Brixton: The Wright estate

Survey of London: Volume 26, Lambeth: Southern Area. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1956.

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'Brixton: The Wright estate', in Survey of London: Volume 26, Lambeth: Southern Area, (London, 1956) pp. 106-108. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]

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CHAPTER IV - Brixton

This chapter covers the central of part the parish between the Manor of Stockwell on the west and the Manor of Milkwell on the east. The greater part of the area formed part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Manors of Lambeth and Lambeth Wick, and was the scene of a great deal of undistinguished speculative building in the first half of the 19th century.

The Wright Estate

Nothing is known about the early history of the land between Prima Road, South Island Place, Clapham Road and Brixton Road. The area formed a no-man’s land bounded by the Manor of Kennington and Vauxhall Creek on the north, by Vauxhall Manor on the west and by Lambeth Wick Manor on the east and south. It may perhaps be identified with 18 acres held by Robert Addison of St. Saviour’s, Southwark, butcher, who was presented in 1640 to the Court of the Commissioners of Sewers to scour the sewer which lay along his ground near Hazards Bridge. (fn. 1) Hazards Bridge crossed Vauxhall Creek at the north end of Brixton Road. The land must have been very marshy at all times until the sewer was closed in, for the area around Kennington Common, the Oval and Claylands Road formed a shallow depression through which the river flowed, and indeed often overflowed. Development of these 18 acres started at the beginning of the 19th century but only along the frontages to the main roads. Prima Road, formerly Church Row or Street, was laid out about 1794, when the property belonged to John Wright of Esher, banker. (fn. 2) Wright granted several building leases of plots fronting Clapham and Brixton Roads and a few of the houses erected under these leases survive and are described below. In 1870 another John Wright, who was then owner of the estate, disposed of it in two parts. The northern part, between Prima Road and the present gardens of houses in Handforth Road, was sold to Philip Edward Sewell of Norfolk, civil engineer. (fn. 2) The southern portion was acquired by Robert and Isaac Crewdson, (fn. 3) and Handforth and Crewdson Roads were subsequently laid out across it.

No. 5 Prima Road

Formerly Severn House

This house was erected under a building lease granted in 1801 to William Broadhurst (fn. 2) but has probably been altered since. It is a three-storey stock brick villa raised above a semi-basement and finished with a cornice and blocking course to the parapet. It has a rusticated stuccoed ground storey and is set forward slightly at each side of the central entrance. The entrance is sheltered by a broad Ionic-columned porch which has rectangular corner piers with anthemion-ornamented heads. There are bearded male mask keystones over the windows which are identical with those on No. 57 South Lambeth Road (Plates 70a, b, c). The villa is partially masked by later houses which about it at each side on an advanced building line.

The Belgrave Hospital for Children, Clapham Road

This hospital was founded in 1866 in Pimlico. (fn. 4) At the end of the 19th century the Governors decided that the need for hospital accommodation in south London warranted its removal from Gloucester Street, Pimlico, and in 1899 they took a lease of its present site from P. E. Sewell. (fn. 5) The buildings which then occupied the site were pulled down and the foundation stone was laid by Princess Henry of Battenberg on June 27, 1900. (fn. 6) The east wing, centre block, out patients’ department and the ground floor of the south wing were finished in 1903 (fn. 4) and opened on July 20 of that year. (fn. 7) The south wing was completed in 1924 and the west wing two years later. (fn. 4) The plan of the hospital was the work of H. Percy Adams, but the elevations, which show the influence of Philip Webb, were prepared by Charles Holden, who had joined Adams in October 1899. (fn. 8) The builders were Messrs. Gough and Co. of Hendon. (fn. 9)

The hospital has a simple cruciform plan and is symmetrically arranged about the Clapham Road front. The building, which is mostly of four storeys, is faced with red brick and has mullioned and transomed windows of Portland stone. Its entrance wing at the centre is surmounted by a steep gable flanked by low square battlemented towers, and the wards in the north and south wings are galleried, with plain towers at each corner containing necessary services.

Nos. 13 and 15 Clapham Road

Formerly Nos. 4 and 5 Clapham Road Place or Lambeth Place

A plan on the lease of the adjoining property dated 1805 shows these houses on lease to Henry Wood, (fn. 2) who may have erected them about this time. They are paired three-storey houses and have a stock brick front of simple design. A narrow recession defines the party wall between the houses, each of which has two rectangular windows in each storey. Those to the ground floor are set in shallow recesses with arched heads rising from moulded imposts. Each house is flanked by a single storey annexe containing the entrance, the door being set with a radial-patterned fanlight in a segmental-arched opening.

