20 Apr The North Range, St Martins Place
The neoclassical architecture found in St Martin’s Place is collectively known as the ‘St Martins Parochial Buildings’ and are grade II* listed. More informally they are referred to as The North Range on Church Path. They comprise The Vicarage (No.6 St Martin’s Place), Vestry Hall (No.5 St Martin’s Place), and St Martins National School (No.12 Adelaide Street). The largest element of the buildings was formally a school and is dominated by enormous Ionic capitals and fluted pilasters. This now forms the base for the homeless charity The Connection.
They were collectively constructed between 1827 and 1830 under designs from reveered British architect John Nash, as part of the wider Charing Cross improvement scheme at the time which included the . The design sits in harmony to the much earlier designed church opposite of St Martin-in-the-Field by James Gibb.
A pediment runs the full width of Vestry Hall and in the centre of the tympanum is a bas relief by English sculptor William Pitts. It depicts St Martin dividing his cloak with a beggar. According to medieval accounts about his life, Martin was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity after an encounter with a half-naked beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens in Northern France.
Constructed from a Roman cement stucco render over brick, much of the façade is now showing signs of wear, with cracks visible to rendered work and failure evident to a number of weathering features. Although not obviously at the point of widescale collapse, a number of short-term interventions had been undertaken to safeguard any loss to projecting detail. Further to addressing elements lost or damaged, it is felt much can be achieved through the improved functionality of weatherings, selective render repairs and a fresh application of paint.
A ground level survey was first conducted using binoculars to identify areas of potential concern and to form an overview budget, making recommendations for repair where pertinent.
Once a scaffold was then erected, a detailed conservation condition survey could be completed to all elements to firm up scope and finalise costs. A close quarter ‘tap test’ was undertaken to allow us the opportunity to identify areas of delaminated render. Where this was found to tap hollow (identifying that it had de-bonded) and it was also damaged or open to ingress; these areas were removed and replaced. Where surface damage is noted and the area is bonded, a localised repair can be undertaken. Areas which resonate as de-bonded, and are localised; with sound render around them are considered to be stable and are retained in full. We of course try to excercise restraint in the level of repairs we undertake, but also look to ensure we safeguard the façade retain as much historic material as is possible.
Programmed works will run over approximately 26 weeks, with completion set for the end of March 2020.