A perfectly preserved Art Deco house in South London that was at risk of being lost has been granted listed protection.

The building was an awarding winning design by architects Leslie Kemp and Frederick Tasker in the Ideal Home Exhibition of 1934 in the “village of tomorrow” offering homeowners on a modest budget an affordable slice of modern living.

The architects, Kemp and Tasker are best known for their Art Deco cinemas but were also responsible for a collection of homes and other buildings in south London and beyond. However, just three of these particular homes were ever built, two in London and one in Dublin.

One of them, on Dorchester Drive in Herne Hill, was constructed in 1935/6 by local builders Cyril and Stanley Morrell, and had been lived in by the same family ever since it was built, the psychologist Hans Eysenck from 1960 until his death in 1997, and remained occupied by his widow Sybil until she died in 2020.

Surviving original features include a ‘sun-trap’ bay window and the ‘luxurious’ bathroom with a separate shower. The compact but flexible plan allows for the ground-floor rooms to be opened out into one long entertainment space.

The original sales brochure described the ground floor as having the option of combining the two reception rooms with the hall to create a forty-foot ballroom. This may give you the suggestion that this home for a modest budget was aimed at people with social-climbing aspirations.

The house was sold earlier this year, but concerned that the new owners might start to refurbish the building, destroying its unique heritage, the Twentieth Century Society lobbied Lambeth Council to place a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) on the building. That preserved it pending a formal evaluation, and now the building has been granted Grade II protection by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

A Historic England spokesperson said: “This is a remarkable survival which transports us back to the architectural ideals of the 1930s where ‘dignified simplicity’ was favoured over excessive ornamentation. The significance of this building has now been recognised and any future change can be managed effectively, so that it can function as a modern home and retain its special character.”

The importance of the building is that it’s one of only two versions known to have been built in England, both of which are now Grade II-listed.

This new listing joins two other Grade II-listed buildings on the same street, Dorchester Court and Dorchester House, which were also collaborations between Kemp and Tasker and the Morrell brothers. Together these buildings form an important group illustrating a range of 1930s approaches to residential buildings on a single street.

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5 comments
  1. JP says:

    A great save for the nation and lucky to have been loved and left intact by just one previous owner.
    I thought at first that it suffered from looking across the road to massive blocks of flats. Upon reflection though, its part of a street’s worth of Thirties villas and even a modern build has been brushed with the design ethos of the era.

  2. Rose says:

    Wow. The internal doors, immediately off the front door, are bowed to run flush to the concaved entrance.
    GENIUS beyond convention was what art deco is all about (to me at least).

    • Marguerite Henry-Pierre says:

      Not immediately off front door, there are cupboards between it and reception room doors?

  3. Paula says:

    Come to Silver End Garden Village (old part) to see some amazing houses just like this build in 1926

  4. Chris says:

    Was it Silver End that was built by Crittall Windows for the employees?

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