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Latitude: 51.5014 / 51°30'5"N
Longitude: -0.1944 / 0°11'39"W
OS Eastings: 525422
OS Northings: 179598
OS Grid: TQ254795
Mapcode National: GBR 0H.KY
Mapcode Global: VHGQY.LJ2C
Plus Code: 9C3XGR24+H6
Entry Name: Kensington Central Library Including Adjoining Pylons
Listing Date: 24 April 1998
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1119724
English Heritage Legacy ID: 469222
Location: Kensington and Chelsea, London, W8
County: Kensington and Chelsea
Electoral Ward/Division: Campden
Built-Up Area: Kensington and Chelsea
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: St Mary Abbots with Christ Church and St Philip Kensington
Church of England Diocese: London
TQ 2579 NW HORNTON STREET, W8
249/30/10039 Kensington Central Library
including adjoining pylons)
Public library. 1958-60 by E Vincent Harris. Steel frame clad in hand-made brick, Bath and Portland stone. Tile roofs exposed as hips to ends. Rectangular plan of six bay centre with broad, projecting end pavilions. Two storeys with basements and attic, the ground floor housing the lending library and the first floor having the reference library; the eastern pavilion has the entrance and staircase, the western the children's and local studies collections. Portland stone base, cornice and parapet. All windows square headed and with small panes, those to first floor and to five-bay returns with architrave surrounds. The end pavilions are the most prominent part of the composition, with giant arched openings with stone surrounds and keystones. Main entrance in eastern pavilion surmounted with busts of Chaucer and Caxton. Phillimore Walk elevation with stone pylons surmounted respectively by Lion and Unicorn figures symbolic of the Royal status granted to the Borough of Kensington in 1941. These and bronze gilded figure 'Genius' in parapet by William McMillan.
Interior is particularly well-preserved. Entrance hall and children's area lined with Doulting stone, that by the entrance with long inscription to wisdom, and plaque to the library's opening by the Queen Mother on 13 July 1960. The rest of the ground floor lined with acoustic panels, with square piers, original bookcases of Ghana mahogany inlaid with brass, and terrazzo floors. Dog-leg stair with glass panels etched with 'K' emblem lead to more sumptously appointed reference library, whose walls and six pairs of columns are panelled in walnut, and which also retains original bookcases and fittings. Kensington Central Library is a remarkable and completely surviving example of Harris's post-war. work in the classical, 'neo Renaissance' idiom - as demanded by the council. It is the last of a long sequence of distinguished public buildings (beginning before the First World War) by the most distinguished specialist of the genre.
(Official Architecture and Planning, London, 506-9)
Listing NGR: TQ2542279598
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