Survey of London: Volume 26, Lambeth: Southern Area. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1956.
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Owing to the paucity of records for the period it is not clear why the lands which Noel de Caron purchased from the Fosters should have been escheated by the Lords of the Manor of Vauxhall, whereas his other property was not. From 1661 (fn. 141) or earlier, the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury leased the escheated lands together under the name of “The Vauxhall Escheat” for terms of 21 years. At the end of the 18th century their lessee was Benjamin White, bookseller, of Fleet Street. After his death in 1794 his trustees were granted a new lease, and in 1810 they and the Dean and Chapter obtained an Act of Parliament enabling them to grant building leases of the Escheat and two acres of enclosed waste land which had been added to it. (fn. 142) The Act provided for building leases to be granted for 98 years, though the term of the trustees' lease was to remain at 21 years. A great deal of trouble had been caused by a similar arrangement in the Dean and Chapter's neighbouring Manor of Walworth, where the head lessees had granted building leases for longer terms than they themselves possessed. (fn. 143) A clause was therefore inserted in this Act permitting the renewal, every seven years, of the head lease for a term of 21 years without the validity of the building leases being affected. The head lease was to end, however, as the building leases fell in, and the property was to revert to the Dean and Chapter. The rents were to be divided, one half to go to the Dean and Chapter and one half to White's trustees. Probably owing to the smallness of the plots the trustees were unsuccessful in letting the estate, and in 1820 they asked, and received, permission to sell their interest. This was done in May 1821, (fn. 89) but even then building development did not follow immediately on all the plots.
THE TRADESCANTS' AND ASHMOLE'S HOUSES
John “Treadeskant”, who died in 1638, (fn. 144) was said to have been a Fleming or a Dutchman, (fn. 145) but as he had relations of the same name in Walberswick, Suffolk, (fn. 145) he may have been of East Anglian origin. He was a great traveller and botanist and introduced many new plants into England. After serving as gardener to several great houses he moved to South Lambeth and created a remarkable garden which was much visited and greatly admired. (fn. 103) Tradescant was also a collector of coins, medals and objects of natural history, which on his death passed to his only son, John. (fn. 144) The latter, also a gardener, bequeathed the collection to his wife, Hester, and instructed her to give it to either the University of Oxford or Cambridge. (fn. 145)
Elias Ashmole, the antiquary, was a friend and neighbour of the Tradescants and Hester gave the collection to him after her husband's death in 1662. She seems to have been an unstable person for shortly after giving the collection to Ashmole she accused him of robbing her. (fn. 146) But two years before her death in 1678 (fn. 147) (she was drowned in the pond in her garden), she acknowledged before witnesses that she had wronged him by “ fals, scandalous, and defamatory speeche and reporte”. (fn. 146) The Tradescant collection was subsequently given by Ashmole to the University of Oxford; together with the manuscripts and books in the two top studies in his house in Lambeth, some medals and portraits, and the books in a closet in his lower study over the milk house, (fn. 148) they form the collection contained in the Ashmolean Museum.
The Tradescants' house stood on plot 29; in 1592 the plot was said to comprise a messuage, barn, orchard and garden in the occupation of Laurence Palmer; (fn. 83) it was subsequently occupied by Sir William Foster (fn. 141) (see page 66). The famous garden mentioned above occupied the site of plot 28, which was known as Walnut Tree Close and contained three acres. (fn. 83)
The house occupied by Ashmole, which he purchased in 1674 when it was said to have been previously in the tenure of Frances Bowyer, widow, (fn. 149) stood on plot 27 and adjoined the Tradescants' house. After Hester Tradescant's death Ashmole obtained a lease of the Tradescants' house and garden from their landlord Mr. Bartholomew, (fn. 146) the head lessee of Vauxhall Escheat. (fn. 89) According to his diary Ashmole added several rooms to his house, including the rear part of the Tradescants' house. (fn. 146) Plate 44b shows Ashmole's house on the right, set back a little and adjoining the Tradescants' house on the left. Ashmole also had the lease of plot 26 which was used as a pound for some years and is marked as such on the map of 1681.
