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Magistrates Court

A Grade II Listed Building in Greenwich, London

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Latitude: 51.4904 / 51°29'25"N

Longitude: 0.0638 / 0°3'49"E

OS Eastings: 543380

OS Northings: 178849

OS Grid: TQ433788

Mapcode National: GBR NJ.W6P

Mapcode Global: VHHNK.2S3T

Plus Code: 9F32F3R7+5G

Entry Name: Magistrates Court

Listing Date: 1 March 2007

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391897

English Heritage Legacy ID: 493802

ID on this website: 101391897

Location: Woolwich, Greenwich, London, SE18

County: London

District: Greenwich

Electoral Ward/Division: Woolwich Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Greenwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Woolwich St Mary Magdalene with St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

Tagged with: Building

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North Woolwich


01-MAR-07 50
Magistrates Court

Magistrates Court. 1912 by John Dixon Butler, FRIBA, Architect and Surveyor to the Metropolitan Police, with minor later-C20 alterations. Red brick with rubbed red brick quoins, ashlar Portland stone dressings and plinth. Concealed roof behind parapet. Timber sashes with horns. Free classical style with Baroque emphasis.

EXTERIOR: To Market Street, a symmetrical frontage with a central steep mannered pediment over a set back, rusticated ashlar entrance bay. This has an open segmental pediment over the door which, like the window above, has a moulded architrave. There is a coat of arms in the pediment. To each side of the entrance bay are three ground and first floor windows, these linked by moulded stone surrounds and panel. A heavily moulded dentil cornice continues through the pediment and to the return elevations. Tall stone end chimneys have bands of red brick. Rubbed red brick quoins at entrance bay and ends, including ends of the return elevations to Bathway and Calderwood Streets. To Bathway is a side entrance, also with stone architrave, then a lower section plainer and with glazed brown brick plinth.

INTERIOR: The front offices and main security entrance room have been modernised and retain few fittings of interest. At the centre is the main waiting area, this with original polychrome 'pebble' floor with 'MP' in mosaic, signifying the Metropolitan Police use of the building. This room has three doorways in moulded surrounds segregating access to the court room, dock and public gallery. The main court has a prominent lantern ceiling, this with clear, blue and yellow glass in a geometric arrangement within a moulded timber frame. A frieze of vines and fruit joins the lantern to the ceiling, which is steeply coved. The walls are covered with full height timber panelling and a prominent cornice. The original arrangement of benches largely survives, with additional security panelling inserted at the dock. GR monogram is in plaster on either side of the coat of arms. The magistrates' benches are raised within an apsidal stage, which is fully lined with panelling and has two doors to chambers. There is a timber staircase inside the Bathway entrance. Upper floor has smaller court room with later-C20 concave timber wall covering. Retiring room has cornice, and timber fireplace with green thing brick inset. Basement has cells, which were not inspected, and were reported to number about ten, with replaced doors.

HISTORY: Woolwich Magistrate Court was built in 1912 by John Dixon Butler, Architect and Surveyor to the Metropolitan Police. Dixon Butler, FRIBA, succeeded his father, John Butler, in this post in 1895 and served as Surveyor until his death in 1920, by which time he had designed over 200 police stations and courts. The Court building replaced an earlier police court which stood on this site from the mid-C19.

SOURCES: Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner. Buildings of England 2: London, South (2002) p.282.
Clare Graham. Ordering Law: The Architectural and Social History of the English Law Court to 1914 (2004) p.407.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Magistrate Court of 1912 by John Dixon Butler, Architect and Surveyor to the Metropolitan Police that has special architectural interest, seen in its refined and restrained free Classical fa├žade with well detailed elevations and a commanding presence in this municipal area. The interior survives well and retains a very good main court room, as well as other distinctive spaces, and the fabric illustrates the segregation of access and use. The court building also has strong group value as part of the remarkable municipal core of Woolwich Town Centre, where within a small area is a rich ensemble of civic buildings, closely linked through function, architecture and municipal presence.

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