Vicarage, 1898-9 by William White.
Reason for Listing
St Dionis' vicarage, of 1898-9 by William White, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a deceptively subtle composition by a leading Victorian architect particularly noted for this type of building, preserving (despite some alteration) many features characteristic of his work;
* Group value: part of a strong visual and functional group with the Grade II listed St Dionis' church and mission hall, the three buildings forming a particularly prominent and attractive ensemble within this leafy suburban townscape.
St Dionis' Church at Parson's Green was built in 1886, succeeding an earlier mission chapel (now the church hall) of 1876. A small proportion of the funding for the new church, which came from the demolition and redevelopment of Wren's St Dionis Backchurch in the City of London, was set aside to pay for a vicarage, but it was not until 1898 that this intention was realised. William White was chosen as the architect - the new incumbent at St Dionis, the Revd William Samuel Carter, had previously lived in a White-designed vicarage at Bethnal Green - and building work, undertaken by Dove Brothers of Islington, began in August and was completed by June of the following year.
William White (1825-1900) was a leading Gothic Revival architect. The son of a Northamptonshire clergyman, he trained under the Leamington architect Daniel Squirhill before joining George Gilbert Scott's firm in 1845, setting up in independent practice in Truro two years later. Churches (usually of a strongly Tractarian character) and rectories accounted for the majority of his work. For the former he developed a vigorously eclectic High Victorian manner, well seen at St Saviour, Aberdeen Park in London, while for the latter he increasingly adopted a looser, vernacular-influenced style with vestigial Gothic details. Some of his principal buildings are outside the UK, including St Laurence's cathedral at Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Humewood, a large castellated house in County Wicklow, Ireland. He published many articles and pamphlets on the principles of design, advocating functionalism, polychromy and the conservative restoration of ancient fabric. St Dionis' vicarage was among his very last works, completed just seven months before his death in January 1900.
MATERIALS: stock brick with red brick dressings under a clay tile roof.
PLAN: the building is roughly L-shaped on plan, with parallel front and back ranges and a cross-wing to the south. The front entrance lobby is flanked by the (former) study on the left and dining room on the right; a longitudinal corridor behind gives access to the kitchen, WC and a passage through to the church. At the southern end is the staircase (there is no separate service stair), which leads up to the former drawing room (immediately above the study), bedrooms and bathroom. A further flight gives access to a large storage area in the roof space.
EXTERIOR: the external treatment is typical of the informality of White's domestic work, its relaxed, quasi-vernacular style contrasting with the strict Perpendicular Gothic of the adjacent church. The front is thoroughly asymmetrical, with the main entrance - twin doors beneath a fanlight in a moulded, very slightly pointed brick arch - somewhat left of centre, flanked by a gabled cross-wing (study with drawing room over) to the left and a square projecting bay (dining room) to the right; the first-floor windows - plate-glass casements with heavy timber mullions - break through the eaves line to form tile-hung, barge-boarded half-dormers, squeezed in on either side of a huge square stack with stepped supporting buttresses. Equally massive end stacks frame the range to left and right. The left-hand return features a (renewed) two-storey polygonal bay window, which provides side light to the study and drawing room - a typical White device, reflecting his interest in the use of natural light in architecture. Alongside this is a secondary entrance within a pointed brick arch. A modern conservatory conceals much of the rear of the building; the cross-wing to the right has lean-to outbuildings and another big end stack.
INTERIORS: these are mostly plain and unadorned. Woodwork - ceiling beams, four-panel doors - is typically chamfered and end-stopped; fireplaces, which survive in the first-floor rooms, have simple Gothic mouldings and corbelled-out mantels. The front entrance has an overlight containing simple floral stained glass. The two principal ground-floor rooms have recessed window-bays with seats set beneath segmental arches; the left-hand room (the former study) has a tall oak fire-surround with an inset mirror, perhaps brought in from elsewhere. The principal feature is the boldly-detailed open-well stair, which has shaped splat balusters and newels with waisted finials; the bottom-most finial is of unusual form, appearing as if cut away at the corners to reveal a flower design within.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.