Compton House (1)
Church Street, Liverpool L1

Picture by Pat Neill

Currently occupied by Marks & Spencer. Compton House is the rather haughty building opposite Spinney House. It was built in 1865 for the retailer J.R. Jeffrey, after an earlier building burned down. The scale of this building, originally erected for one retailer, gives the building a unique international status as a contender for the world's first department store as it precedes Bon Marche in Paris by five years. The two corner towers originally had very tall square plan rooves (as tall as the fifth story again) which were neither mansard nor spired but something odd in between. This gave the building something of the look of a French chateau. There is much carved decoration which Pevsner attributes to 'Messrs Williams'. This includes a figure of commerce above a broken pediment that once surmounted a single central entrance and Neptune, holding an intact trident, together with a triton, flanking Liverpool's Coat Of Arms at the mid point of the roof line. The Arms Of Dominion supported by a lion and a unicorn amid rich modelling adorn the Basnett Street corner. This is the coat of arms of the United Kingdom and the reigning monarch. This usually incorporates the motto Dieu Et Mon Droit God And My Right. Although worn and obscured the motto here is clearly not that of the monarch. On the Tarleton Street corner there is a large eagle which was a beacon for transatlantic travellers seeking the company of fellow Americans in Compton's Hotel, a subsequent use of part of the building after J.R. Jeffrey's had failed. At the time of writing, Marks and Spencer are expecting to vacate the building for a fairly lengthy period whilst it undergoes major refurbishment.

Pevsner Architectural Guides; Liverpool by Joseph Sharples
The Little Book of Liver Birds by David Cottrell

Alan Maycock 2008

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