Survey of London: Volume 37, Northern Kensington. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1973.
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Blake and the revival of building in the 1860's
The involvement of Honywood, Harrison and Cobb as investors in the development of Notting Hill was probably prompted by the growing revival of demand for houses there, (fn. 4) several more of Blake's at last finding purchasers. In 1860 he also sold the land on the south side of Ladbroke Gardens and in the northern half of Stanley Crescent, both to Ebenezer Howard, a poultry salesman at Leadenhall Market, (fn. 5) and it has already been mentioned that in 1861 the land in Kensington Park Road to the north of St. Peter's Church was also sold. Some of the mortgages were redeemed by Blake with the proceeds of these sales, while several others were transferred to Honywood, Harrison and Cobb, who by 1863 held a portfolio with a nominal value of £52,000, but on which only £33,500 was 'really due'. Other debts amounted to £12,500, bringing the total up to £46,000. By July 1863 he had achieved such a strong financial position that he was able to give all his remaining mortgagees (other than Honywood, Harrison and Cobb) the option of accepting either a reduction in the rate of interest from five per cent to four and a half per cent, or repayment of their loans. The crisis was over, (fn. 82) and in this year he was able to vacate No. 21 Stanley Gardens and make his home once more in one of the best houses on his estate, at No. 2 Stanley Crescent. (fn. 84)
This dramatic recovery had been made possible by a revival in demand for houses. The total volume of building in Kensington had begun to grow again, very slightly, as early as 1859, and this growth continued almost without interruption until it reached a peak in 1868. This upsurge had enabled Blake to start in 1860 to dispose advantageously of his ground to the west of Ladbroke Grove which he had repurchased from Dr. Walker in 1856. Most of the land was granted on building leases, the principal undertaker being Charles Chambers, variously described as a timber merchant or an engineer, who took all of the south side of Blenheim Crescent and part of the north side as well. Other undeveloped land was sold freehold. As building proceeded on the leased portions Blake bought the improved ground rents from the lessees, and subsequently sold the property outright to investors, usually private individuals, but including the governors of Middlesex Hospital. In 1863 he obtained over £9,000 from such sales, and in 1865–6 almost as much again. After these sales this part of the estate was at midsummer 1867 still yielding him a rental of £670 per annum. By 1868, when building was virtually complete there, he had sold all his remaining interests in this area to the west of Ladbroke Grove, his total receipts from sales between 1863 and 1867 being well over £32,000 (the amounts received were not always recorded). He still retained the bulk of his property in the Stanley Gardens and Crescent area. (fn. 82)
Blake's speculations on the Ladbroke estate were now over, for he had already embarked on far more extensive operations on the neighbouring Portobello and St. Quintin estates to the north. In the mid 1860's it was almost impossible to build houses fast enough in Notting Dale, for an entirely new element had been introduced into the situation there by the opening in 1864 of the Hammersmith and City Railway. This was the first of the feeder lines to be connected to the Metropolitan Railway, the first underground railway in the world, which had been opened between Paddington and Farringdon Street in January 1863. The Hammersmith and City line extended from its western terminus at Hammersmith through Shepherd's Bush and Notting Dale (where there was a station at Ladbroke Grove) to its junction with the Great Western Railway at Westbourne Park, and there was also a connexion with the hitherto moribund West London line, built in 1844 from Willesden to West Kensington near the modern Olympia. With a half-hourly service it was now possible for residdents in West and North Kensington to reach the City in a matter of minutes. (fn. 6)
Blake himself and two other of the largest speculators in Notting Dale (James Whitchurch and Stephen Phillips) had all become members of the provisional committee of the Hammersmith, Paddington and City Junction Railway in 1861, and Blake at any rate was quick to exploit the opportunity of the moment. In November 1862 he contracted with the Misses Talbot to buy some 130 acres of their land for £107,500, and in December 1864 he agreed with Colonel Matthew St. Quintin to take more land on building lease the first of a series of such agreements. The new railway traversed both these estates, and Blake's speculations there (which are described in Chapter XII) occupied him for the rest of his life. In May 1863 the net annual rental of his property on the Ladbroke estate amounted to £3,535, mostly derived from the Stanley Gardens and Crescent houses, and he was therefore able to borrow freely through Honywood, Harrison and Cobb for the financing of these new operations. (fn. 82)
Development by Pocock and Penson in Kensington Park Road area
Blake was indeed the biggest and most successful speculator in nineteenth-century Notting Hill and Dale, and through the survival of a large quantity of his personal papers his career can be traced in some detail. But the normal complexities and confusions of Victorian estate development, and the jerky progress which it made in response to the constantly fluctuating national economic situation, provided endless scope for lesser speculators. Each of these had his own modus operandi, suited to his own requirements and to the infinitely various circumstances of time and place. One such was Thomas Pocock, previously mentioned as an attorney of Bartholomew Close in the City, whose activities on the Ladbroke estate (not always very clear, due to limited evidence) extended over more than twenty years. Unlike Blake he evidently had no great financial resources of his own, and he therefore often acted in association with a wealthy backer who wished to invest without being himself actively involved in estate business. But he did also buy and sell land on his own account, take building leases and perhaps build houses by contract—all risky but potentially profitable activities in the huggermugger situations created by the failures of Jacob Connop in 1845 and of D. A. Ramsay and Dr. Walker in 1854–5.
