peabody square

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Monday 26 May 2003 8.39pm
i am looking for information on peabody square se 1. i beleive it is a block of high storey flats. any info would be road its on,,anything.. thanks
Monday 26 May 2003 8.59pm
First on the left going north up Blackfriars Road
Monday 26 May 2003 9.09pm
Tuesday 27 May 2003 8.17am
Not sure whether you are planning a visit or doing some family history research. I think that Peabody Square was built in 1871 on the site of the former Magdalen Hospital. It originally consisted of sixteen blocks of "artisan dwellings" around two linked squares.

Some information follows from the archived former website of English Heritage. This link includes a picture of the Peabody estate at Islington which is built to an almost identical design of brick blocks 4-6 storeys in height.

"The Peabody Trust was founded in London in 1862 by George Peabody, the wealthy American banker and philanthropist. It is the largest charity and housing association dedicated to housing the poor in London and has a stock of over 17,000 homes, mostly consisting of densely-built sites in inner London - the famous Peabody Estates with some cottage estates in the suburbs. The earliest surviving Peabody buildings in London are on the Islington Estate (1864) with others at Shadwell, Chelsea, and Blackfriars dating from soon afterwards. These early estates are historically of seminal importance as being among the first to address the problems of housing the poor in a consistent way, with an identifiable architectural form. The brick-built Italianate blocks grouped in a square forming a courtyard and thus protected' from the outside world, are the hall-mark of the early estates. The famous 'Peabody Square', familiar to many Londoners and visitors to London, was conceived by Henry Darbishire (1825-99), architect to the Peabody Trust from 1864 until 1885."

There is a contemporary line engraved illustration of the Blackfriars Road estate at

I used to work on Blackfriars Road opposite Peabody Square in the late 1980s. Back then all the blocks were a depressing shade of grey-black from a century of London coal burning. The early 90s cleaning and refurbishment of the estate dramatically transformed the appearance of the estate.
Wednesday 28 May 2003 12.51am
thanks . any more info?
Wednesday 28 May 2003 10.36am
Depressing grey-black from a century of coal burning?

Well, possibly. I'm sure the coal burning will have provided a richer patina. When the Victorians built a new house, they didn't like the bright clean new colours, so they used to wash the bricks with soot to dull the colours. Freshly cleaned bright yellow brickwork is therefore far from authentic and merely a modern fetish.
Wednesday 28 May 2003 11.35am
I am someone who is firmly against the overcleaning of London's portland stone buildings - they should be allowed to weather to a romantic chiaroscuro (now there's an entry for Pseud's corner).

I also agree that soot-washing is right for Georgian and early nineteenth century buildings, and cleaning of individual houses in a terrace is a no-no. But the Georgian's intention wasn't a "richer patina" - it was to give a uniform colour.

I think it is extremely unlikely that by the time Peabody Square was built that it would have been soot-washed in this way - not least because of the need to maximise light in the courtyards.

Yes, it was a shock to the system when the cleaning started, but I think that, ten years on, the brickwork has toned down to a less aggressive colour.

Post edited (28 May 03 18:03)
Thursday 29 May 2003 11.11am
OK, a combination of uniformity - arising from the unevenness in the colouring of the bricks coming from brick kilns, but also an attempt to take away the 'this house is brand new' look.

The rich patina has arisen from a century or two of London living, and to clean the buildings is to lose a lot of this history and to re-write out of London's history the smoke and soot. (I did not write that they aimed for a richer patina through soot washing.)

Cider maker, cidermaker or cider-maker?
Thursday 29 May 2003 1.49pm

Old London stock brickwork is normally a dark yellow-brown colour. If it is over-cleaned it becomes a harsh, bright yellow which is not how it was intended to appear. Indeed such brickwork was often artificially darkened by 'soot washing' in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Subject to any major repair requirements it is best to leave stock brickwork in this condition, and not to clean it but to tone it down as necessary with soot and water or a modern substitute (such as a mix of black weathershield paint and water to a 1:16 consistency). The practice of 'soot-washing' has a practical basis, as it helps to disguise the damage and patching caused by periodic repairs and repointing

In the case of Victorian and Edwardian brickwork, the elevation was usually meant to be bright. Often the red brick was combined with terracotta or stone ornament to create a cheerful multi-coloured effect. It is therefore generally appropriate to clean Victorian brickwork, but great care should be taken not to damage the surface or texture of the brickwork. Simple washing with water, either by hand or with sprays, is preferable to industrial sand-blasting, but acceptable methods of dry cleaning are now being achieved.
Tuesday 3 June 2003 9.23am
So why do you want to know Dave?

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