Survey of London: Volume 6, Hammersmith. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1915.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
XXXVIII.—HAMMERSMITH TERRACE AND BLACK LION STAIRS
Ground landlord, leaseholders, etc.
General description and date of structure.
Hammersmith Terrace, which occupies the western end of the river-bank, almost as far as the parish boundary, is well named, for its seventeen houses are certainly typical of the district, which owes much of its character to the building of the 18th century. Former writers appear to have dated the row from about 1770, but the Court Rolls of the Manor of Fulham contain references to the houses some fifteen years before that date. The row forms one continuous block of building of warm-toned stock brick, the houses being constructed on practically one and the same plan, with the exception of Nos. 1 and 16. The eastern part (Nos. 1 to 6) is three storeys in height, the western possesses an extra storey; (fn. 1) while the majority of the houses exhibit evidence of additions or alterations at various periods. The variation in height and the irregular spacing of the windows to a certain extent relieve the somewhat monotonous appearance of the terrace from the roadside, and the effect is further assisted by the numerous pillared porches that project on to the pavement. The houses are well, though simply, planned, and the north front is of secondary importance, as the principal rooms face the river towards the south. Internally, the best original features are the staircases (the most interesting example, perhaps, being in No. 16), although a good number of the rooms still contain their original panelling. Others, again, have been considerably altered, little of their original character being left; and this is more particularly the case in the large front rooms on the first floor, from which fine views of the river are obtainable. The staircase of No. 3 has lost its original balusters. The fireplaces generally are quite plain, but in a large number of cases retain their old hob grates. The picturesqueness of the terrace is greatly increased by the row of pleasant old-world gardens stretching right down to the water's edge. Until about the end of the year 1880 the end of each garden opened on to a private walk or promenade, the site of which is now included in sections in the gardens themselves. The river-wall is of considerable height above the shore, and at high tide the water is nearly level with the gardens, from many of which a flight of steps is provided as a landing-stage. The whole terrace is a valuable relic of the river-side houses which were characteristic of London in the past.
Historical and biographical notes.
The idea that these houses were erected in 1770 seems to be due to Faulkner, (fn. 2) but references to them in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Fulham extend back a good many years earlier. The property as a whole is referred to on three occasions between 1755 and 1799. The earliest references (in 1755 and 1756) are the surrender by Peter Calmel to Henry Bodicoate of a number of strips of land measuring 20 x 70 or 20 x 100, lying at the Hope between the River Thames on the south and the footpath from Chiswick to Hammersmith on the north; and another piece measuring 28 x 100 (fn. 3) abutting west on an ate (eyot) or ozier ground and east on land let by Calmel to John Morrice, glazier, with the new built messuage demised by Calmel to Ed. Trant by indenture dated 9th September, 1756, for sixty years at a yearly rental of £5. Yet another piece is described as measuring 59 x 70, abutting east on land owned by Calmel and west on land let by Calmel to Horlock, with the messuage demised by Calmel to George Longstaffe for sixty-one years from September, 1756. This must refer to the sites now occupied by the shop numbered 1a and the houses 1 and 2, and further probably indicates that only one house was built at this time, presumably No. 2. It is noticeable that the plan of No. 1 differs from the others. Several other pieces of land on the other or northern side of the footpath are mentioned, including two plots, both measuring 57 x 80, and let to Rose Owen as a kitchen garden.
The entries in the years 1799 and 1800 are more interesting, as the houses are in many cases referred to by number and thus identification is assured. The references are contained in a surrender by Henry Bodicoate to Anne Peyton, his sister, and others, and also in a sale of a number of plots by Anne Peyton, among those not sold being No. 16, which she leased to Christopher Spencer. To take the entries in detail: The piece measuring 59 x 70 is sold to William Perry, together with the houses numbered 1 and 2. There is still no mention of the shop. No. 3 is not mentioned at all. No. 4 is sold to George Wolfe. No. 5 is sold and is described as being in the occupation of Mr. Pittman. No. 6 is sold to Benjamin Pugh of Bartlett Buildings, who also purchases the two parcels 57 x 80 (north of the terrace). No. 7 merely receives its old designation and no fresh details are given. No. 8 is not mentioned. No. 9 is bought by Lashlan Robert McKintosh; No. 10 by John Lewis of Hammersmith. Of Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14 no new information is forthcoming. No. 15 is sold to Samuel Moody, whose name is given as the occupier from 1795 to 1799 in the scanty remains of the rate-books; while the remaining piece, as has been mentioned, is let to Christopher Spencer. The frontage is given as 20 feet only. The history of No. 14 can be followed in greater detail, for in the year 1762 Peter Calmel surrenders a piece of land abutting east on land belonging to Calmel and west on a messuage belonging to John Morrice, Elizabeth Joye being admitted; while mention is made that the land is part of copyhold lands purchased by Calmel from William Dudley and Herman Corbett. (fn. 4) On 20th April, 1778, Elizabeth Joye surrenders to Sir Clifton Wintringham, who on 18th November, 1789, himself surrenders (fn. 5) to John Beckwith, which agrees with the evidence of the rate-books, as the name of Colonel Beckwith appears here from 1795–99. Faulkner says that Wintringham lived at No. 15, but that would be accounted for if the shop at the beginning of the row were included in the numbering at that time.
