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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

As visitors or commenters to this site may have noticed, this site hasn’t been updated for a few years now, due to Christian, a former resident (and creator of the site) moving away.

I was recently lucky enough to move into one of the homes, No. 6, as part of a group of trainee architects while studying for our undergraduate degrees, and can say that all of us have truly enjoyed the experience of such a home. During my residence there, I happened upon RememberTheWindow while enquiring about the rich history of these unique architectural gems, and was lucky enough to get in contact with Christian regarding one of his many articles on here. 

He has kindly offered me the task of taking over the site, which I am excited at the prospect of doing so, and thankful to Christian for the opportunity. Although he has set a very thorough standard for the quantity and quality of the research, anecdotal evidence, and history contained here already which I can’t hope to match (yet, at least), I will certainly endeavour to. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope to have my first article posted shortly!

Simon

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Barons Keep

Photo by Maggie Jones

Barons Keep is a nice apartment block.  Designed by Gunton & Gunton the property is five storeys in height and was designed to allow each of the 118 dual aspect flats a view of the open space to the West (presently occupied by West London College, see my earlier post for an image back then).

Barons Keep Layout

Here the layout, it has been built in a horseshoe shape around a central landscaped courtyard.

Barons Keep Art Deco Details

Photo by Maggie Jones

It has some excellent 1930s Art Deco features like the metal casement windows, in particular the fountain shaped staircase windows that run the whole height of the building, and swung balconies.  It is for those reasons Barons Keep has been listed by the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham as a building of merit.

Elevation Study from Courtyard

Barons Keep is managed by its residents and they have some cool ideas.  I particular like their proposed new 6th Floor made entirely of glas, it will look stunning!  Here an elevation study as seen from the courtyard.

One thing however I have not found out in my ten years here in Barons Court is the question of what is it with the missing apostrophe for Barons This and That.  Anybody knows?

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At the time of the construction of this terrace it was still relatively on the edge of town, overlooking the playing fields of St Paul’s School. The site was also close to the marshy Thameside village of Hammersmith and close to the part of the Fulham distinguished by the residency of Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) in the Grange, North End Road, since demolished. St. Paul’s Studios were built besides a previous large studio-house containing a number of studios, built in 1885 for Sir Coutts Lindsay Bt (1824-1913) founder of the Grosvenor Gallery. Used by a number of a 19th century painters it is interesting to note that Edward Burne-Jones worked on Arthur at Avalon in this studio in 1897-8.

Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon

Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon

Immersed in his work, Burne-Jones identified himself with Arthur and even adopted Arthur’s pose when he himself slept. By 1885, four years into his work the association with Arthur reached the point where Burne-Jones had to ask his patron George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle to cancel or revise his original commission, replacing the grand scene with a smaller painting focused on the departed king. Howard agreed to cancellation and never requested his downpayment back. Nevertheless, Burne-Jones returned to the original grand painting, and worked on it for the remaining thirteen years of his life. The studio was also occupied by his son Philip and in 1912-14 Frank Brangwyn R.A. (1867-1956) used them while working on a large-scale project. Brangwyn himself lived close by in Hammersmith, on Queen Caroline Street.

At the same time as the St. Paul’s Studios were constructed in 1891, C.F.A.Voysey – possibly the finest Arts & Crafts designer and architect – designed an interesting studio house, built just around the corner at 17 St. Dunstan’s Road, for W.E.F.Brittan (1848-1816) the decorative painter.

Studio House in St Dunstan's Road

Studio House in St Dunstan's Road

There are other late nineteenth century studio-houses in Margrave Road and Avonmore Road showing off the artistic activity in this area in the early 20th century.  One of note is the Fulham Glass House, 1906, a workshop and studios for stained glass design, built on Lettice Street off the Fulham Road, for Lowndes and Drury with whom Christopher Whall was closely associated – he himself living in Ravenscourt Park.

The Fall of Man

The Fall of Man

The series of window installed by Whall in the Lady Chapel, part of Cloucester Cathedral, between 1899 and 1913 is widely acknowledged to be the finest glass of the period in England.

