HISTORY AT BOTH ENDS OF THE DAY

26 November, 2020

Taking a leisurely shower this morning I was surprised to hear Melvyn Bragg discussing a ship called the ZONG which achieved notoriety for throwing many of its cargo of slaves overboard whilst still alive.  The connection to Fulham and Hammersmith is that Granville Sharp became heavily involved in trying to get the Master and Crew tried for murder rather than insurance fraud. An horrific story but well worth listening to, from BBC Radio 4.

At the opposite end of the day I am reading Peter Ackroyd’s Dominion his fifth volume of The History of England.  It covers the end of Regency until Victoria’s death. He races through this period but nevertheless it is a very dense read.  There are lots of quotes from the period and he exercises his wit on the main characters.  He also seems to have a desire to revive historic and archaic words that tease the mind. He exposes the dreadful state of government and politics and the grudging moves towards democracy whilst in the midst of famine, wars and engineering transformation.  I am finding this really helpful as this period was not covered at school (science ‘O’ levels) and of course this is just the period when our borough was itself in transition from the semi-rural and estates to the rapid development of railways and terraced housing.  It forms a very useful backdrop to our local history. (Dominion by Peter Ackroyd  ISBN 9781509881321)

As a footnote news is breaking of Foster & Partners proposal to put a double decker temporary roadway onto Hammersmith Bridge.  Bazelgette, one hopes, would have been delighted!  Do note that an exciting revamped reprint of our Hammersmith_Bridge_ publication will be available before Christmas.

 


A FULHAM WALK – PARSONS GREEN TO PUTNEY BRIDGE

13 October, 2020

This self-guided walk around Fulham was written by Maya Donelan for Open House if you have any additions or suggestions or variations do contact Maya direct or enter a comment below.

If the restrictions increase we may all be looking for such walks!

Fulham Walk – Parsons Green Station to Putney Bridge Station.

A self-guided walk around Fulham

Turn right out of the station and walk down towards Parsons Green, a former hamlet inhabited in the early C18 ‘mostly by Gentry and Persons of Quality’.

Walk down the path in the centre of the Green and you will see to your left: late C19 White Horse pub, red terracotta with tall gable with horse under a canopy. Next door the former Fulham Maternity Hospital opened in 1937 by the Fulham Borough Council on a site previously occupied by a Home and School for Girls. During WW2 a section of the Hospital was used as a First Aid Post for civilian casualties. Now a surgery and medical centre. Then Lady Margaret School, which consists of Henniker House, plain Italianate of c 1841; Elm House c.1800, recorded as a school in 1803 and Belfield House, early C18 front.

Extract Feret’s Map

On the West side, to your right, St Dionis Church (1884-5, Ewan Christian), with a font from Wren’s St Dionis Backchurch in the City, the Vicarage of 1898-9 by William White – his last commission! And church hall, a former mission church of 1876 by Arthur Billing, given by Charlotte Sulivan.

At the end of the Green, walk to your right to look at a terrace of 3-bay houses dated 1795, unusual in having centrally placed doorways. and the adjacent, Aragon House (1805-6), the former home of the local British Legion Club now a pub/hotel.

Back to cross at the pedestrian crossing, past the Duke on the Green, down Peterborough Road, and on the right, past Bell’s Alley, is Sulivan School, 1951, concrete clad, contemporary with neighbouring Sulivan Court 1949-56, built on No 2 polo ground of the Hurlingham Club, followed further down the road by Hurlingham & Chelsea School, Sheppard Robson 1956.

Lion Finials

Glance across to the left down Studdridge Street, which leads to the Peterborough Estate with its well-known ‘lion’ houses. Further down Peterborough Road on the left is South Park which opened in 1904 when local benefactress Miss Charlotte Sulivan sold the land to the Fulham Borough Council for use as a public recreation ground. The land, formerly known as Broom House Farm and Southfields Farm, had been part of the Sulivan private lands though it had been leased to Messrs Veitch & Sons of Chelsea as a nursery for fruit trees. Note the very recent new community centre on the corner.

And as you approach the river, pass on the right, the 1990s gated development, Hurlingham Square,– followed by the former British Gas Offices and laboratories, now Piper Building flats, 1961-3 by E.R.Collister and Partners, with an abstract cheerful coloured relief in polyester resin and glass, designed by John Piper.

