A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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Buildings of Highgate.
In 1977 Highgate still evoked strong local pride. Few changes of scene in greater London were so complete as that which accompanied an ascent from Archway station (Islington), with its new buildings and road works, to Highgate High Street. The street itself was better preserved as a whole than its counterpart in Hampstead, (fn. 1) having original brick upper storeys, with a few doorways, railings, and even canopied shop-fronts; (fn. 2) heavy traffic was the chief contribution of the 20th century. The transition was complete at the top of the hill, where the trees and dignified houses of the Grove, South Grove, and Pond Square formed a peaceful centre on the triangle that had once been Highgate green.
Cromwell House (no. 104 Highgate Hill) (fn. 3) is the first building on the Bank, a raised walk along the north-east side of the hill, towards the summit and ending at Cholmeley Park, near the foot of High Street. The house got its name in 1833, apparently on no better grounds than that the builder, Sir Richard Sprignell, was a neighbour of the Iretons. Sir Richard's son Sir Robert sold the house and its 19-a. estate separately in 1664. Alvares Da Costa (d. 1716), a Portuguese Jewish merchant, acquired the house in 1675 and regained the land in 1705, but his son Anthony (d. 1747) sold 18 a. in 1742. A succession of owners followed Anthony's son Abraham, who sold the house in 1749: the last resident owner was Richard Cumberlege Ware from 1821 to 1823 and the last private occupant probably a Mr. Rougemont in 1833. After 1833 Cromwell House served as a school. (fn. 4) Great Ormond Street hospital for sick children used it as a convalescent home from 1869 (fn. 5) and sold the remainder of its lease to the Mothercraft Training Society, which bought the freehold in 1924 and built the four-storeyed Princess Elizabeth hostel, by Richardson & Gill, in the grounds in 1930. (fn. 6) The society sold Cromwell House in 1953 to the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, (fn. 7) which in turn sold it in 1970 to the Roman Catholic Montfort Missionaries. (fn. 8)
Cromwell House is built of deep red brick and consists of basement, two storeys, and an attic. The symmetry of the main, roadside frontage is affected by a south-eastern extension over a carriage arch, carried out by the Da Costas; presumably they also inserted the main doorway, with its Doric columns and entablature, and added the north wing on the garden side. The lower part of the forecourt wall and the gate piers are also 18thcentury, as are the sash windows, while the brick parapet and the roof with its dormers and cupola are of the 1860s, perhaps reconstructions. Despite such changes and patching with lighter materials the original seven-bay front is noted for its proportions, having a slightly projecting centre and bold cornices to define the main floors, with their broad windows, and for the details of its brickwork. The interior contains an elaborate oak staircase of the earlier 17th century, some contemporary panelling, and several carved doorcases. Earlier panelling on the ground floor possibly includes survivors of George Crowther's house, (fn. 9) rebuilt by Richard Sprignell. The main, south, room on the ground floor (in 1977 a chapel) has a 17th-century plaster ceiling and the main front rooms on the first floor have rich plaster ceilings, reconstructed after the fire of 1865.
