In 2007 the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee formed a sub-group to carry out a special project to survey front doors in the Bloomsbury Conservation Area.
Bloomsbury is justly famous for its Georgian terraces and their front doors with decorative fanlights above, and they are a vital part of its heritage, and we considered it important that the historic front doors of Bloomsbury be recorded in their present condition.
The doors included in the survey are mainly Georgian, but doors were judged on quality through to 1939, and a few later ones of merit.
Purpose of the survey
- to record the existing state of original doors where they remain;
- to identify particularly outstanding ones;
- to note any recommended conservation action on an individual door;
- to provide a practical tool for enforcement purposes.
Each door, fanlight, doorframe and doorcase is recorded photographically and its particulars are described, including any notable associated features such as original doorsteps and door furniture such as doorknobs, knockers and bootscrapers. The survey also records the quality of each door and highlighted doors thought to be at risk, using the categories, high, medium or low in each case.
Qualifying streets all contain at least one Georgian door. A gap in the sequence of numbers in a street survey or no mention of a particular door indicates not that the door in question was not surveyed but that because little or nothing of the original door or doorcase remains unaltered it is not worth recording.
Churches, shops and commercial premises were not part of the project. Pubs and shops tend to have suffered worst in terms of destruction of original features due to the misguided impulse to refurbish, in what is seen as ‘improvement’, or to update, in what is seen as ‘modernisation’. In Marchmont Street for example, few good original doors remain.
This tendency is also observable in the case of hotels, as can be seen for example in the damage that has been done in Cartwright Gardens; however these have generally fared somewhat better than some other uses and are very much part of the project, particularly as so many of them are converted houses in Georgian terraces.
Many of the terraces surveyed are occupied by clubs and institutions, such as London University. These institutional buildings have suffered less from misguided modernisation, more from lack of maintenance, being generally run down in appearance with fine doors in some cases at risk. There has also been lack of care and attention to period detail; for example there are standardised or inappropriate fittings, such as modern lighting units above or beside doorcases, and there is often damage to woodwork or stucco where original features such as knobs and bells have been discarded and never replaced. A number of these institutional doors have been rehung to hinge outwards.
The survey was carried out in full co-operation with Camden Council, which provided a letter of support which could be shown to householders. It was agreed with the Council that the data would be recorded and held on its website, and thus available to the public.
The project is not just of general interest, but a significant tool for the Council in its task of monitoring the conservation area for the purposes of the Conservation Area Appraisal and in particular the Management Strategy.
The survey team comprises Tony Tugnutt and Anthony Jennings, with the assistance and photography of Richenda Walford in the first phase up to 2008, and the photography of the Camden webteam thereafter.
Bedford Row / Burton Place / Bury Place / Burton Street / Cartwright Gardens / Dombey Street / Doughty Street / Endsleigh Gardens / Endsleigh Place / Endsleigh Street / Gordon Square / Gower Street / Great Ormond Street / Great Russell Street / Great James Street / Guilford Street / Harpur Street / John Street / Lambs Conduit Street / Lansdowne Terrace / Leigh Street / Little Russell Street / Mabledon Place / Marchmont Street / Mecklenburgh Street / Mecklenburgh Square / Montague Street / Museum Street / Northington Street / Orde Hall Street / Powis Place / Princeton Street / Red Lion Square / Rugby Street / Russell Square / Sandwich Street / Tavistock Place / Tavistock Square / Taviton Street / Upper Woburn Place / Warren Street / Woburn Square