Turn right into Carnwath Road, along past the works for the new London sewers. At the end of Carnwarth Road turn left into Broomhouse Dock, from which a ferry (apparently used by King Charles I) used to run to Wandsworth. It was known as a very treacherous part of the river and many drownings were recorded there! Now you have a fine view of the recycling station! Continue right up Broomhouse Lane. On the left the wall of the Hurlingham Club, established in 1869 as a private pigeon shooting club. In 1873, the Club published the rules of polo, which are still followed by most of the world to this day. Polo was first played at the club on 6 June 1874. In the early 1900s ballooning was a popular sport at the Club and a pipe with the relevant gas was installed between the Club and the local gasworks at Sands End.

On the right

The Parsons Green Club– originally established in 1885 as the Parsons Green Working Men’s Social Club by Charlotte Sulivan, the club moved onto this site in 1912 and over the years expanded greatly. It was completely rebuilt in 2019, with flats above.

Castle Club, built as a school by Horace Francis, 1854-5. Symmetrical Tudor brick and stone composition. Donated by Lawrence Sulivan, father of Charlotte Sulivan, a generous local resident. Now scheduled to become a residential home for the elderly.

On the left: Hurlingham Park, a post-war development on land previously used as a polo ground by the Hurlingham Club. Now nostalgically the venue for Chestertons Polo in the Park, an annual event which brings together a combination of international polo and family entertainment.

Turn left into Hurlingham Road, passing on the corner Hurlingham Lodge of 1856, now much altered, further along on the left, the former Park Keeper’s cottage, now a grand house and on the right, The Vineyard, rendered 3-storey, 3-bay front, part early 17th century. For many years owned by the Beaverbrook family.

Left down Napier Avenue – at the bottom on the left the main entrance to the Hurlingham Club. Turn around and continue towards station, with on your left Rivermead Court, with its 1930 mansion blocks.

As you approach the bridge, keep to the right and look up to the left to see the pill-box on the station above you, a relic of WWII defence fortifications.

Walk under bridge past the bus station and turn right at the second hand bookshop on the corner to the Eight Bells Pub, first mentioned in 1771, then Fulham House, 1730s, five bay yellow brick front, somewhat in the manner of Vanbrugh, now used by the Territorial Army. The pedimented gateway to the forecourt is a reproduction based on old photographs. For many years the building was used as a school which was attended in the 1860s by Avis, small daughter of Anna Leonowens, the Victorian governess to the Siamese Court, subject of the romantic musical ‘The King and I’.

This walk ends here, but if you want a bit more history continue as follows:

Fulham Pottery Post Card

Walk towards New Kings Road, facing the Temperance Billiard Hall, 1909 with large barrel roof, art nouveau glass, turn right into New Kings Road, at the green railway bridge cross road and on corner of Burlington Road is the last remaining kiln from the Fulham Pottery. Continue up Burlington Road, past some buildings (now residential) which were part of Fulham Refuge, later

Fulham High Street 1863

known as Fulham Female Convict Prison (1855-1888). Turn right into Rigault Road where the present Burlington Lodge is formed out of former prison properties, notably the laundry building with it small upper windows.

On the other side of the Fulham Palace Road, you will find All Saints Church, Bishops Park, Fulham Palace and way up towards Hammersmith, Fulham Football Ground This is another expedition!

Note on Charlotte Sulivan: Charlotte Sulivan (1824-1911), lived in Broom House, a large villa, now gone, whose grounds covered much of the area of this walk, from Bells Alley down to the river. She never married and devoted much of her time and money to the welfare of local inhabitants and donated heavily to the provision of churches.

If you have enjoyed this walk either physically or virtually from your armchair particularly the detail on Parsons Green there may be more interest next year, our 50th, with a new publication written by Sue Pierson.  If you haven’t already, do get her earlier volumes on Peterborough House and Charlotte Sulivan.  See our Publications pages.


THE FORMER FULHAM GAS WORKS

6 October, 2020

In May last year our Chairman led a group of us on a short tour of Chelsea Creek, the Gas Works and Sandford Manor House.  All very much changed by gentrification of this highly developed former industrial area where Lots Road adjoins the Creek and Imperial Wharf.  For those that were not there, here is the same ground covered somewhat earlier for the Fulham Society.

