Tuesday, 3 September 2013

91-101 Worship Street, EC2

On the borders of the City and Shoreditch, the terrace at 91-101 Worship Street looks somewhat unloved. Yet as the steel and glass of the City flows ever onward, it has probably survived thanks to its architect, Philip Webb.

Of the shops with National Heritage listing, almost all will be Grade II - but this tatty block is Grade II* (a category only 5.5% of listed buildings have). This is because of Webb, friend of William Morris and at the vanguard of Arts and Crafts architecture - most famous for The Red House in Bexley.

Details on 91-101 Worship Street such as the pointed window arches and steep roofs are typical of Arts and Crafts architecture.

Webb usually stuck to domestic buildings, but accepted a commisson to design 91-101 Worship Street, a terrace of workshops, shops and housing for artisans. Originally the craftsmen would have lived and worked here, displaying their wares in the windows of the shops that project outwards on the ground floor. Windows let light into the basements so work could be done down there. A gothic drinking fountain on the southeast corner provided a final dash of Victorian philanthropism.

As standalone shops, there's not much to describe. The shop fronts have no ornamentation, the shop windows are basic, and the doorways with wide porches more residential than retail. The Builder magazine praised the use of "sound real materials" in the terrace's construction but complained that the finishings inside had a "degree of rudeness" that it predicted would deter those tenants able to afford the rent, meaning take-up of the properties may be slow. This pic is from The Builder's review of Webb's work.

When I visited, the gate had been left open so I nipped in to get a pic of the rear, although as regards the shops there's not much to see.

Today, all of the block has been split up into single floors with various uses such as a sandwich shop and offices, so Webb's original intention of artisans living above and working below has been lost.

However, in a retail sense it's a fine example of Victorian social ideals and the Arts and Crafts movement's focus on artisan traditions.


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  2. Thanks for this info.. and thanks for being brave enough to nip through the gate to take the back of the houses too I always fear the gate will close and then I will be stuck!(once bitten twice shy) Thank goodness they are listed otherwise I am sure they would have been swept away in this surge to knock everything down! And replace it with steel and glass.

  3. Joyce Winfield14 May 2020 at 02:53

    Very interesting. My grandfather, Henry Lane Pepper lived at #91 at the time of his death in 1928.