Pocock had first become involved on the Ladbroke estate in the latter part of 1846. At that time James Weller Ladbroke was still alive, but his heir, Felix Ladbroke, in confident expectation of his cousin's early demise, was already making arrangements for the sale of part of the estate as soon as circumstances would permit. In December 1846, accordingly, he contracted that as soon as J. W. Ladbroke died he would sell some thirty acres of ground to Pocock for £9,050 (equivalent to approximately £300 per acre). Pocock, of course, did not possess the resources to make this purchase himself, but by the time of J. W. Ladbroke's death on 16 March 1847 he had found a buyer, and on 29 March the freehold of twentysix of the thirty acres was sold to the Reverend Brooke Edward Bridges, a Bedfordshire parson, for £7,750, subject to the existing leasehold interest already granted by J. W. Ladbroke. The remainder was bought by Pocock himself. (fn. 7)
In terms of the modern street names Bridges' ground lay between Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road, extending from Ladbroke Gardens on the south to Westbourne Park Road on the north. It also included the block of ground between Kensington Park Road, Portobello Road, Westbourne Grove and Chepstow Villas. Pocock's lands consisted of the sites of Nos. 38–47 (consec.) Ladbroke Square (houses then probably in course of erection), the site of the future Nos. 56–72 (even) Kensington Park Road, and three acres on the north side of Westbourne Park Road, still far away from the urban frontier and evidently a long-term investment. (fn. 8)
Most of the land bought in fee by the Reverend B. E. Bridges had already been leased in 1846 by J. W. Ladbroke to George Penson, a wholesale cheesemonger of Newgate Street who had outstanding financial claims on the estate arising from Connop's bankruptcy (see page 219). Acting through his architect and surveyor, Benjamin Broadbridge, Penson had at once obtained the approval of the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers for the construction of over a mile of sewers on his leasehold lands, (fn. 9) the ground plan being an amplification of that prepared (probably) by John Stevens for Connop in 1842–3, and in June 1846 he was offering plots to be let on building leases. (fn. 10) (fn. 1) But probably because of the general decline in building little work was actually done on the sewers, and when in September 1847 the Commissioners demanded an explanation Pocock appeared on behalf of Bridges (the freeholder) and, apparently, of Penson, the leaseholder. (fn. 11) Pocock had in fact become the agent for both parties; such sewers as Penson had built were transferred to Pocock, (fn. 12) and thereafter neither Bridges nor Penson took an active personal part in the development process. It was probably Pocock who was responsible in 1849 for the modification of the northern end of the projected line of Kensington Park Road, which had been originally intended to curve north-east to a junction with Portobello Road. The line was now straightened, and the intended crescent joining Kensington Park Road and Ladbroke Grove was deleted, the whole alteration being effected by small exchanges of land between Felix Ladbroke, Bridges and Pocock. (fn. 13)
In 1852 and 1855 the Reverend B. E. Bridges sold almost all of his land north of Ladbroke Gardens and west of Kensington Park Road to Dr. Walker, (fn. 14) while Pocock himself bought most of Bridges' land between Kensington Park Road and Portobello Road. This thin strip of land, extending northward from No. 56 Kensington Park Road as far as Westbourne Park Road, formed the nucleus of Pocock's own estate (fig. 45). On part of it he adopted the usual procedure of granting building leases—at Nos. 115–175 (odd) Portobello Road, for instance—but on parts of the more valuable frontage to Kensington Park Road he seems to have organized the building himself, (fn. 15) perhaps by contract, as at Nos. 56–74 and 126–182 (even) Kensington Park Road (Plate 67e), and at Nos. 54–62 (even) and 35–41 (odd) Chepstow Villas, all in 1850–3.
This programme was financed in a number of ways, of which outright sale of undeveloped pieces of land to other speculators was probably the simplest. In 1853 Pocock sold two strips of land between Kensington Park Road and Portobello Road (now the eastern extremities of Elgin and Blenheim Crescents) to Dr. Walker (fn. 16) to enable Walker to link the street layout of his lands to the west on the Ladbroke estate with those to the east on the Portobello estate. Two years later he sold the ground on the east side of Kensington Park Road between Chepstow Villas and Westbourne Grove to Blake. (fn. 17) He also sold improved ground rents in Portobello Road, (fn. 18) while Nos. 56–72 Kensington Park Road were built in association with another solicitor, John Day of Red Lion Square. In 1864 he obtained a loan of £4,300 at five per cent from the London Assurance Corporation, on the security of thirteen houses in Lansdowne Road. (fn. 19) But his greatest single source of capital was Penson, the City cheesemonger, to whom he had mortgaged some of his houses in Ladbroke Square as early as 1848. (fn. 20) Penson himself lived at No. 41 Ladbroke Square from 1851 to 1859, when his increasing prosperity—he now styled himself a provision merchant—enabled him to move to the grander milieu first of Westbourne Terrace and then of Connaught Place, both in Paddington. In the 1860's Penson converted his business into a limited liability company, of which he was himself the managing director; (fn. 83) he frequently acted as Pocock's mortgagee or business associate, (fn. 21) and as his personal estate was valued after his death in 1879 (aged seventy) at around £120,000 he was clearly a valuable ally for a speculator such as Pocock. (fn. 22)
In addition to his activities in the area between Kensington Park Road and Portobello Road Pocock also speculated further west. In 1846 he contracted to buy thirty-three acres of leasehold land to the north of Lansdowne Rise from Richard Roy at £800 per acre, but he did in the event only purchase five acres, which he subsequently sold undeveloped to Blake. (fn. 23) In the early 1850's he took building leases from Stephen Phillips for some thirty houses on the west side of Clarendon Road, and when Dr. Walker started to grant leases in 1852 on the lands to the west of Ladbroke Grove which (as we have already seen) he had recently acquired from Blake, Pocock was among the lessees (for Nos. 61–75 odd Lansdowne Road). (fn. 24)
The aftermath of unsuccessful speculations
The collapse of Dr. Walker's enterprises presented speculators like Pocock or Richard Roy with a wide field of opportunity for many years. For instance, both Pocock and Roy bought halffinished houses in Lansdowne Road and Elgin Crescent from Dr. Walker's trustees. Pocock also lent money on mortgage on property there, financing these activities by transferring the mortgages to clients with money to invest, or to Penson. (fn. 25) By 1860, when demand for houses was reviving, Roy was selling or leasing derelict property in Lansdowne Road (the original leases granted by Dr. Walker in 1852 having evidently been cancelled), (fn. 26) and in some cases these new building lessees mortgaged to Pocock. (fn. 27) In Lansdowne Crescent (Nos. 19–38 consec.) Stephen Phillips was another speculator who profited from Dr. Walker's misfortunes, by buying ground from him cheaply in 1857, (fn. 28) and finding a building lessee during the building boom of the early 1860's.
The depressing aspect of this part of the Ladbroke estate was frequently mentioned in The Building News at this time. In 1857 it stated that 'On some parts of the Notting-hill estates a large number of houses have been erected; many of them are now fit for occupation, others are in progress, whilst on other portions numerous buildings appear to have remained some time in carcase only, and abandoned in various stages of advancement, apparently for want of funds to complete them.' (fn. 29) Two years later there were eighteen first-class houses 'fast hastening to decay for want of being finished' in Ladbroke Gardens, which was popularly known as the 'Goodwin Sands' or (as we have already seen) 'Coffin-row', (fn. 30) and where Roy had been heavily involved. By 1860, however, 'Little patches of new work' were beginning to 'appear here and there amidst the desert of dilapidated structures and decaying carcases. When the whole are finished there will be some chance of an adequate return for a portion of the money invested, but till that consummation is arrived at, there are few, we imagine, who would care to dwell in that dreary desolation, with the wind howling and vagrants prowling in the speculative warnings around them.' (fn. 31)
In such a confused situation it has often proved impossible to discover the names of the building lessees of many houses, and even when this has been feasible it has often been impossible to assess the amount of work done before building was suspended. The building histories of Ladbroke Gardens, Elgin Crescent and the northern part of Lansdowne Road, all within Dr. Walker's illfated estate, are particularly perplexing. In Ladbroke Gardens Richard Roy bought the land on the north side from Dr. Walker and granted building leases in 1852, (fn. 32) but little if any work was done for some years, although (as we have already seen) Thomas Allom made designs for the houses here. In 1858 seventeen of the twentythree sites or carcases in the range were acquired by Ebenezer Howard, the poultry salesman of Leadenhall Market, (fn. 33) and under his auspices William Parratt, builder, and John Faulkner of Finchley New Road, surveyor, worked until Parratt's death in 1861. (fn. 34) Thereafter William Wheeler, the builder working opposite at Nos. 14–23 (consec.) Stanley Crescent at this time, appears in the many legal transactions affecting the houses, (fn. 35) all of which were finished by 1866. (fn. 84) With such a complex building history, extending over fourteen years, it is remarkable that Allom's costly designs were never abandoned in favour of something cheaper.