Sandford Manor

The Imperial Gas Company purchased the Sandford Manor Estate in South Fulham in 1824 for use as a gasholder station. The first gas holder, with a capacity of 30,000 c/ft., was erected a little south of Sandford Manor in 1824, a second one following soon after and two more being added in 1827. The Works were started with plant from Dutton Street, Grays Inn Road, a private gasworks belonging to William Caslon, the typefounder, begun in 1820 and purchased by the Company, who transferred the plant to their Fulham site in 1829. A listed gasholder dating from 1830 still stands on the site, with a plaque erected in 1948, bearing the words “has been in constant use since 1830”. It is the oldest known gasholder in the world. In 1856 Works Offices, and storage buildings, were built on either side of the new main entrance to the works in Sands End Lane. This office building is the small stuccoed building on the old Sands End Lane frontage. Coal was always delivered to the works by water, originally via the Kensington Canal and after 1862 from the docks connected to the canal. From 1926 sea-going colliers unloaded at the riverside wharf. In 1834 the Kensington Canal Company is recorded as “repairing the banks alongside the Gas works”, and in 1836 they constructed a lay-by for barges, with a second lay-by being completed in 1844. In 1856 a dock leading into the canal was built along No 4 Retort House and in 1859 the Company bought 6 acres of land on the far side of the dock. This whole area of the works was modified in 1862 by the construction of the West London extension railway in the bed of the Kensington Canal, carrying the railway across the bridge to Clapham Junction, – officially opening in 1863. Part of the canal leading to the river was left and became a large dock for the Gas Works, joined to the existing dock by the removal of the dock gates. Imperial Square, consisting of 28 cottages for key workers, was built in 1868 just off Sands End Lane. In 1878 negotiations were concluded with the Fulham District Board of Works over the construction of Imperial Road. The Gas Light & Coke Company agreed to pay £1000 and to construct this new road as a Public Highway in consideration of Permission to partially close Sands End Lane, thus enabling the Company to incorporate within their site boundaries the land they had acquired on the other side of Sands End Lane – Emden Street then being formed to join the two roads. From 1908 until 1917, low gravity gas was made and stored separately on the site for transmission to the Hurlingham Club, where it was used for ballooning – a sport which flourished briefly at the club. In 1908 five balloon contests are recorded with the number of balloons varying from 9 – 31. It is recorded that the Club paid £300 as the first annual instalment for the laying of a special gas main. Balloon contests were still being held in the summer of 1912, but seem to have lapsed just before the beginning of the First World War In 1928 a new Laboratory building went up to designs by Walter Tapper, consulting architect to the Gas Light & Coke Company, who in the same year was made Surveyor to Westminster Abbey. In 1952, two cast iron retorts, one circular and one D section, dating from around 1843, when clay retorts replaced the original iron ones, were found in a vertical position acting as traffic bollards. They were recovered and presented to the Science Museum. In 1948 the gas industry was nationalised and the Fulham Gas Works were taken over by the North Thames Gas Board, and since the arrival of North Sea gas have been continuously run down. The southern part of the site was sold off to a private company and a large new residential development, Chelsea Creek, is currently being built. This incorporates some of the original features of the old Gas Works, including the dock with an extension to the river. The 17 acre site along Imperial Road which was formerly used for converting and storing domestic gas is now being developed as a housing estate named Kings Road Park. Luckily all the listed building on the site are being preserved– the 1927 office building, the Laboratory building, the 2 Ware Memorials and the listed Gasholder 2 which was built in 1830. The over ground structures of this gasholder will be moved

Imperial Gas Works

Imperial Gas Works

and incorporated in the new development Unfortunately the developers claimed that it would not be possible to retain the magnificent No 7 gasholder of 1877-9, which dominated the views down Imperial Road, so this had to be taken down. It was one of six gasholders designed by Vitruvius Wyatt for the Gas Light & Coke Company of which only 3 remain in London.

Of course all but the listed GasHolder have now gone.  How Fulham and Hammersmith have changed and continue to change from large country houses and market gardens to industrialised wharves and factories and now housing, retail and white collar work of all kinds! Where to next – FHHS will be there to record!


