Thursday, 2 December 2010

Former Catesby's Store, 64-67 Tottenham Court Road W1

The top end of Tottenham Court Road was the place where the super-rich of Edwardian London furnished their houses, trooping round Heals, Maples and Catesby's, the latter being where they bought carpets for upstairs and linoleum for downstairs. The area was so expensive that the plutocratic Baron de Rothschild could quite seriously justify his passion for buying antique French furniture by saying "it's cheaper than going to Maples."
In 1904 Edward Catesby rebuilt his store in a flamboyant Free Renaissance with Arts and Crafts touches. The architect was Henry A. Whitburn, whose initials appear like very polite grafitti behind the dragon in the tippy-top gable at the centre of his facade.
Catesby's initial appears much more ornately carved and prominently positioned, but as he was paying for it I suppose that was fair dos.
My absolute favourite sculptures are the storks under the bow windows on the fourth floor. They have the ungainliness of Martin pottery birds, with those faintly ridiculous beaks and spindly legs.

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