Mr. de Loutherbourg is given as being at Nos. 7 and 8 in the rate-books from 1795 to 1799, although Faulkner says he was at No. 13. This discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the last-named house was occupied for some time by a relative of the same name. Arthur Murphy appears at No. 16 from 1795–99, and this confirms Faulkner's statement.
The old stairs to the east of the terrace leading down to the river derive their name from the Black Lion Inn, which stands just opposite the end of this terrace on the north side of the way. Black Lion Lane leads past the inn to the high road, but it is shown on Salway's plan as St. Peter's Street.
Philip James de Loutherbourg is mentioned at great length by Faulkner. (fn. 6) He was born in Alsace in 1740, his father being a miniature-painter of Strasburg and painter to the Court at Darmstadt. De Loutherbourg became a pupil of Casanova, and quickly obtained a reputation as a painter of battles, huntings and landscapes. He was admitted into the Academy of Painting in Paris about 1763, and soon after came over to England, where he was engaged by Garrick to superintend the scenery at Drury Lane. He was for many years a member of the Royal Academy. He settled at Hammersmith Terrace about 1783 and made it his home for the remainder of his life, dying there on 11th March, 1812. (fn. 7) The latter part of his life was spent in the study of mysticism, and his claims to the power of prophecy and the healing of diseases gave rise to many unedifying scenes. A description of alleged miraculous cures performed by him and by his wife ("a lady of most exquisite sensibility") was published by one of his dupes in 1789. (fn. 8) He was buried in Chiswick Churchyard, and Faulkner (fn. 9) quotes in full the inscription on his tomb, which may still be seen. The following note, apparently in De Loutherbourg's handwriting, is preserved in the British Museum, and is dated "Hammersmith Terrace, July 7th, 1789":
"Mr. de Loutherbourg, finding that his endeavours to relieve the afflicted have in a great measure been subverted by the unjustifiable conduct of several malicious persons who have by violence or insinuation extorted the tickets given by him to the poor and basely sold them by which means they have deprived the said poor of the relief intended for them only, and as the peace and safety of the inhabitants and his own family might be endangered by a continuation of the riotous behaviour of a number of persons. Mr. de Loutherbourg hereby gives notice that he will admit no more patients, nor will any application whatever be attended to, which he most sincerely regrets as he is by this means prevented from exercising his charity and wish (under the blessing of God) to relieve those unhappy persons who from poverty have it not in their power to apply to physic."
Sir Clifton Wintringham, Bt., son of Clifton Wintringham, a physician and medical writer of some repute, was born at York in 1710 and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He entered the Army Medical Service and became Physician-in-Ordinary to George III in 1762 and Physician-General to the Forces in 1786. Wintringham received the honour of knighthood in 1762 and was created a baronet in 1774. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the Société Royale de Médecine de France. From the Court Rolls (fn. 10) we learn that he took No. 14, Hammersmith Terrace in 1778, and left it in 1789, on which occasion he probably removed to a house in the Mall, (fn. 11) where he died on 10th January, 1794. (fn. 12) He was buried in the North Transept of Westminster Abbey, where a monument by Banks was erected to his memory. In addition to editing his father's works he himself wrote several medical treatises.
Arthur Murphy is referred to by Faulkner (fn. 13) as a "venerable ornament of British literature." Born at Roscommon in 1727, he was in 1738 sent to the College of St. Omer, where he remained till his 18th year. Originally intended for mercantile pursuits, he was tempted to venture on the stage, and appeared at Covent Garden in 1754 in the character of Othello. His experience as an actor, however, only lasted about two years, and henceforward he devoted himself chiefly to the writing of plays. Murphy was a favourite in society and enjoyed the friendship of such men as Johnson, Garrick and Rogers. He was a prolific writer. In addition to his numerous dramatic compositions may be mentioned his edition of the works of Henry Fielding, his Life of David Garrick, and his essay on the Life and Genius of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. He also published translations of Tacitus and Sallust. These involved him in pecuniary difficulties, as a result of which he was compelled to sell his residence in Hammersmith Terrace. (fn. 14) During the latter part of his life he resided at Knightsbridge, where he died on 18th June, 1805. He was buried in Hammersmith Church near his mother, and Faulkner (fn. 15) records a tablet to his memory which has since disappeared.
Mrs. Rosamond Mountain (née Wilkinson), a celebrated vocalist and actress of the latter part of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, is said by Faulkner (fn. 16) to have lived for many years at Hammersmith Terrace. As, however, she did not take up her residence there until after 1800, a detailed account of her does not come within the scope of this volume.
Old prints, drawings, etc.
(fn. 17)Photograph from the river in the possession of Mrs. Chase.