MORE CONNECTIONS

10 September, 2020

We have another set of connections from two of our committee.

Vernon Burgess (who is also the Historian for All Saints Church Fulham) has found another connection between Zoffany and Fulham and Hammersmith with this painting………

Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match although a gruesome subject and possibly full of double entendres and other dubious images this was painted by Zoffany c.1784.  Do look at the picture here and the extensive discussion of the subject matter.  In brief it shows:

Asaf-ud-Daula, the Nawab Wazir (governor) of Awadh and Colonel John Mordaunt, an employee of Britain’s East India Company, on the left in white and also has Zoffany with his arm over the white armchair.

Wikipedia states that “Mordaunt was the illegitimate and nearly illiterate son of the 4th Earl of Peterborough by Robiniana Brown. (See “ Peterborough House” by Sue Pierson FHHS publications for more details).

The colonel had managed to be assigned to Warren Hastings and through him he was appointed head of security. His real role however included organising entertainments. Mordaunt and his employer were said to have shown the same low tastes in entertainment. Even at that time, cockfighting was not well regarded in British society. Mordaunt had arranged for British birds to be brought to India, where he used them to take on local cockerels.”

The Zoffany painting was commissioned for Warren Hastings by his private secretary a certain John Belli.

Now a certain Colonel John Cockerell who also had had a successful career with the East India company enters the story, he had a sister Elizabeth Cockerell who married for a second time the private secretary John Belli, and of course Colonel John’s brother was none other than Samuel Pepys Cockerell, who did some architectural work for Hastings.

Samuel himself would of course be working on restoring Fulham Palace for the Howleys many years later .

Samuel Pepys Cockerell was the great great nephew of Samual Pepys the diarist who himself in the past had visited Fulham Palace and commented on the fine botanical specimens there of Bishop  Compton. Samuel Pepys was a former pupil of St Paul’s school, when it was near the cathedral.

Why was he working for the Howleys?, well John and Elizabeth Belli’s 1st daughter was Mary Frances and she married on 29 Aug 1805, to certain a William Howley , a private tutor in Somerset who in 1809 was appointed regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University and then he became Bishop of London in 1813. Mary was the “Howley heiress” refered to by Fulham Palace tour guides, inherited from her fathers successful East India company career that helped fund the alterations to Fulham Palace and the loss of the crenellations of Terricks improvements c. 1777.

Furthermore the builder employed by Cockerell was a certain Henry Holland . Henry Holland Snr, (20 July 1745– 17 June 1806) was an architect to the English nobility and was born in Fulham, where his son , also Henry, helped run the building firm constructing several garden designs for a well known gardener architect. Henry senior ,along with other members of the family are buried in All Saints Church yard and Henry’s son married Bridget, the daughter of Lancelot Brown known as “Capability Brown “ , who was of course the famous landscape architect we have just referred to. He lived sometime on Hammersmith Mall , and left in 1764 to live at Hampton Court. He was responsible for developing over 200 landscapes, many of them now National Trust, and has a recent statue up by Distillery Wharf near to Hammersmith bridge.

Bridget was also interred in the Holland tomb.  There is a separate memorial in All Saints church to her.

Incidentally Lancelot Brown was born only about five years after Henry Compton’s famous Gardener – George London died. London was responsible for many of the shortlived baroque Gardens in English country houses’, and hewas buried along with his wife in All Saints church, in 1712.

Jane Bowden-Dan also commented on the Zoffany of the Sharp family saying it would be good as part of a forthcoming Temporary Exhibition at Fulham Palace celebrating Bishop Beilby Porteus and his circle, which included the Sharps.

She found the mention of Kensington Gravel Pits timely having just returned from Caroline MacMillan’s guided ‘Notting Dale’ walk where the gravel pits, pigeries and brick kilns were mentioned.  Apparently one kiln remains standing.

Jane returned via the childhood home of Sir Paul Gordon Fildes OBE FRS at Woodland House, Melbury Road, Holland Park W14, now owned by Robbie Williams! It was built for his father Sir Luke Fildes, a portrait artist, by Richard Norman Shaw. Jane’s connection is that she has been investigating a photo album rescued from a skip at her block of flats on the Thames that she has discovered belonged to Sir Paul who was a Pathologist and Microbiologist at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar during WWl and at Porton Down in WWll working on Anthrax.
Phew!! I hope you survived that monumental feat of name dropping, I have never added so many tags to a post.

