A Travellerspoint blog

HERE AND THERE IN HACKNEY

Let's explore parts of Haggerston and Hoxton, and take a wander along a part of the Regent's Canal

large_HOXT_3j_Co.._Haggerston.jpg

The Regents Canal was once used for industry and transport, and is now used mainly for leisure pursuits. It passes through areas of London, which are somewhat bleak at first glance, but, on closer examination, can be seen to have some endearing features. This exploration takes us mainly through Hoxton and Haggerston - parts of London between Islington and Hackney, which were mainly rural until the late 18th century.

In 1745, Hoxton was beginning to develop on the edge of London to the west of the Kingsland Road (the Roman ‘Ermine Street’). Haggerston was a tiny hamlet slightly to the east of this thoroughfare and north of Hoxton. By the 1820s, both districts contained stretches of the recently constructed Regent’s Canal. This waterway, whose construction began in 1812, facilitated local industry and the building of warehouses.

Both Hoxton and Haggerston appear in the 11th century Domesday Book, and are now part of Hackney. Although both names end in ‘ton’, this suffix has different meanings in each case (see: “Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names”, by AD Mills, publ. 2001). Hoxton is derived from the Old English name ‘Hoc’ and the word for farmstead ‘tun’’, giving the name a meaning like ‘farmstead or estate of Hoc’. Haggerston, which appears in the Domesday Book as ‘Hergotestane’, is derived from the name (early Christian in origin) of a man, ‘Haergod’ and an Old English word meaning ‘boundary stone (of someone’s land)’. Thus, Haggerston means something like ‘Haergod’s boundary stone’. Until the 16th century, when Hoxton began to be occupied by Londoners expanding into the countryside, both places were rural. Throughout the 17th century, Haggerston remained an area of countryside, where some wealthy gentlemen had out-of-town residences.

De Beauvoir Sq

De Beauvoir Sq

De Beauvoir Sq

De Beauvoir Sq

We start at De Beauvoir Town, a housing estate whose development coincided with the opening of the Regents Canal. Just west of the Kingsland Road, this residential area is centred on De Beauvoir Square, a lovely open space surrounded by attractive grey brick houses with elaborately curved gables. Building was begun in 1821 by brick-maker William Rhodes (1774-1843), a grandfather of the colonialist Cecil Rhodes. Construction ceased in 1823, when a court determined that Rhodes had illegally acquired the lease for the De Beauvoir’s land. After the trial had run on for twenty years, the land reverted to the De Beauvoir family, and development recommenced. Houses were built there for the up and coming ‘middle classes’.

St Peter De Beauvoir

St Peter De Beauvoir

The Victorian gothic St Peters church stands south-east of the square on De Beauvoir Road. It was designed by WC Lochner (c. 1779-1861) who was born in what is now Libya (see: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cheyne/p20418.htm), and built by 1841. It was constructed to “enhance the character and add lustre to the new estate” (see: http://www.stpeterdebeauvoir.org.uk/history-of-st-peters/).

St James Cottages 1845  De Beauvoir Rd

St James Cottages 1845 De Beauvoir Rd

De Beauvoir Rd north of Downham Rd

De Beauvoir Rd north of Downham Rd

The part of De Beauvoir Road north of Downham Road is lined with two-storey homes built in the 19th century. The row called ‘St James Cottages’ is dated 1845.

De Beauvoir Rd south of Downham Rd

De Beauvoir Rd south of Downham Rd

South of Downham Road, there is a council estate built in the 1960s and ‘70s. It includes one high-rise tower and several lower buildings, all of which make a stark contrast to the prettier buildings north of Downham Road. The estate stretches almost as far south as the Regents Canal.

SAE Institute De Beauvoir Crescent

SAE Institute De Beauvoir Crescent

The AEI Group (an independent music business) occupies the Bankstock Building on De Beauvoir Crescent close to the Whitmore Road bridge. Overlooking the canal, this building looks like a modern conversion of an earlier industrial or stage building. In fact, it was originally built in the 1930s, and has had a lightweight modern structure built above its original roof (see: http://www.elliottwood.co.uk/project/bankstock-building-de-beauvoir-crescent-london-n1/).

