Saturday 10 May 2008

24 Great James Street

This is a house that is not at all what it appears. To a casual glance it is early Georgian, like the rest of Great James Street - which is one of the finest Georgian streets in London. The blue plaque claiming that Dorothy L. Sayers, creator of aristocratic 'tec Lord Peter Wimsey, lived there in the 1920s adds verisimilitude to that impression.
But the house was totally rebuilt in the 1960s, with a very grand doorcase recycled from a demolished 1720s house in Great Ormond Street.
The giveaway is the way the doorcase is too tall for the ground floor, protruding up into the first floor. As a result, the window above does not line up with the others in a very unClassical way.
But the doorcase itself is fabulous and thank heaven it was saved.
Under the pediment is a carving of the Phoenix on its funeral pyre, its wings outspread in a sort of blessing before it expires, secure in the knowledge that it will come back in an egg born in the ashes.

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