Survey of London: Volume 17, the Parish of St Pancras Part 1: the Village of Highgate. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1936.
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XV—NOS. 52, 53 AND 54, SOUTH GROVE
Ground Landlords and Leaseholders.
General Description and Date of Structure.
No. 52, South Grove.
The plan of the front portion of this house is of a type which will be found repeated in several cases in South Grove (Plate 72). It consists of a narrow central entrance hall or passage containing the staircase with one large room on either side of it. The kitchen quarters of No. 52 are grouped at the back and contain several old features. The little apartment leading out of the present dining room on the east side and next to the gatehouse has been added subsequently to the erection of the centre portion of the house, but it was certainly built before the close of the 18th century. It appears in a sketch attached to a deed of 1813 referred to below. The chimneys are planned at either end of the main block, which is the usual arrangement in the village. The first-floor plan corresponds with the ground plan and there are attics in the roof. There is a lead cistern in the back quarters with the initials W. W. and the date 1789.
The elevation towards South Grove (Plates 71, 72) is finely designed and of a rather more pretentious character than that of some of the other houses in the neighbourhood. The central entrance with its six-panelled door is flanked by a pair of Doric pilasters carrying a pediment. The ground-floor windows on either side have flush frames and are set below arches of rubbed red brick over which is a string course formed by a projecting brick band. All the first-floor windows are square-headed under flat red-brick arches, except the central one, which is set in a slightly recessed semicircular arch which breaks the line of the main eaves cornice. The latter is well moulded and has modillions. The centre projects to carry a fine pediment over the three central windows. A plain brick parapet now rises above the cornice and stops against the sloping backs of the pediment. There are three flat-topped dormers in the roof.
In the Court Rolls for the year 1813 there is a rather elementary sketch attached to an entry recording an application for varying a right of way that originally passed in front of the house. Though the drawing is naive in character the elevations of Nos. 52, 53 and 54, South Grove, are quite recognisable. The pedimented head to the entrance doorway of No. 52 is clearly shown, but the main cornice and pediment appear to be omitted and there is a side door in place of the ground-floor window in the eastern annexe, which has a small gable instead of the present treatment. It is doubtful how much weight should be given to this evidence. The same drawing gives us the date of the lay-out of the garden in front and to the side of the house. Further information about the right of way will follow in the account of No. 53. The wrought-iron railings with cast vases and the gate with its graceful pilasters no doubt date from this period.
Attached to the side or end of the house within the garden is a charming porch or pedimented roof supported on a pair of wooden columns and corresponding pilasters against the wall. This porch affords access to the sitting room and to the kitchen quarters by two separate doors at right angles to one another. Both are glazed with stout glazing bars, but the one to the kitchen is boarded on the inside.
In the view of this porch (Plate 73) the rear portion of the house, which is of three storeys, can be seen; and to the left the low projecting scullery, which has a moulded eaves cornice and pantiled roof.
Amongst the principal features surviving in the interior is the staircase, which has a cut string with carved brackets and two balusters to each tread (Plates 75, 76, 77). The balusters to the basement stair are of a slightly different pattern. The twin newels are in the form of dwarf Doric columns. In the sitting room west of the entrance is an interesting chimney piece with a boldly carved panel and pediment. In the kitchen is a dresser which appears to have been shortened. It has shaped sides which support the shelves. There is also a fitted cupboard with panelled doors and fluted pilasters behind them, shaped shelving, and some early panelling, no doubt moved from other positions. Preserved in the garden porch is a piece of carving, with the date 1682, which came from Ashurst House.
Condition of Repair.
Nos. 53 and 54, South Grove.
These two houses (which, with No. 52, were at one time in the same ownership) were no doubt erected in 1729, the date marked on the lead rain-water head on the front. The initials IDE represent Joseph Davis and Eleanor his wife (Plate 79b).
