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Natwest Bank, Kensington and Chelsea

Description: Natwest Bank

Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 March 2014
Building ID: 1418109

OS Grid Reference: TQ2728478143
OS Grid Coordinates: 527282, 178140
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4879, -0.1681

Locality: Kensington and Chelsea
County: Greater London Authority
Postcode: SW3 5UB

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Listing Text


Bank with flats above, 1909 by Reginald Blomfield. An attached block of 1993 is not included in the listing.

Reason for Listing

Nos. 224-226 King's Road, a bank of 1909 by Reginald Blomfield, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: an accomplished design by a major Edwardian architect, mixing the grandeur of a London branch bank with an informality that defers to its setting and expresses its partly domestic function;
* Group value: with a number of nearby listed buildings, including Chelsea Town Hall, the Six Bells PH, and the former Temperance Billiard Hall and Flood Street garage.


224-226 King's Road was built in 1909 to designs by the architect Reginald Blomfield, replacing a number of terraced houses formerly on the site. It comprised a bank (originally a branch of the London and County, later part of Natwest) and a shop on the ground floor, with two flats above. A major internal refurbishment took place in 1964, with the shop area converted to office space for the bank, as well as various alterations to the banking hall itself. In 1993 an extension was built to the rear, facing Chelsea Manor Street, and the interiors of the flats were remodelled.

(Sir) Reginald Blomfield (1856-1942) was a leading English architect of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. After studying Classics at Oxford he joined the practice of his uncle, the Victorian church architect Sir Arthur Blomfield, going on to set up his own practice in 1884. While he initially made his name as a country-house architect - his domestic work includes Caythorpe Court in Lincolnshire and Wittington in Buckinghamshire - Blomfield went on to design schools (e.g. his various buildings at Sherborne and Haileybury), university buildings (e.g. at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford and Goldsmith's College in London), clubs (most notably the United University Club on Pall Mall) and banks (including three as part of his Headrow scheme in Leeds). He was the chief architect for the rebuilding of London's Regent Street Quadrant during the 1910s and 20s, and in the aftermath of the First World War was also, alongside Edwin Lutyens, retained by the Imperial War Graves Commission, designing the RAF memorial on the Embankment and the Menin Gate at Ypres as well as the ubiquitous 'Cross of Sacrifice' used for scores of smaller memorials. Initially a follower of Richard Norman Shaw and the Queen Anne Revival movement of the late C19, Blomfield - like Shaw himself - went on to adopt a 'grand manner' inspired by the English Baroque architecture of Wren and his followers. He remained a vigorous defender of tradition, becoming in his later years a vocal and influential opponent of what he scathingly called the 'Modernismus' of the European avant-garde.


Bank, 1909 by Reginald Blomfield.

MATERIALS: red brick and Portland stone above a granite plinth; slate roof.

PLAN: Blomfield's original plans show Nos. 224 and 226 as two separate units. No. 224 comprised the bank, with a four-bedroom manager's flat on the upper two floors, accessed directly from the manager's office and from a side entrance in Chelsea Manor Street, while No. 226 was a shop with a smaller two-bed flat above. Changes in 1964 saw the shop turned into office space for the bank, with a doorway inserted into the dividing wall and the former shop-front becoming a window. Within No. 224 the banking hall was enlarged to incorporate the former manager's office. In 1993 an extension (not part of this assessment) was built to the rear of No. 224, and the flat above divided into three separate units.

EXTERIOR: the building occupies a prominent corner site where Chelsea Manor Road issues onto the King's Road. The style is the late-C17 English Baroque or 'Wrenaissance' of Blomfield's mature work, characterised by bold yet refined Classical forms, calculatedly top-heavy proportions and a strong colour contrast between soft red brick and white Portland ashlar, here offset by a grey granite plinth.

The main part of the building is the big three-storey block at the street corner. This has a tall basement storey - the bank and former shop - clad in deeply channelled ashlar. To King's Road are two broad arched openings with projecting keystones, filled with small-paned metal-framed glazing (that on the right is original though somewhat altered, that on the left replaced the former shop-front in 1964). The entrance to the bank on the right has a heavily moulded surround with a triple keystone, above which is a carved panel bearing a crown and anchor emblem and a festoon. Bronze numerals here and on the far left display the street numbers of the original two properties. On the side elevation to Chelsea Manor Road, a tall arched central window is framed by two oval windows with carved festoons. The upper storeys have a giant order of brick pilasters, single on the front elevation, paired at the side, with rusticated quoins at the corners. Between are multi-pane timber sash windows set in stone surrounds with keystones and aprons. Above is a deep cornice with mutules and guttae, and a steep mansard roof with pedimented dormers. On the side elevation, the line of the pilasters is carried up into the roof as a pair of tall square stacks embracing a window in an arched recess.

Behind this block is a lower wing, once the 'public' entrance to the manager's flat. Though originally containing only a hallway, stair and utility rooms, it is treated as an independent composition, a three-bay 'townhouse' of two storeys plus attic. Here, red brick predominates over stone, the latter appearing only in the granite plinth and the Portland doorcase, keystones, cills and string courses. The windows - again multi-pane sashes, markedly taller on the ground floor - are set in double-height arched recesses, and have flat keystone heads and brick aprons. The six-panel door with its ornamental leaded overlight is placed off-centre to the right, in a stone surround with pulvinated frieze and broken segmental pediment. Above the first floor is a simple projecting cornice, and above that three round attic windows beneath carved brick festoons. The plain side elevation, and the equally plain rear elevation of the main block, were altered in 1993 when the present extension was added. (The extension is not of special interest and is excluded from the listing.)

INTERIORS: the banking hall retains most of its plaster decoration, including mutule cornices, moulded window surrounds and wall panels with festoons. The original fittings, including the dado panelling and fireplace, have been removed, however, and new openings have been inserted into the former shop and manager's office. The flats above have been much altered, especially what was the manager's flat above No. 224, which is understood to have been divided into three units in 1993, retaining nothing of the original layout. The rear access stairs to the flats also date from 1993.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.