- Original design
- Frederick Wheeler, 1899
- Curl la Tourelle Architects, 2018
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
Russettings is a late Victorian property built on three-quarters of an acre of land in 1899. The house was designed by the architect Frederick Wheeler for George Smith (a confectioner and baker whose business was located at 6 Lambs Conduit Street) and his wife Mary, sister of Thomas Wall, the sausage and ice-cream manufacturer and local benefactor, as reflected in the date and initials GS to be seen on the façade of the building.
Frederick Wheeler’s other surviving buildings include St Paul’s Studios in Talgarth Road, Hammersmith, a convalescent home in Rushington and what is now the NatWest Bank in Horsham, a Queen Anne-style building which shares with the Arts and Crafts-influenced Russettings a green copper dome with elongated pinnacle above a corner window.
The development of this part of Sutton started in the early 1860s when a large house called The Grange was created for J R Hall, the first chairman of the Sutton and Cheam Water Company. At about the same time Mulgrave Road, Grange Road and Worcester Road were laid out and large upper middle-class houses were developed along them. Russettings was built on one of the last vacant plots.
After George Smith died in 1917 and Mary in 1932, their son Dr Percy Hall-Smith may have used the house as a base from which to administer the Thomas Wall Trust. Following occupation by an engineering design firm during WWII Surrey County Council purchased the house in March 1948 for £6,000, using the ground floor as a careers office, and one room for registration from 1953.
When the London Borough of Sutton was formed in 1965 the building became the Register Office for the district and was refurbished in 1994 to provide attractive office accommodation for the registration of births, marriages and deaths and a marriage suite, the Drawing Room.
Recent refurbishment to Russettings in Spring 2018 includes a new extension known as the 'Garden Room' for ceremonies and conferences
This allows for greater choice for couples seeking a larger venue than the existing Drawing Room and gives potential to continue celebrations following the ceremony making use of the beautiful garden
The red-brick exterior of the building is an irregular mix of gabled roofs, tall brick chimneys, bay windows and (at the back) upper wall tiling. The front porch has a tiled roof and a turquoise floor mosaic with red, yellow and black border extending into the vestibule, which leads to the entrance hall with its deep ingle fireplace (with midnight-blue tiles) framed by a high wooden shelf, and grand oak staircase with barley-stick balusters.
Leading from the hall the drawing room is now used as the Ceremony Room where marriages, civil partnerships and citizenship ceremonies are conducted. A deep panelled bay containing the fireplace is flanked by a bay window to the right and a bay leading to a garden door (and the demolished conservatory) on the left. Detailing includes four windows with art nouveau leaded lights, a panelled ceiling and cornice frieze.
The adjacent morning room with its green tiled fireplace, wooden over-mantel, panelling and wide garden window is now used for administration of births deaths and marriages.
The dining room has been partitioned into a waiting room and an office but oak panelling and the fireplace (in the latter) have been retained. The kitchen range survives, lacking only its plate rack, in another of the offices.
The billiard room has become the newly extended Garden Room purpose built for marriages and ceremonies.
The summerhouse seen in a photograph of the guests at the wedding of Percy Hall-Smith and Christine Sharr in 1905 has since been removed and the garden reduced in size.