On the south side of Ladbroke Gardens building operations were even more long-delayed. In 1858 Howard leased the site of Nos. 24–33 (consec.) from Blake, removed the carcases of the houses already there (probably the coffins of 'Coffin-row') and after buying the freehold from Blake, sold the property to Penson. A dispute then arose about the southern boundary of the land, and Pocock, to whom Penson had in turn sold, threatened to build a row of workmen's model lodging-houses, the site being (as he claimed) too narrow for the erection of good quality houses. (fn. 36) Three of the six-storey houses ultimately built here were still in course of erection in 1873. (fn. 37)
In Elgin Crescent William Sim, builder and architect, was probably responsible for the design of many of the houses west of Ladbroke Grove. In 1852 Dr. Walker granted him building leases for Nos. 69–115 (odd), and in 1855 he exhibited at the Royal Academy 'A view of Elgin Crescent, Kensington Park, from the designs and now in progress of completion under the superintendence of W. Sim'. (fn. 38) An undated printed estate plan (Plate 57) advertising 'Family Residences' in Elgin Crescent, to be let at rents from £60 to £80 per annum and requesting potential purchasers to apply to Mr. Sim 'on the Premises' shows that he concerned himself in the sale as well as the design and construction of Nos. 69–115. (fn. 82) But he also acted as surveyor to D. A. Ramsay, the building lessee of Nos. 117–145 (odd), (fn. 39) and probably also for H. M. Ramsay, the lessee of Nos. 58–120 (even). He was still working in Elgin Crescent as an architect in 1858, when he invited tenders for the completion of ten houses there. (fn. 40) To the east of Ladbroke Grove Thomas Pocock seems to have been responsible in the mid 1860's for much of the building in Elgin Crescent on the south side. (fn. 41)
Few of the houses built in these confused circumstances call for comment. In the northern, curved, part of Lansdowne Road Nos. 68–102 (even) (Plate 67d) and Nos. 79–123 (odd) (fig. 61) form sequences of three-storeyed stucco houses in which Dutch gables alternating with pierced parapets are employed over groups of roundheaded windows set in complicated rhythms. Together with the three-sided bay windows in the ground storey and strangely detailed doorways with shallow hoods on consoles over half round arches, these elements form an amalgam which it is hard to take seriously and which is unlike anything else in Kensington. No. 77 Lansdowne Road, a three-storey stucco-fronted house at the end of a long terrace-range, has a two-storey segmental bay and stucco enrichments reminiscent of Allom's work in Kensington Park Gardens, but the documentary evidence shows that after being leased to Ramsay in 1852, the carcase was sold in 1856 to Thomas Allason, junior, architect. (fn. 42) On the outer side of Lansdowne Crescent the four-storey range numbered 19–38 (consec.) was leased to Henry Wyatt in 1860–2, (fn. 43) and presents a fine succession of segmental bow fronts of a pattern almost identical with other houses attributed to George Wyatt in Prince's Square, Paddington (Plate 67b).
Further north Elgin Crescent, dating chiefly from the 1850's, has some repose and dignity in its architectural treatment. Semi-circular headed doorways and windows generally prevail, and there is some enrichment of the stucco, especially at Nos. 58–120 (even) (Plate 67c). The modest and well-proportioned houses at Nos. 117–145 (odd) have linked doorways as projecting features, and were probably designed by William Sim. Nos. 149–153 (odd) are also of the very simple terrace type, and again appear to be by Sim, who was also probably responsible for the adjacent Nos. 68–78 (even) Clarendon Road. (fn. 44) Blenheim and Cornwall Crescents, built in the early 1860's in a debased classical style, demonstrate the marked degeneration of taste which was then beginning to take place on the remaining parts of the Ladbroke estate.
This decline can also be observed in Ladbroke Grove itself and on the lands to the east, where the houses dating from the 1860's were in general built in long tall terraced ranges. This type of work may be seen at Nos. 78–94 (even) Ladbroke Grove, probably designed by Edward Habershon in 1861 (Plate 67f), and Nos. 111–119 (odd), by George Drew in 1865, both at the bottom of the north side of St. John's Hill. At the corners of several streets leading off Ladbroke Grove this monotony is relieved by large three- and fourstorey houses with stucco ornamentation of some panache. Nos. 81 and 83 Ladbroke Grove, for instance, at the south and north corners of Lansdowne Road, form an almost symmetrical pair, while No. 85, at the south corner of Elgin Crescent, five windows in width, has rusticated and vermiculated stucco at ground-storey level, and a projecting porch extending through two storeys. These three houses appear, however, to date from the 1850's, as also do Nos. 60–64 (even) Ladbroke Grove, a five-storey range begun by H. M. Ramsay in 1854, where the influence of Allom's work is apparent. East of Ladbroke Grove Arundel Gardens consists of dull four-storey ranges, that on the north side being faced with stucco and that on the south side being of stock brick with coarse flamboyant stucco enrichments. Both ranges date from the early 1860's, and represent a marked decline from both Allom's neighbouring houses on the north side of Ladbroke Gardens, and from the long three-storey range built by Thomas Pocock on the east side of Kensington Park Road in 1852, by which the eastward vista along Arundel Gardens is agreeably closed.
