4 hours ago
Monday, 4 November 2013
Another architectural gem, this time in the heart of old Soho.
The owner has restored it so well and so true to the original, that it is now used as a location for period dramas, but I guess that it is only the interior that can be used, thanks to the subtle position of the municipal waste bins right outside the front door.
All these houses and and the ones in the adjacent streets were the work of a single builder, John Meard, and they all have many identical features. Many years ago, the owner got me to replace all the crappy fireplaces with stone and marble ones to the original design, and the house is now full of them, in every room. You have probably seen them on screen over the years.
After I had made his, various neighbours in other streets came to me for the same, so there are now about 15 of my fire-surrounds in one small area of central London.
One of these neighbours came to me in Bath and said she needed a small, marble one to the same design, which used to fit snugly in an oak panelled room. Just over the road from my workshop, a friend of mine ran an antique shop. The same day that the woman asked me about this fire-surround, my dealer friend alerted me to a nice, early 18th century surround he had just got in.
I went to look at it, and it was perfect in every detail - it probably came from the same few streets in London, and it could even have been the one which was originally made for that very room. It is now installed in her house, after its (I really want to put an apostrophe here, Sarah) little adventure which took it on a circuit of about 130 miles, over a period of around 150 years.
When my client first bought this house, he carried out a lot of historical research on it, and discovered an 18th century map which included the innovative street sewage system over quite long distances.
In the basement, there is a beautifully built, brick cess-pit which the map revealed to have been connected to this system, and terminated directly beneath his house. When he consulted the old map, he found that not only did the sewer stop there, but it also began at the house he had just vacated, about three miles away.
"I am being followed by my own shit", was the way he put it.
Posted by Tom Stephenson at 02:13