The plan of No. 53 (the eastern house) was affected by the existence of the old right of way from South Grove to Hampstead Lane, which was varied in 1813 and was finally closed in the year 1919, at which time the land in front was also enclosed, having formerly been part of the waste of the Manor of Cantlowes. No. 53 has long been a school. The wash-houses projecting to the north (Plate 79a) and the school room on the eastern side of the right of way appear on the parish plan of 1804. The former originally consisted of a weather-boarded structure which has since been rebuilt in brick. The school was taken over by Dr. A. E. C. Dickinson in 1885, who had both houses and connected them by cutting doorways through at the different floor levels.
The entrance doorway to No. 53 leads into an oblong hall with a semicircular niche centrally placed on the opposite wall. Adjoining is an opening leading into a smaller staircase hall with flights leading to the upper floors and the basement. There is a secondary stair also of interest at the opposite end of the house adjoining the right of way. The back room is quite effective and gives little evidence of the rather unusual planning of the fireplace and recesses. On the first and second floors the arrangement of the principal rooms is a repetition of those below. The attic storey was not added till 1858.
No. 54 is a smaller house though somewhat similar in plan. The entrance, however, is not in its original position. In the sketch attached to the application of 1813 already referred to, the entrance door is shown in the position occupied by the westernmost window of the front room and not as now in a side annexe. It should be noted, however, that some form of annexe certainly existed in 1813, but for what purpose is not clear.
The front and back elevations of both houses are of stock brick with slightly projecting bands to mark the floor levels, the dividing line between the two houses being emphasised by an original rain-water pipe. On each floor is a recess corresponding with the window openings which have flat arched heads of red brick with similar dressings. There are five of these on each floor to No. 53, and three to No. 54, the centre windows of each house (on the first and second floors) being emphasised by a bracket ornament cut on the surface of the arches. None of the original sash bars remain. The back elevation shows more change, and the variation in the arrangement of its windows, due to the position of the stairs, can be seen in Plate 79a.
The entrance to No. 53 has a fine porch with a pair of slender wooden columns on pedestals and corresponding panelled pilasters against the wall face. The columns carry an entablature and pediment. The six-panelled door is set within an arched opening with pilasters and a fanlight over (Plate 82).
The entrance door of No. 54 is also panelled and is set within two unusually narrow fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals, over which are carved brackets supporting a moulded hood. The architrave of the frame curves upwards to the centre of the frieze. The fanlight is glazed in vertical divisions with slender metal bars.
The interior of No. 53 is almost certainly panelled throughout though every room has been canvased and papered with the exception of the entrance hall. In the basement are several ledged and moulded battened doors having a variety of hinges. There is also an early 18th-century dresser of simple design with shaped ends to the shelving. Its back is made up with Jacobean panelling.
The entrance hall is panelled in the 18th-century manner. The niche, semicircular in plan, opposite to the entrance door is flanked by a pair of panelled pilasters and has a semicircular arched head with key block, an additional pair of smaller pilasters framing the upper part (Plate 81 and p. 98).
The principal staircase has continuous strings and spiral balusters; the newel posts are also spiral of good design, and the moulded hand-rail butts against the newel of the ascending flight without a ramp. The dado panelling on the staircase walls follows the line of the balustrading.
The secondary stair is also of interest and being fitted into a series of rather irregular spaces affords considerable variety in design. On the lower flights the balusters, partly spiral and partly turned and moulded, are grouped three to each step. The newel posts are turned shafts with delicately moulded caps and bases, and the hand-rail follows round as a capping. Above the first floor the stair reverts to the continuous string.
In No. 54 the chief feature is the stair, which is severely simple with continuous moulded strings, plain turned balusters, square newels and hand-rail without ramps (Plates 83, 84). The walls have a panelled dado corresponding to the balustrade. The panelling to the ground-floor rooms is modern in part, and only in the case of the secondfloor front room does the panelling remain intact, in the others it is partially concealed. A good 18th-century dresser has been moved from the basement to the modern kitchen.
Condition of Repair.
These houses stand on land enclosed from Highgate Green in the middle of the 17th century. The land attached to them extends across the parish boundary northwards into Hornsey, a boundary which is of historical importance, because it was also the boundary of the Bishop of London's Park of Harringay, of which the portion from North Road and North Hill westward was called the Great Park, distinguishing it from Hornsey Little Park eastward of that thoroughfare. A road must always have run from the Gatehouse to the Spaniards (these two houses representing entrances to the Park where tolls were levied), but the present road was made at the end of the 18th century, when the old road, following the parish boundary, was diverted.
