Charles Brooking


  Rescuing including donations from

St Paul's Cathedral

charles brooking


Charles Brooking is a fascinating and knowledgeable collector of architectural detail, The Brooking Collection of Architectural Detail, and as Surveyors we find his lifelong quest to collect British building details unique, informative and valuable and a collection that must be kept intact for years to come. If you need help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, dilapidations or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424.

The following is one of a series of interviews with Charles Brooking, Historic and Listed Buildings Detail Expert, The Brooking Collection of Architectural Detail and a Surveyor where we have recorded his comments and various aspects that have affected windows and doors and other collectibles. The interviews outline how his collection started and built over the years and gives an insight into the amazing architectural features housed in his fine collection.

Surveyor: How did you obtain donations from Sir Christopher Wren's magnificent St Paul 's Cathedral?

Charles Brooking: Through a friend I met a gentleman who worked at St Paul 's Cathedral in 1977 and two windows were donated from St Paul 's dating back to the 1700s. Another thrilling architectural rescue.

charles brooking

Rescue defined

Charles Brooking defines a rescue as saving a window or door or staircase that would be doomed.

Charles Brooking was a pioneer in the rescue of architectural detailing as many years ago it was very much considered a strange and an unusual past time to want to rescue old parts of buildings with everything new and shiny being so important.

Surveyor: I understand you met with renowned architect Dan Cruickshank?

Charles Brooking: I met Dan Cruickshank at that time through an article in the Architects Journal on salvage. He was an architect working in the architectural press in Queen Anne's Gate and he wrote an article on me. I was working in British Rail in the architects department at Paddington where there was much teasing about my interest as I used to bring newel posts and bits and pieces back at lunchtime from sites!

charles brooking
charles brooking

I was doing rescues around London from around 1975 to 1978 almost every lunch time and had a taxi driver friend who was helpful in transporting me and my finds across town.

Rescue defined

Charles Brooking defines a rescue as saving a window or door or staircase that would be doomed.

I would go out at lunchtime and travel to Tavistock Crescent in Notting Hill, or Westbourne Park , which had many derelict 1860's houses with some of them furnished from top to bottom with Victorian architectural details.

Ruthless demolition of the 1970's and bringing windows home on the train!

Surveyor: So, this took place in the boom of the early 70's, before people really thought about refurbishing properties?

charles brooking

Charles Brooking: Yes, they were beginning, but very ruthlessly. Places like North Paddington , I suppose, Cleveland Square had been done, but they were gutting the houses. I went round houses in Cleveland Square and I retrieved margin light sash windows; the foreman would give me them for a fiver. I'd get the grates as well; find that the actual register grates. I used to get my taxi driver friend, to come up and he would drive up with his black cab and help me collect my finds.

Surveyor: Because you weren't driving at the time?   

Charles Brooking: I didn't drive. I tried to drive a manual, but couldn't cope, which was annoying living in White Lane . I was very ashamed of the fact that I didn't drive and very frustrated, but I was terrified and, of course, I don't think you could take tests in automatic cars then, it wasn't suggested anyway - it should have been!

charles brooking

Surveyor: You mentioned once trying to take, was it a window home on a train? 

Charles Brooking: Well I took a fan light home on the train and I've taken a hob grate home on the train once in 1978/79 with a fellow passenger saying that he thought the fire's gone out mate! I was sitting there with this hob grate from 99 Gloucester Place , which was taken out; next door, or part of the house, where Elizabeth Browning's family lived!

charles brooking

If you found this article on The Brooking Collection of Architectural Detail interesting you may also be interested in the following articles on our website:

Major Rescue at Cornwall Terrace
French Drains
Georgian and Regency Properties and their Common Problems
Lime Mortar


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, dilapidations or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.

Commercial Property Surveyors

If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

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