Mary Ward Settlement (originally known as the Passmore Edwards Settlement, founded in 1890; renamed in 1921 after Mary Ward's death)

Arnold Dunbar Smith and Cecil Claude Brewer

Mary Ward House in Tavistock Place is the headquarters of the National Institute for Social Work in London. The Setlement was established on the initiative of Mary Ward, who wrote more than 25 novels under the name of Mrs Humphry Ward, the most famous of which is Robert Elsmere (1888). The Settlement is credited with a number of innovations: educational classrooms for children with disabilities, the development of play centers for children, and the creation of a structure whereby middle-class professionals and working-class members of the local community could work together to improve the community.

The building itself is innovation. According to Jones and Woodward, "this is a major work and one of the best examples of the Free Style applied to a public building in the 1890s" (121). Arnold Dunbar Smith (1866-1933) and Cecil Claude Brewer (1871-1918) set up a partnership in London in the mid 1890s and generally worked in the arts and crafts tradition, particularly in domestic architecture. This buiding had unusual functions, serving as both community center and hostel. And the interior, was rather plain, though enhanced with Arts and Crafts details, such as fireplaces. Today, it has been refurbished in accordance with the original design and still has some of the original period furniture.

The front facade from an angle

The plain brick exterior is symmetrical with projecting wings at each end, each with an entrance with deep projecting eaves. The stair windows form "opposing diagonals at each end of the composition" (Davey 145).
The facade is characterized by unique and varied fenestration. The white arched opening is the entrance to the residential section of the building. The stone eggs on top of the porch are symbols of creation.

Windows and portals on the front facade

The white stone structure "grows smoothly out of the curves of the balustrading to form a massive stone block projecting forward to the pavement, penetrated by a broad welcoming arched opening" (Davey 145).

Left: the Venetian window on the side; center: the side door

"Wedged into the surface of the building is the side door with projecting canopy and its stepped stonework, all very good indeed" (Jones and Woodward 122).

Works Cited:
Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward. A Guide to the Architecture of London. Third Edition. London: Seven Dials, Cassell & Co, 2000.
Peter Davey. Arts and Crafts Architecture. Paberback Edition. London: Phaidon, 1997.

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© 2004 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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