Regents Canal looking west from Whitmore Rd Bridge

Regents Canal looking west from Whitmore Rd Bridge

Whitmore Rd Bridge over Regents Canal

Whitmore Rd Bridge over Regents Canal

From the Whitmore Bridge, there are good views along the Regents Canal. The bridge, single-arched and built of brick, is a typical example of Georgian canal bridge-building. A staircase leads down to the towpath. Descend this to enter another world – a peaceful contrast to the urban environment on either side of the canal. The canal is lined in places with moored canal barges (‘narrowboats’). The occasional narrowboat chugs past, often with its ‘skipper’ with one hand on the tiller, and the other holding either a mobile ‘phone or a glass of an alcoholic beverage. The old towpath, beautifully maintained, is a busy place. Cyclists and joggers compete with walkers for space on it.

Plant covered building Regents Canal

Plant covered building Regents Canal

Entry to Kingsland Basin

Entry to Kingsland Basin

Walking eastwards, we pass a greenish modern apartment block overlooking the canal. Much of its façade - its balcony rails and supporting pillars - are literally alive: a dense tangle of plants sprouts from panels of planters, looking like vertical plots of garden, attached to them. This building is a fine example of a ‘living wall’, currently fashionable in current architecture. Further east, the towpath crosses a metal bridge, which straddles an inlet of the canal: the Kingsland Basin. The basin dates from the early 1820s, when it began being used for mooring vessels next to industrial establishments. One of the earliest of these, opened in 1823, made tents (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol10/pp33-35). In the 19th century, the area close between De Beauvoir Crescent and the basin was occupied by very poor people. Today, things have changed. The Basin, in which pleasure craft are moored, is now surrounded by luxurious recently-built apartment buildings.

Kingsland Basin

Kingsland Basin

Graffiti just west of Kingsland Rd

Graffiti just west of Kingsland Rd

One of the features that I enjoyed along the canal is the abundance of often luridly coloured graffiti, much of it skilfully executed. I cannot guarantee that what I saw in September 2017 will remain unchanged, or is even there now. Such is the transient nature of this art-form. However, I am sure that there will be some for you to enjoy when you follow my path.

Kingsland Road bridge over Regents Canal

Kingsland Road bridge over Regents Canal

Passing under the brick Kingsland Road Bridge, which has an interesting contemporary iron railing on its west side and whose span is both wider and higher span than the one at Whitlock Road, it is difficult to believe that you have just been beneath one of London’s busier thoroughfares. The tow path, lined with vegetation on one side and the slow-moving, almost motionless, canal on the other, is a peaceful haven wending its way through bustling ‘inner city’ areas. The canal is a world apart from the city surrounding it. A concrete suspension bridge of recent construction carries the lines of the Overground railway across the canal.

Railway bridge south of Haggerston Station

Railway bridge south of Haggerston Station

Haggerston Rd Bridge

Haggerston Rd Bridge

Cormorant near Haggerston

Cormorant near Haggerston

After passing beneath the brick built, narrow Haggerston Bridge (built about 1816-1820), which carries Haggerston Road across the canal, I spotted a cormorant perched on a moored narrow boat. Its wings were spread out widely to dry them in the sun. The north wall of the arch of the bridge is notched in several places. These grooves were caused by the friction of the horse-drawn barge tow-ropes against the abutment.

Acton Lock

Acton Lock

East of the Haggerston Bridge, the level of the canal drops by about eight feet in the Acton’s Lock. It was named after the Hackney land-owner, Nathaniel Lee Acton (1757-1836; of Livermere Park and Bramford in Suffolk), through whose land (agricultural fields, market gardens, and nursery grounds) the canal was built (see: http://planningdocs.hackney.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00049992.pdf). Acton’s portrait was painted by the celebrated George Romney (1734-1802) in about 1787 (see: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2006/shrubland-park-suffolk-england-country-house-sale-l06501/lot.294.html)

Cat and Mutton Bridge

Cat and Mutton Bridge

A few yards east of the lock, the canal is crossed by the Cat and Mutton Bridge, which carries Pritchard Road across the canal. This bridge might have been named after the pub with the same name, which is about 250 yards north of the canal. The pub (aka ‘Cat & Shoulder of Mutton’) was in existence by 1745, long before the canal was constructed. Whatever the origin of its name, the present bridge, which is lined beneath with steel girders, is newer than the smaller brick bridges, which were built at the time of the canal’s construction.