The front part of the Tradescants' house was probably sub-let by Ashmole, for it was in the occupation of a Mr. Jones in 1681. In 1774 it was occupied by Dr. Ducard, the antiquary and librarian of Lambeth Palace. (fn. 89) According to J. Nichols writing in 1786 “John Tradescant's house, though much altered of late years, was originally divided into two parts; the front thereof being that which is now the Doctor's [Ducarel's] own house; and the remainder making part of the offices of the great brick house built by Ashmole”. (fn. 146)
Ashmole died in 1692 and left his estate to his third wife Elizabeth, (fn. 149) daughter of Sir William Dugdale. (fn. 103) At the beginning of the 18th century, when it was owned by Alexander Montgomerie, the house was known as the Turret House. (fn. 150) A plan of 1879 (fn. 151) shows a house on the site of Ashmole's marked “Turret House” which probably incorporated much of the old building. It was then owned by Captain Francis Woodgate. (fn. 152)
In spite of the passing of the Act of 1810 plots 26, 28 and 29 were not let on building leases. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners sold plots 26 and 28 to Captain Woodgate in 1867 (fn. 152) and plot 29 to Frederick Snelling, builder, in 1879. (fn. 151) The site of ashmole's house was cleared about 1880 for the formation of Tradescant Street (now Road) and Walberswick Road which now cover plots 26, 27 and 28. Nos. 1, 3 and 5 Tradescant Road and some premises in the rear cover the site of the house. When Snelling purchased plot 29 there were then standing on the site, Stamford House, a school run by John Henry Hay (fn. 121) and six cottages in the rear. (fn. 151) Stamford House included the site of the Tradescants' house and may have included the old building. Meadow Place marks the northern boundary of this plot.
THE SEVEN ACRES
Though this plot is shown as two parcels on the map of 1681 it is consistently described in the records relating to the Escheat as one close containing seven acres. In a lease of the property to Benjamin White's trustees in 1802 two acres of waste land, part of South Lambeth Common which adjoined the seven acres, were inclosed and added to it. (fn. 142) This gave the seven acres a frontage to the present Lansdowne Way as well as Clapham Road.
Portland Grove, Mursell Road, and Nos. 192–220 (even) Clapham Road
At the auction of the Escheat in 1821 the head lease of this parcel was purchased by William Bennett of Bartholomew Close, silversmith. (fn. 152) The land was divided into five lots and let on building leases between 1822 and 1830 to James Blake of Helmet Row, Old Street, carpenter and timber merchant, (fn. 154) John Barnes of Pentonville, carpenter, (fn. 155) and Richard Howard of St. Mary, Newington, carpenter and builder. (fn. 156) Blake had three of these leases. Each lease required the builder to erect four or more houses at a cost of not less than £3,000, making a total of £15,000 for the whole estate, and to construct new roads, i.e., Portland Grove and Mursell Road. Nos. 74 and 76 Portland Grove, formerly Nos. 14 and 13 Sydney Place, are the two best examples of the small, but pleasant, cottage-type of houses erected on the estate, which consist mostly of two-storey brick houses with little ornament other than the fanlights over their entrances. Nos. 74 and 76 were built by James Blake under a lease granted in 1824. (fn. 153) The houses fronting Clapham Road were more pretentious. Nos. 192–198 were erected by Richard Howard under a lease granted in 1822 (fn. 156) (Plate 50c). Nos. 194–198 are plain box-like villas with three storeys and semibasements, their centrally placed entrances being flanked by Greek Doric columns. No. 192 has its entrance on one side. Nos. 200–220 were erected by Blake under leases granted in 1822 (fn. 157) and 1823. (fn. 158) These are terrace houses grouped in twos and threes with semi-basements, three main storeys, and attics within mansard roofs. The front elevations have no interest other than the cast-iron balcony railings linking the first-floor windows. Excepting two pairs of two-storey houses, the houses facing Lansdowne Way are of the same height.
THE “PEAES” CLOSE
This close was described as the “Peaes” Close in 1592 and contained about one acre. (fn. 83)
Nos. 244–258 (even) South Lambeth Road
These houses were erected under a building lease granted in 1824 to William Hearn of Nine Elms, miller, who covenanted to build two or more houses before Christmas, 1825, and another two or more before Michaelmas, 1829, at a total cost of not less than £2,000. (fn. 159) Nos. 246–252 form a plain terrace with semi-basements, three storeys and attics. Nos. 248–252 have entrances with attenuated columns at each side and patterned fanlights. They still have their original doors with key ornamented panels. No. 254, at the end of the terrace, and the detached pair, Nos. 256 and 258, are similar; their doorways have reeded surrounds with consoles supporting the transoms under the patterned fanlights. No. 244, which has the name “Dean's Place” painted on its front wall, has only two storeys and a semibasement, and is narrower than No. 246. The arched heads of the doorway and ground-floor windows rise from plain imposts.