Immediately north-west of Cromwell House are Ireton House and Lyndale House (nos. 106 and 108 Highgate Hill) where a cottage of George Crowther was acquired by the Sprignells in 1640 and sold as a house in 1663. (fn. 10) They formed a single residence in the late 17th century, the date of a plaster ceiling and a door in Lyndale House, but were largely rebuilt c. 1730. (fn. 11) Each half has doorways with Tuscan pilasters like that of the adjoining no. 110, also of c. 1730 but with its third storey and attic rebuilt. The Cottage, a two-storeyed extension to no. 110, with its ground floor built out in the 19th century, completes the group of old houses on the Bank. The main buildings of Channing school stretch to the entrance to Cholmeley Park, which is flanked by a small lodge and a curving six-storeyed block of 48 flats, built in 1934 to a design by Guy Morgan and called Cholmeley Lodge. (fn. 12) Higher up another pair, Ivy House and Northgate House, is late-17th-century, with 18th-century alterations. (fn. 13) Charles Knight (d. 1873), author and publisher, (fn. 14) came to live at Highgate in 1835 (fn. 15) and was at Ivy House in 1845. (fn. 16)
Almost opposite Cromwell House stands Lauderdale House, of late-16th-century origins but much altered by Charles II's minister John Maitland, earl (afterwards duke) of Lauderdale, and later occupiers. (fn. 17) The property, divided by the sons of Sir William Bond (d. 1617), was bought in 1641 by Mary, countess of Home (d. 1645), whose daughter Anne (d. 1671) married Lauderdale. John Ireton had possession from 1649 until the Restoration. Lauderdale apparently left in 1669 and in 1674 Anne's daughter Mary, Lady Yester, surrendered the house, which eventually was bought by Sir William Pritchard, a former lord mayor of London. It remained with Pritchard's heirs the Uthwatts and, from 1757, the Knapps, until sold by Matthew and Arthur John Knapp in 1865 to Sir Sydney Waterlow, who gave it to the L.C.C. in 1889. Famous visitors, in addition to Arabella Stuart, (fn. 18) included Charles II, who gave Lauderdale's daughter in marriage to John Hay, Lord Yester (later marquess of Tweeddale), at Highgate in 1666, (fn. 19) Samuel Pepys, who found the earl and his Scottish supper guests 'pretty odd company', (fn. 20) and Grand Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany in 1669. (fn. 21) A story that Nell Gwynne there forced the king to acknowledge their son Charles (later earl of Burford and duke of St. Albans) is probably apocryphal, although it is possible that she followed Lauderdale in residence. The last owner-occupier was Sir William Pritchard; later tenants included Edward Pauncefort (d. 1726), rebuilder of the alms-houses, three successive keepers of private schools, (fn. 22) Richard Bethell, the Lord Chancellor (created Lord Westbury), (fn. 23) and finally the antiquary James Yates, who died there in 1871. The house became a convalescent home for St. Bartholomew's hospital in 1872 (fn. 24) and was used by the L.C.C. for shelter, refreshments, and accommodating the council's staff in 1936. It has been owned since 1971 by Camden L.B. (fn. 25) and is leased to the Lauderdale House association, formed in 1976. (fn. 26)
Lauderdale House is two-storeyed and has walls covered by cream-washed pebbledash. (fn. 27) The L.C.C., whose parks committee had urged demolition, (fn. 28) removed many Victorian additions and completed the building's restoration by 1893. (fn. 29) More repairs were undertaken in 1961 and again after a fire destroyed the roof and much of the upper floor in 1963. Entrance is from a northeastern range, facing the road and at right angles to a longer range, which looks south-east over the garden and whose projecting upper storey may have been an Elizabethan gallery. A later range faces south-west and there are traces of one to the northwest. The original entrance may therefore have been elsewhere and the plan that of a half-H or quadrangle. A late-16th-century timber-framed house on brick foundations forms the core of the existing building. There is an early brick basement beneath the entrance hall and there is vaulting beneath the courtyard. Some panelling of the 17th century survives in the house. The ground floor's long garden apartment was created in the 1790s; at an earlier time the upper storey was extended over a loggia on the south-west, the windows were replaced by sashes, the walls rendered, and the roof pedimented. The staircase balusters on the landing and the upper flight of steps were destroyed in 1963, together with an octagonal lantern surrounded by rich plasterwork. The gallery, however, has been given a late-17th-century plaster ceiling, removed from no. 72 Leadenhall Street (London) in 1968.
