SIR EDWARD ELGAR

28 May, 2020

How many members are aware that Elgar lived in Fulham and that there is a London County Council ‘blue plaque’ on his former home?

Sir Edward Elgar, one of England’s greatest composers, was born at Broadheath near Worcester in 1857. His father was a piano-tuner who also ran a music shop and was organist at St. George’s Roman Catholic Church. Elgar succeeded him as organist between 1885-89.

Growing up in a musical family, Elgar won praise as a child for piano improvisations but had no formal musical training apart from violin lessons he received from a local teacher. Later he played in the orchestra at the festivals of the Three Choirs. He left school at 15 and for a while was apprenticed to a solicitor’s office but soon decided to devote his life to composing, and thereafter worked as a teacher and freelance musician.

A turning point came in 1886 when Caroline Roberts, the daughter of the late Major-General Sir Henry Gee Roberts, became one of his piano pupils in Malvern. She became his wife in 1889. They decided to set up home in London and took as their residence 51 Avonmore Road in Fulham, a backwater off the North End Road near Olympia, where their only child, Carice, was born. Here in 1890 he wrote his popular ‘Froissart’ Overture for the Worcester Festival. However, in 1891 the couple decided to leave London, where his works had not had much success. They lived in Malvern, then moved to Hereford in 1904.

His wife’s belief in his genius was a great spur to Elgar and he spent most of his time composing. By 1899 with the publication of the ‘Enigma Variations’, one of his most popular works, he was being recognised by the public as a major composer. The following year he produced what is considered his masterpiece ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, the setting of part of a poem by Cardinal Newman. Elgar drew inspiration from the culture and landscape of England, working in all the major forms of music except opera.

There now followed a period of great musical activity, his finest works were composed over a time span that lasted two decades. The most well known of the period include the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901-07) the first being known as ‘Land of Hope and Glory’; the overture ‘Cockaigne’ (1901); Introduction and Allegro (1905); the Symphonic Study – ‘Falstaff’ (1913); the Violin Concerto (1910) the first performance of which was given by the great violinist Fritz Kreisler; the 1st and 2nd Symphonies (1908 and 1911). His other famous work, the Cello Concerto (1919), immortalised in the public mind by the performances given by the late Jacqueline du Pré, was written as a reflection on the terrible catastrophe of the First World War. Elgar said it described ‘a man’s attitude to life’. The death of Elgar’s wife the following year had such a profound effect on him that no further major work ever again flowed from his pen.

Elgar’s climb to public recognition was slow but once he was seen as one of England’s greatest composers the honours flowed in. A Knighthood in 1904; Order of Merit 1911; appointed Master of the King’s Musick 1924; KCVO 1928, Baronetcy 1931, GCVO 1933, as well as numerous honorary Doctorates and Degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London, Yale and many others. Edward Elgar died at Worcester on 23 February, 1934, aged 76, and was buried in his wife’s grave at St. Wulstan’s Church, Little Malvern.

This article first appeared in the Fulham Society newsletter no 77 in July 2007 and we are grateful for permission to use it

This is just one of the 450 Personalities of Fulham and Hammersmith that are briefly summarised in our publication of the same name by Keith Whitehouse.


THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN FULHAM AND HAMMERSMITH & THE POSTCODE ANOMALY

2 May, 2020

An article written by our Chairman for the Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group.

