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Palace Court Including Former Arthur Green,34 White Rock

A Grade II Listed Building in Hastings, East Sussex

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.8543 / 50°51'15"N

Longitude: 0.5753 / 0°34'31"E

OS Eastings: 581361

OS Northings: 109250

OS Grid: TQ813092

Mapcode National: GBR PXB.88L

Mapcode Global: FRA D62V.5Y9

Entry Name: Palace Court Including Former Arthur Green,34 White Rock

Location: Hastings, East Sussex, TN34

County: East Sussex

District: Hastings

Town: Hastings

Locality: Castle

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Listing Date: 23 April 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507360

Source ID: 1393761

Listing Text


757/0/10109 WHITE ROCK
23-APR-10 Palace Court including former Arthur G
reen,34 White Rock

GV II
Former hotel set over shops, built as Palace Hotel by Arthur Wells for the Spiers and Ponds Group. The western five-bay range was built in 1885, the eastern eight storey two and three-bay tower added in 1885-6, presumably by the same architect. The height of the building, deep mansard roofs and use of terracotta and decorative metalwork are suggestive of the French chateau and of late C19 French domestic architecture rather than British seafront buildings.

MATERIALS: Brick faced with possibly a steel frame to the taller wing. The seafront is stucco rendered, the return walls are rendered and on the west painted; both sections have tall slate mansard roofs.

PLAN: The hotel entrance leads to a narrow hallway from which stairs and a lift rise to the upper floor. Further stairs serve the upper floors of the taller wing. On the first floor overlooking the sea is a series of public rooms overlooking a glazed balcony. The first floor of the taller range houses a large ballroom or dining room and behind it a smaller but similar reception room. Upper floor corridors have been partitioned but originally suites of rooms or single rooms led off wide longitudinal corridors. Single shops at Nos. 34 and 35 White Rock run back beneath the hotel. An arcade of shops or units, now much altered and excluded from the listing, lead off a central access passage beneath the third and fourth bays, while there is a pair of shops, again altered, beneath the taller wing. Rear wings project between open bays which include a glazed roof over the passage which gives access to the rear of the hotel. Rear rooms look out onto the bare cliff face.

EXTERIOR: The seaward facade facing is stucco rendered and articulated by alternating bowed and canted bays with sash windows, most with single-pane lower sashes and small paned upper lights. First floor windows have ornate terracotta and stucco rendered arched heads or friezes, upper floor windows are in plain openings. The first floor of the lower build has a range of enriched cambered arched fully-glazed openings which was originally built as an open gallery. The front elevation of the building is linked by balconies which run across the three principal storeys, a theme repeated in the upper floor of the tower. The balconies which are supported on scrolled brackets at first floor and plain brackets above, are enriched by gilded escutcheons (decorative panels, often in the form of a crest). Tall, slate, mansard roofs accommodate one and in some cases two storeys of windows; the upper floors of the tower which are set into the roof have small windows in round-arched architraves.The entrance, marked by a shallow timber pediment, is set behind cast iron piers with ornate spandrels, and has a Jacobean Revival doorcase and screen, and is lined with glazed tiles. The pediments of the attic storey windows of the western block are adorned with pairs of mermaids.

HOTEL INTERIOR: The entrance, flanked by mahogany booths with bevelled glass panels, leads to a single-bay width hall with a panelled dado and moulded timber fireplace surround and a moulded, ribbed ceiling. Stairs with a cast metal balustrade and moulded timber rail, and enclosing a similar metal-framed lift shaft, rise the full height of the building. The first floor reception rooms open through French doors or full height sashes onto the glazed arcade, which has a tiled floor. Outer windows are metal-framed, probably inter-war. The room over the entrance is set behind a glazed and panelled internal screen. The eastern rooms have ribbed ceilings and ornate fireplaces, one depicting mermaids, while the western two rooms are on a smaller scale with fireplaces similar to those elsewhere in the hotel. Some of the doors to these public rooms have etched glass panels.

The taller wing is laid out with a large first floor dining room or ballroom which leads to a similar, but smaller, room at the rear of the building. Both have ribbed panelled ceilings with large floral vents, which in the front room are supported by a pair of added fluted columns.The front room has an inlaid marquetry timber fireplace and the grate depicts mermaids and birds, similar to that in the first floor room over the entrance.