THE NINE ACRES
A faint line of dots on the map of 1681 indicates that this close was already divided at the date. In 1774 a footpath which ran along the line of the present Hartington Road divided the nine acres into a western portion, containing about five acres and planted with gooseberry and currant “trees”, and an eastern portion, part grass and part ploughed land. (fn. 89) Another footpath on the line of Wilcox Road bounded the close on the north side. The western portion was let on two building leases to John Roupell, lead-smelter, in 1824 (fn. 160) and 1825, (fn. 161) but it has been redeveloped in recent years with blocks of flats designed by Messrs. Clutton on behalf of the Church Com missioners. (fn. 162) The eastern portion was purchased by Thomas Allen at the auction of 1821 (fn. 163) and was not let on building lease until after his death. (fn. 164) It was developed after 1857 by John Abbot, builder, (fn. 165) who laid out Brough Street and Kenchester Street. Since the houses between Hartington Road and Brough Street were destroyed by a flying bomb in the war of 1939–45, their sites have been covered with temporary single-storey prefabricated houses. On the rest of the land to the east the original development of two-storey terrace houses still stands. The houses are typical of the 1850s and 1860s, with stucco surrounds to the door and window openings and hoods over the ground-floor openings, all detailed in a debased Classical manner. Some houses have pilaster-flanked entrances.
THE TWO ACRES
This plot was described in 1592 as a close of meadow lying against “Woodbridge”. (fn. 83) In 1802 it was in the occupation of Edward Shearing and was then described as a piece of land called “Battens” containing over two acres. (fn. 142) The two acres were sold in 1847 to the London and South Western Railway Company for the Nine Elms Extension Scheme. (fn. 166)
Nos. 202–218 (even) South Lambeth Road
These houses were built before 1791 (fn. 78) on land belonging to Sir Joseph Mawbey, senior. (fn. 167) They form a three-storey terrace built in stock brick, each house being two windows wide. The elevation has no ornament save for the surround to the stone tablet incised “MAWBEY PLACE” set over No. 210, and the parapet raised over Nos. 210–214. A shop extends across the front garden of No. 202.
Nos. 282–300 (even) South Lambeth Road
These houses (Plate 46b) were erected in 1790–1 (fn. 78) on a piece of land called Tom Fool's Field which then belonged to William Head, (fn. 138) a local builder. (fn. 168) Nos. 282–298 were erected by Head and form a regular terrace, each house being three storeys high and two windows wide. The entrances set forward slightly in brick surrounds which have mutule cornices, each doorway having a simple fanlight of radiating pattern. Joseph Greated of Ely Place, Holborn, carpenter, purchased a piece of the field from William Head in 1791 and erected Nos. 1, 2, 12 and 13 Montpelier Row. (fn. 138) Of these only No. 12 (now No. 300 South Lambeth Road) survives. It is similar to the other houses in the terrace, but has a semibasement. With No. 302, now destroyed, it shared a pediment to its parapet.
No. 30 Wandsworth Road, Brunswick House
This house (fig. 27) was built in 1758 (fn. 39) on freehold land owned by the Dawson family, purchased by Richard Dawson in 1737 from Joseph Pratt. (fn. 169) In 1776 it was described as a mansion house, with offices, coach-house, and stable, lately erected by John Dawson (Richard Dawson's nephew and heir). The site of the house and gardens measured nearly three acres and included a piece of land with a timber dock on lease from the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury (part of plot 8). The property was bounded on the south by Belmont Row or Place (Nine Elms Lane). In 1791 the house, which was then called Belmont, was divided into two; the larger or southwestern portion was leased to David Hunter and the other portion was leased to William Anderson. Hunter's half was sold to the Western Gas Company in 1845 and purchased by the London and South Western Railway Company in 1854. In 1811 Anderson's half was purchased by Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick, whose sister Caroline married the Prince Regent. (fn. 170) The Duke was a bitter opponent of Napoleon's domination of Germany, and fled to England after taking part in the battle of Wagram. He returned to Brunswick in 1813 to raise fresh troops, but two years later was killed at the battle of Quatre Bras. (fn. 171) His part of Belmont House was also purchased by the Gas Company and sold to the Railway Company in 1855. The two parts of the house were subsequently reunited under the name of Brunswick House and have been used ever since as an institute and club for railway workers.
