Only a few days after our short break in early January I was back in London again, this time on business. But I always try to keep my eyes own for interesting architecture and works of art and while walking through Bloomsbury from my hotel to the venue of my meeting I spotted this building in Tavistock Place. Very “Arts and Crafts” with Art Noveauish features, I stopped for a short while to take a look and snap a few photos on my phone – not so easy during the Central London rush hour!
A little research on the net when I had chance revealed that the Grade 1 listed building – Mary Ward House – was built in 1898 as a centre of training, care and entertainment for “the less fortunate in society”. It was financed by the wealthy philanthropist Passmore Edwards who was inspired by Mary Ward, a novelist and social reformer. Originally known as Passmore Edwards House it was renamed after Mary Ward in 1921 the year after her death.
I particularly liked the main doorway which reminded me of the work of Rennie Mackintosh
I also liked the distinctive lettering over the doorways – very “Art Nouveau”.
I found some information about the history of the building on the English Buildings blog which tells us that the building
housed the first properly equipped classrooms for children with disabilities and was also home to a centre where children could come to play in a safe, warm, bully-free environment. A hall, gym, library, and other communal rooms were provided, and there were also residential rooms for those living in the settlement.
This blog post also tells us that Gustav Holst used to be the settlement’s Director of Music.
Today the building is used as a conference centre. There are some photographs of the interior on their website.