Some of the larger upper floor rooms with a sea view have ribbed ceilings, while most have deep moulded cornices. Most rooms have pattern book fireplaces with moulded surrounds, some of which are cast iron; some have cast iron grates, and glazed tile linings, varying from plain coloured slips to floral designs; one in particular represents the Arts, with a palette, theatrical mask and pages from a book. Principal doors are of mahogany, most doors are painted. Some, to the public rooms have etched glass panels.

SHOPS
Between the hotel entrance and the shops is a deep passage with a ribbed ceiling with enriched panels leading to a glazed roofed service area.

The shops fronts are set between pilasters and under deep moulded fascias. Most have been altered, reducing their claim to special interest, with the exception of Arthur Green, former gentleman's outfitters, which has canted plate glass shop windows flanking a central entrance, all under deep overlights with small paned leaded lights and with ornate spandrels. The threshold is tiled in mosaic and inscribed 'Arthur Green'. The interior is lined with mahogany shelves, cupboards and counters, the front sets have engaged shafts, pierced cornices, and swan necked pediments labelled SHIRT TAILORS and SILK AND FELT HATS, while the rear set which have richer mouldings, have twisted shafts and a pediment inscribed HOSIERY. The cashier's booth which is similar to the latter, has shafts with splayed caps at the angles, raised panels and a blind scrolled oval panel over the cornice; freestanding shelves also remain in the shop.

HISTORY
Palace Court was built as a hotel (later converted to luxury seafront apartments) by the Spiers and Ponds Group whose other properties included the Holborn Viaduct Hotel in London. Rising above a parade of shops, the western, lower, section of the hotel was built in 1885 by architect Arthur Wells on the site of a former brewery. The eastern, taller, section was added in 1885-6, presumably by the same architect, replacing the Seaside and Pier Hotel, which had been built as the Seaside Hotel in 1835. Documentary evidence relating to its history is limited, but Palace Hotel Company Hastings Ltd was registered with the Board of Trade in 1886. It was an ambitious project, advertising sea-view rooms, accessible by lift, dining rooms and a restaurant open to non-residents. It was later known as Palace Chambers and renamed Palace Court approximately fifteen years ago.

Palace Court is a prominent building on the C19 seafront, built on the section of White Rock which had been opened up to the sea view once the eponymous rock was removed. It typifies the growth in popularity of this area of town in the later C19, when, aided by the railway, 'healthy Hastings' was expanding as a resort. Street after street of speculative housing was put up as St Leonards in particular expanded. Hastings Baths, fashionably Turkish in manner, was built in 1876 on reclaimed land on the seaward side of the Palace Court site. Some felt there was little provision for the working class in this conscious promotion of the town, and others felt it produced narrow streets full of tall houses which 'produced coldness and gloom'. However, the expansion in the 1870s and 1880s was in general a matter of considerable civic pride, exemplified by the newly built Town Hall, the Brassey Institute and its public library, and expanding churches and shops in the vicinity.

Changes to the building are recorded in photographs and local directories. Arthur Green, gentlemen's outfitters, for example, was established in 1904 taking over from an art dealer who in turn had taken on the shop from wine and spirit merchants Gray and Company, who had owned the brewery on the same site. The basement is sufficiently large to have housed a rifle range.

SOURCES:
Brodie, A and Winter, G, England's Seaside Resorts, (2007)
Scrivens, L, Wright, C, Hurrah for Hastings, A Celebration, (2009)
Palace Hotel Company, Hastings, Ltd, Board of Trade, Companies Registration Office,1886: The National Archives, BT 31/3691/22951
Healthy Hastings, The Builder, May 13 1882, 596; Hastings and St Leonards, The Builder, 13 Jan 1883, 36

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Palace Court, formerly Palace Hotel, built in 1885-6 by Arthur Wells meets the criteria of special architectural and historic interest and is therefore recommended for listing Grade II. The listing includes the shop fronts beneath and the interior of one shop, formerly Arthur Green, 34 White Rock:
* Architectural interest: idiosyncratic, exuberant hotel facade and matching interior fittings taking advantage of its position overlooking the sea and reflecting its marine location in the architectural detail;
* Plan: elevated first floor public rooms overlooking the sea with seafront principal rooms and suites on the floors above; ground floor shops;
* Intactness: little altered exterior and principal interior rooms, with good survival of off-the-peg and purpose made fittings; intact shop front and interior fittings;
* Rarity: Well-preserved late-C19 seafront hotel of this type, and unusual survival of shop interior;
* Historic interest: Hotel and shops built by a hotel chain as a speculative response to the expansion of Hastings as a seaside resort in the later C19.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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