The garden of Lauderdale House, since 1891 part of Waterlow Park, contains early walling, ornaments (some of them resited), and gates. (fn. 30) A wall-plaque by the road north of the house commemorates the site of the cottage where Andrew Marvell was said to have lived. Between the cottage and Fairseat stood a house occupied by the architect Sir James Pennithorne (d. 1871) and pulled down by 1889. (fn. 31)
Highgate High Street contains many 18thcentury brick houses, most of three storeys. Nos. 2 and 10 are early-18th-century, although the second has late-18th-century alterations. (fn. 32) Nos. 18 to 40, with shop-fronts on the ground floor, present an unusual line of late-18th- or early-19th-century roofs and upper windows. (fn. 33) The hooded doorway of no. 42 is surmounted by a cartouche bearing the arms of Sir William Ashurst, presumably a relic of Ashurst House; no. 42 itself is 18th- or early-19thcentury, as are the much altered nos. 46 and 48. The weatherboarded no. 60 is early-18th-century and nos. 62, 64, (fn. 34) and 66 are late-18th-century; no. 64 houses the long established Highgate pharmacy, (fn. 35) inserted between the doorcase and carriage arch of the former White Lion. Nos. 68 to 82 form a row of low, plain, 18th-century houses, mostly refaced and converted into shops but with roofs and window lines adding to the uniform character of the street. They are continued around the corner of Southwood Lane by the 19th-century fronts of nos. 84 and 86 and the modern nos. 88, 90, and 90A. Other survivals are Townsend's Yard, between nos. 42 and 44 but without its former weatherboarded cottages, (fn. 36) and the canopied shopfronts of nos. 62 and 82. On the south side of High Street the site of nos. 17, 19, and 21 was occupied by 1636 and later formed Lady Gould's charity estate. The existing houses were built in 1733 as a terrace, with an extension to no. 17 apparently planned as a shop. (fn. 37) The lower and broader Englefield House (no. 23) was probably built by 1710 (fn. 38) and appears to fill a gap only because the adjoining houses have been rebuilt. (fn. 39) Elsewhere the south side of the street has been more thoroughly rebuilt than the north. The Angel and its neighbours are 19th-century, as are most of the buildings with shopfronts facing High Street and taller backs overlooking Pond Square.
In South Grove the buildings which form Angel Row have been much altered. (fn. 40) At the end the relatively low Russell House (no. 9 South Grove) is early-18th-century and of three bays, with a street front rendered c. 1800. An 18th-century staircase survives in no. 8 and panelling in Russell House. The adjoining Church House (no. 10) is of five bays and has a staircase which is probably of George I's reign. Sir John Hawkins (d. 1789), Samuel Johnson's biographer, (fn. 41) owned the house in the right of his wife Sidney, but apparently never lived there. Church House is said to have been the model for Mrs. Steerforth's residence in David Copperfield. (fn. 42)
Beyond Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution and the Congregational chapel is Moreton House (no. 14), the survivor of a pair built in 1715. Like Church House it has a front of five bays and an almost identical doorcase. Occupiers have included the Prussian ambassador Count Maltzan in 1781 and from 1809 Dr. James Gillman, with whom Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to live in 1816. Coleridge attracted many literary figures to Highgate: John Keats, on a walk from Hampstead, met him in 1819 and both Southey and Wordsworth visited Moreton House in 1820. (fn. 43)
The largest residence in South Grove is Old Hall (no. 17), the main part of which was rebuilt by Sir William Ashurst on the site of the western half of Arundel House. On the east is a one-storeyed wing on part of the site of the Lawns (no. 16), whose basement may contain brickwork from Arundel House, and on the west are modern additions. The central block is five-bayed, with a rain-water head dated 1691, and has been refronted, extended by a slightly recessed block on the east side, and given an early-19th-century porch. The interior, much altered, contains some 18thcentury woodwork and two panelled rooms, one dated 1595, brought from an inn at Great Yarmouth by William Kemp, Lord Rochdale (d. 1945). Old Hall is shielded from the road by a tall garden wall, with rendered piers and a fine 18th-century wrought-iron gate. Robert Whipple (d. 1953), maker and collector of scientific instruments, lived at no. 13 Holly Lodge Gardens and later at no. 6 Old Hall. (fn. 44)
Beyond the approach to St. Michael's church is a milestone, behind which the line of houses is continued by Voel (no. 18), built in the 17th century but refronted on both the road and garden sides in the 18th. The house is three-storeyed and presents an austere front of only three bays. The neighbouring South Grove House stood closer to the road than Voel and, having many windows, contrasted with it. The flats called South Grove House, by Guy Morgan, present an elevation of seven bays to the road but are of greater length. (fn. 45)
At the top of Highgate West Hill no. 79 (formerly nos. 45 and 46) (fn. 46) occupies a site mentioned in 1493, where the White Hart stood by 1664, and is a conversion from three cottages. The White Hart itself, where 17th-century timbering has been found, was the easternmost of the cottages. (fn. 47) The nursery-gardening firm of William Cutbush had a shop at no. 80 (formerly no. 47) until 1918. No. 82 (Hollyside, formerly no. 49) and no. 81 were originally one house, on the site of property sold by William Cholmley to Sir James Harrington in 1656. Hollyside, facing west and on a half-H plan, contains chimney-stacks of that date, although the internal features are mostly 18th-century. From 1712 its estate was extended to include a house and 13 a. which later became the site of Holly Terrace and the northern part of the Holly Lodge estate.
