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Latitude: 51.5129 / 51°30'46"N
Longitude: -0.101 / 0°6'3"W
OS Eastings: 531873
OS Northings: 181039
OS Grid: TQ318810
Mapcode National: GBR PC.GV
Mapcode Global: VHGR0.67GK
Entry Name: 2 Wardrobe Place
Listing Date: 5 June 1972
Last Amended: 15 June 2012
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1180808
English Heritage Legacy ID: 199809
Location: City of London, London, EC4V
District: City and County of the City of London
Electoral Ward/Division: Castle Baynard
Parish: Non Civil Parish
Built-Up Area: City of London
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London
Church of England Parish: St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe
Church of England Diocese: London
House. c1680. Altered 1830s or shortly thereafter; C20 alterations.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond, sootwashed; top storey yellow stock brick; stucco dressings.
PLAN: four storeys above a double basement; central dog-leg stair with one room to either side.
EXTERIOR: off-symmetrical facade of five bays with plat bands between storeys. The central entrance is set in a deep moulded stucco arched surround with guilloche moulding to the lintel; raised panelled door. Windows have moulded stucco architraves; those to the ground floor with bracketed cills. C19 or later 2-over-2 pane sash windows. Triple pitch roof.
INTERIOR: the close-string stair from basement to second floor has heavy square newel posts with ball finials, drop finials and turned balusters; the top flight is partly reconstructed. The ground-floor southern room has a timber box cornice of late-C17 or early-C18 pattern and an early-to-mid C19 marble chimneypiece with a reeded surround and paterae ornament; the northern room has a reeded cornice. Both first-floor rooms have full-height panelling of an early-C18 type with ovolo mouldings, moulded dado rails and box cornices. The north room has arched alcoves to either side of the chimneybreast. Each of the second-floor rooms has an overmantel painting: that to the south room depicts an ice-skating scene with figures in C17 dress; that to the north room a large country house in a formal C17 landscape; both are set within fictive gilt frames. The south room has a plain black marble early-to-mid C19 chimneypiece with a good 1870s Aesthetic Movement grate made by Barnard, Bishop & Barnard foundry, Norwich, to a design by Thomas Jekyll. The attic rooms have no features of interest. The sub-basement consists of two cellars with brick vaults; that to the north has shelves for barrels. While it is possible that they could predate the building, their shallow vaulted form is typical of the C17 century, and their alignment with the present frontage suggests they are contemporary with the rest of the house.
Wardrobe Place derives its name from the Royal Wardrobe, the storage and expenditure office of the royal household which occupied the site from the 1360s, housed in the former mansion of Sir John Beauchamp. This building was destroyed in the Great Fire and in 1673 a Crown lease was granted to William Wardour, who redeveloped the site with houses arranged around an open courtyard. The north and east sides were begun in 1678. The development also comprised rows of houses in Addle Hill and Puddle Dock Hill (St Andrew's Hill), which backed onto the houses on the east and west sides of the court. Wardour almost certainly developed the entire site, some 25 houses in all, which appear to have been completed by 1681 when he made tithe payments for a large number of houses of which nine were empty, presumably just completed. Wardrobe Court, as it was known until the late C18, was described in John Strype's Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster (1720) as ‘a large and square court with good houses’. The freehold remained in Crown ownership until 1831 when it was sold in lots. From the mid-C19 the houses gradually fell out of residential use. No. 2 is shown as offices on Goad’s Insurance map of 1886, a use which continued throughout the C20.
Alterations were carried out to No. 2 in the 1830s or a little thereafter when the front was remodelled. The fourth storey may have been added at this time, probably replacing a garret. The north and east sides of Wardrobe Place were redeveloped at various stages in the C20. Nos. 2-5 are now the sole survivors of Wardour's entire c1680 development.
The two overmantel paintings on the second floor, uncovered in 1983, date stylistically from c1680-90. The practice of wall painting in imitation of individually framed pictures, notably Dutch-inspired ‘landskips’, became fashionable in late-C17 England, although most surviving examples are incorporated into timber panelling rather than executed on plaster as in this instance. Painting on plaster was a cheaper and less durable option, often carried out by artisan craftsmen - plasterers, decorators, even plumbers - and characterised by naïve painting techniques, as in this instance. These examples appear to emulate the Dutch Old Master paintings of the early C17; the skating scene is reminiscent of the winter genre paintings of Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), although the details are anachronistic, combining early and late-C17 costume styles. They were at the height of fashion when the house was built, and are now very rare indeed.
No. 2 Wardrobe Place is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural and historic interest: as an early post-Fire townhouse, of which relatively few examples survive in the City of London; although altered, it retains a substantial portion of its original fabric;
* Interior: the house retains its late-C17 domestic plan and stair, panelling and other original or early features. The two overmantel paintings have outstanding interest as early examples of a once-widespread artisan tradition, and are now of great rarity;
* Group value: with Nos. 3-6 Wardrobe Place, a contemporary group of houses which formed part of the same development.
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