31 MAY 1957, Page 12


I believe that the correct estate-agents' definition of a 'Mansion' is a house with back and front stairs, but what about 'Mansions' in the plural when applied to blocks of flats? One can date these by their names. The first mansions in London are said to be Queen Anne Mansions (1876), that hideous fourteen-storey block over- looking St. James's Park. 'Mansions,' however, mean good building and, that you are' not able to hear your neighbour's wireless in the next flat. 'Mansions' mean late Victorian or Edwardian red brick with bay windows, iron balconies, corner turrets and a slow, safe hydraulic lift. 'Gardens' are the surburban equivalent of 'Mansions.' The working-class equivalents of 'Mansions" are 'Buildings' or even 'Dwellings.' Late Edwardian and the early 1920s brought in 'Courts,' and today the more box-like, thin-walled and cramped is a new block of speculative flats the more high- sounding its name—'Close,' Cloister,"Garth' and 'Keep.' The working-class equivalent is airier, lighter and better planned and named after an immortal poet or less immortal Labour leader, economist or councillor.