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54 Borough High Street

A Grade II Listed Building in Southwark, London

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Latitude: 51.5042 / 51°30'15"N

Longitude: -0.0912 / 0°5'28"W

OS Eastings: 532575

OS Northings: 180091

OS Grid: TQ325800

Mapcode National: GBR RG.NY

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.CGM7

Entry Name: 54 Borough High Street

Listing Date: 18 August 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1428936

Location: Southwark, London, SE1

County: London

District: Southwark

Electoral Ward/Division: Cathedrals

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Southwark

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Saviour with All Hallows Southwark

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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No. 54 Borough High Street, a house and commercial premises, dating from the early C18, and probably retaining earlier fabric, with significant remodelling of the early and late C19.


MATERIALS: brick, rendered and painted. The rear (west) wall was rebuilt in the mid-C20, at which time the north-west timber corner post was replaced. The timber frame may survive within the north wall. The street-facing slope of the roof has clay tiles; the rest of the roof is asphalted.

PLAN: the footprint of the building is a long rectangle, on an east/west axis, with the western entrance on Borough High Street. Internally, the plan over three floors consists of a large room to the east and a smaller room to the west, accessed by a stair rising in the south-west corner.

EXTERIOR: the east-facing street frontage is two windows wide, over three storeys and attic. The ground floor is occupied by the late-C19 or very early-C20 (pre-1910) shopfront constructed of dark-stained timber, with the entrance to the right, and the window to the left, divided into two large panes, and turning the corner into the outer lobby. Below the window, the stallriser has raised and fielded panels; to the right of the doorway, a section of sunk panels. The fascia carries the name ‘Field & Sons’ in later enamelled copper letters, with a block cornice above. Above that, is a parapet added in the early C20, with a raised central section having the words ‘Established 1804’ within a reeded frame. Above the entrance, is the word ‘Valuers’. (The lettering of the frontage was slightly edited at the end of the C20, reflecting changes to the nature of the firm.) The entrance is framed by narrow pilasters, with a shield-shaped bell-push to the right; a sliding metal gate secures the entrance. Within the outer lobby, a mosaic pavement announces ‘Field & Sons’ within a geometric border. A door with panelling below and glazing above, consistent with the rest of the shopfront, gives access from the outer lobby to the inner lobby. Between the first-floor windows, is the wrought-iron bracket which formerly held a large Sun Insurance sign (Field & Sons was a long-time agent for that firm) and now holds a modern Field & Sons sign. Above the parapet to the right, is a small fire insurance sign in the form of a sun, denoting the Sun Fire Office. The parapet obscures the bottom of the first-floor windows, which have mid-C19 Classical surrounds, the first-floor window having console brackets supporting a cornice, with a rosette to the frieze; the second-floor surrounds have a plain moulding. The window frames are horned sashes, the diagonal leaded lights holding bottle-glass, fitted in the early-C20 but after 1910. Between first- and second-floor windows, is a platband. The steep mansard roof shown in the 1840 Tallis drawing had had its upper section flattened by 1947. The central dormer window has been modified, with new frames inserted circa 2000.

Parts of the western and northern elevations are visible from the passage and court between Nos 54 and 52 (Calvert’s Buildings). The ground floor of the west elevation is obscured by the adjoining building: a light-well lights the rear ground-floor office. There is a mullioned casement window to the first floor, with a smaller tripartite window above, and a large tripartite window to the second floor. Further west in the north elevation, a glazed entrance to the rear office is combined with a large multi-pane window in a composition which probably dates from the late C19. An external stack rises to the west on this elevation, which has irregular fenestration including a horned sash window to the first floor. There modern dormer windows to the attic, three to the north and one to the west.

INTERIOR: the interior of the ground-floor shop is essentially the result of a re-fitting in the late C19. The shop is entered through a glazed lobby which screens the north-east corner of the front office. The lobby has panelling to dado level with small glazed panes above; on the dado rail early-C20 gold-painted letters read ‘Kindly wipe your boots’. The walls have oak wainscot panelling, with tall narrow panels and chamfered rails; the panelling continues up the stair to first-floor level. The panelling to the north wall (though not within the lobby) was installed circa 2000, with the removal of C19 cupboards. At the foot of the stairs, gold painted letters on the panelling direct the visitor to ‘Mr Roland Field [Senior Partner in the early C20 on the] 1st Floor’ and the ‘Architects Dept & Drawing Office, 2nd Floor.’ Above the panelling, at the foot of the stairs, a panelled roll of honour records those employees of Field & Sons who served in the First World War, and those who were killed. Against the south wall, is a large late-C19 timber chimneypiece in a hybrid style with a Classical frame and Tudor inner arch, above which the chimneybreast is pyramidal in form. A partition enclosing the north-west corner has now been removed. A panelled screen with two glazed doors separates the front office from the back office, with a collection of historic fire insurance signs fixed above the doors. The back office was formerly divided by a partition forming the accountant’s room to the south and a rent-collector’s room to the north. On the north wall is a late-C19 or early-C20 chimneypiece in an eclectic style, with a safe set into the opening. In the south-east corner, the external door is preceded by a glazed lobby, painted, and plainer than that in the front office; two rising panels were used for the collection of rent, preventing the necessity of tenants entering the office.

