Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)
- Original design
- Unknown, 1740
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme in August.
No. 37 is now the only Georgian building remaining on Spital Square. The Spitalfields Trust was responsible for the original rescue of No 37 from a state of dereliction before selling it to The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings as their headquarters in 1981.
The probable builder and first occupier of the present 37 Spital Square was Peter Ogier III. The Ogiers were a prominent, wealthy French Huguenot family who fled religious persecution in France. They established themselves as silk merchants.
Under the will of the late Mrs EM Stannus, who died in 1938, the Society received a considerable bequest of furniture and effects. Upon the death of Mr Jukes Janson of Chelsea the Society received a further bequest of furniture and paintings, the latter being family portraits.
The building's plan form is typical of London houses of the earlier 18th century. The entrance passage leads to the yard and to a stair in the rear half of the building.
The two original rooms can be easily distinguished. The architectural detail of the ground and first floors is of a more elaborate form than in other parts of the building, where visitors would be received and entertained. The panelling has quadrant mouldings to the panel edges. In the ground floor front room, which is larger and was evidently the more important, the timber box cornice has dentils as an enrichment. The fireplace in the front room is elaborate with marble inserts. The rear chimney breast is set across the room's corner.
To the rear of the door in the ground floor hallway is a panelled arch with pilasters of the Doric order. The door is a later insertion, and above has a stained glass light which is probably Victorian. The stair from the ground to the second floors is of the open string type, with carved tread ends. The balusters are carved and of columnar form. The stair details, like those of the panelling, are more elaborate in the most public areas of the building, and the stair's string becomes closed and the balusters simplify between the second and top floor.
The high status of the first floor front room is indicated by its enriched cornice with modillions. The rear first floor room, with simpler panelling and cornice, might have been a lesser dining room or drawing room, or perhaps a bedroom or formal dressing room.
The Society's Committee Room
This was formed from an outbuilding to No 37. Some windows have sash boxes fitted flush with the building's exterior and several have re-used or modified sashes with glazing bars of heavy section, indicating an early date. An extension to the southern end of the committee room was constructed in about 1981, for the SPAB by Julian Harrap Architects.
The Rear Yard
This contains a lead water cistern dated 1774. At the end of the courtyard furthest from the house is another former commercial building or shop.
Dating No 37
There has been much suggestion that the house is of the 1720s with a later 18th century refronting. It seems more likely that it was built in one phase, in about 1740. The tuck-pointed stock brick front elevation displays flat windows heads of gauged brickwork, and sash boxes recessed by four inches (the sashes being later replacements). The Survey of London states that people were living on the site in 1731 and 1750, but not in 1741, and concludes that that was probably the point at which the plot was vacant while the house was under reconstruction.