Nos. 17–25 (odd) Clapham Road

Formerly Nos. 6–10 (consec.) Clapham Road Place

These houses were erected in 1805 at the costs of James Medland of St. Mary Newington, surveyor, and were let to him in that year by John Wright’s trustees. (fn. 2) They are a terrace of five houses sharing a stock brick front that presents a balanced composition. All the houses are three windows wide and each end house forms a slightly projecting pavilion, four storeys high, the last being an attic above the mutule cornice. The three intermediate houses are three storeys high, and the cornice is surmounted by an open balustrade. A bandcourse marks the first-floor level. The windows generally are rectangular excepting those to the ground floor, which have flat segmental heads. Each house has a wood doorcase of simple design, except for No. 21 where the stucco surrounds are later.

Nos. 27–33 (odd) Clapham Road

Formerly Nos. 11–14 (consec.) Clapham Road Place

No building lease of these houses has survived, but again by comparing the leases of adjoining houses it can be deduced that their site was on lease to Head, (fn. 10) probably William Head, a local builder (see page 76), in 1805. These are paired houses similar to Nos. 13 and 15, but with twoleaved doors and elaborated parapets to the annexes, which are now heightened or altered. The ground floor of No. 27 has been partly cut away to provide access to the rear, and the upper part of No. 29 has been rebuilt.

Nos. 35–41 and 61–77 (odd) Clapham Road

Formerly Nos. 15–18 and 25–33 (consec.) Clapham Road Place

In 1809 the trustees of John Wright, then deceased, let the whole of the frontage of Clapham Road between and including the site of No. 35 and the site of the present South Island Place, on building lease of 80½ years. (fn. 3) The lessees were the trustees of Richard Wooding, surveyor, who probably had an agreement for the building lease before his death in 1808. The trustees included Mary, wife of Richard Wooding, his executor Robert Roberts, who was also a surveyor, and Isaac Bates of Kennington, brickmaker (see page 21). Nos. 35 and 37 are built of stock brick, three storeys high, and form a six-bay block with end bays recessed and containing the doorways. The upper windows are square-headed and on the ground floor round-headed in shallow arched recesses, which, like the arched entrances, have rectangular impost blocks. Nos. 39 and 41 are a pair of three-storeyed stock brick houses with semi-basements. The two ground-floor windows and the entrance to each house are round-headed and recessed beneath shallow arches springing from moulded imposts. Above, the windows are rectangular, two to a storey, and there is a sillband at first-floor level. The doorcases have pilasters with reeded panels, capped by wreathed blocks. The street railings to No. 41 remain in part. They are spear-headed, the principal uprights having elegant urn finials. Nos. 63–73 form a symmetrical group of three linked pairs, the centre pair being considerably larger than the other two. No. 61 is nearly identical with the right-hand house in either of the smaller pairs, but has suffered some alteration. All are built of stock brick, of three storeys raised on a rendered semi-basement. Nos. 67 and 69, the centre pair, have each three windows to a floor, square-headed upstairs and round-headed on the ground floor where they are set in arched recesses with moulded imposts, to match the entrance. Both their doorways have plain fanlights and are flanked by very slender Roman Doric columns. No. 69 retains its original frieze, cornice and blocking course. Nos. 63 and 65 and Nos. 71 and 73 are flanked by one-storey links containing the doorways and each house is two windows wide. Otherwise they are treated in the same way as the centre pair. No. 75 is a two-storey stock brick house with a semi-basement, its front finished with a cornice and blocking course. It is three windows wide and there is a centrally placed porch resting on columns. The basement is faced with stucco. No. 77 is a narrow three-storey house wedged in between Nos. 75 and 79. It is very similar to Nos. 39 and 41, but has a cast-iron balcony across the full width of the house at first-floor level.

Nos. 22 and 24 Brixton Road

Formerly Nos. 28 and 30 Brixton Road, previously Nos. 6 and 7 Spencer Place

In 1802 a building lease of the land on which these houses stand was granted to William Broadhurst, (fn. 2) who also built No. 5 Prima Road. They are a pair of modest, stock brick houses of three storeys, each two windows wide. Single storey extensions, now altered, contain the round-headed doorways, that to No. 22 having a reeded stucco architrave. The windows have segmental heads and lattice pattern iron guards on the first floor. No. 24 has an attic in a mansard roof and No. 22 has been extended to the side.


  • 1. L.C.C.R.O., transcript of Guildhall MS. 170: Surrey and Kent Commissioners of Sewers Court Roll, 1640.
  • 2. Deed of Sewell Estate held by Messrs. Purdy and Holley, Aylsham.
  • 3. Deeds held by Primoff Properties Ltd.
  • 4. The Belgrave Hospital for Children, 81st Annual Report, 1947.
  • 5. Deeds of Belgrave Hospital, King’ College Hospital Group.
  • 6. The Times, June 28, 1900.
  • 7. Ibid., July 21, 1903.
  • 8. The British Architect, June 22, 1900. Information supplied through Mr. John Summerson by Mr. Charles Holden.
  • 9. The Builder, May 9, 1903, p. 488.
  • 10. Deeds of Sewell Estate held by Messrs. Purdy and Holley. Deeds held by Primoff Properties Ltd.