Cecil Sharp House, Camden, London

Henry Martineau Fletcher
Date Built
Regent's Park Road & Gloucester Avenue
This Grade II listed building occupies a triangular shaped site at the junction of Regent's Park Road and Gloucester Avenue, in Camden.  It was built originally in 1929 and dedicated to Cecil Sharp in honour of his work in restoring the heritage of country songs and dance.  At the time of his death Sharp had been the Director of the English Folk Dance Society.  The building is faced in Staffordshire brick with stone dressings around the doors.

The London Open House website carried a description of the inside of the building.  It said that, "The building was thought to be very modern in construction. Contemporary architectural journals saw this as an indication of the forward thinking of the Folk Society.  The ground floor was raised to enable natural light to shine into the basement, which housed the two smaller classrooms, changing rooms and buffet. The window glass was called ‘Vita’ glass, which was reported to have health giving properties as it let in ultra-violet rays. ... The main dance space, Kennedy Hall, has a sprung floor and the original wood was Kauripine. Initially, there was a ‘minstrel’s gallery’ with carvings by William Simmonds of the Art Workers’ Guild. The ceiling and walls had one of the earliest acoustic treatments by Hope Bagenal who was a friend of Fletcher, the architect. Hope Bagenal was one of the first architects to be interested in the problem of acoustics."

Beside the entrance steps are three commemorative stone blocks.

During the bombing of World War II the building suffered extensive damage including the destruction of the gallery in Kennedy Hall.  In 1948 J. Eastwick-Field was appointed as the architect to lead the restoration of the building.  The London Open House website explains that, "The new architects preserved much of the character of the original design, but added a storey and modified the interior in an effort to capture the present spirit of architectural aesthetics and of the Society. In the absence of the gallery, the artist Ivon Hitchen was commissioned to create a mural on the blank wall, reflecting the forms and fluid movements of folk dance."

The block below reads "The building was partly destroyed by enemy action in September 1940 and after being rebuilt and extended was reopened by HRH Princess Margaret on the 5th of June 1951."

The English Folk Dance and Song Society describe Cecil Sharp House as, "A world-class dedicated folk arts centre ... (that) ... exists to serve its wide and diverse audiences - engaging with art lovers (oft times folk art lovers) through unique and inspiring artistic events, and creative learning. ... One of the most legendary and historic venues in London, Cecil Sharp House has served as a location for films, television programmes and fashion shoots. The roster is packed with barn dances, ceilidhs, traditional folk luminaries and the occasional ukulele shenanigan. The House has also played host to some of the biggest names in folk and popular music including Martin & Eliza Carthy, Davy Graham, Mumford & Sons, Bellowhead, Laura Marling, Graham Coxon, and Goldfrapp."

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