It passed to the family of John Cooke, for whom Holly Terrace was built by George Smart c. 1806. On the opposite side of the road a plaque in the wall of an outbuilding of Witanhurst commemorates the Fox and Crown. (fn. 48)
The south-west wing of Witanhurst survives from Parkfield, but the rest was built by George Hubbard (fn. 49) for Sir Arthur Crosfield, Bt. (fn. 50) The mansion overlooks 13 a. of well timbered grounds, which offered a chance of a last significant addition to Hampstead Heath. Proposals to build over the grounds started a cause célèbre in 1967, (fn. 51) resolved temporarily in 1977 when the house was sold again and refurbished for private occupation. (fn. 52)
The oldest part of Witanhurst, (fn. 53) dating from c. 1700, is of red and brown brick and consists of semi-basement, two storeys, and attics. Hubbard's grandiose building, in a similar style, is two- and three-storeyed, with attics. It has a service wing projecting from the north-east and is therefore L-shaped, the forecourt being entered from the Grove through a gatehouse and the main front, with an Ionic colonnade, facing west. Nothing of the 18th century survives internally in the old part, where much of the ground floor served as a billiard room after decoration had been carried out for Sir Arthur Crosfield by Percy McQuoid and White, Allom & Co. The mansion contains more than 50 rooms, including a baroque staircase hall and a large north-western music room, with richly carved details.
Perhaps the most elegant row in Highgate is the Grove, where nos. 1-6 were built by William Blake but mortgaged to Sir Francis Pemberton. (fn. 54) Ownership passed in 1714 from Pemberton's widow to John Schoppens (d. 1728), brother-in-law of John Edwards, and in 1782 from Edwards's granddaughter Mary Preston to Lord Southampton. The houses were sold, mostly to their lessees, in 1863, on the death of the Revd. Thomas William Coke Fitzroy. (fn. 55) At the end of 1823 the Gillmans moved from Moreton House to no. 3 the Grove. Coleridge had a study-bedroom in the attic overlooking Kenwood, where he was visited by James Fenimore Cooper and Walter Savage Landor and where he died in 1834. (fn. 56) The author Mr. J. B. Priestley bought no. 3 in 1931, renovated it, and sold it at the end of the Second World War. (fn. 57) No. 2 was bought by the musician Mr. Yehudi Menuhin in 1959. (fn. 58) The judge Sir Edward Fry (d. 1918) moved to no. 6 in 1863, while still a barrister, (fn. 59) and his son Roger, the art critic and artist, was born there in 1866. (fn. 60)
The three pairs forming nos. 1-6, the Grove, are early semi-detached houses. (fn. 61) Each consisted of a basement, ground and first floors, and attics lighted by dormers, with a string course to mark the first floor and a moulded cornice just above the first floor windows; two parallel roofs ran across each pair from north to south, terminating in twin gables between groups of chimney stacks. All have been much altered internally and externally: nos. 1 and 2 were converted into a single residence in 1930-1 by Seely and Paget, (fn. 62) who also worked on no. 3, and no. 5 was entirely rebuilt by C. H. James, who removed a second storey and square bay window to restore something of its first appearance. The best preserved is no. 4, with almost the original plan on the ground floor, late 17th- and early-18th-century panelling, and a staircase with twisted balusters. (fn. 63) Four examples of wall-paper of c. 1700, found in the upper rooms of no. 5 during its rebuilding, are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The remaining houses in the Grove, nos. 7 to 12, were built on plots leased by Lord Southampton from 1832. (fn. 64) John Drinkwater (d. 1934), the playwright, lived at no. 9. (fn. 65) Fine iron railings stand in front of nos. 7 and 8. The Flask, almost opposite no. 5 but facing south-west, has a modern plaque dated 1665. The existing three-storeyed inn is 18th-century, with a former outbuilding which has been refronted to form a two-storeyed extension by South Grove. (fn. 66) Behind the Flask 19thcentury housing, on the old bowling green, faces both South Grove and the road to the Gatehouse (formerly the northern arm of South Grove but renamed to form a continuation of Highgate West Hill). At the corner of Pond Square the 18thcentury Rock House has a pedimented Doric doorcase and two canted bay-windows which project boldly from the first floor. Nos. 1-5 Pond Square are smaller 18th-century houses, nos. 1 and 2 having been partly reconstructed. (fn. 67)
