Robert Adam, Architect: Portland Place London

April 30, 2013 at 6:21 am (carriages & transport, diaries, entertainment, estates, history, london's landscape, news, places, research) (, , , , , , )

exterior Portland Place

This is No. 5 – renumbered No. 28 – Portland Place, London as it appears today. There is an extra “attic” story that the Goslings would not quite recognize; a traffic island filed with trees and statues parade the avenue; and there’s the Royal Society for Public Health occupying their premises!

I’ve written a couple of previous posts about Portland Place

But today am writing to say that I’ve posted interior pictures — but to keep these public venues a bit ‘private’, invite Two Teens in the Time of Austen readers to go to Memoirture, a new website specifically for memoirs, memories, connections and comments in order to view them. [UPDATE (April 2015): Memoirture has been taken down; I’ll see if I can refind all the interior shots – but I’m making no promises.]

{NOTE: visitors seem to be able to see the Memoirture write-up and the thumbnails for No. 5 Portland Place, but to view the full-sized photos – or any of the “public” memoirs on the site – you’ll have to log-in; creating an account is FREE and easy.}

A fascinating discussion (now that I know the current numbering!) can be found in David King’s Complete Works of Robert and James Adam: Built and Unbuilt. “Portland Place is a street which the Adams formed and lined with houses. They left the street closed at its northern end by Marylebone Fields — now Regent’s Park — and closed at its southern end, just south of Duchess Street, by the grounds of a large house, Foley House; so the only access to the Place was through side streets.” Langham Place has replaced Foley House, and it was in “New Church, Langham Place,” in 1826, that Mary Gosling married Emma’s brother, Sir Charles Joshua Smith.

all souls_langham place

King notes that “Unfortunately, the facades of the surviving houses have all been altered. For example, all have been extended upwards with an extra floor. … Another important change occurred in the last century, when all the houses were given a rusticated finish for their ground floors — except, of course, for 37 and 46-48 which had such treatment originally. Further, the original paned-glass windows in almost all the houses have ben replaced with something more modern, and most of the houses now have continuous iron balconies at first floor level whereas they originally had separate iron balconettes for each first floor window.” As my book opens in the mews of No. 5 (Mary Gosling’s earliest journal records a journey to Oxford in 1814), describing the surroundings from which Mary emerges, it’s great to see King touch on the mews: “Virtually all the houses were given stables behind. It is possible that many of these stables were given attractive facades to face the back windows of the houses to which they belonged. Unfortunately, while most of the stables survive, almost all have been altered so that atheir original house-facing facades have been lost.” Hmmm…, King uses phrases of unfortunately often, doesn’t he?

King mentions No. 28 (ie, No. 5 Portland Place, the Gosling’s London home), specifically: “There are rather less characteristic [Adam brothers] ceilings in the (larger) front and back rooms on the first floor of 28 and in the two drawing rooms of 42; and much less characteristic ones in the ground floor back room of 28, a small first floor room at the back of 36 and the ground floor front room of 58.” In short, you will see what No. 5 looks like today, but — use imagination! — think of Mary and her sisters, running down the stairs to meet that coach coming around the corner of Cavendish Street.

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No 5 & No 6 Portland Place Alive and Well

April 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm (carriages & transport, estates, goslings and sharpe, history, london's landscape, news, places, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

MUCH has been happening in the past week, some diaries, some letters, some images have been turning up. Many, MANY thanks to those collectors for contacting me!

But the news I really want to share is the fantastic news that the Smith & Gosling homes in “Town” (ie, London) still exist!

Toby in Essex confirmed that indeed a renumbering had occurred and he had proof that No. 28 was once designated No. 5 Portland Place. The rather chuckle-worthy remainder of the story? Today No. 28 is the Royal Institute for Public Health and Hygiene!

On the “well-what-do-ya-know” front is, the Royal Institute has rooms for hire — and pictures are online! It’stheAgency offers some photos and hiring info. Square Meal has further photos and 360-degree virtual tours of the rooms. Another site had floor plans (showing the size of each room – a bit of a challenge for me: all in meters rather than feet and inches), but I can’t put my finger on the URL at the moment. UPDATE: Here’s the link at Chester Boyd.

THEN came the map, dated 1790, sent by Mike in Surrey. It clearly shows that No. 5 was next door (as I always hoped) to No. 6 — so Mary Gosling (at No. 5) truly did marry the “boy next door” — Charles Joshua Smith at No. 6!

Am I surprised to see numbers in the 60s across the street… Not really. I encountered as much in Paris years ago, when searching for an address so I could pick up the key to the flat I had rented. And yet, the numbering is NOW what I would recognize as typical (ie, like the street I live on): all the odd-numbers are on one side and all the even-numbers are across the street. Therefore, if No 5 is now No 28, then No 6 is now No 30 Portland Place.

If you’re in the area, stop and gaze at the windows that used to find the Smiths and Goslings as inhabitants. Close your eyes, and hear the clomp of the horses’ hooves as the carriage pulls around the corner, from the mews. Maybe when you again open them, you will see Papa — Mr. William Gosling, come out in order to be driven to his banking firm, Goslings & Sharpe, on Fleet Street, at the Sign of the Three Squirrels!

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T-Day

November 25, 2010 at 11:23 am (people, places) (, , , , , , )

Ah, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. How time flies…

Just a short post today, putting in a couple links that I found in the past week that I thought would be of interest to readers.

The first is another first-rate find of Vic’s at Jane Austen’s World: She ‘tours’ the fabulous miniature rooms of Mrs James Ward Thorne. Reviewing the “Adam” rooms is like looking through the windows at the two Portland Place residences of the Smiths and Goslings.

And speaking of the Portland Place residences, the wonderful blog Ornamental Passions, which discusses architectural details most people miss when walking around London, has some interesting information on Portland Place buildings — including an important post on No. 5 PP: that the current building at the “address” was built in 1911.

I admit to still not finding out the layout of the street in the early 19th century — although many sources have surfaced telling who lived where on the street!

Anyway, check out both these blogs; you will give thanks!

By the way, if you have a kazillion dollars, you can purchase a flat in No. 5 Portland Place, Marylebone, London.

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