Gasometer on Regents Canal near Pritchard Rd

Gasometer on Regents Canal near Pritchard Rd

From the bridge, there is a fine view of some gasometers east of it. The construction of the canal facilitated the transport of fuels including coal. The Imperial Gas Company, founded by 1829, owned a plot, where these gasometers now stand, and another on the west side of the bridge south of the canal. This branch of the company supplied gas to Tottenham and Edmonton as early as 1840 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_Light_and_Coke_Company#Shoreditch).

Broadway Mkt

Broadway Mkt

Broadway Market (named thus in 1937) to the north of the bridge was the site of a marketplace, which was already active in the 1830s. Close to Acton’s Lock, it was a place where barge-workers could obtain provisions. Today, this widened stretch of road is beginning to go ‘upmarket’, as property values in an area so close to the City rise.

After crossing the bridge, Pritchard Road continues straight south-west for a few yards before turning southwards at its junction with Goldsmiths Row. This was formerly part of Mutton Lane that led up to, and beyond the Cat and Mutton pub (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol5/pp505-524). The present name is derived from the existence of some alms-houses (first constructed in 1703 for poor employees of the Goldsmiths’ Company). Marked on a detailed 1872 map, they do not appear on a similar map drawn 22 years later, nor on later editions of the same scale Ordnance Survey maps.

Former Albion pub, Goldsmiths Row

Former Albion pub, Goldsmiths Row

The fake half-timbered pub, The Albion, a haunt of West Bromwich football team fans stands on a corner plot on Goldsmiths Row. Well, at least it did when I passed it in September 2017. By then, it had been closed for several months (see: https://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2017/06/12/the-albion-closed-shoreditch-west-bromwich/), and was awaiting renovation by its new owners, who plan to open a new establishment to be called ‘The Virgin Queen’. The pub had been in business as ‘The Albion’ for about twenty years. The sign that used to adorn the pub has been removed (by a former fan of the establishment) to reveal the words “West’s Brewery Co. Ltd.”, a Hackney brewery which dated back to 1822 (see: http://www.breweryhistory.com/journal/archive/124_5/Wests.pdf). Before being called ‘The Albion’, it was named ‘The Duke of Sussex’. The building housing it was constructed in the 1920s.

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Sebright primary School Audrey Str

Audrey Street leads off Goldsmiths Row towards a 19th century school building, constructed with red bricks and many gables, bearing the date “1873” and a carved stone with the words “Maidstone Street Haggerston School”. It was designed in the ‘Queen Anne’ style by CH Mileham (1837-1917) and his partner, a Mr Kennedy, for the Hackney Division of the School Board for London, and later (1894) extended by TJ Bailey (see: https://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101392464-sebright-primary-school-including-former-schoolkeepers-house-and-cookery-centre-haggerston-ward#.WgwpPGi0OM8). It was one of the first schools built by the School Board of London under the provisions of the Elementary Education Act of 1870. This Act ensured that local school boards were set-up to provide compulsory education for children aged five to twelve years. Fees were paid by parents who could afford them. Fees for children whose parents were unable to afford them were paid by the boards. Today, Maidstone Street no longer exists, and the school has been renamed Sebright Primary School.

Haggerston Park BMX track

Haggerston Park BMX track

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park is reached a few yards along Goldsmiths’ Row to the south of the school. This irregularly shaped, pleasant green open space includes a BMX cycle track, paths through wooded areas, a lovely pond, and playing fields. The northern part of the park, which reaches up to Whiston Street is built on the site of part of the gasworks that was destroyed by a V2 bomb in 1944. The rest of the park was built where once there had been an area of derelict housing. The park’s creation began in the 1950s.

Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm

The southernmost section of the park is occupied by Hackney City Farm (established 1984). Of all the so-called city farms that I have seen so far, this one has excited me least. To its credit, it does include a nice flower garden amongst its attractions. According to old detailed maps, the large brick building that stands within the farm, and to which an old cobbled lane leads, was once a brewery: ‘Three Crowns Brewery’, a part of West’s company (see above). The former Boston Street marked on old maps) has become a path through the farm.

St Peters Betnnal Green

St Peters Betnnal Green

St Peters Betnnal Green

St Peters Betnnal Green

If you are visiting the area on a Sunday morning and enjoy street markets, then the following detour is worth taking. Cross the Hackney Road, and enter Ion Square Gardens. This small open space is on the site of Ion Square, which was surrounded by small houses built around a private communal garden in about 1845. Following extensive bombing in WW2, the gardens were enlarged to form the present park in the 1960s. The church of St Peters Bethnal Green stands near the south-east corner of the gardens. Its grey colour is due to its facing with flint. Built 1840-41, it was designed by Lewis Vulliamy (1791-1871). Its spacious nave has a plain ceiling supported by an elaborate wooden structure reminiscent of hammer-beam roofs.

Mander organ factory old school entrance

Mander organ factory old school entrance

Mander organ factory

Mander organ factory

The church shares a courtyard with another Victorian building. It houses Mander’s organ factory. A doorway leading into the factory has a carved stone above it, which reads “infants”, suggesting that once there was a school on this site. This is confirmed by referring to old maps. Noel Mander, who died in 2005, began his company in 1936. In 1947, the company moved into the disused school, which was built in the 1840s.

St Peters church hall

St Peters church hall

The brick and stone building on Warner Place (near the church), whose external appearance has a Tudor ‘flavour’, is St Peter’s Church Hall. It was built in 1912.

Barnet Grove

Barnet Grove

Elwin Str by Jesus Green

Elwin Str by Jesus Green

Jesus Green

Jesus Green

Durant Street leads south from Ion Square Gardens, passing a series of streets with neat two storey terraced dwellings, which were built in the mid-19th century. Wimbolt Street, which is one of these, leads to the triangular Jesus Green, a grassy space with several trees. This is in the centre of an area which was developed between 1822 and ’62 on land, which had once been farmland. The land had been owned by the trustees of Jesus Hospital in Chipping Barnet since 1689 (see: https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/Documents/Planning-and-building-control/Development-control/Conservation-areas/Jesus-HospitalV1.pdf). In the 1820s, it was planned to use this to rehouse some of the eleven thousand people left homeless when their homes were demolished to create St Katharine’s Dock. After several ill-fated attempts to develop the area, the present streets were laid out in the 1860s.

Columbia Market school

Columbia Market school

Quilter Street runs west along the south side of Jesus Green to reach Ravencroft Street, which soon crosses Columbia Road. The Columbia Market Nursery School has its signage both in English and Bengali. It stands on part of the site of the reputedly magnificent Victorian gothic Columbia Market complex, which was built in 1859 and callously demolished in 1958. Geoffrey Fletcher wrote of this building in his “The London Nobody Knows” (publ. 1962):
“No verbal description could convey the strangeness and unlikelihood of it all – that great place like a mediaeval cloth hall, with a gatehouse and cloisters. The building (also by HA Darbishire) … had atall tower; its interior was a mass of tall piers, vaults, and tracery, and full of carved inscriptions”

Leopold Buildings

Leopold Buildings

Banana flower Columbia Road

Banana flower Columbia Road

The school faces a row of 19th century tenements built of brick and stone with cast-iron balconies and bow windows. These are the Leopold Buildings constructed by The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company in 1872. East of the school, there are less attractive mid-20th century blocks of flats, outside one of which I spotted a flowering banana plant – a rare sight in London. The Royal Horticultural Society notes that although bananas are generally delicate plants, some species are hardy enough to survive in parts of the UK where winters are mild (see: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=311).