The entrance front towards Wandsworth Road is a pleasant formal composition with a central feature, three windows wide and crowned by an angular pediment, projecting slightly from narrow flanks, each one window wide. The rectangular window openings, originally correctly proportioned to the three storeys, are equally spaced in a stock brick face, horizontally divided by the deep plinth, the first-floor level platband, and the ogee-bracketed crowning cornice, all of painted stone. The cornice of the flanks is surmounted by a blocking course stopping against the central pediment, which has a circular shallow recess in its brick tympanum. The most interesting feature is the centrally placed porch (Plate 69d), which might well be a later addition, now painted but almost certainly of Coade's artificial stone. Semi-elliptical in plan and raised on steps, it has two free-standing and two engaged columns with enriched moulded bases, fluted and cabled shafts, and water-leaf capitals. The entablature has a frieze decoration of rams' skulls linked by floral festoons, and the cornice bedmouldings are enriched. The surmounting blocking-course continues the lines of the first-floor platband. The plain sill-band on the central feature's piers suggests that the first-floor windows have been lengthened.
Internally, the most interesting feature is the south-west room on the first floor, where the dado and one section of the original ovolo-moulded panelling survives, together with a modelled plaster cornice. The stone staircase, rising between the front and back rooms on the west side, has a plain balustrade and handrail of late 18th century character. The basement below the front rooms is divided into two aisles by brick piers carrying intersecting vaults. A stone tablet incised with the date “1758” is set in the inner face of the front wall of the basement; this wall is built of red bricks which may have been used in a previous building on the site.
Springfield Methodist Church, Friendship House, Wandsworth Road
Most of the land covered by plot 3, on which this church stands, was a detached portion of Stockwell Manor. Springfield Hall was opened on March 18, 1902. (fn. 39) The builders were L. Whitehead and Company. Another block was added on the south side and opened in 1926. (fn. 39) Springfield Hall is used for worship and the ancillary buildings for a community centre. All the buildings are of red brick with stone dressings. The main hall has a wide entrance porch flanked by squat octagonal towers.
Nos. 238–246 (even) Wandsworth Road
These houses were demolished in 1953 to make way for a housing scheme. Mr. John Summerson attributes their design to the architect J. M. Gandy. (fn. 172) They were semi-detached villas of austere character, two storeys high and stucco-fronted. Each pair shared a flat-moulded pediment with a circular panel in the centre and the piers flanking the first-floor windows were adorned with Soanic frets. The ground storeys were hidden by shops built on the forecourts.
At the beginning of the 19th century there was no bridge across the Thames between Westminster and Battersea. A number of important roads (now known as Kennington Lane, South Lambeth Road, Wandsworth Road and Nine Elms Lane) converged on the river at Vauxhall, which was therefore a suitable place for a new bridge. Though the project was first discussed in 1806, ten years were to elapse before the bridge was opened. (fn. 173) In 1809 an Act of Parliament established the Vauxhall Bridge Company with powers to build a bridge and the necessary approach roads, collect tolls and raise capital up to £300,000. (fn. 174) John Rennie (1761–1821), (fn. 103) who was appointed engineer, prepared plans for a stone bridge with 11 arches, (fn. 175) and the foundation stone was laid by Lord Dundas on behalf of the Prince Regent on May 9, 1811. The bridge was to be named “The Regent's Bridge”, but it very quickly assumed its present name. (fn. 173)
Rennie's estimate of the cost of the bridge had been £269,000, and the Company very soon began to feel that this figure was beyond its means. (fn. 176) In 1812 another Act authorizing the construction of a new bridge of iron or other materi_l was therefore obtained, (fn. 177) and in November of the same year designs for an iron bridge were approved by the Company. These new plans were drawn up by Sir Samuel Bentham, (fn. 178) brother of Jeremy Bentham, and a naval architect and engineer of great experience. As Civil Architect and Engineer of the Navy, Sir Samuel had on two recent occasions seen his plans for naval works at Plymouth and Sheerness rejected in favour of those of Rennie, and the adoption of his plan for Vauxhall Bridge may therefore have given him considerable satisfaction. A contract for the erection of the bridge for £72,500 was signed with Mr. Grellier. (fn. 177) Sir Samuel's triumph was, however, short-lived, for doubts arose “as to the mode of constructing the foundation”, (fn. 179) and he was dismissed. (fn. 180) He was replaced by James Walker, who prepared a new design differing little from that of Sir Samuel Bentham, and in May 1813 a new contract for £85,613 was signed with Grellier. (fn. 175)
