XIX—NOS. 1 TO 6, POND SQUARE
NO. 1–6, POND SQUARE. FROM A DRAWING BY HANSLIP FLETCHER
These houses were originally copyhold of the Manor of Cantlowes but
have been enfranchised.
General Description and Date of Structure.
The houses numbered in Pond Square form a group to the west of
the site of the Ponds, and the southernmost house is named Rock House
from an occupant of the late 19th century. In a sketch of 1845 from the
George Potter Collection, now in the British Museum (Plate 87b), it is
named Harcourt House.
Its principal and entrance front is towards the south and it is
remarkable for the two large bay windows which project from the first floor
(Plate 90). These are both of canted form with three sash windows of equal
size, one filling each face and have white aprons contrasting well with the brick
background. Their boldness gives great character to the design, which is
considerably helped by a delightful doorcase of Doric three-quarter columns,
carrying sections of entablature with triglyphs and the sloping cornices of a
pediment. Beneath the bays are two sash windows, one each side of the door
(the western now hidden); between them one window and above them three in
the second storey. A simple wood railing guards the area to the basement and
returns upon the east front, which forms a plain rectangle, lighted on the
ground floor by a shallow bay window and by single sashes on first and second
The remainder of the row of houses which started from the south
with Rock House (No. 6) constitute the picturesque group shown in the
photograph on Plate 88a. Since then Nos. 1 and 2 have been partly
reconstructed, but Nos. 3, 4 and 5 remain in their original form. The two
latter have the broad-framed sashes of the first half of the 18th century;
the walls are built of red bricks mixed with dark headers, and the roofs are
tiled (see Plate 88b). The houses form a symmetrical pair with their doors,
protected by simple hoods on brackets, at each end of the building. The
rooms are lighted by one sash to each house on the ground floor, two on the
first, and a double dormer in the roof. Recessed panels mark the centre of
the pair on both floors, and projecting string courses occur above and below
the first-floor windows. The flues are grouped in one stack at the rear and the
front gardens are fenced with a simple iron railing and gate. The back
elevation has been partly rebuilt and one early window remains.
The group of houses, Nos. 1 to 6, Pond Square, and No. 45, South Grove, stand on a
piece of ground which appears to have been enclosed from Highgate Green in 1692, by Christopher
Ryles. It was then described as "a parcel of the waste on Highgate Hill at the north and east of the
Bowling Green, near the Pond, as now enclosed with a hedge." A cottage there is mentioned in 1739.
Robert Morgan of Highgate, bricklayer, acquired the land in 1750 from the heirs of John Croute,
tailor, to whom it had been conveyed in 1739 by Mary Johnson, widow, the daughter of Christopher
Ryles. The site of No. 6, Rock House, emerges from a tangle of records in the year 1777, when
Anne Morgan, daughter of Robert Morgan, sold to David Jones of Kentish Town (who owned the
Mother Red Cap) " a parcel of land formerly waste on which a messuage hath lately been erected
heretofore in the possession of — Wells." The house, then untenanted, was on ground where a
stable had stood, formerly in the possession of Robert Morgan. The successive owners after the
death of Mrs. Ann Jones, widow, were Mary Ann Durling, wife of John Durling, farmer, of
Brentwood (under the will of David Jones), Mary Durling (only child of Mary Ann Durling),
1819–23, John Vaux, widower of Mary Ann Vaux (née Durling), 1823–9, John Lowden and his
executors, 1829–41, John Matthias Clark, 1841–78, Mary Ann Clark (daughter of John Matthias
Clark, who married Henry Munday Clark), 1878–9. Mrs. Clark died on 16th June, 1879, leaving
seven sons, two under age.
For many years before 1820 the tenant of Rock House was Mrs. Deborah Ellison, daughter
of Richard Shillingford, carpenter, wife and then widow of John Ellison, mariner, who lived at
Pennington Street, St. George the Martyr, in 1787. The tenant before Mrs. Ellison was Elizabeth
Brownsworth, and after 1820 Thomas Brocksopp. The tenant from whom the house was named
appears to be recorded on a monument in Highgate Cemetery (ref. 25) to "Mary, wife of John Dennis
Rock, of Highgate." She died 2nd June, 1846, in the 42nd year of her age. In a publication called
Mons Sacer for July 1846, Vol. I, No. 1, we find recorded "Deaths,—18th June at Highgate, at the
house of her son in law, Mr. J. D. Rock, Mary, relict of the late Mr. Frederick Roope of London."
The adjoining houses, Nos. 1–5, Pond Square, and No. 45, South Grove, occupy land
that belonged to Richard Shillingford, carpenter, from 1760 to 1785. The house in which he
lived was on the site of Nos. 2 and 3, while the yard and garden attached to his house formed the
site on which were afterwards erected No. 1 and also No. 45, South Grove, adjoining the back
of No. 2. He bequeathed to his eldest son, Richard, property in Holloway and to his younger son,
John, the house in which he lived, which was occupied after his death in 1785 by his married
daughter, Susanna, wife of Robert Colpus, bricklayer. The name of Colpus as occupier last appears
in 1817, and his widow's in 1818. (ref. 42) The two houses adjoining Shillingford's own dwelling
house, Nos. 4 and 5, went to his two daughters, Mrs. Susanna Colpus and Mrs. Deborah Ellison,
the first-named becoming sole owner from 1787, when Mrs. Ellison surrendered hers to her sister.
Their brother John Shillingford lived in No. 1 next door to Mrs. Colpus.