COMPANION

Ashley Place

16, Ashley Place, London SW1, was F. M. Alexander’s home and teaching practice from 1911 until his death in 1955.

History

F. M. Alexander first lived in 1, Army and Navy Mansions, 109 Victoria Street, between his arrival in London in 1904 and 1911. He would have moved to Ashley Place in 1911.[1] After he purchased the country house Penhill in 1924, he would generally stay at Penhill at weekends and holidays. Some time in the 1940s, possibly after his stroke in December 1947, he would stay at Evelyn Mansions, where Margaret Goldie had a flat and provided him with a bedroom.

The main room was used for Alexander’s teaching, and one of the other rooms (see plan below) became A. R. Alexander’s teaching room (1912?-1934). The little school was housed at Ashley Place 1924-34 (after which it moved to Penhill). The training course also used a room from 1931 onwards. The sitting room doubled up as the student room in the early days of the training course.

Upon Alexander’s death in October 1955, the four teachers (Margaret Goldie, Walter Carrington, John Skinner, Irene Stewart) who taught at Ashley Place at that time continued their teaching until April 1956 while Alexander’s Estate was wound up. They moved to Bainbridge Street, and Beaumont Alexander (F. M. Alexander’s youngest brother) and Patrick Macdonald took over Ashley Place and started The Alexander Foundation. Macdonald started giving individual lessons 6th April 1956 and started running a training course from 1957 onwards.

The building was demolished in 1969 or 1970 along with neighbouring houses, and replaced by a modern office building.

There are almost no pictures of the interior of Ashley Place, and no picture of the complete building from the outside. The below picture is of a painting by Ruth Beardmore (the whereabouts of the original is not known), showing F. M. Alexander in his teaching room at Ashley Place.

 

Fig. 1. F. M. Alexander in his teaching room at Ashley Place.[2]

Fig. 2. This picture shows Walter Carrington, Irene Stewart and John Skinner on the steps of Ashley Place, September 1950.[3]

Fig. 3. The plan was drawn by the children of the Little School. It also shows the room for Alexander’s man servant, Leonard.[4]

Fig. 4. Aerial view of Ashley Place (source unknown).

References

[1] Frederick Matthias Alexander – A Family History by Jackie Evans (Phillimore & Co., 2001), pp. 149-50.
[2] The Universal Constant in Living by F. Matthias Alexander (Mouritz, 2000), endpapers.
[3] Photo from the archives of the Walter Carrington Educational Trust.
[4] The Alexander Times Vol. 2: 1933-1934 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 2017), p. 98.