SOUTH PARK FULHAM

25 August, 2020

Any follower of this website can hardly avoid mention of Charlotte Sulivan.  This article from the Fulham Society archives sets out one of her major projects to benefit the people of Fulham.  I need hardly mention that Sue Pierson’s splendid book is still available.  This subject is also current as work is underway on a new Arts and Community Centre due to open later this year.  No doubt many have found fresh air and space here during the lockdown.

Charlotte Sulivan (1824-1911) lived at Broom House in Broomhouse Lane, opposite the Elizabethan Schools, which were built by Charlotte’s father, Laurence Sulivan, in 1855.

Charlotte was obviously deeply concerned with the welfare of the people of Fulham and was indeed the greatest benefactor of the area. Among her many benefactions were the encouragement, building of and endowment of St Dionis Church, St Matthew’s Church, St Michael’s Mission Church on Townmead Road, and Christ Church. On Parsons Green she started the Ray of Hope Coffee Club as an alternative to the local pubs and the Parsons Green Working Men’s Club, in Peterborough Road, among many others.

In 1894 she started negotiations with the Fulham Vestry (the precursor of the Borough Council) with regard to some 10 acres of land in the neighbourhood of Wandsworth Bridge Road to form a park – these fell through as the Vestry did not have the money to take up her offer. However in 1903 the Council (established in 1900) bought 21 acres of Southfields Farm from Charlotte for ‘a public recreation ground’. . The land had been part of the Sulivan private lands though it had been leased to Messrs Veitch & Sons of Chelsea as a nursery for fruit trees. They paid £40.000, a “staggering figure’, according to the Fulham Chronicle. This became South Park. She imposed various conditions on the sale, one of which is that the Council should erect no dwelling houses or buildings except as necessary or appropriate for use as a Recreation Ground or Park.

When Miss Sulivan sold the land, she stipulated that the Peterborough Road side should be enclosed by a solid brick wall to ensure that the park was kept separate from the grounds of her house.

The Park was laid out for cricket, tennis and other field games’. There was a bandstand with dressing rooms underneath. There was a gymnasium with separate departments for boys and girls, plus swings, a see-saw and a giant stride (a pole with a rope hanging on it on which you could swing – allowing the user to make giant strides). The greenhouse, which was part of the earlier garden was demolished in the 1980s.

South Park’s first park-keeper was John Eckett who lived in the gardener’s lodge whilst Miss Gertrude Eckett is noted as being at the refreshment room. This was in an extension to the North Lodge at the corner of Clancarty Road and Peterborough Road. The lodge is currently derelict, as is the refreshment room although this, with a conservatory extension, was used as a nursery school for a number of years. Until the 1980s James Veitch’s greenhouses remained a feature in this corner of the park. They were used partly to grow plants for use in borough parks but also included a traditional conservatory with hothouse plants and a water feature. Now demolished, all that remains is a brick wall parallel to Clancarty Road at the end of the rose garden, now the community garden, in which only a few roses remain..

World War I saw military occupation of the park and allotments and in 1915 South Park became the training ground for three Fulham Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery. In World War II, 11000 cu. yards of sand was dug from South Park and surrounds to fill sandbags needed to protect key buildings and areas. Air raid shelters were created near the present cricket pavilion. In 2004 South Park celebrated its centenary.

After the war there were a series of ad hoc and generally unsympathetic alterations and in more recent years the park steadily deteriorated due to vandalism and inadequate maintenance, overall control or vision for the park. Many of the attractive features including the greenhouses, the terra- cotta terrace walls, and the public lavatories have either gone or greatly deteriorated. Extensive campaigning by local residents eventually produced an improvement to maintenance standards and eventually some physical improvements, chiefly the restoration of the perimeter wall and the main approach through the Clancarty Road double gates, and the complete refurbishment of four of the tennis courts. South Park is now an important sports park and contains the only public cricket pitch in the borough, which is much used in the summer. In 2008 funds were finally made available by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to pay for the development of a Master Plan which is currently under way. A users’ Group was set up and this has now expanded into the Friends of South Park which formally came into being in January 2009. www.friendsofsouthpark.co.uk

Thanks to Sue Pierson for help from her book Charlotte Sulivan (1824-1911), H&F Historical Society, revised 2011. Copies available from Sue Pierson- sue@lancepierson.org

This first appeared for the Fulham Society October 2016


QUIZ ANSWERS AND MURALS AT HAMMERSMITH

30 July, 2020

Well we are still constrained and cannot meet, we all hope that we will be able to do something soon.  The priority is for everyone to stay safe.  If you have found the quiz a useful way of recalling past visits and landmarks the answers to the June Quiz will not surprise you.  I shall have to try a lot harder for the next quiz.

