The Mandeville at Night

Street Stories: The history of Mandeville Place

Looking at Edward Weller’s map of London, which was published in 1868, the Marylebone streetscape feels distinctly familiar. Except that one really vital part of the jigsaw is missing. Heading down from the north, Marylebone High Street morphs into Thayer Street, but then rather than continuing smoothly on towards Oxford Street, this southward flow stops abruptly at the junction with Hinde Street. Back in Weller’s day, the quickest route from the high street to Mayfair involved a meandering detour down Marylebone Lane.

The construction of Mandeville Place, which began in the 1870s, was the final link in the chain. From the start, this was an upscale development: its name was chosen for its association with the nearby and highly salubrious Manchester Square—Viscount Mandeville is one of the titles taken by the Duke of Manchester—and its buildings were designed to reflect the grandeur of the area’s more upmarket enclaves, rather than the somewhat utilitarian architecture of the high street. Its sizeable townhouses were red brick and stucco, decorated with restrained French Renaissance detail, providing a classy splice to join the more prosaic runs of Thayer Street and James Street.

Trinity College of Music

One early tenant was Trinity College of Music, which moved from Weymouth Street to 13 Mandeville Place in 1880. Forty years later, as the institution expanded, the architect John Oscar Cheadle was commissioned to create an enlarged campus by consolidating number 13 with the next door building at number 11. As well as significantly remodelling the interior, Cheadle embellished the façade with an elaborate portico of Ionic columns and a projecting pedimented porch topped by a blue and gold motif of a lyre. The college remained at the site until 2001, when it upped sticks to Greenwich. The building is now occupied by the School of Economic Science.

In 1936, the street came close to disappearing—or at least its name did. The confusing run of names applied to a single long road—Marylebone High Street, Thayer Street, Mandeville Place, James Street—was considered by the London County Council to be ungainly in the extreme. It was proposed that the latter three names be done away with, with the entire stretch taking the name Marylebone High Street. It was in part down to the furious opposition of the upper-crust tenants of Mandeville Place that this change never made it onto the books: they had absolutely no desire to be associated with the grocers and artisans of the high street, and made their voices loudly heard.

After the second world war, almost the entire terrace of houses on the eastern side was converted into the Mandeville Hotel by Sir Maxwell Joseph. The façade was retained, including its multiple front doors. It remains one of the area’s more unusual—and attractive—hotel frontages.

BLUE PLAQUES

Francesco Paolo Tosti (composer)

LANDMARK BUILDING

The Grade II listed Trinity College of Music building at 11-13 Mandeville Place, created in 1921-2 from the lateral conversion of two townhouses, which involved the creation of a first floor concert hall and an impressive staircase.

Words: Mark Riddaway