St Paul’s Studios, Talgarth Road

Just around the corner from Baron’s Court tube station are the delightful St Paul’s Studios.

St Paul's Studios

Unless you live locally, you probably only know them as the buildings that you whizz past on your way West along the A4. They’re the ones that make your jaw drop and gasp ‘who on earth lives in them?!’

Well, wonder no more!

History of St Paul’s Studios

Built in 1891 and designed by Frederick Wheeler, The row of houses along Talgarth Road were aimed at ‘bachelor artists’ (ie unmarried) with lovely large north facing windows and housekeepers apartments in the basements.

St Paul's Studios

Typical of late Victorian architecture they are covered in lovely little flourishes in terracotta.

St Paul's Studios
St Paul's Studios

There’s also a careful attention to the font design too.

St Paul's Studios

Who lived here?

It’s not particularly surprising that all the homes were occupied within a year of being built.

And although they may not be household names, some of the more notable artists who lived here include;

Ruby Levick (1871-1940) who was a Welsh sculptor and medallist who often exhibited at the Royal Academy. You can see a sculptural bust of Chemist John Dalton in the Royal Society of Chemistry in Burlington House.

William Logsdail who lived in the studios 1903-1922 and his epic oil paintings of events like the Lord Mayor’s show can be seen in the Guildhall Art Gallery.

St Paul's Studios

George Kruger Gray (1880-1943) who, during the First World War, designed fake military items that confused enemy forces. Later he utilised this skill and became the preferred contractor for the Royal Mint, designing British coins.

Inglis Sheldon-Williams (1870-1940) who in the early 1900s travelled to South Africa, India and Europe. His sketches of British Colonial officers are held in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

St Paul's Studios

Who lives here now?

The busy A4 right on the doorstep does somewhat detract from the studios’ appeal, but these are still beautiful buildings.

St Paul's Studios

Although some of the houses seem to be in better shape than others, a few having been left in a pretty dire condition during the 1930s and 1940s.

However if you fancy having a peek inside a recently renovated studio (and I know you do…) The Guardian published an article in 2016. Have a read here.

St Paul's Studios

More London Inspiration

14 Comments

  • Karen Myers

    Reply

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve only recently stumbled on these houses as I’ve started to visit Breast Cancer Haven which is along the road. The first time I saw the houses I was completely blown away. They are so beautiful and fascinating. It is heartbreaking that such a hideous road runs in front. Thanks for the history on them. Fascinating stuff!

    March 17, 2020 at 8:53 pm
  • The long narrow window is for passing through the artists large canvas’s. Many artists have lived in these buildings to capture the north light and surprisingly it’s not that noisy when you are inside.

    March 17, 2020 at 9:39 pm
  • Marj

    Reply

    Thank you, I’ve often wondered about these. Thrilling that one of the occupants was a famous woman sculptor.

    March 18, 2020 at 12:59 am
  • Hi Katie, Last Sunday my wife and I drove in to London on the M4 and passed the St. Paul’s studios. I told her how mesmerised I was by them in the 1960’s when, as a boy, I used to take the Airport bus to Heathrow three times a year on my way to school in Ireland. Many years later, I marched in the Lord Mayor’s Procession each year, so the picture by William Logsdail was most interesting also.
    The phrase ‘look up’ was advice given by Sir John Betjeman to people admiring and looking at buildings. There is so much to see and enjoy above eye level as your exciting photographs illustrate. One cannot absorb the details of the facades while hunched behind the wheel of a car. I reminded my readers of Sir John’s advice in an article I had publishes last month on the Victorian architect Sir Ernest George.

    March 18, 2020 at 6:05 am
  • Kath Manners

    Reply

    Thanks Katie for your continuing inspiration. I always look up when I am out and about in town and I will miss doing this very much during the ‘lock down’. I have done alot of drawings of fascinating buildings in London and it was also inspiring when I saw the film ‘Last Christmas’ where one of the lead characters encouraged us to ‘look up’ and see some strange and wonderful sights when we do!

    March 18, 2020 at 11:25 am
  • Rose Manley

    Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful article.
    I always thought that the enigmatic ballerina Margot Fonteyn lived here. Is there any truth to that? I always loved to imagine her dancing in front of those huge windows!

    March 18, 2020 at 1:26 pm
      • Sarah Venturi

        Reply

        Wonderful article, very interesting.. I heard the William Shakespeare had lived there for a little while , do you know if is true ?

        June 30, 2020 at 8:57 am
  • The First World War cartoonist Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather (1887-1959) who became world famous for his ‘Fragments from France’ cartoons depicting life at the front, and created the character Old Bill, was resident at 7 St Paul’s Studios from approx. 1917-19. I have letters written by him on notepaper featuring a cartoon of Old Bill peering out of an empty tin can, with the studio address on. I have spent 40 years researching him and his work and maintain the official Bruce Bairnsfather website and dedicated pages on social media. Have never visited St Paul’s Studios but know the story of them and enjoyed your post.

    May 11, 2020 at 10:09 pm
  • Jonathan Foreman

    Reply

    Pretty sure that the studios were built in connection with Alfred Waterhouse’s St Paul’s School which was across the road….

    May 12, 2020 at 12:09 am

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