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

School mosaic in Columbia Road Flower Market

School mosaic in Columbia Road Flower Market

The stretch of Columbia Road east of Ravenscroft Street comes alive on Sunday mornings with a busy flower market. Lined by shops and a school, the street is crammed full of people viewing, and buying from a series of plant and flower vendors manning their temporary stalls. I found this popular market somewhat claustrophobic because of the seething mass of people attending it. Originally, this market was held on Saturdays, but it was moved to Sundays to allow Jewish traders to work without disturbing their Sabbath. The horticultural focus of the market originated in the 1960s, but the local interest in flowers can be traced back to the 17th century when the Huguenot refugees encouraged an interest in flower buying and selling to the area. The outer walls of the Columbia Primary School have been decorated with mosaics, which can just about be seen behind the stalls and crowds on Sundays.

Former Queen Elizabeth Hospital Hackney Road

Former Queen Elizabeth Hospital Hackney Road

Columbia Road runs to Hackney Road close to the Hackney City Farm. To the east of the farm, stands the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, which functioned between 1867 and 1996 (see: http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/queenelizabethhackney.html). The building was commenced in 1870, and enlarged later. Its façade has been preserved, but the rest of the structure has been redeveloped for residential use.

St Saviours Priory Yorkton Str

St Saviours Priory Yorkton Str

Yorkton Street, a cul-de-sac, leads from Hackney Road to Haggerston Park. On its west side, there is a brick building with a stone crucifix attached to it just beneath the roof. This is the rear of St Saviour’s Priory (Church of England), which was founded by Dr John Mason Neale (1818-66) in 1855. It is an order of women dedicated to caring for the sick. The present buildings date from the 1970s, when the original late 1880’s premises were demolished.

Former Odeon cinema on  Hackney Road at Dawson Str

Former Odeon cinema on Hackney Road at Dawson Str

Dunloe Street, which crosses Yorkton, leads to Dawson Street. On the corner of the latter and Hackney Road, there stands a derelict cinema building in the art-deco style. This was an Odeon cinema, which was designed by Andrew Mather (1891-1938), who created many cinemas for the Odeon company. It opened in 1938. In 1961, it became a bingo hall, which closed its doors finally in 2015 (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/13886). The building’s fate remains undecided.

Graffiti 199 Hackney Rd

Graffiti 199 Hackney Rd

201 and 203 Hackney Road are set back a little from their neighbours. The walls on both sides of the ‘inlet’ were covered in weird graffiti when I saw them in September 2017.

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

St Marys Secret Garden

West of these, Weymouth Street leads back to Dunloe Street. Appleby Street runs north from the latter to reach the entrance to St Mary’s Secret Garden. Originally created for, and by, people with experience of mental stress, this delightful small garden - a peaceful oasis - is open to the public. Its small area is divided into several different types of garden. This creates the impression that it is much larger than it is. Paths inlaid with occasional mosaics thread their way between beds of flowers and plants and a tiny ‘wild’ woodland area.

Rear of St Chads

Rear of St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

St Chads

Continuing west along Dunloe Street, we reach a large red brick church with gothic windows, a grey tiled roof, and a short pyramidical steeple. This is St Chads, a cruciform building which was built 1867-69 to the designs of James Brooks (1825-1901). Its brick and stone interior is magnificent. It nave is supported by brick walls punctuated by sweeping gothic arches lined with stone frames. The roof of the nave has a hemi-circular, almost barrel-vaulted wooden ceiling. The interior of this Anglo-Catholic church has a great feeling of space and lightness. When it was built, the church stood amongst the picturesque mock Tudor villas of Nichols Square, all of which were demolished in the early 1960s (see: http://spitalfieldslife.com/2013/02/16/the-haggerston-nobody-knows/).

Hoxton Station WW1 memorial

Hoxton Station WW1 memorial

Passing under the railway arches just west of St Chads, we reach Hoxton station. Outside it, there is a WW1 memorial in white stone. It is dedicated to the memory of the North London railwaymen who fell in the Great War. Geffrye Street runs south to Cremer Street, which runs west to meet Kingsland Road. Many of the buildings in this precinct are covered with attention-grabbing graffiti in vivid colours.

