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Latitude: 51.5063 / 51°30'22"N
Longitude: -0.1902 / 0°11'24"W
OS Eastings: 525704
OS Northings: 180148
OS Grid: TQ257801
Mapcode National: GBR 1G.H6
Mapcode Global: VHGQY.NDBM
Entry Name: 15, Kensington Palace Gardens W8
Listing Date: 15 April 1969
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1224113
English Heritage Legacy ID: 420055
Location: Kensington and Chelsea, London, W8
District: 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 2580 SE KENSINGTON PALACE GARDENS W8
26/18 (east side)
15.4.69 No 15
House, 1854-6, architect James Thomas Knowles Snr. (1806-84), for George Moore, lace manufacturer and philanthropist, contractor Lucas Brothers and Stevens of Lambeth. Alterations 1937-8, internal remodelling by Lord Gerald Wellesley and Trenwith Wills, for Sir Alfred Beit, financier and philanthropist.
EXTERIOR: 2 storeys and attic, over basement. Stucco walls, with slated hipped roof above elaborate moulded modillion cornice. Italianate style, influenced by the West End Club buildings by Sir Charles Barry. Symmetrical plan, with a shallow entrance hall across the 3 central bays, and principal reception rooms left and right; first floor repeats the arrangement but with central recess on rear (garden) front. Front has 7 bays, with extra bay at each side set back on ground floor, vermiculated rusticated walling. Timber mullion and transom casement windows in moulded architrave surrounds, surmounted by flat modillion heads carried on moulded consoles. Central projecting porch, approached by flights of stone steps, flanked by original cast-iron lamp-posts and lanterns, has Roman Doric attached columns and entablature with modillion cornice. Twin leaf half-glazed doors and fanlight set within arched recess. Bold modillion cornice runs around building at first floor level, with moulded parapet, and balusters across windows, and free-standing balustrading around flat roofs of wings, rusticated quoins at corners. 7 sash windows, with large panes, within Corinthian aedicules, entablatures with pulvinated frieze and pediments with dentils. Moulded string course above windows defines main entablature, scaled to the overall height of the building. Architrave now pierced by 7 attic windows, inserted 1937-8; richly modelled Roman Corinthian frieze and cornice above. At ground level, a boldly coved Portland stone curb runs around the perimeter of the building, defining a narrow area providing light to the basement service rooms. Garden Front has vermiculated ground floor, with 3 light segmental bows, with Grecian relief frieze panels above, centre slightly recessed, with triple arched central window, and plain sashes left and right, with full-width frieze panel above. Modillion cornice at first floor level, above which are pairs of aediculed windows, over the bows. The original deep central recess of the first floor was masked in 1937-8 by a screen linking the terminal facades. Blank antae left and right, with semi-circular niches containing large urns on pedestals, relief swags of fruit above; centre open with two Corinthian columns in antis, carrying simplified version of original entablatures, surmounted by two draped classical female figures (brought in from Bury St. Edmunds). South elevation has loggia to ground floor, 5 bays, with arches carried on unfluted Corinthian columns, above 7 stone steps. Glazing, including large sliding windows, inserted at rear in 1937-8. Basement Garage to north, with ramped approach, and polygonal forecourt, built 1937-38.
INTERIOR: Entrance Hall original of 1856, subdivided by marbled Ionic columns (now white-painted), originally with gilded caps, supporting an entablature with modillion cornice, and a heavy coffered ceiling. Relief panels over doors, and continuous modelled frieze facing stair at rear of hall. Staircase top-lit, stone, with lower flight having curtail treads projecting into the hall, main flight turns at right angles above quarter landing and is cantilevered out from wall; cast-iron balustrade of Grecian antefixae and paterae, and moulded hardwood handrail. Landing treatment similar to hall, Library and Dining Room open off hall to north, both redecorated 1937-8.
Library a pastiche of Bavarian Rococo, inspired by the libraries of the monasteries of Ottobeuren, Wiblingen and Melk, and designed as a setting for J. de Lajoue's painting 'The alchemist', which hung over the fireplace. Florid Corinthian pilasters frame book cases and carry an entablature with characteristic shallow convex-concave curves, along east-wall. Moulded cornice runs around remainder of room and over window heads, broken by the fireplace where shallow ogee panels sweep upwards to support a central corona. Fireplace has scrolled and eared architrave, with delicately carved fruit and flower swag, and diagonally-set Corinthian colonettes supporting a marble frieze and moulded mantel (based on the New Dining Room fireplace at Russborough House, Co. Wicklow). Inlaid parquet floor, with star motif, echoing that in the Lajoue painting.