Fulham was inhabited in Roman times, probably until the early 5th century AD. Archaeological excavations in the late 1980s uncovered a late 5th/6th century Saxon settlement on the site of the former Manbre sugar works at the end of Winslow Road, also the remains of Parr Ditch, which is the historic boundary between Fulham and Hammersmith. Incidentally, this was the site of Brandenburg House and its grounds, the home of Queen Caroline, the divorced consort of King George IV, who died here in 1821.
After the Dark Ages the first recorded date for this location is AD704/5 when the Bishop of the East Saxons (London) acquired a place called Fulanham from the Bishop of Hereford. It included Hammersmith and is virtually identical to the present Borough, Parr Ditch being the common boundary. The ditch was a branch of Stamford Brook that flowed down Brook Green, hence the name. After crossing Hammersmith Road, it became the boundary between Fulham and Hammersmith.
Originally the boundary was slightly south of the present day statue of Capability Brown. In the river wall may be seen the brick archway outlet of the brook and above it a stone bearing the initials HP and FP, pictured above, and the boundary line between Hammersmith Parish and Fulham Parish. The ditch was culverted as a sewer during the 19th century. This would tend to indicate that before the 8th century Fulham and Hammersmith were two separate districts but by the time of the Bishop’s acquisition the two districts had been united.
The boundary has slightly shifted over the years but basically runs along Chancellors Road, Yeldham Road, south of Margravine Gardens, west of Gliddon Road cutting through the former St Paul’s School playing fields and the school itself, then meeting the Hammersmith Road opposite Brook Green. It then turns right along the centre of Hammersmith Road ending at Addison Bridge. The other side of the railway line is Kensington. The railway follows the line of the culverted Counters Creek – also known as Billingwell Ditch – and where it enters the Thames known as Chelsea Creek (now Chelsea Harbour). Counters Creek separated Hammersmith from Kensington, and Fulham from Chelsea.
In 1857 London was a post town but due to its rapid expansion was divided up into many separate postal districts, hence SW, W, EC, N, etc. Fulham was designated as being SW, Hammersmith as W. In 1889, the Post Office decided that the part of Fulham north of Crabtree Lane would get a better delivery service from the Western District office that had its HQ at Paddington. This caused much controversy in Fulham and the Vestry Clerk wrote to the Postmaster General complaining. The Post Office was striking out Fulham on letters and writing Hammersmith. In 1906, Sir William Bull, MP for Hammersmith put a question to the Postmaster General in the House of Commons as Fulham people didn’t like being told they lived in Hammersmith. This was to no avail. The same applied to Fulham residents being told they lived in West Kensington, W. The number suffixes were added to London postal areas in 1917 to increase efficiency of delivery; it has been said to be due to the temporary employment of women postal workers due to the shortage of men because of the Great War.
The Office of National Statistics, in its Postcode Look-up User Guide 2011, states categorically that ‘Postcode areas are defined and used by Royal Mail for the purpose of efficient mail delivery and have no relationship with administrative and electoral areas’. So although Charing Cross Hospital is styled Hammersmith, W6 it is located in Fulham.
Keith Whitehouse,
Chairman
Fulham & Hammersmith Historical Society


THIS WEEK’S READING SUGGESTIONS

23 April, 2020

Here are some more books to consider if we are in this lockdown for the long run.  If not they’ll make great Christmas presents!

29 Angel 9780244803810.  A book by Barbara Tinsley and her father I devoured rapidly it faithfully portrays a 1930’s world that is rapidly slipping from our community memory.  In a charming if earthy style it is the story of young Stanley growing up in a Victorian terrace in Angel Walk Hammersmith.  The area was later truncated by the A4 fly-over.  It is a piece of powerful social history but also contains a story of a secret garden enjoyed by father and daughter.  There is a detective story to be solved.  Whose garden was it and why was it left neglected for decades?
A must read for anyone living in the area or students of social history and the very different lives of our grandparents and greatgrandparents era.
A snippet is online here.  It can be bought from Blackwells or Lulu.

Some more gems:

Fulham Past by Barbara Denny 9780948667435 lots of detail and photos
London’s Lost Rivers by Paul Talling 9781847945976 this includes several of our own.
How to Read London by Chris Rogers 9781782404521

More local books this time from Caroline MacMillan who will be familiar to the many who have taken her guided walks.  www.westlondonwalks.co.uk The vibrant modern photographs are interspersed with historical notes anchoring them to the past.  As well as the history of the area, each book contains two guided walks.

Wild about Fulham  9780993319310
Wild about Hammersmith  and Brook Green 9780957044777
Wild about Shepherd’s Bush and Askew Road  9780993319327

Again for those seeking fiction anchored in our area then try:

London by Edward Rutherford of Sarum fame 9780099551379
Capital Crimes Edited by Martin Edwards 9780712357494
The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz 9781784757236 opens on the Fulham Road!


