Barbara Follett said:
“M&S is one of this country’s most well-known and best-loved retailers. The classical facade of the Pantheon store provides a beautiful focal point for the lower end of Oxford Street and is the principal surviving part of the shop. Sadly, the beautiful interior has been lost but it is fitting that we preserve the exterior of this wonderful building, and all the more so to do so in the 125th anniversary of the company’s founding. I am therefore very pleased to announce that: this is not just any listed building, this is an M&S listed building.”
Emily Gee, English Heritage’s Heritage Protection team leader for the South region said:
“With Oxford Street being one of the most vibrant streets in capital, architectural jewels such as the façade of this building can be too easily overlooked. But look up! The impressive and decorative front is a fantastic and seductive part of Oxford Street’s heritage, and makes an invaluable contribution to London’s premier retail destination. Marks and Spencer are wholeheartedly embracing their heritage at the moment, and English Heritage is delighted that our recommendation to recognise the architectural and historic interest of the building by listing, has been endorsed by the Secretary of State. In economically uncertain times such as these, a retailer that embraces the significance of its heritage shows an understanding of how important the nation’s shared past is to us all – English Heritage is delighted to have played a part in this celebration.”
Although the Marks and Spencer store in Marble Arch was, and remains, their flagship London store, the Pantheon was the most lavish of their regular stores and a shining example of the company’s expansion during the 1920s and 30s. Other chain stores had been developing an in-house style for their branches during this time, but Lutyens created something different for Marks and Spencer. He devised a generic design for new shops, also allowing for the adaptation of existing stores, which would ensure the house style was continued throughout all Marks and Spencer stores. This dispensed with the need for a new design for every store as the formula for a house-style could simply be applied to any site where a new store was being opened.
The Pantheon was one of only two branches of Marks and Spencer’s where highly-polished black ‘ebony’ granite slabs were used instead of artificial stone – a reflection of the store’s importance. Originally, the Pantheon’s interior was lavishly decorated with walnut counters and wall panelling, teak doors, oak block floors and coffered ceilings, all of which has unfortunately now been lost.
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