Deaths of the principal developers
By the mid 1870's the development of the Ladbroke estate was almost complete, and most of the principal protagonists in the whole complicated process were already dead. Thomas Allason, surveyor to both James Weller Ladbroke and Felix Ladbroke, had died in 1852. Latterly he had lived in Connaught Square, Paddington, and at the time of his death he owned fifteen freehold houses in Clarendon and Ladbroke Roads, plus all the twenty houses which then stood on the site of Linden Gardens, Notting Hill (a small detached part of the Ladbroke estate). (fn. 45) Felix Ladbroke died in 1869. By this time he had sold the greater part of his estate at Notting Hill (or very possibly all of it) and also his house at Headley in Surrey, and was living in Belgrave Road near Victoria Station. How he had spent the money which he had raised from his great inheritance has not been discovered, but at the time of his death he was clearly in relatively reduced circumstances, for his 'effects' were valued at under £9,000, and the two small legacies mentioned in his will were not to be paid until after his wife's death. (fn. 46)
Dr. Walker and Thomas Pocock also died in the same year, 1869. Dr. Walker, then aged fifty-nine, was living in Hampstead and left a widow and young children. He had by now sold most or all of his lands in Kensington, but as his financial affairs appear to have improved somewhat in the mid 1860's he was able to bequeath his dearest possessions, the advowson of St. Columb Major in Cornwall and the patronage of All Saints', Notting Hill, to his eldest son. His 'effects' were valued at about £70,000, but it may be recalled that the fortune which he had inherited from his father in 1851 had been estimated at £250,000. (fn. 47) Pocock, by contrast, for whom Dr. Walker had unwittingly provided so many opportunities, left 'effects' valued at only about £9,000; but he was probably an entirely self-made man. He was also unlike Dr. Walker in having lived on the scene of his speculations, first at No. 38 Ladbroke Square and latterly at No. 24 Ladbroke Gardens. (fn. 48)
Blake and his erstwhile architect both died in 1872, but whereas Allom, living at Barnes, left personal property of around £1,500, (fn. 49) that of Blake was valued at about £35,000, and the total value of his residuary real and personal estate was about £120,000. The twenty-four freehold houses which he still owned in the Stanley Crescent and Stanley Gardens area accounted for about one third of this amount, but most of the rest arose from his later speculations on the Portobello and St. Quintin estates (see Chapter XII). His outstanding mortgage debts had fallen to £17,155. He had spent some twenty years in the day-to-day administration of his estates, whose management was now taken over by his son, a barrister, and the solicitor B. G. Lake. For most of this period he had like Pocock lived at the scene of his enterprises, at first at No. 24 Kensington Park Gardens (1854–9) and then at Nos. 21 Stanley Gardens (1860–3) and 2 Stanley Crescent. After 1868 he had lived in semiretirement at Bournemouth, where he died on 22 March 1872, aged seventy-seven. A monument (which no longer exists) was erected in St. Peter's Church there to record his memory. (fn. 50)
Blake's former solicitor, Richard Roy, died in the following year, 1873, aged seventy-six. He too had lived for many years on the Ladbroke estate, at first at No. 59 Ladbroke Grove, and then in the years of his greatest prosperity from 1851 to 1858 at the house (now demolished) at the south corner of Ladbroke Grove and Kensington Park Gardens, facing Blake's house. It was probably financial difficulty which dictated his removal, in 1858–9, down the hill to a less exclusive address, No. 42 Clarendon Road, where he remained for the rest of his life. His personal papers have not survived, and little is known of his financial circumstances. At his death his personal estate was valued at about £16,000, but he almost certainly still owned real property in Notting Hill. His legal practice was continued by his wife's brother, T. B. Cartwright, and as late as 1910 one of her nephews was still concerned in the administration of one of the communal gardens on the estate. (fn. 51)
After the death in 1879 of George Penson, the City cheesemonger, who (as we have already seen) left a personal estate of £120,000, there remained only one important survivor, the architect James Thomson, the progenitor of much of the ground plan of one of the finest townscapes in all London. He lived long enough to see the results of his work in the hey-day of its midVictorian prosperity, but when he died at a great age in 1883 at his house in Devonshire Street, St. Marylebone, he left a personal fortune of only £789. (fn. 52) Suburban building development seems, indeed, to have been at least as fickle in its rewards as gambling had been in earlier days on the races at the Hippodrome, where it may be that some speculators made their first investments on the Ladbroke estate before trying their luck and skill in the more durable field of bricks and mortar.
The Church of St. John the Evangelist, Ladbroke Grove
Plates 12, 33e; fig. 62
St. John's Church is the centrepiece of the Ladbroke estate. It is conspicuously sited at the top of a high knoll, its spire being visible for several miles to the north and west. Built of ragstone in the Early English Gothic manner and set among fine mature trees, it provides a notable contrast with the Italianate stucco and stock-brick fronts of the houses in the surrounding streets.
St. John's was the first church to be built north of the Uxbridge road, and its district, as originally defined in 1845, contained almost the whole of this part of the parish as far north as Kensal Green Cemetery, only the Norland estate (where the building of St. James's was almost contemporaneous) and the Potteries being excluded. The selection of its site and of its architect were evidently the subject of much discussion between the various developers then active on the Ladbroke estate (see page 207), who were all anxious to have the new church on their land. The final decision seems to have been the result of a compromise; Richard Roy, the solicitor in charge of building development to the west of Ladbroke Grove, purchased the site from his clients and presented it to the church's trustees, (fn. 53) while the architects were John Hargrave Stevens and George Alexander, whose client was Jacob Connop, at that time the developer of the lands to the east of Ladbroke Grove.
The foundation stone was laid by Archdeacon John Sinclair, vicar of Kensington and archdeacon of Middlesex, on 8 January 1844, and the church was consecrated by Charles Blomfield, Bishop of London, on 29 January 1845. (fn. 54) The builders were Joshua Higgs, senior and junior, who were paid £8,213. The total cost, inclusive of architects' fees, was £10,181. About half of this was paid for by private subscriptions, but two loans, each of £2,000, remained outstanding for some years, the lenders being Viscount Canning and C. H. Blake, both of whom were also investors in the large-scale building developments then proceeding to the west of Ladbroke Grove. The church provided 1,500 sittings, of which 400 were free, and a district parish was assigned in 1845. (fn. 55)
St. John's is a solid and substantially built church of ragstone laid in neat courses, with buttresses at the angles of all parts—a structural precaution later found to be fully justified when, in 1955, slight movement of the clay sub-soil required the west front to be strengthened. The exterior is confident and imposing, with consistent Early English Gothic detail. At the time of building the design evoked widespread favourable comment. (fn. 56)
The church is cruciform in plan with a tower and broach spire over the crossing. The tower has three lancet openings to each face, square pinnacles enriched with lancet panels, and stepped buttresses at each corner. Two-light gabled lucarnes project from the base of the spire, to which they give added solidity of appearance. The two-bay north and south transepts have polygonal turrets containing staircases to the former galleries and projecting three quarters of the way up the east and west façades, each of which has two lancet lights surmounted by a round window in the gable.
The west front has two tall lancet lights with a small quatrefoil light in the gable above. The western half of the two-bay chancel is flanked by square vestries, now used for other purposes. The east façade of the chancel has three level lancet lights beneath a pair of lancets surmounted by a quatrefoil light in the gable and set within a pointed arch flanked by two blind lancet panels.
The five-day nave arcade has cylindrical columns with boldly modelled roll-mouldings and supports a clerestory with groups of three level lancet lights to each bay held within an inner arcade. The lean-to aisles are lit by single lancets on the centre lines of the bays. The spacious interior, now cream-washed, is dominated by the crossing, the capitals of the piers here being carved with naturalistic foliage. The crossing is carried up as a lantern tower, with a wooden ceiling pierced by an octagonal skylight which is fitted with clear glass held by leading in fish-scale patterns.
