Natwest Bank, 93 High Street, Wimbledon Common

One of my favourite buildings in South West London is this impressive bank in Wimbledon Village. Originally the London and Counties Bank (the LCB logo is present on the cylindrical turret on the first floor exterior) it is now a Natwest.

I found this wonderful old print of the building online on the archiseek website. How wonderful that drawings of this quality were the standard practice of the day, in stark contrast to the often vulgar and misleading renders we have today.

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The architects were Cheston and Perkin. Horace Cheston and his former assistant Joseph Craddock Perkin practised in partnership in London from 1892 to 1913. The facade is in soft red bricks, with sandstone features, which I must say, looks astonishingly like Bath stone. I could find very little of their architectural practice, and I was very surprised to see the building is not listed.

Below, images of the building in 2016.

Wimbledon Village Natwest

Below, the LCB logo.

Wimbledon Village Natwest Wimbledon Village Natwest

Gothic meets classical – note the egg and dart and dentil features in the background, contrasted with the stiff-leaf carving in the foreground. Yet it all works seamlessly. It wouldn’t look out of place in Oxford.

Wimbledon Village Natwest

More of the Classical/Gothic juxtaposition: egg and dart, sausage and pea and dentils, then a Green Man hiding in the cavetto of the the string-course. Wonderful stuff.

Wimbledon Village Natwest

This is architecture heaven: modillions are the corbel like projections with acanthus-like carvings, initially designed to echo or imitate the wooden struts used for the roof. An encyclopaedia of architectural features.

Wimbledon Village Natwest

I love the relief-carving on the fascia. I can see a dragon’s head on the left and I think what is a cockatrice (dragon’s body with the head of a cockerel – all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons has paid off!).

Wimbledon Village Natwest

Yet it’s not just the embellishment that is of the highest order. The architectural stonemasonry itself is first class, and worthy of any palace or cathedral. Just look how the bow-tell mouldings of the arches just disappear into the wall. masonry perfection.

Wimbledon Village Natwest

I truly believe this should be at least grade 2 listed. Bank architecture of this late Victorian period is exemplary and this is amongst the best of the lot.

Wimbledon Village Natwest

The entrance:

Wimbledon Village Natwest

Closer up on the image: these little niches are beautifully carved. Again, egg and dart, sausage and pea and a shell design for the hood. The caps are little classical-esque volutes with  stiff leaf centres.

Wimbledon Village Natwest Wimbledon Village Natwest

All in all, architecture and building of the highest order. Functional and formal yet beautiful. It represents the institution proudly while fitting in to its surroundings. It’s my opinion that the quality of stonemasonry was never any better than in this period.

 

  1. martin duncan-jones said:

    Limestone is always being described as sandstone by uninformed observers, even admiring ones. This is most likely a Bath stone of a type no longer quarried. It’s a remarkable building!

    • Geraint Davies said:

      Yes. The quote was from The Builder magazine of 1896, but I think it is wrongly attributed to this particular building. Glad you like it as much as I do Martin!

  2. Harry Jonas said:

    Great article really enjoyed the photos great detail- Clipsham? Many thanks

    • Geraint Davies said:

      It looks like it could be Clipsham but I think as Martin said (above) it’s a type of Bath stone no longer quarried.

What do you think?



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