The Walcot Estate

Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1951.

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'The Walcot Estate', in Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall, (London, 1951) pp. 125-127. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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Like the three acres of marsh which afterwards became Cuper's Gardens (see p. 25), and the seven acres of “Hopes” later owned by Jesus College on the river bank, the land included in the Walcot Estate was in the 15th century the property of the Earls of Arundel and later of the Dukes of Norfolk (see p. 137). The sale in 1559 by Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, of his Lambeth property included 23½ acres of land “lyinge in severall parcelles” in Cotmansfield. Seventeen acres of this ground, having passed through the same hands as the marshland mentioned above, was sold by Augustine Skinner in 1657 (fn. 6) to Edmund Walcott and was by him left in trust for the poor of St. Mary, Lambeth, and St. Olave, Southwark. (fn. 7) The description of the property in 1559 suggests that the open field system was still in use, but as such descriptions were often copied from older documents this may be an anachronism. Colour is, however, lent to the suggestion by the fact that as late as 1636 the disposition of holdings in Cotmansfield was obscure, both customary tenants and freeholders being ordered in that year by the homage to produce their charters and copies in the manor court of the Archbishop to prove the limits and bounds of their holdings. (fn. 8)

In addition to his seventeen acres of freehold, Edmund Walcott held an acre of copyhold ground in Cotmansfield which had previously belonged to his uncle, Richard Walcott, (fn. 9) sometime bailiff of the Manor of Kennington. (fn. 2) This acre of land reverted to the Archbishop as lord of the manor, since no representative of the charity came forward to claim it in the manor court after Edmund's death in 1668. (fn. n1)

The freehold estate comprised the area now lying between Walnut Tree Walk and Brook Drive, on either side of the present Kennington Road. In 1713 the estate was partitioned between the two parishes in order that it might be developed more conveniently; the present line of Kennington Road formed roughly the line of demarcation, St. Mary's taking the northeastern and St. Olave's the south-western portion. (fn. 10) In 1750–51, when the New (Kennington) Road was laid out, St. Olave's and St. Mary's parishes both sold land to the Turnpike Trustees, St. Mary's retaining part of the land on the west side of the road and St. Olave's a tiny triangular piece of land on the east side.

In 1815 it was found necessary to make a further partition of the estate, since in its development two houses (Nos. 112 and 114 Kennington Road) had been built half on St. Olave's and half on St. Mary's land. The triangular piece of land referred to above was given to St. Mary's parish and an adjustment was made in the boundaries on the other side of the road. (fn. 11)

In pursuance of a decree in Chancery an Act of Parliament was passed in 1828 “for confirming a Partition of the Walcott Charity Estates, … by vesting the same in Trustees for the several Parishes of Lambeth … and St. Olave, Southwark, and St. John, Horslydown, (fn. n2) … and for regulating the said Charity, and for empowering the Trustees … to grant Building and Repairing Leases.” (fn. 11)

At the time of Edmund Walcott's death the estate was tenanted by Thomas Hardy. (fn. 7) According to the Rev. John Denne it passed to John Ramsey, grocer and alderman of London, and to his two daughters and their husbands, Henry Herbert, Baron Herbert of Cherbury, and Sir William Broughton. By an agreement between them Lord Herbert paid rent to St. Mary's parish and Sir William to St. Olave's. (fn. 5) The very sparse entries in the vestry books refer to the estate at this time as the “Flower Pot” Rents. (fn. 3)

In 1713, when the estate was partitioned, the lands were in the occupation of John Gold, Simon Harding, Edmund Golderkey or Goldegay, and Thomas Ellisome. Gold and Harding were both gardeners, and probably the whole estate was used for market-gardening. (fn. 10) It is shown on Rocque's map of 1746 as tilled ground.

The frontages opened up by the making of the New Road increased the value of the estate. In 1755 the Lambeth trustees granted a building lease to Richard Summersell, who held land elsewhere in the parish, of two pieces of land in Walnut Tree Walk (which then extended on either side of Kennington Road) containing in the whole about 1 acre and 6 perches, on condition that he spent £500 in building thereon. (fn. 10) Whether the agreement was carried out is not clear, for Summersell made no mention of the lease in his will in 1772, and soon after the trustees granted other building leases of the Kennington Road frontage which do not suggest the existence of previous buildings.

With a view to the further improvement of the estate, the Lambeth trustees in 1835 obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury a piece of ground on the north-west side of Bird Street (now Monkton Street) so that a road might be opened from the turnpike road (i.e., Kennington Road) into Bird Street. In the same year the trustees also had an assignment of an adjoining piece of ground from Lytton George Kier and Isaac Lawrence. This ground, like that adjoining it in St. George's Fields, had a few years earlier been in the hands of the Hedger family, lessees of the Dog and Duck public house, who had made a fortune out of speculative building in the neighbourhood. The land, which had previously been garden ground in the occupation of Dionysus Fairclough, was laid out to form what is known as Walcot Square, though in fact it is a triangle. (fn. 10)

The Lambeth estate now comprises 121–167 (odd) and 104–112 (even), Kennington Road (see p. 128); 2–62 (even) and 1–95 (odd), Walcot Square (see p. 127); 1–29 (consec.), St. Mary's Gardens; 1–15 (consec.) St. Mary's Walk; and the sites of 1–7, Bishop's Terrace. (fn. n3)

The St. Olave's property consists of Nos. 114–134, 150–160 (even), Kennington Road (see p. 134), Nos. 2–17, 55–63 (consec.), Walnut Tree Walk, and Nos. 73–75 Lambeth Walk.

