Legacy System Information
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: LBS
333/6/1 RAVENSCOURT PARK W6
ROYAL MASONIC HOSPITAL, with associate
d boundary walls, gates, railings and
(Formerly listed as
RAVENSCOURT PARK W6
Royal Masonic Hospital)
Hospital, 1933, by Thomas Tait of Sir John Burnet, Tait and Lorne. Later additions include Block E to the north, of 1978, (connected to the building by a bridge) and the Wakefield Wing to the west, of 1959, (now unconnected to the building, but historically joined by a bridge); these lack special interest and are not included in the listing.
PLAN & MATERIALS: The former Royal Masonic Hospital comprises four interconnecting blocks: the T-shaped three-storey administrative block facing Ravenscourt Park (block A); a south-facing, U-shaped, five-storey ward block to the west (block B); a five-storey annex block with a projecting ground floor with bowed ends to the north of this (block C); and, further north again, a three-storey surgical block (block D). The buildings are steel-framed with shallow concrete floors, 2" red brick walls with wide raked-out joints, and exposed aggregate concrete details.
EXTERIORS: The mass of each block is broken down by the varying heights of the flat roofs (the administration and ward blocks both have central towers and stepped profiles at the ends, for example). The tower of the ward block has a numberless brass clock on its southern face; the administrative block has flagpoles, which are later replacements of the originals, and a large central window polished black marble reveals and two concrete pilasters topped with allegorical sculptures of Healing and Charity by Gilbert Bayes. The windows are arranged in horizontal bands, and on the main front are divided by brick fin-like mullions, which continue above the lintel's soldier course of bricks on the second floor. The doors have broad concrete canopies, and there are concrete bands and coping to the main elevations. There is a tall brick chimney stack at the junction of the ward and annex block. The main staircases in the ward block are in projecting full-height curved glass stairwells; those to the admin block and adjoining the sun decks on the ward block are brick stairwells with glazed, unsupported corners; both forms are leitmotifs of International Modernism.
INTERIORS: Inside the main entrance of the ADMINISTRATIVE BLOCK (A), is a vast galleried hall running the full three-storey height of the building. The metal entrance doors are the originals. They feature sand-blasted and acid-treated glass depicting six signs of the Zodiac. The other six and a figure of Asclepius feature in the large gallery window. The hall is lined with grey Lunel marble with a marble floor in cream, peach and black. The ground floor is inlaid with diamond shaped panels containing Masonic emblems, under later carpets. An imperial staircase to the right leads to the gallery, the latter having a solid marble balustrade with bronze and nickel plate rail. On the half landing is a low relief panel by CL Doman depicting a classical nude being healed by a clothed female figure; it bears the inscription 'AEGROS SANAT HUMANITAS'. At the top of the stairs, each newel supports a fluted marble column atop which is an opaque glass uplight in the shape of an upturned bell, on a metal stem. These features are repeated on the opposite side of the gallery, where they flank full-height walnut doors to the main board room. Smaller lamps in the same style light the lower hall and are placed on high level shelves in the gallery, which is also lit by a large chandelier featuring globe pendant lamps. The solid gallery balcony front is also in marble, with a bronze and nickel plate rail. The board room, and its counterpart second board room on the administration block's north side, is panelled with Australian walnut and has a coffered ceiling, a vast Botticino marble fireplace, original light fittings (these only survive in one board room), and full-height French windows leading to balconies (on the north and south fronts of the block). The metal radiator grilles in the boardrooms and the gallery have an Art Deco-style pattern. The ground floor retains its original plan form, doors (some decorated with Masonic compasses in brass), a safe, and public telephone kiosks.
The WARD BLOCK (B) survives well with its plan form largely intact. The deep (30ft diameter), curved sundeck balconies at the end of each wing have concrete floors with Portland stone paving, metal railings, and slender steel piloti encased in green terrazzo with gold mosaic tops. The deck cantilever is supported by welded steel girders rather than rolled or riveted steel, permitting a very shallow floor height. Glass tiles are set into the balcony floors to maximise natural daylight on each deck. Inside the ward blocks there are panelled recreation rooms with original fireplaces and wall clocks on each floor, divided from the main corridors by glazed partition walls. The lift lobbies on each floor are also panelled. The third floor contains the former children's wards, which retain original tiles depicting animals and lead out onto roof terraces with original planters. One nurses' room has original cupboards. The fourth floor was originally the kitchens, and had lifts for transferring food to the small ward kitchens on each floor. The internal detailing and materials were to a high standard, for example, the corners to the skirtings, walls and ceilings were all rounded to aid cleaning and the corridor floors and stairs were paved with terrazzo.
The five-storey ANNEX block (C) has a ground floor waiting room for ambulance patients, which projects from the main block with bowed external walls to east and west. The upper floors served as linen stores, sterilising rooms and a dental department.
