Royal Society of Sculptors, Dora House

Repair and replacement of balconies

The Royal Society of Sculptors is an artist-led membership organisation. The rear of the building is a pair of early Georgian villas but the ornate front dates from 1885 to provide a grand and imposing studio for Victorian court photographers, Elliot and Fry. The architect was a young Scot, William Flockhart, whose design intended to reflect the end of the 16th and early 17th centuries. The building is red brick with a pair of steep, Flemish style gables and tall leaded light windows. Inside, the two ground floor rooms have plaster ceilings, stone fireplaces and strapwork panelling. A north-light studio was described as "one of the most architecturally perfect studios in London". In 1919, the sculptor Cecil Thomas (1885-1976) moved in, making Dora House his home and studio.

A conservation study in 2018 identified 117 urgent external defects. With the decline of Lottery funding in 2020, the project will now be phased. The first phase will address major defects: its chimneys, roof, façade (including the balconies, front wall and piers, broken windows), drainpipes and gutters to prevent further water ingress and the chimneys collapsing. Since the scaffold went up at the beginning of 2022 and it has been possible to access the upper levels, it is evident the stone around the gables is loose and could fall, stone window ledges are collapsing on the second floor and as the decorative metal railings were removed and cement render covering, the stone balconies beneath them have broken. Both stone balconies now require full replacement, as well as repairs to their ironwork and repainting.

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