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Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE, (18 May 1919 – 21 February 1991), the British prima ballerina assoluta, was considered by many to be the greatest English ballerina, and one of the greatest dancers of the 20th Century (apparentely there were only 5 prima ballerina abssoluta tin total – ever!).

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in the Grand Adage of The Kingdom of the Shades in 1963

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in the Grand Adage of The Kingdom of the Shades in 1963

She was born Margaret Hookham 1919 in Surrey , to an English father and an Irish mother of Brazilian ancestry, who was the daughter of Brazilian industrialist Antonio Fontes. Early in her career, Margaret transformed Hookham into Fontes into Fonteyn and Margaret into Margot; for a much better ring to her name. Her mother signed her up for ballet classes with her brother when they were young.  She joined the Royal Ballet while sin her teens and had been trained by some of the greatest teachers of the period, Olga Preobrajenskaya and Mathilde Kschessinskaya . Already in 1939, she was the company’s prima ballerina assoluta and the inspiration for many ballets of the day, such as Ondine, Daphnis and Chloe, and Sylvia.  Fonteyn was awarded a DBE  in 1956 at the young age of 37. In 1949, the Royal Ballet toured the United States and Fonteyn became an instant celebrity.  She lived for a number of years in Studio No. 8 and her ballet mirrors are still there (she used the sutdio for training).

I like some of her bonmots, like this one “Life offstage has sometimes been a wilderness of unpredictables in an unchoreographed world.”  As to that constantly asked question if she had an affair with Rudolf Nureyev I leave that up to others to decide (the residents of the studios hold together).  Here at article in the Sunday Tims on the subject.

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Nikolai and I went to the park and were excited for two reasons.  First we heard and saw a great spotted woodpecker.  Second, there were a lot of new improvements made in the last few days and the park is nicer than ever!  I did not know, but there is a group called the Friend of Margravine Cemetery and they got a grant and spend it wisely (see for their site in the Link section on the right).

We can see the park's trees both from our garden and and from the Studio

We can see the park's trees both from our garden and and from the Studio

Their website also has a lot history and I quote the part of it that made the cemetery into such a nice park: “The 16½ acres of Margravine Cemetery became a Garden of Rest in 1951 when the then Hammersmith Council concerned at its dilapidated appearance decided to remove as many memorials and bury as many tombstones as possible and lay the cleared land to grass; there were many local objections but in general the Council paid heed only to those received from the registered grave owners and left such plots undisturbed, as were those in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Some of the more significant memorials also were retained, including the Young family mausoleum, the only one in the cemetery.”

Margravine Cemetery is definetely worth a visit and they have events including Fungi talks and walks!

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Dead-end Street

Yes, until 1971 the street in front of the house was a tiny backwater street.  See this Map from 1934 that I recently found:

Our Street in 1934

Our Street in 1934

See the St. Paul’s School (now in Barnes) and how Talgarth Road becomes Colet Garden hugging the school’s park!

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I was very pleased to find that I found an entry on our houses at the Royal Institute of British Architects (short RIBA and very much worth a visit!).

One of the drawings

One of the drawings

Giles Walkley’s entry was shown in the Architects’ Journal 6 December 1978.  It came in 4 sheets in pen and ink in the colours black and red; one each of the front, back, side and from top.  It got a special price and the Judges commented: “A good choice of buildings, well laid out and nicely drawn.  Interesting use of colour as line rather wash or tone, giving a feel of the texture and appearance of the building.  The competitor notes that it took him 600 hours to measure and draw.  The plottings are very good, but not such a good set of photographs.”

Intrigued I wanted the drawings(I was not so much interested in the photographs since I guess that is much easier to be done today).  But who would/could spend 600 hours on a set of drawings?  And how to get them?  Doing an extensive Google search I had an address of a Giles Walkley in Australia.  Not knowing if it was the right one I decided to write to it.  I got a reply more than a year later – the letter had gone to his parents’s address and his father gave it to his sister who put it in a her handbag (probably one of many) and did not think about it for 12 months.  Needless to mention that my surprise was big when Giles’ letter came in the form of a tube with colour copies of the plottings!  They are now hanging in the house are are indeed very good!  Thank you again, Giles!

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