Manor house of Tottenhall

Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1949.

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'Manor house of Tottenhall', in Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood, (London, 1949) pp. 120-121. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]


There is no very extensive information to be obtained concerning the character of the building of the Manor House, but there is no doubt about its site which was at the north-east corner of the present junction of Euston Road with Hampstead Road and Tottenham Court Road. The story, so often repeated, that it was on the west of Hampstead Road, on the site of the Adam and Eve public-house, has no foundation whatever.

The position is clearly marked on a plan made by William Necton on 6th April, 1591 (Plate 70). The Manor was then in the hands of the Crown and this was one of the surveys of Crown property which are found in the Marquess of Salisbury's Collection at Hatfield House, having been made when Cecil was Secretary of State. The surveyor added a memorandum with some remarks on the building, which was then in the occupation of Daniel Clarke, Master Cook to Queen Elizabeth and afterwards to James I. He calls it "a very slender building of timber and brick" which "hath beene of a larger building than now it is. For some little parte hath beene pulled downe of late to amend some part of the houses now standing (fn. 1)." These alterations had been carried out by Clarke's predecessor, Alexander Glover. Further repairs are stated to be necessary, particularly to two rooms 24 by 15 feet and 34 by 15 feet respectively, "very greatlie decaied wch will cost to be repaired lxli at the least."

When William Necton referred to the Manor House as a "slender building" he was probably speaking in a comparative sense. Nearly sixty years later we have the description of the house contained in the Survey of 1649, printed in Appendix IX of St. Pancras, Part II. From this we learn that the house stood in 1½ acres within a moat. The description starts with the gatehouse, which had a chamber and two closets over the gate. One then entered a little courtyard and approached the hall which may have been raised about the ground for mention is made of a "wood room under the stairs there." At one end of the hall was a wainscotted parlour and at the other the usual provision of kitchen, larder and cellar. There follow a little wainscotted parlour, a fair staircase and then one great chamber with an inner room, seven other rooms and a pair of back stairs. The outbuildings, orchard and garden complete the catalogue and can be compared with those on William Necton's drawing. Although neither description indicates a very large house they show a tolerable amount of accommodation.

In the Heal Collection at the St. Pancras Public Library is a watercolour drawing, made by W. Burden in 1801, which is described as the copy of a painting of the Manor House in 1743 (Plate 69). On the right is an Elizabethan building of three storeys with two prominent wings, between which is the entrance to the house. Over the central part is a curved gable; the wings have plain gables and bold panelled buttresses finishing in obelisks at the external angles. The windows appear to be of stone with mullions and transomes. On the left, recessed some distance, is an older two-storey building projecting at right angles from the Elizabethan range. From its gables, arched doorway and windows, and from the presence of a large pointed stone arch adjoining it, this building can be identified as the subject of an engraving in Londina Illustrata (see Plate 69) entitled "King John's Palace," the name given to a structure which is known to have stood on the Manor House site and which was pulled down early in the 19th-century. It seems clear from this that the Elizabethan range had disappeared before the drawing was made.

We have, therefore, two views of separate parts of the Manor House on which we can place some reliance. There is no clue to the aspect of either of these views and Necton's little conventional representation of the house does not help in this respect. The block of building shown by Rocque in his map of 1745, which includes the King's Head Public House, (fn. n1) is too near the road to be the Manor House.

The general lay-out is indicated pretty clearly by Necton in 1591. The site of house, court, orchard, garden and Pond Close occupied about 7 acres. The house stands in the northern part of a rectangular enclosure, no doubt the moated area of 1½ acres of the 1649 survey, leaving a court to the south approached by a gatehouse on its southern boundary. The garden lay to the east and the orchard to the north and west, so that the house was centrally placed and well protected. South of the gatehouse an outer court is shown stretching from the road on the west to the extreme boundary on the east. South of this again is the Pond Close which can be recognized in the enclosure with its pond shown on Rocque's Map. The site of the later Euston Road is roughly that of the outer or entrance court. It is perhaps worth noting that, if Necton's sketch is even approximately correct, the Manor House showed the normal Elizabethan practice of making the entrance to the south and the principal rooms facing north.

The large pond to the north of the Manor House site, shown in Rocque's Map, does not appear on Necton's plan and it was outside the grounds of the house. It was later converted into a reservoir of the New River Company and is so shown on Davies' Map of St. Marylebone, etc. (1834). Tolmer Square now covers the site.


  • n1. This inn is shown in Hogarths' March of the Guards to Finchley (Plate ).
  • 1. Cited in Survey of London, St. Pancras, Pt. II, p. 14.