In 1659 William Crosse acquired from the widow and son of Robert Harrison, gardener, a cottage then lately divided into two tenements on the waste, and a garden containing from east to west 58 feet, and from north to south 25 feet adjoining the cottage on the east side (the messuage of Edward Baker being upon the west side and the messuage of Anthony Turner upon the east side). Before dealing with the estate of William Crosse we will trace the "messuage of Anthony Turner," now represented by No. 52, South Grove. In 1656 it was found that Anthony Turner had erected two messuages and enclosed the waste. Remembering that Thomas Collett, the steward of the manor, lived within a stone's throw of this house, and that he in this same year presided at the manor court that "found" the encroachments of himself, Mr. Turner, and his neighbours, it is evident that the formal presentment in court was no more than the first step in giving a legal title to the land, following a prearranged bargain with the lord of the manor (and possibly the Vestry). We are witnessing here a process that went on for centuries as population increased, and with that increased population the demand for dwelling places. The next step was in 1663 when Mr. Turner was granted another piece of the waste measuring from east to west 88½ feet, and from north to south 29½ feet. From him it passed successively to his daughter, Judith Barnes, widow (1680), her daughter, Dorothy Clenell, wife of Alexander Clenell (1690), and the children of Dorothy Clenell (1736), it being sold by the last-mentioned owners in 1750 to Benjamin Colborne, apothecary. So far all those mentioned appear to have dwelt in the house, which evidently took the place of the two houses previously there. In 1771 Mr. Colborne took out a licence to lease "a messuage near the Gatehouse" to William Wetherall, apothecary, for 21 years. From the year 1750 the house has remained the home of medical men, Mr. Wetherall being the first of several generations of that name. Mr. Colborne went away to live at Bath and sold the house to Mr. Wetherall in 1788. In 1813 a considerable alteration was made in front of the house, as shown on the sketch reproduced on p. 96. In his petition for permission to divert the footpath, Mr. Wetherall stated he was the owner of a house adjoining the Gatehouse, and of two other houses in the respective occupations of Lewis Beauvais and William Barron towards the west (the present Nos. 53 and 54, South Grove). There was a footpath from the Gatehouse to a house of Lord Southampton, then lately occupied by Edward Simeon, esquire, at the corner of Hampstead Lane, running immediately in front of his house and the other two, but used only by persons resorting to the premises of Lord Southampton and the others mentioned. It lay lower than the adjoining gardens, and in wet weather was in a very bad state, scarcely passable and consequently requiring continual repair. Being a private road the parish had refused to repair it, and this expense had consequently fallen on him. He submitted that it would be a great convenience to himself and the adjoining occupiers and no sort of inconvenience to the public if he were permitted to throw the existing footpath into his garden and instead thereof to make and keep in repair a path or footway to run parallel with the trees described in the sketch as shown by the dotted lines. This was agreed to at a court held at the Angel on 21st April, 1813. It was arranged that Lord Southampton should enclose part of the piece of ground formerly in the occupation of John Sanders and, in return, agree to the making of the present open space in front of the house, giving up his rights therein.
The house still remains in the hands of William Wetherall's descendants, having descended to his son William Roundell Wetherall, surgeon (1814), and Nathaniel Thomas Wetherall (1832), son of the last named. It was leased from the Misses Wetherall in 1898 by Dr. F. H. Crowdy, surgeon, who lived there until his death in 1926.
