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Harcourt House

A Grade II Listed Building in Marylebone High Street, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5163 / 51°30'58"N

Longitude: -0.1461 / 0°8'45"W

OS Eastings: 528734

OS Northings: 181341

OS Grid: TQ287813

Mapcode National: GBR CB.CM

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.F44X

Entry Name: Harcourt House

Listing Date: 18 February 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1424407

Location: Westminster, London, W1G

County: London

District: City of Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: Marylebone High Street

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: All Souls Langham Place

Church of England Diocese: London

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Summary

A pair of mansion flats completed in 1909, designed in Edwardian Baroque style by the firm of Gilbert and Costanduros.

Description

A pair of mansion flats completed in 1909, designed in Edwardian Baroque style by the firm of Gilbert and Costanduros. Some later C20 refurbishing. Later C20 lifts, partitions and suspended ceilings are not of special interest.

MATERIALS: the principal front is faced in Portland stone, the rear of yellow brick and some glazed tiles. The roof is of Westmoreland slates with stone chimneystacks. Windows are predominantly wooden casements, there are many canted bays, with some multi-paned sash windows on the rear elevation.

PLAN: a pair of attached mansion flats, each of four bays and six full storeys with attics and basements, central entrances and staircases; each containing 14 flats. Flats on the principal floors had high-ceilinged reception rooms comprising a hall, drawing room, dining room and study at the front, with two-storey bedroom and service wings to the rear; others consisted of a single storey only.

EXTERIOR: the flats have a mansard roof with five rusticated stone chimneystacks and elaborate end octagonal domed pavilions with finials. Between these pavilions are six dormers with canted bay windows. Below this, the end bays project and are rusticated. Above the fifth floor of these end bays are balustraded parapets with elaborate wheat ear drops below. The fourth floor end bay windows have broken pediments on console brackets, and the fifth floor end bays have square windows with keystones. The remaining fifth floor windows alternate triangular and curved pediments. The remaining part of the fourth floor is rusticated, and the windows have cambered mullioned and transomed casements with keystones, divided by pilasters with wheat ear drops. There is a wide modillion cornice over the third floor. The third floor windows are tripartite, the second floor windows are canted bays with stone balustrading supported on paired stone brackets, and they are divided by partly fluted Ionic pilasters. The ground and first floors are rusticated and the windows are canted bays. There are centrally placed porches to both 19 and 19A with pediments supported on Roman Ionic columns. Each has a round-headed rusticated door surround with keystones, a semi-circular fanlight and half-glazed panelled mahogany door with side-lights. The basement is also rusticated with simpler casement windows. Attached to the entrances is a curved stone wall which leads to cast iron balustrading on a stone base, and stone piers in front of the area, with occasional stone ball finials and decorative cast iron lamp standards. At each end are stone service entrances with curved pediments, raised blank panels, console brackets and two-panelled doors. The rear elevation is mainly of yellow brick with sash windows but the sides and internal well have glazed tiles and canted bay windows.

INTERIOR: the entrance halls have marble floors and the staircases have mahogany dado panelling and elaborate doorcases to the individual flats. Windows in the staircases and corridors have opaque panes and include some stained glass with floral motifs. Of the flats inspected original features in No.19 include a wooden bolection-moulded fireplace with swags and dado panelling to the former dining room, wall panelling and a plainer fireplace to the former drawing room, and a bolection-moulded fireplace and low wall panelling to the former study. No. 4 includes a moulded ceiling to the former dining room in the form of a shell with wreaths and paterae, and panelling incorporating swags and oval medallions. A wooden fireplace has a decorative urn, swags, paterae and composite columns. The adjoining room has a bolection-moulded fireplace with floral swags and wheat ear drops, a bracket cornice, and dado panelling. Between the two reception rooms are the original sliding connecting doors within the thickness of the partition walls. One former corner bedroom has a green and white marble corner fireplace with urn and pilasters and an ovolo-moulded cornice. A former bedroom on the lower floor has a bolection-moulded fireplace with a crossed torch motif and a tiled surround, and a corner bedroom has a marble bolection-moulded fireplace. Suite 21 includes a moulded ceiling with oval shell motif to the former dining room. The former hall retains a modillion cornice, fireplace and dado panelling. The former study retains a moulded cornice, a fireplace with brackets and wheat ear drops, and on two walls 1943 murals by the artist Rupert Shephard in Classical style. These include a nymph holding a peacock flanked by cupids, foliage, further peacocks, a trompe l'oeil doorcase with a pediment and, above balustrading, a seascape including a ruined temple and islands. Some original parquet floors may survive below later carpeting.