Immediately west of the Gatehouse the former no. 52 South Grove has a cistern dated 1789 and a small easterly extension of before 1800. There is an imposing south elevation, with a well-moulded cornice and central pediment. The house was bought by its lessee William Wetherell, an apothecary, in 1788, was later the home of the geologist Dr. Nathaniel Thomas Wetherell (d. 1875), (fn. 68) and was still owned by his family in 1936. Its westerly neighbours, formerly nos. 53 and 54 South Grove, form a pair, with a rain-water head dated 1729 and each with three storeys and an attic. (fn. 69) They were connected internally to accommodate Grove House school. (fn. 70) Most of the humbler houses on the other side of the road have been rebuilt, but the former nos. 46 and 47 are 18th-century. (fn. 71)
Although Highgate's oldest houses are mostly south-west of High Street and the Gatehouse, a few survive, with some noteworthy modern buildings, in Southwood Lane and in North Road, leading into North Hill. At the top of High Street the tip of the triangular site between Southwood Lane and North Road is occupied by the old graveyard and the Victorian chapel and buildings of Highgate School. Castle Yard, linking the two roads farther north, contains the village's last row of 19th-century working-class cottages.
The south end of Southwood Lane is urban in character. Buildings of Highgate School rise on the west side. On the east are a row of late-18th- and early-19th-century brick houses, (fn. 72) Dyne House, which includes a hall and music and art schools, (fn. 73) and Highgate Tabernacle. Adjoining the tabernacle no. 22 (formerly Avalon), bears a plaque to the explorer and writer Mary Kingsley (d. 1900), whose father George (d. 1892), the traveller and author, moved there in 1863. (fn. 74) Beyond is a range of two- and three-storeyed late-18th-or early-19thcentury houses (nos. 24 to 50, even, and 54); the road fronts are rendered and most have been altered, but the backs form an almost symmetrical brownbrick terrace. Southwood Lodge, three-storeyed and early-19th-century, survives with its road frontage altered in Kingsley Place, from which the backs of nos. 24 to 50 can be seen. Opposite no. 22 are the alms-houses, with an inscription recording their rebuilding in 1722 by Edward Pauncefort.
The northern stretch of Southwood Lane, shaded and steep, includes Southwood hospital (the Limes with later additions) and Southwood Park, comprising a four-storeyed row along Southwood Lawn Road and two conjoined tower-blocks, each of seven tiers of flats. The flats, designed by Douglas Stephen and Partners, (fn. 75) are of red brick and concrete in a style which has been thought reminiscent of Le Corbusier's and praised for its 'high intellectual modernism'. (fn. 76) The whitewashed Bank Point Cottage, with two storeys at the corner of Southwood Lane and three facing Jackson's Lane, is perhaps late-18th-century with successive alterations. Farther down, fronting both lanes, is a private housing estate built in 1960-2; it is of purple brick and concrete, with a stepped roof-line dictated by the steep site. (fn. 77) Hillside, a rambling twostoreyed house in Jackson's Lane, is 18th-century but much altered, with a double-bowed garden front and an early-19th-century wing. No. 123 Southwood Lane, with a weatherboarded extension, is a conversion of Well Cottages, an 18th-century pair. (fn. 78)
North Road is wider than Southwood Lane, lined with plane trees and made seemingly yet more spacious by front gardens and the playground of Salvin's National school. The south end, opposite the rebuilt Gatehouse inn and Hampstead Lane, is dominated by the red-brick buildings of Highgate School. The chapel (the Crawley memorial chapel) was consecrated in 1867. Built over the vault of its predecessor, it is by F. P. Cockerell in a French middle Gothic style, with an apsidal chancel, a north cloister, and a slender flèche; (fn. 79) the interior is richly decorated with coloured bricks and tiles. Cockerell's Big School (1866) is hemmed in by later buildings, designed by C. P. Leach and opened in 1899. Big School, in a scholastic Tudor style, housed the library until 1928. Soon afterwards it was redecorated by A. E. Mumby, architect of the Science Buildings in Southwood Lane, and in 1937 a new library was opened on the top of the science block. Big School is approached by a double stairway of stone (the Shakespeare Steps, named after Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare, Bt.) dated 1949. The main buildings are visible from North Road behind a wrought-iron gateway commemorating the two World Wars; it has replaced a gateway by Leach, which had been surmounted by stone griffins from an earlier structure. (fn. 80)