Alfred Daniels Mural

When we first moved to the area we went to a presentation at the Town Hall on the impressive murals there.  Here is an article from the Spitalfields Life that explores them.  Enjoy and thank Maya for finding this, it also appears in the Library Blog which is always worth a browse.


JULY MISCELLANY

23 July, 2020

Apologies for not keeping up the regular flow of posts.  Here are a few items of interest to keep you going. Also I will do answers to the June quiz and try to develop a new one, but all in good time.

Those of us who visited Brompton Cemetery on a guided tour or those who regularly use it for exercise or a traffic free short cut will be interested to peruse the Royal Parks website as Brompton is the only nationalised cemetery, as we learnt, and now managed by them. A lengthy list of past celebrities with a page about them, try Reginald Warneford VC, Adelaide Nielson, Augustus Mears and Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale. A further link gives details of the Cemetery in Film and the extensive Conservation Project.  For those that haven’t yet visited there is also a recent video of a walk in Brompton Cemetery on YouTube. Thanks to Vernon for the links.

We all know of Fulham Palace and some of its history Maya spotted this gem in Spitalfields Life  now featuring in the LBHF Libraries blog.  It is a charming photo-essay of a visit to the palace.  A delight to gardeners too.

Despite most of us being able to get out now there is still a little time for reading; my latest find is The AtoZ of History of

AtoZ History of London

The AtoZ History of London

London ISBN 9780008351762.  Not a deep history as it covers so much ground but it takes themes and follows them through maps.  Fascinating although the white print on a scarlet ground on one or two pages is hard for older eyes it is nevertheless a good read to dip in and out of.


EMERY WALKER TRUST

8 July, 2020

No apologies for returning to a jewel in Hammersmith’s history.

Emery Walker’s House has launched a series of online talks and tours to keep people in touch with the Arts and Crafts home at 7 Hammersmith Terrace.

Stunning photo courtesy of Emery Walker Trust

Hammersmith Terrace from river

What a stunning photograph! Courtesy of the Trust. Here are the dates and subjects.

The Doves Press

July 9th at 3pm

The Doves Press was the most influential twentieth century typeface to emerge from the Arts and Crafts movement.  Yet the two friends who created it fell out spectacularly.  This talk will tell the story of the creation of the Press, its loss and eventual recovery.

Past Residents of Hammersmith Terrace

July 30th at 3pm

Hammersmith Terrace is a Georgian terrace of seventeen houses which boasts three blue plaques. But that barely scratches the surface of its notable residents. Meet eleven more extraordinary people who lived here.

In Search of Emery Walker with Simon Loxley September 19th at 3pm

Author and graphic designer Simon Loxley discusses his latest book Emery Walker: Arts, Crafts and a World in Motion. Simon will paint a picture of Walker, his work and his world, a man who professionally and socially seemed to ‘know everyone’. He will re-examine what has been written about him, and include his research of archive material, much of which came from Walker’s home at 7 Hammersmith Terrace, where he lived from 1903 to 1933.

 Book your places here emerywalker.org.uk/copy-of-events.

Emery Walker’s House has been closed since March, so their usual visitor numbers and income from tickets and giftshop purchases for this period have plummeted from 90% bookings to zero. The Trust has made available a virtual and guided tours of the house and riverside garden on their website. Emerywalker.org.uk also has a wealth of information on the house and the people who lived there, and an online shop selling embroidery kits, handmade gift cards and other items so do drop in for a virtual visit during closure.

The tours are free, and the interactive talks are via Zoom by donation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


TWO STORIES OF HOUSE HISTORY

7 July, 2020

The first by kind permission of the Fulham Society.