History

Harcourt House was built in 1909 as a block of de luxe mansion flats. It replaced a 1722 stone mansion, Bingley House, built for Baron Bingley; its name altered in 1773 to Harcourt House after it was bought by the 1st Lord Harcourt, which had hitherto been the centrepiece of the west side of Cavendish Square. The mansion flats were designed by the architects Horace Gilbert and Stephanos Costanduros for the builders R and T Mickel who built the flats, were the letting agents, and held a 99-year lease from October 1904 from the Howard de Walden estate. The architectural drawings for Harcourt House state the project was undertaken for Sir Thomas D Pile Bart., FS Lycey Esq. and D T Nops Esq. who may have been investors in the scheme. It was designed in Edwardian Baroque style as a symmetrical composition of a pair of joined mansion blocks, each with a separate main entrance, the principal front clad in Portland stone with a Westmoreland slate roof.

The building was divided into 28 flats, 14 to each building, with reception rooms in the front (the most expensive flats on the lower principal floors having ceilings that were 13ft high) comprising a dining room, drawing room, study and hall. Floors at the back were 9ft high in contrast, comprising two floors of bedrooms and including a kitchen and scullery on the lower floor.

The architects' drawings of the principal elevation and floor plans of Harcourt House were published in 1907 in 'Flats, Urban Houses and Cottage Homes', edited by W. Shaw-Sparrow, which included an article by Frank Verity.

The building was described in 'The Architect and Contract Reporter' of 5 March 1909 in the following terms: "The floors of hall, dining room, and drawing room are laid out in parquetry. The entrance vestibule, main hall, and staircase are carried out in white marble with mahogany dado. The roof is covered with green Westmoreland slates. The hot water for heating and domestic supply is derived from a central heating chamber. There are service and passenger lifts." Postal records from 1909 onwards include titled gentry and high ranking military personnel among the first tenants and the rents ranged between £500 and £1,000 per annum.

In 1915 Mrs. Dous, an American living in London, rented an apartment in Harcourt House for use as an auxiliary hospital for officers, which opened in September 1915 with seven beds.

In 1925 Harcourt House was sold off from the Howard de Walden estate. By the late 1920s a number of residential apartments had become medical consulting rooms as the area around Harley Street became a centre of private medicine. Drainage plans of 1935 and 1948 indicate that between those dates Harcourt House was still primarily in use as mansion flats. In 1943 walls of a room in Suite 21 were embellished with a classical style mural by the artist Rupert Shephard.

Harcourt House was sold many times by property investors and by 2004 most of the building was in use as offices with a smaller proportion in medical use and less than 10% remaining as residential units.

Reasons for Listing

Harcourt House, 19 and 19a Cavendish Square, a pair of joined mirror-image mansion flats in Edwardian Baroque style, completed in 1909, designed by the firm of Gilbert and Costanduros, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: an impressive Portland stone frontage in Edwardian Baroque style, an unusual style for mansion flats;
* Quality of craftsmanship: the mansion flats exhibit fine quality stone carving, joinery and ironwork;
* Decoration: the flats are decorative externally with stone octagonal domed roof pavilions and classical features including carved pediments, Ionic columns and pilasters and cast iron lamp standards;
* Planning: there is some ingenuity evident in the variation of ceiling heights of the mansion flats;
* Artistic interest: one apartment has 1943 wall murals in Classical style painted by the war artist Rupert Shephard;
* Intactness: the exterior is unaltered and internally many original fittings survive:
* Group value: it forms an impressive centrepiece to the west side of Cavendish Square, flanked by C18 Grade II* and Grade II listed buildings.

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