Across the west bay of the nave and aisles is a gallery, standing at the height of the arcade capitals. Its front is of wood, now painted cream, and is enriched by trefoil arches and little trefoils in the spandrels. The galleries formerly situated in the transepts, access to which was provided within the polygonal corner turrets previously noted, have now been removed.
The chancel is more richly treated than the rest of the church. The east window openings have roll-mouldings and are filled with glass by C. E. Kempe which replaced in 1900 a window of 1860 to the memory of the wife of the first incumbent, the Reverend John Philip Gell. There is other good glass by Kempe in the two-light window above. The rich patterned glass in the single-lancet north and south windows of the sanctuary is nearly contemporary with the building of the church.
The panelling behind the altar was erected under a faculty of 1890; it was later continued round the walls of the sanctuary, and included an elegant sedilia. The panelling, reredos and sedilia are of terra-cotta, in a hard neo-Perpendicular style. The architectural portions of the reredos were designed by (Sir) Aston Webb; the sculptures, by Emmeline Halse, represent the Crucifixion in the centre with seated figures on either side, very much in the fin de siècle manner. The panels on either side of the reredos have delicately carved standing angels, probably also by Emmeline Halse, but they are much less lively than the altar composition. (fn. 57)
There are two windows by Warrington; one, in the south aisle, was presented by the architect, George Alexander; the other, a small light in the west gable, is a little rose window of pretty foliate design in bright colours.
The whole interior assumed its present appearance when the church was rearranged and redecorated in 1955–6 by Milner and Craze. The altar table was placed beneath the crossing, the walls painted creamy-white, and the rich colour of the terra-cotta fittings obscured by grey paint.
The top twenty-six feet of the spire were rebuilt in 1957 after damage in the war of 1939–45. (fn. 58)
St. Peter's Church, Kensington Park Road
Plate 13; fig. 63
This is one of the very few Church of England churches to be built in London after 1837 in the classical style. It was built in 1855–7 to the designs of Thomas Allom, the architect responsible for many of the large Italianate houses then in course of erection in the adjacent Stanley Gardens and Crescent and Kensington Park Gardens, and the site for the church was presented by Allom's client, the speculator C. H. Blake. Situated on the east side of Kensington Park Road and facing west down Stanley Gardens, St. Peter's was, indeed, to be an integral and carefully composed element in the design of Blake's estate, and the classical idiom, however unfashionable, was therefore the natural style to choose.
The church was built at an estimated cost of £5,500 and provided 1,400 sittings. It was consecrated on 7 January 1857, and a district chapelry was assigned in the same year. (fn. 59) Its stucco façade has a bold pediment and entablature carried on six engaged Corinthian columns (the outer ones paired), and is flanked at the angles of the building by quadrants behind which rise the semi-circular staircases to the galleries. Each of the three inner bays is pierced by a round-headed doorway leading into the entrance vestibule, and above the central bay rises a square tower, adorned on each side by a clock-face and surmounted by an octagonal copper-roofed belfry.
Originally the church consisted of a seven-bay nave and aisles with no chancel, the east end being composed in a formal design the centrepiece of which was a flattened arch carried on Corinthian columns in the manner of Hawksmoor. In 1879 a one-bay apsidal chancel was added to designs by Edmeston and Barry, the columns which had supported the arch being incorporated into the main arcade.
The columns of the nave arcade have gilded Corinthian capitals and carry an entablature surmounted by a clerestory which is pierced by semicircular lunettes. At half their height the columns also support the galleries, which are continued across the west end and here occupy the two bays in front of the entrance vestibule. The elegant gallery fronts each contain three panels ornamented with the Keys of St. Peter, floral swags and winged putti. The flat plaster ceilings of both nave and aisles (rebuilt in 1951 under the direction of Milner and Craze) are enriched with framed panels, some of which contain rosettes.
The short chancel has double arches supported on squat Corinthian columns of Torquay red marble, the spandrels of the western arch being ornamented with angels bearing gilded trumpets and garlands. The ceiling has a coffered barrel vault, the panels being also decorated with angels and other motifs. The wall of the apse is covered with a large mosaic version of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper', erected in 1880. Although it has every appearance of having been added, the change of scale from the nave being somewhat abrupt, the chancel nevertheless provides an effectively rich climax to the interior.
The marble altar is in the sixteenth-century Florentine manner and is supported on graceful columns. This and the marble dado behind were carved in Italy to designs by the Reverend G. F. Tarry. The alabaster and marble pulpit of 1889 has a base of polished grey marble, and its front contains white marble bas-reliefs carved and signed by T. Nelson Maclean. (fn. 60) The baptistry, of 1905, in the south-west corner of the south aisle, has a richly wrought iron screen and is ornamented with marble and mosaic. The font is a handsome design with bronze acanthus-leaf rings.
In the centre of the wall of the south aisle is a monument by M. Noble, commemorating Frances Susanna, wife of the Reverend Francis Holland Adams, first incumbent of the church. It is in the Grecian manner reminiscent of the 1830's, but is actually of 1860, and consists of a white marble portrait set on a dark grey marble back-board.
The small semi-circular-headed window which formerly existed within the flattened arch at the east end contained glass which is now in the west window under the tower. The window in the south aisle depicting the Crucifixion is signed by J. Arthur Dix of Berners Street, who also designed the baptistry window erected in 1905.
The internal decoration of the church was said in 1872 to have been 'worked out in Pompeian red', the 'Greek ornament and colouring' being 'at once harmonious and agreeable'. (fn. 61)
St. Mark's Church, St. Mark's Road
Plate 16; fig. 64
The Church of St. Mark stands upon a site presented to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by C. H. Blake, the speculator responsible for the rapid development of this district of the Ladbroke estate during the 1860's. At the time of its building it stood on the edge of the built-up area, but it was very soon surrounded by houses, and is now sandwiched between a short terraced range and a tall, narrow villa.
The architect of St. Mark's was E. Bassett Keeling, and the builders were Dove Brothers, whose contract was for £6,011, including the font, pulpit, and altar fittings. The church was built with funds raised by public subscription (£5,000 of which were given by the first patron, Miss E. F. Kaye), and provided 1,486 sittings. It was consecrated on 27 November 1863 and a district chapelry was assigned in the following year. (fn. 62)
St. Mark's is in many ways similar to Bassett Keeling's other surviving church in Kensington, St. George's, Campden Hill, but St. Mark's has no projecting cloistered porch, and the detail is altogether thinner and 'spikier'. The barbaric and emphatic quality of the design aroused both the antagonism of the Ecclesiological Society and the interest of the architectural journals. In November 1862 The Builder stated that the church was to be a 'Gothic structure, in coloured bricks and Bath stone, with a Continental touch in it', and that it was to have a spire 130 feet in height. (fn. 63) The dark brick exterior with stone dressings certainly owes little to period precedent, and it was this, perhaps, which caused The Building News to describe St. Mark's in 1869 as 'an atrocious specimen of coxcombry in architecture'. (fn. 64) This verdict appears to have had some effect on subsequent opinion, for by the turn of the century Bassett Keeling's design had already suffered considerable modification, and the church is now only a fragment of the strange and original building which it once was.
