Brixton: Brixton Hill, east side

Pages 139-140

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

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The northern section of the road now called Brixton Hill was formerly called Brixton Cause way. The name Brixton (with many variations) dates from at least the 11th century, and its derivation has been suggested as “(At) the stone of Beohtsige (Brightsige)”. (fn. 238) Manning and Bray suggested that the Causeway derived its name from this stone, (fn. 239) but they also quoted another explanation that in the 14th century Sir John de Burstow (or Bristow) repaired this piece of road with stone, and that it was subsequently known as Burstow or Bristow Cause way. (fn. 240) The earliest known reference to a cause way is contained in a will of 1530, when Hugh Action left £20 for making and repairing the highway from Streatham Church to the foot of “Bristowe Cawsey”. (fn. 241) The names Rush Common, or Rushey Green, and Watery Lane (now Brixton Water Lane) both suggest that the area was marshy. At some date before 1530, and possibly even in Roman times (see page 5), the road was evidently embanked or paved.

Rush Common bordered the whole length of the east side of Brixton Hill, and the Inclosure Act of 1806 provided that no buildings should be erected on the Common within 150 feet of the road. When building began in the 1820s at the south end of the road, the houses were set well back with long narrow front gardens.

Nos. 123–129 (odd) Brixton Hill

These houses were erected between 1824 and 1830. (fn. 174) Nos. 123 and 125 are a plain uninteresting pair of stock brick houses of two storeys with an attic storey in a slated mansard roof. They also have semi-basements and their entrances are in side wings of slightly less height. No. 127, a stucco-fronted detached villa of the same number of storeys, has a central pedimented porch with Tuscan-type columns which are grossly moulded at their bases. The house is dilapidated and empty. No. 129 is finished with overhanging eaves; it is a poor stucco-fronted villa with a badly detailed Greek Doric porch at the centre.

Brixton Hill Methodist Mission Church

Formerly Elm Park Methodist Chapel

The first chapel to be erected on this site was built in 1824; it was entirely rebuilt in 1856–7, William Wesley Jenkins being the architect. (fn. 242) This second chapel was totally destroyed by enemy action in the war of 1939–45.

Nos. 139–167 (odd) Brixton Hill

Nos. 139–145, formerly Nos. 1–4 (consec.) Brixton Hill Terrace; Nos. 151–161, formerly Nos. 1–6 (consec.) Brunswick Place

These houses were erected between 1816 and 1824; (fn. 174) Nos. 155, 157 and 159 were described as empty in 1824, and an inscription on No. 163 states that it was erected in 1820 (Plate 59a).

Nos. 139–145, a stucco-fronted three-storeyed terrace finished with a cornice and blocking course, are plain houses devoid of ornament except for the fluted quadrant reveals to the entrances. The houses are joined by a plain band at first-floor level and are channelled through the ground storey. Nos. 147 and 149 are a plain pair of stock brick houses of three storeys which have their entrances contained in recessed wings of the same height. Except for the first-floor lattice-type cast-iron balconies at No. 147, the houses lack ornament. No. 151, another plain three-storey stock brick house, is only of interest in the unusual treatment of the ground-floor windows on each side of the entrance. They are of gauged flat type set in shallow rectangular recesses which also have gauged heads. No.153, slightly taller than No. 151, is stucco-fronted, plain and of little interest. There is a rectangular panel set in the middle of the blocking course above the parapet cornice. Nos. 155 and 157 form a stucco-fronted pair of three storeys and are finished with a cornice and blocking course. They are joined by a plain first-floor band and the ground storey is channelled. The two first-floor windows of each house have splay-ended guards of cast-iron with standard wave and anthemion ornament. Each doorway has fluted reveals.

The abutting terrace, Nos. 159–167, sited at a slightly higher level because of the slope of Brixton Hill, is similar, though No. 163, which has a long architrave-framed panel, inscribed “BRUNSWICK HOUSE. 1820.” at second-floor level, is of greater width and has three instead of two windows on the upper floors. This terrace also differs in having a mansard-roofed attic storey behind its balustraded parapets. Except at No. 167, the first-floor windows of each house are joined by balconies borne on shaped brackets.

St. Matthias Church, Upper Tulse Hill

The site of this church formed part of the Manor of Lambeth and was bought in 1881 from the Trustees of Stockwell Orphanage. The cost of the land was borne by a relative of the minister. Owing to lack of funds a temporary iron church was erected to serve the needs of the locality. This building proved unsatisfactory, the heat in the summer becoming so intense that members of the congregation were sometimes unable to sit through a whole service. (fn. 243) The foundation stone of the permanent church was laid on June 2, 1894, by Mrs. Selina Lingham. The architects were John Thomas Newman and William Jacques and the builders Messrs. James Longley and Co. (fn. 145) The church provided accommodation for 780 people, and was dedicated in December of the same year; owing to outstanding debts it was not consecrated until March 25, 1899. A Consolidated Chapelry was assigned in the same year. (fn. 243)

The church stands on a sloping site and is a plain red brick building sparingly dressed with stone; the roofs are tiled. All the windows are lancets and there are lean-to aisles at each side of the clerestoried nave. There is a tall gabled vestry projecting on the south side. The interior, which is also of red brick, has five bays of stone arcading with alternating circular and octagonal piers flanking the nave; the chancel is apsidal, and the altar has a stone canopied reredos with panels at each side inscribed with the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Commandments.


  • 145. Foundation stone.
  • 174. R. B.
  • 238. English Place-Name Society, vol. XI. The place-Names of Surrey, p. 11.
  • 239. Manning and Bray, vol. III, p. 493.
  • 240. Ibid., vol. 1, p.liii.
  • 241. P.C.C., 26 Jankin; see also S.A.C. vol. Lll, pp. 37–38, where the will is quoted.
  • 242. The Story of Methodism in Brixton, 1924 (copy at Epworth House library)
  • 243. C.C., File 61422.