The building’s main stair, constructed in the early-C19, forms an elliptical open well. The open string has projecting mouldings to the treads, with carved decorative brackets beneath. The curved handrail has a curved section, with turned columnar newel-posts and stick balusters. Below first-floor level, where the stair is visible from the ground-floor office, the stair was modified in the late-C19 by the insertion of barleysugar balusters alternating with the original stick balusters. The newel-posts (to this stair and the one leading to the cellar) were replaced in the early C20 by fluted posts understood to have belonged to Roland Field’s four-poster bed, an electric light in the form of a flaming torch being added to the principal newel-post. The straight stair to the cellar is very plain, with a closed string, unmoulded handrail, and stick balusters; the stair here is lined with tongue-and-groove boarding.

On the first and second floors, the landings have been reduced and office sizes increased with the removal of a glazed screen on the second floor and the insertion of partitions circa 2000. On the first floor, the front room has a late-C19 or early-C20 chimneypiece in a Georgian manner to the south wall. The back room (the board room) is lit by the mid-C20 tripartite window with timber mullions, and leaded panes of cathedral glass; the geometric window bars are late-C20. Above, a smaller tripartite window in a sloping enclosure borrows light from the floor above. The beams in this room are C20; the room has lost its fireplace. On this floor, the north part of the landing is partitioned to form a modern kitchen. On the second floor, the front room contains a plain Classical early/mid-C19 chimneypiece on the south wall. The back room has lost its fireplace. The north part of the landing is partitioned to provide modern lavatories. The attic, now a small flat, has a large room to the east – with modern kitchen facilities installed at the west end – and a smaller room to the west with a partition forming a modern bathroom in the south-west corner. The attic space is lined with tongue-and-groove boarding, probably dating from the late C19.

The cellar is divided in two, with a strong room, understood to pre-date 1880, to the west. To the south of this is a blocked doorway, which formerly gave access to the adjoining property.


The building now known as 54 Borough High Street stands on a Medieval burgage plot on the west side of Borough High Street; the site was at one time an inn known as the Hen and Chickens, and the building retained the name into the late C19. The building has seen considerable change during the course of three centuries. Whilst it probably retains earlier fabric, the building was redeveloped in the early C18, with the street frontage being essentially of that date. The building appears to have been substantially remodelled during the early C19, with the stair dating from this period. John Tallis’s 1840 drawing of this stretch of Borough High Street shows a shop on the ground floor, with two bow-fronted windows of the C18 or early C19. During the C19 the building was used as a drapers shop, and in the early 1870s as a hardware shop; in 1875 it played a role in the celebrated Wainwright murder (Henry Wainwright was apprehended at the building, then rented by his brother, attempting to hide the remains of his former mistress), remaining empty for the rest of that decade. In 1880 the firm of Field & Sons (an estate agency dating from 1804) moved into the building, and in the subsequent years undertook substantial works to the property, creating a complete commercial interior on the ground floor, and replacing the shop front before 1910. A surviving photograph of 1910 gives an indication of the appearance of the building at that date; the fascia read Field, Sons & Glasier in recognition of a short-lived partnership. The building is partially illustrated in a drawing by F A Evans of 1947, showing changes made by that date. Some further modifications have been made in the later C20 and early C21. The building continues (2015) as the premises of Field & Sons, though the firm was sold out of the Field family in 1999.

Reasons for Listing

No. 54 Borough High Street, a house and commercial premises, dating from the early C18, and probably retaining earlier fabric, with significant remodelling of the early and late C19, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date: the building retains valuable and legible evidence of a number of historical periods: its footprint and frontage demonstrate the proportions of the medieval burgage plot within which the building has developed; the building’s street elevation and much of its fabric dates essentially from the early C18, with significant developments of the early and late C19, and a distinctive late-C19 or early-C20 shop front;
* Historic interest: the earlier building has been in continuous use by the same estate agent’s firm since 1880, with the ground-floor office remaining largely as created in the late-C19, and illustrative of its use over more than a century;
* Interior: the ground-floor office is a remarkably complete late-C19 commercial interior, including wooden panelling, chimneypieces, and glazed screens, whilst the building retains an elegant early-C19 open-well stair, modified at ground-floor level as part of the late-C19 scheme;
* Group value: the building forms part of a varied group on the west side of Borough High Street, the narrow frontages recalling the original medieval burgage plots, and the evolving commercial use of the area; a large number of buildings in the vicinity are listed, including No. 58 to the south – probably re-fronted in the early-C19 – and Nos 50-52 to the north, which has an early-C18 front, with a C16 former inn to the rear; behind No. 54 is No. 52A, a late-C19 hop warehouse.

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