The vertically of the asymmetrical west front is emphasized by the steep raked buttresses, by the tall narrow windows, and by the distinctive subdivision of the composition into four clearly defined parts. The first of these is the façade of the nave, an oddly flat Gothic gabled wall pierced by small lancets. The most dominant feature of this element is the huge panel set within a pointed arch with banded voussoirs of black, red and white brick. Three lancets in the panel are set under a large quatrefoil window contained within a circular panel. The staircase which formerly provided access to the galleries is expressed by the windows on the lower stage of the façade.
The second element is the south-west tower with corner buttresses. It has three stages, is very deeply modelled, unlike the façade of the nave, and is surmounted by a tall, purplish-grey slated broach spire. The base of the tower contains a porch, and the church is entered by a double flat-headed doorway, above which is a large quatrefoil light within a circular panel framed by a steeply pointed arch. In the spandrels are carved roundels representing the emblems of the four evangelists. The stair turret to the tower fills in the spaces between the south-west buttresses, and in its upper stage, the second in the tower, becomes polygonal. Above, the stone base of the belfry stage is battered upwards, this third stage being pierced by three level lancets enriched by trefoil cusping. These open arches, on naturalistic foliate capitals crowning columns behind which are square structural piers, seem deep and sinister. Each face of this belfry stage of the tower is flanked by pilaster buttresses at the corners, and harsh saw-tooth corbelling extends between them in a horizontal band a short distance above the line of lancets. Over this stage, steep gabled dormers with single louvred lancets are corbelled out beyond the face of the brickwork below, and cut upwards into the base of the slate-covered spire.
The third element of the façade is the curious little spirelet on an octagonal base set on a square first stage with strongly profiled buttresses; it has the appearance of a small bell-tower, but was apparently never used as such.
The fourth unit is the gabled porch wedged between the base of the small tower and the main body of the church.
An unusual feature of the original exterior was the series of flying buttresses on either side, all now removed. They were very angular and boney in appearance, their skeletal effect being heightened by the use of black and white bricks for the voussoirs.
The impressive, even perhaps grand, and spacious interior consists of a four-bay nave with tall narrow aisles, wide transepts which have, however, only a token projection beyond the aisles, and an apsidal chancel with a vestry on one side and a small chapel on the other. Cast-iron columns, originally illuminated in strong polychromatic designs but now encased in concrete, carry lofty arcades that support a clerestory pierced with quatrefoil lights set in circular openings. The arcades and clerestory, of stock brick, strongly coloured with bands of black, white and red brick and stone, provide a sharpness and rasping individuality which is emphasized by the notched arrises of the brick arches. The principal timbers of the nave roof, also with notched edges, are carried on small marble columns with naturalistic corbels and capitals carved by J. W. Seale of Lambeth. (fn. 65) The harsh, jagged and abrasive motifs of the interior were continued outside in the magpie polychromy of the flying buttresses.
The galleries were supported on beams which spanned from the aisle walls to brackets fixed to the iron columns, and originally extended through the transepts, side aisles and west end of the nave. The spacious staircases were placed at the back of the west gallery, and over the staircases was an upper gallery reached from the staircase in the tower which forms an entrance porch on the ground floor. The galleries on the north and south sides were removed in 1896 and those on the west in 1905. The western fenestration was related to the stair to the gallery, and has now lost its raison d'être. During these alterations, no account was taken of Bassett Keeling's structural methods, for the building was so weakened that a general strengthening of the fabric had to be organized by Milner and Craze in 1954–5, which included the casing of the iron columns, the tying back of the arcades to the aisle walls by means of concrete beams, and the demolition of the flying buttresses and their replacement by sturdy stock-brick piers. (fn. 58)
In addition to these structural alterations, Bassett Keeling's original design has also suffered considerably from loss of colour and detail. Since the removal of the original altar and reredos the east end of the church has lost its architectural focus, and is now dominated by the huge suspended Rood which was originally at St. Columb's, Notting Hill. The new pulpit, alterations to the chancel, and the new font, all date from 1957. The Stations of the Cross were brought here from St. John's, Holland Road, on the eve of the war of 1914–18.
Monastery of the Poor Clares Colettines, Westbourne Park Road
Plate 24a, b. Demolished
This convent was established in 1857 at the request of Dr. Henry Manning, then Superior of the Oblates of St. Charles. The buildings, which were erected in 1860, are said to have been modelled on those of the Poor Clares' convent at Bruges, which Manning had visited and which supplied the first nuns at Notting Hill. (fn. 66) In 1970 the convent removed to Barnet and the buildings were demolished. The site is now (1972) being used for the erection of flats and a day nursery by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council.
The convent stood at the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park Road. In 1860 the site was described in The Building News as being 'in a dreary waste of mud and stunted trees', where the convent shared 'the sole interest' of this desolate district with 'Dr. Walker's melancholy church' of All Saints', then still unfinished, and a lonely public house, now called the Elgin, in Ladbroke Grove. A number of 'low Irish' had settled in the vicinity, and already there had been 'a plentiful crop of Romish conversions there'. (fn. 66)
The architect of the new convent was Henry Clutton, and the contractors were Jackson and Shaw. (fn. 66) The buildings were economical and austere, being generally two storeys in height, of picked stocks with occasional bands of Staffordshire blue bricks, and with stone dressings to the chapel gables. They were grouped round a central cloistered court and flanked by walled gardens.
The principal entrance was from Westbourne Park Road, and was set in a one-storey linking block beside the chapels, which provided the principal element in the whole group. As the convent was occupied by an enclosed order, it was necessary to have two chapels, one for the nuns and the other for visitors. Clutton arranged the altars back to back, the movements of the celebrant's hands during Mass thus being visible to both the nuns and the visitors.
In 1871–2 John Francis Bentley produced plans for elaborate altars, but only the tabernacle, with its gilt door enriched with enamel and precious stones, and the exposition throne were built to his designs. Both sides of the throne had canopies consisting of hexagonal crocketed spirelets rising from coronas of fleurs-de-lis supported by two angels. The altars were to be made of alabaster and Hopton Wood stone with marble enrichments, and the frontals were to contain painted panels. (fn. 67)
Kensington Temple, Kensington Park Road
Formerly Horbury Congregational Chapel
Plate 28b; fig. 65
Horbury Congregational Chapel was an offshoot from the chapel in Hornton Street. It was built in 1848–9 to designs by J. Tarring. The builders were T. and W. Piper of Bishopsgate, whose tender was for £3,592. (fn. 68) It continued in Congregational use until 1935, when it became known as Kensington Temple, Church of the Foursquare Gospel. It is now known as Kensington Temple, Elim Pentecostal Church. (fn. 83)
The chapel is situated in a prominent position on a wedge-shaped site at the junction of Ladbroke and Kensington Park Roads, the entrance façade being emphasized by the flanking twin towers capped by octagonal spirelets. The style of the body of the chapel is essentially early decorated Gothic, while the towers have elements of Norman and Early English architecture in their details. The principal material is Kentish ragstone, with dressed stone for the quoins and openings.
