XIV.—No. 21 LOWER MALL
Ground landlord, leaseholders, etc.
Ground landlord: H. C. Joscelyn, Esq.
Leaseholders: Messrs. William Taylor and Co.
General description and date of structure.
There is no documentary evidence as to the date of this house, but it
can scarcely be later than the early years of the 18th century, and may indeed
have been first built before the reign of Queen Anne. Its character has
been considerably altered since, and were it not for its fine cornice and tiled
roof it would appear to be a late Georgian building.
It is a compact, square-built house of two storeys, with rooms in the
roof lighted by two dormer windows on both the north and south side.
The windows have been modernised, and the circular-headed entrance doorway lacks whatever porch or hood formerly adorned it. In the 18th century
the room to the west of the entrance was extended on the ground floor,
and curiously overlaps a part of the adjoining vicarage, which was formerly
in the same ownership. The old wall was not removed below the ground
floor, and can still be seen in the basement. More modern extensions on
the east side and various internal rearrangements have been made to convert
the building into the present business offices.
There is a good deal of interesting detail left in the interior of the
house, dating mainly from the period of George I. In the dining-room is a
good chimney-piece of wood which may be earlier. It has a heavy cornice
with enriched bed moulding, elaborately carved frieze, ending in scrolls,
and an architrave with egg and tongue ornament, and mitred ears, enclosing
a stone surround. There is an excellent staircase (Plate 43) within
panelled walls, and several of the rooms—notably that on the north side of
the ground floor—retain their panelling and deep cornices. The stair is
designed on generous lines as regards its size and the strength of its materials;
it is approached through an archway with a key block carved on each face.
In one of the rooms is a delightful fireplace of the Adam period; with
pilasters having characteristic composite capitals, and a frieze carved in light
relief with figure and other subjects. Over the garden door is a fanlight of
similar date, with bars and bosses of cast lead.
Condition of repair.
On 31st March, 1746, John Cartwright is admitted to this property and to that adjoining
it on the west, i.e. the present vicarage. He surrendered the whole to Thomas Clarke in 1756,
who left the portion on which No. 21 stands to Sarah Clarke, presumably his widow. Her
daughter married the Rev. Phipps Weston, who eventually surrendered the property in 1793
to the Rev. Cecil Taylor and Thomas Lane. In the entry in the Court Rolls relating to the
last transaction, the house is referred to as "late in the occupation of Sarah Clarke and abutting west on a house and garden formerly in the occupation of Lady Bridget Williams," who,
as we shall see, was an early tenant of the vicarage. A tablet to Thomas Clarke and Sarah
his wife is to be seen in the Parish Church (see p. 24).
It may be worth noting that a slip of land, between the river and the footway of the
Lower Mall, but lying west of the vicarage, went with the property. From an entry in the
Court Rolls in 1786 under the name of Thomas Clarke we learn that it was bounded north
by the "common footpath," south by the river, west by the common sewer and east by the
wharf, which itself adjoined the vicarage on the east. It is noticeable that the piece of land
between the footway and the river immediately in front of the vicarage is unoccupied, and was
no doubt part of the property belonging to the house. How far westward Clarke's plot of
land was situated it is not possible to determine. A shed, formerly a cottage, is described as
standing on the site, references to which can be traced back in the Court Rolls to the year 1719,
when it is described as formerly occupied by William Pooke.
In the Council's ms. collection are:
(fn. 1) Plans of the house, with No. 22 (measured drawing).
(fn. 1) Staircase (measured drawing).
(fn. 1) View from the south (photograph).
Another view from the south (photograph).
(fn. 1) North front, with No. 22 (photograph).
(fn. 1) Detail of cornice (photograph).
(fn. 1) Fireplace in dining-room (photograph).
(fn. 1) Fireplace in reception-room (photograph).