Dining Room, originally rectangular, but remodelled as elliptical plan in 1937-8. Walls lined with fluted Corinthian pilasters supporting an entablature with swagged frieze and modillioned cornice. Between pilasters are six elaborate early C18 style frame panels with swags and garlands, which originally housed six paintings by Murillo on the 'Parable of the Prodigal Son'. Similar panel above fireplace surmounted by broken swan-neck pediment. 8-panel doors with moulded architraves, richly modelled friezes and flat cornice-heads. Paired doors opposite fireplace have broader case and head surmounted by broken pediment. Deep coved ceiling, with centre rose of arms and trophies, modelled in relief, designed by Rex Whistler, with small holes, through which spotlights were directed to light the paintings. The decorative scheme is modelled on the work of William Kent.
Drawing Room created in 1937-8, in centre of rear of house, originally occupied by a small morning room, service stair and strong room. Its artistic centrepiece was Vermeer's painting 'The Letter'. Mid C18 style with Ionic columns in antis and pilaster responds subdividing room. Central entablature with dentil frieze and modillion cornice may belong to original room, lit by central triple arched windows. Door architraves, plaster panels and swags of more delicate character, and fireplace, with its moulded architrave, panelled pilasters, and frieze with central relief panel of Roman figures may be an original C18 piece, brought in during the remodelling.
Music Room occupies the whole south side and was remodelled 1937-8. Central part defined by fleur-de-peche marbled Corinthian columns in antis, carrying as entablature the bold modillioned cornice of the ceiling. Pedimented doorcases, and C18 fireplace surround.
Loggia opens from music room through archway, and shuttered reveals of original windows. Glazed-in with large sliding windows in 1937-8.
Bedrooms in pairs north and south of landing. NE and NW Bedrooms have C18 fireplace surrounds; SW bedroom has a swagged and draped mirror above fireplace with marble bolection architrave, walls with boldly moulded raised and fielded panels in plaster, and doorcases with pulvinated friezes and cornices opening into central closets and dressing room; SE bedroom has delicate modelled Rococo-style plasterwork in panels around the walls, that on east wall framing pier glass; fireplace surround marble, within eared architrave surround, modelled frieze, Rococo-style plasterwork bordering architrave surround to pier glass above mantel. Service stair to Attics, spiral with cantilevered stone treads, cast-iron balusters, newel with lotus flowers, moulded hardwood rail. Basement contains original service rooms, pantries, stores either side of central corridor; kitchen and serveries to east. Former china store in centre of west side, with original cupboards.
HISTORY: No 15 Kensington Palace Gardens was built on a site leased from the Crown Commissioners. In March 1852 it had been offered to Frederick Chinnor, then in February 1853 to S. W. Strickland, then finally to George Moore, who in July 1854 agreed to take it to build a single house costing about £10,000 (earlier negotiations had been on the basis of two houses). Moore's architect, James Thomas Knowles Snr., submitted plans to Sir James Pennethorne, the Commissioners' architect, which were approved in principle on 8 August. Lucas Brothers and Stevens of Lambeth began work on the house in December 1854, the ground lease was formally granted to Moore in November 1855, and the house was occupied. Moore was a self-made man, rising from a £30 p.a. draper's assistant in Soho to become the most important lace manufacturer in Britain. He confided to his biographer, Samuel Smiles, that he was mortified by the extravagance of building the house 'at the solicitation of Mrs Moore'. In 1937-38 the house was remodelled for Sir Alfred Beit, son of the financier and philanthropist Sir Otto Beit. Lord Gerald Wellesley and Trenwith Wills substituted a fashionable and slightly effete decorative scheme for the impressive solid Victorian originals, but left the hall and landing essentially unaltered, except for grisaille painted draperies, which have now been overpainted. During World War II, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence occupied the house. In 1949 it was leased as the Iraqi Ambassador's residence, which it remained until 1989.
["Country Life", 25 February 1939, pp.198-202; "Survey of London" Vol XXXVII pp.175-78; N. Pevsner, "London 2: North-west", p.504]
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