The chapel is cruciform on plan, with only a vestigial niche to contain the pulpit. The original gallery was erected in 1870, (fn. 69) but was subsequently replaced by the present larger one, which is carried on cast-iron columns and is approached by the stairs in the twin towers. The conventional sub-divisions into nave and aisles do not exist in this chapel, but the body of the building is four bays long, while the 'transepts' are approximately two bays wide. Architecturally, the medieval styles are very unconvincing, while the plan, designed not for sacramental worship but as a preaching-house, hardly reflects the Gothic at all.
Peniel Chapel, Kensington Park Road
This chapel stands on the east side of Kensington Park Road between Blenheim and Elgin Crescents. The first chapel here was a proprietary 'iron' church, built in 1862 by the Reverend Henry Marchmont, a clergyman of the Church of England who conducted ritualistic services here. (fn. 70) After the destruction of this building by fire in 1867, (fn. 71) Marchmont began to build the present church, but in 1871 he was declared bankrupt (fn. 72) and the uncompleted carcase was sold to the congregation of Presbyterians who had hitherto met at a chapel in The Mall, Notting Hill Gate. Under these new owners the church was completed, and until 1919 was known as Trinity Presbyterian Church. It is now in undenominational use. (fn. 70) It is a large building, of stock brick with stone dressings. The style is a loosely interpreted Early English Gothic. It consists of a fourbay clerestoried nave with aisles, transepts and a chancel, the latter now being blocked off. There is a gallery in the south transept, which is larger than that to the north. There is also a small gallery at the west end of the church. The west front is tall and gabled, with lean-to aisle walls. There is a gable over the main door, above which are two windows surmounted by a geometrical rose window. A small quatrefoil pierces the gable over the rose.
Notting Hill Synagogue, Nos. 206–208 (even) Kensington Park Road
This building, originally a church meeting hall, was purchased in 1900 by a Jewish congregation and consecrated as a synagogue on 27 May of that year. (fn. 73) The exterior, originally Italianate in style, has been much altered, the gable having been removed.
The building is constructed of rendered brickwork, with a five-bay interior. Cast-iron columns support a gallery, which extends round three sides of the hall, and also a modern clerestory and flat roof, replacing the original pitched roof.
The Mercury Theatre, Ladbroke Road
This building was erected in 1851 as a school by the Congregationalists of the adjoining Horbury Chapel. The architect was John Tarring, (fn. 75) It was subsequently used as a church hall and then as a sculptor's studio to 1929 before becoming the home of Madame Rambert's Russian School of Dancing. After extensive alterations in 1930–1 it became known as 'Ballet Club' and was subsequently named The Mercury Theatre. It is now occupied by the Rambert School of Ballet, (fn. 75) but has not been used for ballet performances since 1965.
It is built of coursed rubble, with dressed stone door and window openings, in a free Gothic style. Although the building has been considerably altered, the original timber roof structure remains. The building presents a main façade to Ladbroke Road, with a large gabled wall placed asymmetrically and containing a large pointed window (now partially blocked up) with a roundel high in the gable.
Twentieth Century Theatre, No. 291 Westbourne Grove
This small theatre seating about 300 was built in 1863, and opened as the Victoria Hall. In 1866 it was renamed the Bijou Theatre, and in 1893 the interior was somewhat altered. From 1911 to 1918 it was used as a cinema, but reverted to a theatre and became the headquarters of first the Lena Ashwell Players, and then the Rudolph Steiner Association, who renamed it the Twentieth Century Theatre. It ceased to be a theatre in 1963, when the fittings were stripped out, and it was converted to use as an antique furniture warehouse. The auditorium still remains substantially as originally built, and is a rare survivor of the early rectangular hall type, with a gallery across one end. The entrance foyer survives, with a good moulded plaster ceiling. Other parts, such as the bar, have been partly reconstructed.
Electric Cinema Club, No. 191 Portobello Road
This was built in 1905 as the Electric Theatre, and is believed to be the second earliest purposebuilt theatre in London for the showing of films, and the only one to survive little altered inside. After a short spell as a cinema, it was used as a music hall under the name Imperial Playhouse. After long neglect it is now in use again as the Electric Cinema Club. The interior has remained virtually unaltered since it was built.
No. 14 Lansdowne Road: Hanover Lodge
Plate 63e, f
This house has been occupied by the same family since 1855, and its history can be traced in exceptional detail because one of the family, Colonel Martin Petrie, compiled a manuscript account of it in c. 1886. This was continued by his descendants, one of whom, Professor Eleanora Carus-Wilson, still lives there, and has kindly given permission to quote from it.
On 7 and 8 March 1844 J. W. Ladbroke leased the pair of houses then known as Nos. 7 and 8 Queen's Villas (now Nos. 14 Lansdowne Walk and 14 Lansdowne Road respectively) (fn. 2) to the solicitor Richard Roy for ninety-six years from Michaelmas 1843 at a ground rent of £7 for each house. (fn. 76) On 11 June 1844 Roy underleased both houses to Samuel Clothier, a marble mason variously described as of Street, Somerset, and of St. Pancras, who was probably a creditor of William Reynolds, the general building undertaker for this part of the Ladbroke estate. (fn. 77) Both houses were then still unfinished, and Clothier covenanted to complete them within six months, to complete the roads and footpaths in Queen's Road (now Lansdowne Walk) and Lansdowne Road, to paint the exterior every three and the interior every seven years, and to insure the building for three quarters of its value. In June 1848 Clothier sold his lease of No. 8 Queen's Villas to Thomas Robson, marble merchant, of Abingdon Street, Westminster, for £393, Robson also taking over a mortgage of £550 which Clothier had raised upon the house in 1845. The whole price paid by Robson was thus £943. The first occupant was Colonel Archibald Hyslop, formerly of the Honourable East India Company Service, who in 1851 was living here with his wife, four young children and four servants. (fn. 78)
At Michaelmas 1855 Mrs. Louisa Macdowall took Hanover Lodge, then known as 8 Hanover Villas, on a short lease at a rental of £75 per annum from Robson. In the same year Thomas Goudie bought the freehold reversion of the house from Felix Ladbroke.
The watercolour drawing reproduced on Plate 63e gives an extremely romanticized view of the house in its original condition. (fn. 3) It shows that the entrance porch to Lansdowne Road projected from the west front, and did not originally rise above ground-storey level. It was flanked on either side by a small 'cabinet', and in the basement below these there was a house maid's closet and a small scullery. A French window at firstfloor level opened on to the flat roof of the porch, which was surrounded by a balustrade, and beneath which was the water-cistern. All the windows had small panes of glass secured by glazing-bars in the traditional Georgian manner.