The bridge (plate 1a) was opened for pedestrians in June 1816, and for vehicular traffic in the following month. (fn. 176) The opening of the bridge led to a rapid increase in building development in Lambeth. The bridge was 36 feet wide and consisted of nine arches each of 78-feet span formed of cast-iron archribs. “The abutments, and the piers below springing-level, were of coursed masonry with rubble backing, the upper portions of the piers being of brickwork faced at the ends with masonry.” (fn. 175) Accounts of the actual cost of the bridge vary very considerably. Despite Grellier's contract for £85,613, the Deputy Chairman of the Company stated in 1816 that Walker had undertaken the bridge “upon an estimate of 215,0001. and had carried his estimate as nearly as the nature of things admitted into practical effect” (fn. 176) In 1854 the Director of the Company stated that his accounts did not show how much the bridge had cost, but that the outlay on the bridge and its approach roads amounted to “about 300,000 1., exclusive of about 70,000 1. for Parliamentary and legal expenses, conveyancing, etc.” (fn. 181). In 1878 an accountant of the Metropolitan Board of Works who had examined the Company's books stated that the bridge had cost £175,432, the approach roads £38,925, and that the total expenditure including legal and professional fees, compensation paid to the Battersea Bridge Company and others, had amounted to £296,998. (fn. 182) In the early 19th century bridge-building was indeed extremely expensive, but the scientific improvements which took place in the second quarter of the century considerably reduced costs for a number of years. (fn. 183)
The upkeep of the approach roads, which comprised Vauxhall Bridge Road and a short stretch on the Surrey side, remained the responsibility of the Company until 1858, when this duty was transferred to the local authorities. (fn. 184) Under the terms of the Metropolis Toll Bridges Act of 1877, (fn. 185) Vauxhall Bridge and a number of others were bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works and the tolls abolished. Compensation amounting to £255,000 was paid to the Company, and the ceremony of opening the bridge free of toll was performed by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) on May 24, 1879. (fn. 173)
The foundations of the bridge were repaired in 1887, but its narrowness and the steep gradients of its approaches soon made it inadequate for the steady increase of traffic. In 1895 the London County Council obtained statutory power to rebuild the bridge, and a temporary one was opened in 1898. (fn. 173) The present bridge (plate 1b) was designed by the Council's Chief Engineer, Sir Alexander Binnie, who was succeeded in 1902 by Maurice Fitzsmaurice, and the Council's Architect, W. E. Riley, assisted in the design of the superstructure. (fn. 175) The contract for the demolition of the old bridge and the construction of the piers and abutments of the new one was placed with Messrs. Pethick Bros.; C. Wall was the contractor for the superstructure. (fn. 175) Demolition began in September 1898, and the new bridge, which cost about £480,000, (fn. 175) was opened on May 26,1906, by Evan Spicer, Chairman of the London County Council. (fn. 173)
The bridge has five arches and is 80 feet wide; the central span is 149 feet 7 inches wide, the two intermediate ones 144 feet 43/4 inches, and the shore spans 130 feet 53/4 inches. The piers and abutments are of solid concrete with granite facings and the superstructure is of open steel-framed construction. The simple parapet is heightened to form a balustraded screen so that when seen from a distance the arches do not appear as weak at the crown as those of many bridges with flat spans. The bridge is decorated above the cutwaters with bronze figures of heroic size on both sides; these were executed by Alfred Drury, A.R.A., and F. W. Pomeroy, A.R.A., and represent from east to west Science, Fine Arts, Local Government, and Education on the downstream side, and Pottery, Engineering, Architecture, and Agriculture on the upstream side. (fn. 186)