The two houses Nos. 53 and 54, South Grove, first came into one ownership in 1714, when Joseph Davis, junior, draper, of Aldgate, who then owned a cottage formerly occupied by Robert Blockley, and two tenements, a messuage, etc. (the first mentioned being on the land mentioned above as belonging to Edward Baker to the west of William Crosse's house in 1659, and the second being the premises previously of William Crosse, between the houses of Baker and Turner), also acquired a house occupied by Ralph Thompson, formerly belonging to Edward Baker. Taking the house of Edward Baker first, we find that in 1656 he had built two houses and enclosed part of the waste, and two years later was granted a piece of the waste measuring 99 feet by 49½ feet. This he leased to Christopher Keemer, gentleman, of Highgate, in 1658, and obtained a further piece of the common in 1663 containing 115 feet on the north, 128 feet on the south, 62 feet west, and 33 feet east. Christopher Keemer acquired the whole from Edward Baker in 1663, and conveyed one of the houses in 1680 to Moses Cooke, cordwainer, of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. The premises were described as a messuage late erected at Highgate, heretofore in the occupation of John Gannock, now of Anne Traherne, widow, and a parcel of waste on which the said messuage was erected. Moses Cooke conveyed them to Joseph Davis in 1714, the occupier then being Ralph Thompson. The other house of Mr. Keemer went, at his death (1696), to his daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Robert Blockley of Highgate, yeoman, and from them in 1700 to Moses Cooke of Holborn, spurrier, who conveyed it to Joseph Davis in 1703.
William Crosse, infant son of William Crosse, deceased, was granted in 1664 a further piece of the common containing from east to west 68 feet and from north to south 27 feet, which was conveyed in 1679 by William Crosse of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, ironmonger, to John Saunders, gardener, of Fryern Barnet, and Elizabeth his wife, with a cottage thereon. There was also another enclosure four poles square, made by Robert Harrison, which he conveyed to John Collett in 1660, who conveyed it to Pemberton in 1676. The latter conveyed it to Joseph Palmer in 1677. It was conveyed by Palmer to Saunders in 1679. John Sanders or Saunders in 1690 conveyed to John Hardrett, citizen and barber surgeon of London, a parcel of waste on Highgate Green four poles square, heretofore enclosed by William Harryson, and a parcel of the waste containing from east to west 4 poles 2 feet, and from north to south 27 feet and a cottage thereon lately erected. This also was acquired by Joseph Davis from John Hardrett in 1706, and the initials of himself and his wife Eleanor appear on a rain-water head in front. When Mr. Davis died his widow succeeded under his will (1732) to a cottage of Robert Blockley, a messuage late of John Sanders and a messuage formerly of Ralph Thompson. These were conveyed in 1750 by Peter Storer, acting as executor of Eleanor Davis, to Benjamin Colborne, and remained in the same ownership as No. 52 until 1843. In 1771 Benjamin Colborne took out a licence to lease these houses for 21 years. In 1813 William Wetherall had licence to lease No. 53 to Louis Beauvais for 21 years, and No. 54 to William Barron for 21 years. In 1801 the occupiers were Ann Burwood and Ann Pointer. Ann Burwood was followed by J. A. Wardell in 1804–6; James Kearsley, 1807–9; and William Barron in 1810. In 1817 Michael Grayhurst was there. He was succeeded by his widow, apparently in 1843. Ann Pointer at No. 53 (the school) was succeeded by Francis Tweedel in 1805–6, after which it stood empty for two years until the advent of Louis Beauvais in 1809. In 1817 the occupier was John Bassi, who remained until 1824. In 1831 James Fenner appears. (fn. 42)
In 1842 Nathaniel Thomas Wetherall, surgeon, of Highgate, and Louisa Mary, his wife, sold to Charles Dix of No. 135, Windmill Street, Gravesend, gentleman, and Charles James Fenner of Park House, Hampton Wick, schoolmaster, two houses, one in the occupation of Mrs. Grayhurst and the other of Zachariah Fenner, schoolmaster, and two stables occupied by Mrs. Grayhurst, and a building partly occupied by Zachariah Fenner as a school room and partly by Nathaniel Thomas Wetherall as a coachhouse and stable, and separated from the house occupied by Zachariah Fenner by a narrow passage leading from the Grove to Hampstead Lane, but connected with Fenner's house by a way or gallery built over the passage. This passage, which used to be open to the public, was closed in 1919. The house continued to be occupied as Grove House School until December, 1930.