In January 1861 Captain (later Colonel) Martin Petrie, Mrs. Macdowall's son-in-law, purchased Robson's lease for £925, and at once began to make extensive alterations. He extended the roof, formerly hipped, to make a west gable, replaced the small panes in the windows with plate glass (except in the basement), drained the garden, which had previously been very swampy, and erected an ornamental terra-cotta vase and pedestal. In 1863 he built an extension on the west side, north of the porch, containing the back kitchen in the basement and library on the ground floor, and added label-heads and balconies to the drawing-room windows. In 1874 he built the bowed projection on the south side, which extends up the full height of the house and includes a single-sheet bowed plate-glass window in the drawing-room. On the west side he added a small wing of the same height, which incorporated the original porch and contained a new larder, muniment room, boudoir and dressingroom. The roof was stripped and reslated, the whole of the water system renewed, with a new cistern at the top of the house, and encaustic tiles were laid in the porch and entrance path. The total cost of the works done in this year was £622.
Gas had been supplied to the house since at least 1855, and had certainly lit the garden room, where there was a gaselier. In the late 1870's it was brought up to the corridor of the first floor. The drawing-room, however, continued to be lit by candles until the installation of electricity in the house in 1898. In this year the attics were converted into a spacious nursery floor, with a pantry, bedrooms, and a day-nursery with a French window providing access from it to the flat roof of the west wing.
The freehold of the house was bought by the Petrie family in 1886. (fn. 79)
No. 85 Clarendon Road
This house, known until 1919 as the Clarendon Hotel, was built by William Reynolds under a lease of 1846 from Richard Roy. It is a threestorey stucco-faced building standing at the south corner of Portland Road, the front to Clarendon Road, three windows in width, being ornamented with pilasters. Reynolds established himself here as a licensed victualler and was soon deeply involved in complicated mortgage arrangements similar to those which he made during the course of his building activities in this neighbourhood (see page 210). In February 1848 he was declared bankrupt, and in 1850 his debts (in addition to the mortgages) included some £1,100 to Barclay, Perkins, the brewers, for goods delivered to the hotel. (fn. 80) In July of this year he died, and soon afterwards the hotel came into the possession of David Allan Ramsay, a nurseryman who was soon to turn builder, with disastrous results for himself, and who was soon deep in debt to another firm of brewers, William Reid and Company.
One of the mortgages made by Reynolds in 1847 contains a detailed list of the fittings, furniture and equipment in the hotel at that date. On the ground floor there were four public rooms the tap room, the parlour, the bar parlour and the private parlour. All were heated either by a register stove or an open fire, and none of the floors appears to have been covered. Painted wooden settles extended round forty-five feet of the walls of the tap room, where there were three iron-bound stout deal tables and two forms. In the parlour the settles, hat rails, elbow screens and 'capital strong well made . . . drinking table' were all of mahogany, and there were four Windsor chairs, four iron spittoons and a large chimney-glass in a gilt frame. The bar parlour, evidently a small room, had a mahogany Pembroke table, four cane-seat chairs and scarlet silk curtains protected by a druggett and suspended from brass rods. The private parlour was similar but larger, with four flower-pot stands, six spittoons and thirteen Windsor chairs. The bar itself was described as the 'capital painted and panelled front return counter with stout metal top and gate fitted with twelve brass spirit taps, rinsing basin, five drawers, cupboard shelves etc., metal top to same, double metal drawer and receiver, a handsome seven motion Beer engine with ivory pulls, six metal taps and one brass stop cock, metal drainer, length of waste pipe in carved Spanish mahogany case (by Angliss)'. There were eight one-gallon iron-bound gilt spirit casks with brass taps and a length of pipe to the spirit taps, while the 'return Cabinet' of this splendid equipage, in which were stored prodigious numbers of mugs, bottles and miscellaneous requirements such as dice and snuff boxes, was 'finished with a noble cornice, carved plaster etc.'
The kitchen in the basement had an 'oven and boiler range with supply cistern, pull out bar and swing trivet'. The stout deal table in the middle (with eight Windsor chairs) was surrounded by cupboards and dressers accommodating a tremendous iron batterie de cuisine. In the beer cellar there were three large store butts, the largest having a capacity of 148 gallons, from which beer was piped up to the engine in the bar above. There was also a spirit cellar and a wash-house, the latter containing a copper and three iron-bound tubs.
On the first floor there was a large club-room and two bedrooms. The second floor contained five more bedrooms and there were also two small attics. The club-room had two register stoves 'with Elizabethan bars', each surmounted by a large chimney-glass. There were ten mahogany drinking tables, each six feet in length, twenty-one Windsor chairs, and twenty-nine iron spittoons.
Most of the bedrooms had a register stove, a painted washstand and dressing table, and a double-rail towel horse. Those on the second floor had Kidderminster carpets. The bedroom next to the club-room was snugly furnished with a drinking table and a 'Loo table on pillar and plinth with painted baize cover'. In the best room the bed was described as a 'Handsome 7ft. carved and turned pillar double screwed mahogany four post bedstead with mahogany cornice rods, brass rings, lath bottom base slip laths'. Beneath the top mattress or 'bed', which was of course of feathers, was a wool mattress and beneath this a straw palliass which rested on the laths.
All the windows throughout the house had either Holland spring roller blinds or green Venetian blinds, and most of the doors had ebony knobs and finger plates. There were altogether eleven register stoves and several open grates, plus the boiler in the kitchen. There seems to have been a piped cold water supply in the bar and the kitchen, but there was none on the first floor. The kitchen and ground-floor rooms and also the club-room on the first floor and part of the staircase were all lit by gas, the meter being in the beer cellar; but none of the bedrooms had gas, fear of accidental asphyxiation being probably the reason. There were two water-closets, one evidently near the lower part of the staircase and the other in the region of the bar. This last was indeed the hub of the whole household, for it was in 'Front of bar' that one or more of the 'eleven spring bells on carriages with brass pendulums, cranks and wires' jangled periodically on the 'painted bell board and eleven painted inscriptions', to summon a servant to one of the public rooms. None of the bedrooms had bell pulls, but in the club-room there were four, of brass and china, 'with cranks and wires'.
At the back of the house there was a skittle ground and a bowling green, equipped with benches, a sacking screen behind the skittle frame, and a movable urinal. (fn. 81)
The census returns of 1851 show that the publican then was James Phillips, who conducted the hotel with the assistance of his wife, his daughter aged twelve, one waiter, one servant and a pot boy. There were three resident 'visitors'. (fn. 78)
The house ceased to be a hotel in 1919 and has subsequently been used for commercial, social and professional purposes.