The three-storey SURGICAL BLOCK (D) originally housed the Sisters' and Nurses' dining rooms on the ground floor, the Radiological Dept and Physiotherapy on the first floor, and two operating theatres, a plaster cast theatre and X ray facilities on the second floor. It faces north and had large second floor windows admitting diffuse daylight as required in the surgical theatres (these have experienced later alterations). The ground floor dining room retains its original internal partition with glazing to the upper parts; other partitions are later insertions. Some original light fittings survive in the dining room and French doors lead to a terrace, overlooking a garden.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The site boundary with Ravenscourt Park is marked by red brick walls with raked joints and metal railings. There are metal gates at either side, in an Art Deco design with circular motifs, hung upon blockish brick gate piers. These lead to a semi-circular drive taking in the main entrance, lit by the original lamp standards. The forecourt garden has a brick wall with blockish brick and concrete planters, all part of the original scheme. Further hard landscaping is in the garden courtyard of the U-shaped ward block. The character of this garden is axial, with a raised stone and brick terrace running around the perimeter of the buildings, at the centre of which brick steps lead down to a diamond-shaped paved court with a sundial and a long, rectangular pond with a fountain. The lawns to either side of the pond contain mature specimen trees and plants.
HISTORY: The Royal Masonic Hospital opened on the 13 July 1933. It was completed remarkably quickly, in just 13 months, the foundation stone having been laid by the Duke of Connaught on 13 May 1932. It cost £400,000, about twice the expense of a standard hospital of the time, funded by the Freemasons as a private hospital with 200 beds. Until 1973, a book containing the names of the subscribing masons' lodges was kept in the lobby and a page turned every day at 11am; the book's calligraphy was done by the sister of Gilbert Bayes, whose sculpture features on the façade.
Sir John Burnet, Tait and Lorne won the commission in competition in 1929. The winning entry was Neo-Georgian in style with pitched roofs and dormer windows. Soon after Thomas Tait, the principal architect, revised the elevations, introducing a Netherlands-inspired modernist style in brick with flat roofs. This signalled a significant change in direction for Burnet, Tait and Lorne, whose work up until this point had been defined by stone-fronted classical buildings such as the Edward VII Galleries at the British Museum and the Daily Telegraph offices on Fleet Street. The finished hospital was, in the words of Tait, 'a complete departure from traditional forms ... one of the few really modern hospitals in the world today' and had been 'designed from the inner requirements outwards rather than from a preconceived idea of what the hospital should look like on the outside, and making the conditions fit these as best they could'. The building's form reflected contemporary medical ideas. Natural light and fresh air were considered crucial to recovery and so the two wings of the ward block feature three storeys of deep, curved concrete sundecks at the southern end. The balconies utilised new welding technology to achieve a deep cantilever but minimal thickness of concrete floors. The chief construction engineer was Sven Bylander, an American of Swedish descent, who had worked on the pioneering steel-framed Ritz and Waldorf Hotels in London in 1905.
The hospital won the RIBA Gold Medal in 1933 for best new building and the London Architecture Bronze Medal in 1934. It was praised by the architectural press, which considered it to be the first major 'modern' building in the UK. CH Reilly wrote in the Architects' Journal in 1934, for example, 'there is no doubt that the event of the year is the Royal Masonic Hospital' praising it for releasing hospital architecture 'once and for all from architectural flummery and pretence'. Country Life called it 'from an architectural point of view ... one of the most successful, because one of the most truly functional, of contemporary buildings in this country'. HS Goodhart-Rendel, writing in 1953, was more sceptical of its claims to pure functionalism, writing 'this entertaining building manages to satisfy every medical requirement within a most arbitrarily picturesque exterior'. Indeed, the building articulated its health-giving purpose not only through its form but via artworks too: the façade, for example, features two allegorical sculptures of Healing and Charity by Gilbert Bayes and the stairwell bears a low-relief panel by CL Doman and the inscription 'Aegros Sanat Humanitas', meaning 'humaneness heals the sick'.
In 1938 a nurses home was built, also to designs by Burnet, Tait and Lorne; it is separately listed at Grade II. The same architects continued to work on the hospital after the Second World War, building the Wakefield Wing to the west of the main site in 1959. This provided extra beds for patients, nurses, a physiotherapy department and additional office accommodation. In 1978, a surgical block in brick with zinc roofs was added to the north of the main buildings to designs by Watkins Gray Woodgate. This is connected to the original buildings by a link corridor. In 1990, the 1930s buildings were refurbished and the original steel windows replaced in aluminium in a design that reflected the original glazing bar arrangement.
Walker, D M., 'Tait, Thomas Smith (1882-1954)', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Sept 2004; online edition, accessed 14 July 2010)
'The Free Masons' Hospital and Nursing Home' in Country Life (15 July 1933) 38-43
'Nurses' home, Royal Masonic Hospital' in Architect & Building News (1938, 13 May) 175
'Nurses' home, Royal Masonic Hospital' Architects' Journal (1938, 26 May) 911
'Wakefield Wing, the Royal Masonic Hospital' in Builder (1959 Feb 27) 402-407
'The Royal Masonic Hospital' in Thirties Society Journal (no. 2, 1982) 29-34
'Operation hospital ... the Royal Masonic Hospital in Hammersmith' in Building Design (no. 382, 1978 Feb 10) 12
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Royal Masonic Hospital, Ravenscourt Park, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural Interest: an important interwar Modern building and a significance moment in the design of hospitals
* Authorship: by Thomas Tait, the architect who reinvented the Edwardian establishment practice of Sir John Burnet, Tait and Lorne as players in the emerging Modern Movement
* Engineering Interest: pioneering use of welded steel to create slender, deep, cantilevered sun decks
* Artworks: including sculpture by Gilbert Bayes, decorated glass in the entrance lobby, and a bas-relief by CL Doman
* Intactness: the administration block's interior décor was lavish, using marble, brass, walnut and glass, and survives virtually unaltered.