An irregular group of 18th- and 19th-century houses on the east side of North Road includes no. 92, three-storeyed, where a plaque commemorates Charles Dickens's stay in 1832. A more distinguished row is formed on the west side by nos. 13 to 21 (odd), all of them 18th-century except possibly Byron House (no. 13), which has an early-19th-century stuccoed facade and additions on the south side. (fn. 81) Byron Cottage (no. 15) has a plaque to the poet A. E. Housman (d. 1936), who lived there from 1887 until 1905, during which time he wrote A Shropshire Lad. (fn. 82) The Sycamores (no. 21) is of five bays, extended to the north, with an imposing doorway of Doric pilasters and a curved pediment. A few houses, mostly two-bayed, survive from a former row between the Sycamores and no. 37. Nos. 37 & 39 and 41 & 43 are early-19th-century pairs of unusual appearance, with pilaster strips rising to a cement entablature. Nos. 47, 49, and Gloucester House (no. 51) are of similar date. Beyond, where the road bends to descend North Hill, tower the celebrated white blocks of Highpoint One and Two, designed by Lubetkin and Tecton. The first, praised by Le Corbusier as the vertical garden city, is on a double cruciform plan, cement-rendered but with some brick on the ground floor, and contains eight flats, with curving balconies, in each of its 7 storeys. Number Two, to the south, has a porch with caryatids and is ornamented with black brick and cream tile infilling. (fn. 83) Among the first tenants, in 1939, was the artist Sir William Rothenstein. (fn. 84) Highpoint has been favourably compared for originality with the neoGeorgian Hillcrest, almost opposite, designed by T. P. Bennett & Son. (fn. 85) Hillcrest provides 116 flats in seven blocks (fn. 86) and is itself notable for its free grouping amid trees on the 5½ a. formerly belonging to Park House. (fn. 87)
North Hill contains many early-19th-century houses, either much altered or in short, plain terraces. St. George's House (no. 6) is of c. 1800 and has three storeys and a basement, with a lower extension to the south; the front has been rendered and is rusticated on the ground floor, where a semicircular porch with Tuscan columns supports a wrought-iron balcony across the wall at the first floor. Both Albion Cottage (no. 8), with a bow to the north and a later porch, and no. 60 are yellowbrick and early-19th-century. Nos. 62 and 64, a brown-brick pair, are of that date or earlier. On the west side of the road nos. 3, 5, and 7 form an irregular block of 18th-century red- and brownbrick cottages, much altered, no. 3 probably having been two dwellings. The stuccoed Bull inn (no. 13) is 18th-century but greatly changed. Nos. 47 and 49, of red brick and perhaps originally one house of five bays, may be early-18th-century, with later twin doorcases. Prospect Place (nos. 109-19) is a yellow-brick three-storeyed terrace, dated 1811, and Prospect Terrace (nos. 133-9) is grey-brick, of three storeys, and 19th-century. (fn. 88) On the same side of the hill are the three-storeyed block built as Verandah Cottages and, near the foot, the yellow-brick terrace of Springfield Cottages (nos. 145-91), dated 1877; both represent mid-Victorian efforts to improve working-class housing.
Highgate junior school's Cholmeley House, in Bishopswood Road, has a datestone of 1937 and is a pale brick neo-Georgian building, designed by Oswald Milne. (fn. 89) Mansfield Heights, on a landscaped slope between the Great North Road and Aylmer Road, is an estate of two- and threestoreyed terraces, overlooked by a six-storeyed tower. It is mainly of purple brick, built to the designs of the Metropolitan Police architect's department in 1954, (fn. 90) and contrasts with the neoGeorgian flats of Manor Court to the east.