Walcot Square

This square was laid out and the houses erected in 1837–39, Nos. 9–81 by John Woodward of Paradise Street, Nos. 16–24 by Charles Newnham of Newnham Place, Paris Street, and Nos. 26–50 by John Chapman of Waterloo Road, builder. (fn. 10) The houses are of simple terrace type in yellow stock brick with stucco surrounds to the entrances and a plain coping above the parapets.

No. 19 (formerly No. 60) was occupied in 1870 by William Henry Rich Jones (1817–85), antiquary. He was born in Christ Church parish, Blackfriars. He was vicar of Bradford-on-Avon in 1851–85 and published several antiquarian works. (fn. 4)

No. 20 (formerly No. 4) was occupied in 1840–41 (?) by Wm. Hosking (1800–1861), architect and civil engineer. Apprenticed in Sydney to a builder, he came to England in 1819. He was engineer to the West London Railway and later held a professorship at King's College, London. He designed Trinity Chapel, Poplar, and buildings in Abney Park cemetery. His most important publication was a work on bridges; he claimed to have originated the design for the British Museum Reading Room. He married a daughter of William Clowes, the printer. (fn. 4)

At No. 77 (formerly No. 31) in 1840–41 lived Thomas Barnes (1785–1841), editor of The Times. (fn. 4) He had previously lived in Nelson Square, Southwark (see Survey of London, Vol. xxii).

Walnut Tree Walk

[See plates 97, 99 and 101.]

At the beginning of the 18th century Walnut Tree Walk was a lane leading out into the fields from Lambeth or Three Coney Walk. (fn. 1) Simon Harding, gardener, had a cottage there with a small-holding of just over three acres, (fn. 10) but there does not seem to have been any other development until 1755, when Robert Hardcastle was granted a 61 years' building lease of ground on both sides of the way by the St. Olave trustees of the Walcot Estate. (fn. 12) Of the houses erected by him, Nos. 9, 10, and 11 and Nos. 56–63 (formerly Nos. 15–22) still survive. Nos. 14–17 and probably Nos. 64–66 were built about 1817, Nos. 15 and 16 by John Money I' Anson of St. Marylebone, builder. Nos. 53–55 appear to have been built about 1830, and it is probable that No. 56, one of the original houses built by Robert Hardcastle, was substantially altered at this date.

Architectural Description

The fronts of Nos. 9–11 have been much altered by the formation of a way through for vehicles, but they retain their original doorways with wood architrave surrounds and shaped or enriched brackets supporting a flat hood.

Nos. 53–66 form a continuous group of three-storey houses in stock brick. The doorways to Nos. 58–63 are in pairs and are of wood with trefoil-headed panels at the sides superimposed on Tuscan-type pilasters.


  • n1. Edmund left his property to his father, William Walcott, for life and the reversion for the charity, but his father survived him only for a year. Both Edmund and William asked to be buried in St. Olave's Church.
  • n2. The parish of St. John was created out of St. Olave's by an Act of Parliament in 1733, but the inhabitants were entitled to the same charities as the inhabitants of St. Olave's.
  • n3. St. Mary's Gardens (formerly St. Mary's Square) and St. Mary's Walk (formerly St. Mary's Street) were developed in 1839–40 shortly after Walcot Square. Bishop's Terrace (formerly part of Ship Lane) marks the line of the eastern section of Walnut Tree Walk.
  • 1. MS. History of the Manor of Kennington, by Rollo Laird Clowes, in the Minet Library (copy in the L.C.C. Members' Library).
  • 2. P.R.O., E 317 (Surr.), No. 33.
  • 3. St. Mary, Lambeth, Vestry Minute Books.
  • 4. D.N.B.
  • 5. Lambeth Endowed Charities Office. Account of benefactions to Lambeth Parish, by Dr. John Denne.
  • 6. P.R.O., C.P. 25(2), 602, Surr. Mich. 1657.
  • 7. P.C.C., 26 Hene.
  • 8. Church Commissioners: Deeds, 171193.
  • 9. Guildhall Library, M.R./M.S.2063. “A True and exact Transcript of all entered In The Tenants Court Book …,”1685.
  • 10. Lambeth Endowed Charities: Walcot Estate Deeds, Kept at Hayle's Estate Office, St. George's Road.
  • 11. Private Act, 9 Geo. IV, cap. 45.
  • 12. A Rental and Account of Monies ArisingFrom Gifts, (etc.)… To the Parishes of St, Olave and St. John, … Printed 1829.