Enter Percy & Founders, an up-market restaurant in Fitzrovia, London, and one is suffused in the warmth of Oak. It’s everywhere! The ceilings, floors, pillars and much of the furniture have the same fawn-coloured timber occasionally relieved by marble and other ceramics. Whilst the ceiling are parallels of plank, the floors contrast with over-sized parquet.
The restaurant opened in 2015 in a new development. One of the problems of new builds is the extensive use of concrete. Being a water-based medium, it takes time to dry and, as we know, damp is no friend of wood. The other problem in new constructions is the host of subcontractors involved: plasterers, plumbers, electricians and so on. These people have to work to the project manager’s plan. In addition, the timber, and there would be plenty of it, has to be stored in areas not always convenient for some of the trades working there.
The hardwood for the floor was supplied by The Solid Wood Flooring Company, a family run business and a leader in its field. It manufactures hardwood flooring products from exclusively ecological forests from around the world. Lightly fumed and smoked square edged Oak parquet with a raw timber finish was supplied for the floor.
The fitting was completed by HS Wood Flooring who were brought into the project by London Interiors. Tim Hobern, managing director of HS Wood Flooring, recalls a tricky project that went well and pleased the restaurant owners. “The timber was left to acclimatise for three weeks before we could start but during this period we attended the Project Manager’s meetings to ensure we worked hand in glove with the other trades and to make sure they complied with our needs. Those three weeks also gave us time to build a team of trusted people. The ceramic areas were fitted first and we had to lay the parquet blocks so they not only butted up perfectly with each other and the ceramics but work harmoniously with the overall floor pattern”.
Although the supplied wood had already been treated, HS Wood Flooring applied its own hard wax oil to give additional protection to a floor that would take a lot of punishment over the coming years.
Like any work of art, provenance is key. To find the provenance behind the restaurant, Percy & Founders, we must go back to 1757. That was the year the Middlesex Hospital moved from Windmill Street to Mortimer Street in Central London. The hospital was founded by Hugh Percy, Earl of Northumberland, president of the hospital and whose family name recurs time and again through British History, as Hotspur in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1.
Founders refers to the other benefactors who paid for the creation of the hospital.
In 1890, a small chapel, was built as an adjunct to the hospital but curiously never consecrated. When the hospital building was demolished in 2008, the chapel was spared as a Grade II listed building. The chapel’s interior can be viewed through a Gothic-style ecclesiastical window in the restaurant, a nod to London’s many architectural oddities.
There is another curiosity to be found in Percy & Founders: a huge pair of paintings entitled the Acts of Mercy. These are faithful copies; the originals, by Frederick Cayley Robinson on loan to the National Gallery, were part of a series completed in 1920 and once hung in the hospital.
HS Wood Flooring were recommended by The Solid Wood Floor Company and the work they did encouraged Martyn Ryder, Managing Director, to say: “It is refreshing to find someone who understands wood as I do, then do me the ultimate complement of laying our products so beautifully. His floors in Percy & Founders also demonstrate a wonderful eye for the smallest detail as well as the grand design”.