AN ARTIST’S STUDIO HOUSE – 8 AVONMORE ROAD, W14

“You haven’t got an otter, then?” This surprising question came from the gasman who had come to fix the antiquated Ascot water heater in the studio flat I had just acquired in 1965. Further conversation revealed that a previous tenant had been Gavin Maxwell, the famous author of Ring of Bright Water. He had lived there from 1949-57 with his otter Mijbyl, feeding him live eels from Harrods in the shower tray of the primitive bathroom! I later learned from Douglas Botting’s biography of Maxwell that Princess Margaret had visited, and been entertained to tea and Scottish ballads in the studio. This was not the only royal connection with the house as it turned out.

At the time I bought the house, it was divided into five one-room apartments, which were all in a very poor state of repair. It seems that a Doodlebug had razed the entire west side of the street opposite no. 8 in 1944. The damage to the house with its huge studio windows must have been devastating. Work started immediately to upgrade the accommodation – the first of many alterations to the internal layout over the next twenty years. However it was not until we decided to sell the house a couple of years ago, that I had time to investigate something of its previous history.

My interest was sparked, soon after I moved in, by a chance meeting with an old man in the street. He told me that he was ninety years old, and he could remember that when he was a lad there were three fields of cows at the end of the road where the trading estate now stands. It seemed incredible that one person’s life could have spanned such a transformation – from fields of cows to the Cromwell Rd extension! Yet when I found the 1869 Ordnance Survey map, there are the three fields clearly marked, and no trace of Avonmore Road, which came into being ten years later. Leigh Court, the block of flats now at no 6, stands on the site of a large dairy where milk from the local farms was brought in churns on horse-drawn drays. My informant told me he used to be sent with a jug to fetch a pint of milk for his family.

The house dates from about 1880, and one of the earliest tenants was the artist William Lockhart (d.1900), who was in residence in 1891 according to the census. He was commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint her Jubilee celebrations, and the picture hangs in Windsor Castle. By 1895, another artist, Edward Fellowes Prynne, who also had the distinction of being presented to Her Majesty in 1900, appears on the Voter’s Register at no 8. They had some famous neighbours too, Sir Edward Elgar at no 51, Sir Compton McKenzie (no 54) and the sculptor H. R. Pinkes in the studio at no 22 where, until 2002, Ken Armitage lived and worked. Also, across the fields towards North End Road, The Grange was the home of Sir Edward Burne-Jones. My old informant also recalled seeing some of his large canvases being manhandled through a vertical slit in the studio wall, such as you can still see at Leighton House. Martin Chaffer.

Fulham Society Newsletter 72, June 2005.

The second more prosaic and recent. I wrote versions for the LBHF Library blog and for the Fulham Society and a talk at FHHS. Curious as to how a 60s block should be nestled amongst the Victorian Terraces of Fulham we searched the London Metropolitan Archives and our local LBHF archive to reveal the story. See this link.

Perhaps you can research the history of your home – noble or humble – or the people who have lived there when the archives open again or through their access to Ancestry online (see libraries website). Happy hunting.


A FLORAL DIVERSION

18 June, 2020

We are all a little freer now after the easing of restrictions and are able to get out and about more.  We were grateful to be able to book up and visit Kew Gardens, not much of a history link other than the ties to some of the West London Nurserymen and some structures from the Japanese Exhibition, but it was good to walk in some pleasant open space and see the outside of the Palace and other buildings. 

Maya Donelan has provided the following link about Emery Walker’s Emery Walkers Gardengarden. Many of you will be familiar with the inside of the house and its contents and may even have wandered in the garden down to the river bank as we did on the Society’s visit but few will have picked up this wealth of information. Emery Walker’s Garden. We should acknowledge this comes from the London Gardens Trust Blog which you can explore on a rainy day.

Surprised to come across what appears to be Fulham Palace as the centrepiece of a map of gardens in London. Excuse the advert but it may be of interest to the many FP volunteers as well as gardeners.

A London Floral by Natasha Goodfellow (Finch Publishing)

Finally even more off-piste but maintaining the theme – Derek Jarman’s Book published by the Garden Museum brings a different perspective to gardening and his view of the world from his last home on the beach at Dungeness.

ISBN 9781527259164

Back to local history in the next post I promise, stay safe.