall ceramic urinals of Deco character, probably 1930s in date, retaining original pipework. In the north-west corner of the building is the boiler room, with chimney openings; the boiler has been replaced. To the south-east there was originally a Turkish bath area; this was not inspected, but it is understood that a bath still exists, now lined with later tiles. The eastern part of the basement, in use until recently as a nightclub and restaurant, was not inspected, but photographic evidence suggests that historic features have largely been either removed or concealed, making this area of lesser interest.
A pair of gate piers stands to the south-west of the hotel at the entrance to what is now the car park, on Clarence Parade. The piers are of red brick with moulded capping and bases of buff terracotta, surmounted by scrolled cast-iron finials supporting lanterns; the lanterns are replacements. The gate piers are not contemporary with the first phase of the hotel, but were installed early in the C20, marking one entrance to a semi-circular drive; a second pair which marked the entrance to the north-west of the hotel has been moved, and is not included in the listing.
Books and journals
Felstead, A (author), Franklin, J (author), Pinfield, L (author), Directory of British Architects 1834-1900, (1993), 231
Pevsner, Nikolaus, O’Brien, Charles, Bailey, Bruce, Lloyd, David W, The Buildings of England: Hampshire (South), (2018), 527
1946 aerial view of Southsea Common, showing the Queen’s Hotel from the west, accessed 1 September 2020 from https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EAW003001
Biography of FEE Schenck, accessed 1 September 2020 from http://www.speel.me.uk/sculpt/schenck2.htm
Early photo of Queen's Hotel, post extension, accessed 1 September 2020 from https://portsmouthandsouthsea.co.uk/media/queens-hotel-clarence-parade.262/
Entries for TW Cutler, Arthur Blomfield and Sons and AC Blomfield, accessed 4 May 2020 from www.scottisharchitects.org.uk
History of the Queen's Hotel, accessed 4 May 2020 from Queenshotelportsmouth.com
Arthur Blomfield and Sons, plans for 1903 alterations
Portsmouth City Council, Guidelines for Conservation. Conservation Area No 10: The Seafront, Southsea, 2003, 2006
The Builder, vol 84, 16 May 1903, p 514
The Builder, vol 97, 18 December 1909, pp 678-9
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