Survey of London Monograph 11, Eastbury Manor House, Barking. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1917.
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The record of Eastbury Manor House as presented in these pages is not merely the eleventh of the Committee's Historical Monographs,—those responsible for it have a particular object in view; it is intended to reinforce the very strong appeal that is being made for funds to purchase and preserve this beautiful building. When the propriety of continuing its publications during the present world-conflict was discussed by the Committee, what weighed most in the balance was the grave danger which even now is threatening many of our own national and historical memorials. Even when we are condemning an enemy's ruthless vandalism in France and Belgium the ancient buildings of our Capital and of Greater London enjoy no immunity from danger, and to be consistent we must not cease to combat the forces of destruction at home, although they may proceed from mere thoughtlessness and ignorance rather than from a considered policy of evil.
The last year or so has seen the quiet row of early eighteenth-century houses in Old Queen Street, Westminster, swept away, while Queen Anne's Gate itself has been threatened. Bolingbroke House, Battersea, is to be given over to the housebreakers. Even our sacred buildings are not safe; a direct attack on the mediæval church of St. Olave, Hart Street—linked so closely with the name of Pepys—was happily averted only just in time. These considerations and the news of the sale of Eastbury Manor House—long neglected, but so greatly prized by all who know its value—determined the Committee to press on with its work, and the choice of the subject for the present volume was immediately made.
We are glad to be able to state that the new owner of Eastbury is quite in sympathy with the scheme which has been formulated for the repair of the building and its preservation in trust for the nation. He has offered very generous terms for its purchase, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has undertaken the task of raising the money in order that the house and grounds may be conveyed to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. Some £3,000 will be required to purchase and fit the building for some worthy public object, and now that the opportunity has occurred which all lovers of architecture have desired ever since W. H. Black wrote his account of the house in 1834, it is of the utmost importance that the scheme should be carried through without delay. With judicious repair Eastbury can be saved, and we hope that everyone who is able, and whom these pages remind of the value of the object in view, will aid according to his means. In these days of change every bit of Old England is worthy of preservation, and it is not often that an opportunity occurs of preserving for all time so complete and striking an example of a Tudor manor house.
Pictorial records of Eastbury are fairly numerous, and a list of them is given in the Bibliography here printed. Thomas Hutchings Clarke contributed a fine series of measured drawings and views to a book produced jointly with W. H. Black in 1834. A competition, held under the auspices of the Royal Institute of British Architects, for measured drawings illustrating the restoration of Eastbury occurred in 1871–72, at the instance of Mr. H. W. Peek, M.P. (Hon. Fellow R.I.B.A.), who offered prizes of £42 and £20. Mr. T. E. C. Streatfeild won the first prize, and his historical essay was published in the R.I.B.A. Transactions for 8 April, 1872. Mr. P. J. Marvin was the second prize winner, and his drawings have since appeared in the Architectural Association Sketch Book, 1903, 3rd Series, vol. vii. Medals of merit were awarded to Mr. H. Avern and to the late Mr. Walter L. Spiers, who was an enthusiastic member of our Committee, and whose recent death we have had to deplore. One of Mr. Avern's drawings appeared in the Architectural Association Sketch Book, 1871–72, vol. vi, and Mr. Spiers' original drawings are preserved in his brother's collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington. One of our present active members was also a competitor, Mr. Robert Pearsall, who claims to have been first on the scene at Eastbury, and who has preserved some interesting notes of the buildings.
The Committee has been fortunate in obtaining for the purposes of the present volume a new and complete set of drawings by Mr. Hubert V. C. Curtis, who has kindly placed them at our disposal for reproduction. Such features as have vanished from the house are here shown from the drawings of T. H. Clarke, and are reproduced from the copy of this rare book, which has been lent to the Committee by Mr. C. J. Dawson, of Barking. For one or two further illustrations we are indebted to Messrs. B. T. Batsford, who have permitted their reproduction from Messrs. Garner and Stratton's "Tudor Architecture." Mr. Marvin has lent his plan of the house and garden. The sincere thanks of the Committee are due to these gentlemen, and also to the Chairman and Members of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) for permission to use a photograph of the paintings which are still visible on the walls of the room over the old hall. The bibliography has been prepared by Mr. George Clinch.
It will be easily understood that the production of this volume under present conditions has not been free from difficulty. We had to find time and money when our chief energies were absorbed in the great national effort which the European war calls forth. It will therefore not be considered out of place if I express my satisfaction at the unhesitating support which has been received from members of the Committee. The special fund for the production of the volume received an immediate and gratifying response from a large number of our supporters, and the active workers have tried hard to produce a worthy record. That these efforts shall bear fruit in the permanent preservation of the building is their earnest wish.