WEST LONDON NURSERY GARDENS

14 April, 2020

Having taken the advice offered in the latest Newsletter to consider our publications I selected at random West London Nursery Gardens.  I must be frank up front I have little interest in gardening and tended to render what I touched brown!  This is especially true now we only have a balcony and my limited skills of mowing, digging and harvesting apples are no longer required!

I got stuck into this 163 pages plus illustrations volume and was pleasently surprised.  The names of flowers leapt out to prompt my memories of my Northern Grandfather banging on about his successes on the allotment.  In fact the book is as much a social history as a botanical one.  The histories start in the 1660s through to the start of the 20th century.  Information gleaned from rate books, directories, private papers and gardening magazines and catalogues has been used to set out not only the bare facts but a little about the owners of each enterprise.

These men, and sometimes their widows, created a new line of business initially centred on London and botanical trophies of the age of discovery.  A fashion for ornate gardens and unusual plants amongst the landed gentry fed the businesses.  This grew eventually to the classless hobby of many but by then nurseries were more widespread and the land in London was more valuable for housing.

These were often men of humble origin from all over the country gardeners to the rich who grasped an opportunity.  The work and fresh air clearly had its rewards as several lived into their 80’s and 90’s.  The opposite is also true – at least 2 careers were ruined by falls from horseback. In the 19th century more

West London Nursery Gardens

middleclass businessmen tried their hand in this world of plants often driven by an interst in botany or exploring for species to cultivate.

Families are also featured heavily with sons following fathers into the business or associated areas.  Many had 2 or more wives and very many children with many dying young.  Whilst I know my grandparents were from large families the levels of child mortality and deaths in childbirth have slipped beyond living memory.

It also relates much about the geography of our streets today as land was given up for building the pockets of land often recognisable.

This book is definitely worth a read; gardener or not!

John H

II – Post Script

Anyone thinking about reading this book or just curious will find this map from the excellent National Library of Scotland’s website very helpful.  Although later than most of the activity it does show many of the remaining nurseries surviving as development crept westwards.

It also shows the scattering of large houses amongst the market gardens that may feature in Keith’s talk post lockdown!


TUESDAY, 15TH OCTOBER, 7.30PM AT ST MATTHEW’S CHURCH

13 October, 2019

THE LILLIE ENCLAVE: A HISTORY OF BRITISH INDUSTRY, ART, CRAFT AND FUN WITHIN A QUARTER OF A MILE.

Map of The Lillie Enclave

An illustrated talk on this interesting part of Fulham centred on
Empress Place adjoining the now demolished Earls Court Exhibition Centre. This talk is by Ann Kutek, who was involved in the fight to save Earls Court, and is still fighting to save the Victorian houses in Empress Place from demolition. Ann has spent most of her life a stones throw from either side of “Counters Creek”.
Come and hear this talk on a lesser known part of Fulham.
Venue: St Matthews church, on Wandsworth Bridge Road, corner of Rosebury Road SW6 2TX
By Bus: 295 & 28 both pass the door, stop TK Oakbury Road is the nearest.
By tube: to Fulham Broadway and catch one of the buses above on Harwood Road.
FREE (£3 for non-members that includes refreshmenst)


TUESDAY, 17TH SEPTEMBER, 7.30PM – HURLINGHAM: THE STORY OF THE HOUSE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CLUB

6 September, 2019

A reminder of next week’s event.  Many members and friends attended a guided tour of the
club grounds and main building, this talk will give us more
detail. Jane Kimber the former LBHF Archivist supported
by Carrie Starren, the Club Archivist, will expand on the
history of the club and the buildings and estates it acquired
including Broom House and Mulgrave House.
Venue: St Matthews church, on Wandsworth Bridge Road,
corner of Rosebury Road SW6 2TX
By Bus: 295 & 28 both pass the door, stop TK Oakbury
Road is the nearest.
By tube to Fulham Broadway and catch one of the buses above on Harwood Road.
FREE (£3 for non-members that includes refreshments).


TUESDAY 6:30PM 21 MAY 2019 -A WALKING HISTORY OF IMPERIAL WHARF

15 May, 2019
Imperial Gas Works

Imperial Gas Works

From Sandford Manor Estate, to Imperial Gas Company, to
modern housing development in less than 200 years. Keith our
Chairman will guide us around this area giving an insight into
its busy past and the changes that have ensued. A cypher for
what has happened to our borough in this period. The gasholder
pictured is reputed to be the oldest in the world dating from the
late 1920’s.
Meet outside Tescos near the Imperial Wharf Overground
Station on Townmead Road for this FREE tour.
Buses: C3 and 391 stop nearby. By Car: There is parking nearby although not free.
Overground: is convenient for West Brompton, Olympia and Shepherd’s Bush or Clapham Junction.


HISTORY AT OUR FEET

5 September, 2018

We all travel around London heading to our destination and probably not noticing the history on the pavements of our streets. Much of course is modern and ever changing. The Victorian pavements clearly had stone paving as can be seen where there are still coal-hole covers set into the stone. Elsewhere the concrete slabs have taken over. These coal-hole covers themselves vary from the generic mass produced versions to those bearing names of local purveyors. These are all from Fulham streets in a very small area.
Coal Hole London

Coal Hole London

Coal Hole Mansfield

Coal Hole Mansfield

There are also markings on kerb stones: these in Munster Road are believed to mark the pitches of the now defunct street market. They consist of a series of arrow head inscriptions about 15 feet apart with a number inbetween.

Kerb Munster Road

Kerb Munster Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerb - Hammersmith TerraceSome are more difficult to understand such as this one on Hammersmith Terrace we saw when viewing St Peter’s square and Black Lion Lane area earlier in the year.

or this in Clareville Street Kensington

Kerb Clareville St

Kerb Clareville St

– possibly long gone utilities?

More modern are the utility manhole covers; for example you can see the morphing of GPO to Post Office Telephones, British Telecom, BT and Open Reach. The water companies show a similar pattern of change from local utilities to a modern day giant company.

This boundary stone doesn’t seem to relate to known land owners so there is a story to discover here.

Boundary Stone

Boundary Stone

 

 

Postbox Warwick Gardens

Postbox Warwick Gardens

 

 

 

Of course there are the obvious such as this post box in Warwick Gardens Kensington

Gate in Bloom Park Rd

Gate in Bloom Park Rd

or this original gate on Bloom Park Road  although sadly not many of these are left. The original lock plate is still in place containing the mark of its Glasgow makers.  Britain was a very connected society even then.

So our London streets can reveal their history even on a walk to work or the shops.


BROMPTON CEMETERY

2 June, 2017

TUESDAY 6 JUNE, 6.30PM
The forecast is for a bright evening so why not join us on a
VISIT TO BROMPTON CEMETERY Led by Keith Whitehouse.
During the 19th century, with the growth of London,
churchyards were becoming full so enterprising business
men decided to build private cemeteries laid out as parks.
Brompton was opened in 1840 and included catacombs. It
was consecrated by the Bishop of London. The first burial
was Emma Shaw from Fulham. Many famous people are
buried here as were residents of Fulham and
Hammersmith. Emmeline Pankhurst, Richard Tauber,
Constant Lambert and Albert Smith of Mont Blanc fame
to name just a few. There are many fine monuments
including one designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. One of the finest cemeteries in London.
Meet outside the entrance in Old Brompton Road.
Bus: 74 and 430 stop outside.
Tube: West Brompton (next to cemetery)
FREE


EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

23 May, 2015

As you sit down tonight to the Eurovision Song Contest you may not know that one of our rare successes at the competition came from this borough. In 1961 The Allisons came second with “Are You Sure?” and the record was so successful it sold over 1 million copies even keeping Elvis out of the charts. The Allisons were two Fulham choir boys from from St Dionis church Brian John Alford and Colin Bob Day. John wrote the song and is still keeping the memory alive but sadly Bob died in November 2013. Will this year’s entry be as successful?