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

Graffiti near Hoxton Station

The last point on this exploration is the Geffrye Museum. This is housed in the central section of the alms-houses that surround three sides of a large rectangular green open space. The alms-houses, which are in an immaculate state of preservation, were built in 1714, funded by money bequeathed by Sir Robert Geffrye (1613-1703). His statue stands above the doorway to the centrally positioned chapel.

Geffrye statue

Geffrye statue

Geffrye alms-houses chapel

Geffrye alms-houses chapel

Geffrye Museum courtyard

Geffrye Museum courtyard

A pathway leads through a small cemetery to the north east of the grounds, around to the back of the long central portion of the building. There, behind the alms-houses, and close to the elevated railway tracks, is a series of gardens, each one planted to illustrate a phase in the history of English gardening. There is also a herb garden.

Geffrye Museum one of the garden layouts

Geffrye Museum one of the garden layouts

Inside Geffrye Museum

Inside Geffrye Museum

Inside Geffrye Museum

Inside Geffrye Museum

The museum is designed to illustrate the history of domestic life between 1600 and the present. This is done beautifully by a series of rooms, each one decorated and furnished appropriately for the period being demonstrated. Each room is convincing, which should not be surprising because all the furniture is original as are some of the walls and ceilings, which have been removed from actual homes that were to be demolished.

Geoffrye Museum

Geoffrye Museum

Geoffrey Museum art deco

Geoffrey Museum art deco

Geoffrye Museum extension

Geoffrye Museum extension

Geoffrye Museum room overlooking garden

Geoffrye Museum room overlooking garden

At the south end of the museum, there is a modern extension with a circular section around which there are several re-creations of rooms from the 20th century. The new section also contains a café and a shop. At the rear of the central section of the alms-houses, there is a reading room with large windows that overlook the gardens.

Old ad for Blooms pianos south side Geffrye Museum

Old ad for Blooms pianos south side Geffrye Museum

High above the south-west corner of the Geffrye Museum grounds, I noticed a fading painted wall advertisement. It bears a telephone number “Bishopsgate 9087 “. This system of telephone numbers was introduced in the early 1920s and abandoned in the 1960s, which means the sign must have been made in that period. It was painted on the bricks to promote Blooms Pianos, which used to be available at 134 Kingsland Road, where this walk ends.

This exploration passes through parts of London, which were hardly developed before the early 19th century. Part of this development was due to the construction of the Regents Canal, and the rest to natural urban expansion in line with population increase. Once a poor area of London, much of what is discussed above is rapidly becoming both more fashionable and more expensive to live in. The southern part of Hoxton around Hoxton Square, which I have not described, is currently very ‘trendy’ and a vibrant area at night.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london canal graffiti regents_canal hoxton hackney haggerston Comments (4)

A ROAD OF SIGNIFICANCE

A seemingly unimportant road in north-west London played a significant role in my younger days, and offers some intriguing surprises...

HOOP_2_HOOP_LANE_sign.jpg

LIFE AND DEATH IN HOOP LANE

Hoop Lane runs in a north-easterly direction from Golders Green Road to Meadway. This by-way is of personal interest as it ran through the first few decades of my life, and the last few decades of my mother’s.

Northern Line bridge over Hoop Lane

Northern Line bridge over Hoop Lane

Hoop Lane is amongst Golders Green’s older thoroughfares. It joins Golders Green Road (formerly ‘North End Road’) with Finchley Road, and then continues towards the western edge of the Hampstead Garden Suburb. The latter did not exist prior to about 1905. Before that date, Hoop Lane continued from Finchley Road towards where it ends today, but as a ‘dead-end’ in open country. An 1870’s detailed Ordnance Survey map shows that Hoop Lane was lined by trees (as it is today) and ended at its eastern end at a T-junction. In one direction (north west) ran Temple Fortune Lane, and in the other (south east) ran Wild Hatch, which ended abruptly in farmland. These byways were devoid of buildings in the 1870s. However, an 1807 map shows that there was one building on Wild Hatch at that date. These appear on a 1900 map, labelled as ‘Wild Hatch Cottages’.

1807 map  with some old and modern landmarks overlaid

1807 map with some old and modern landmarks overlaid

Finchley Road was laid out and built in the 1820s and 1830s as a turnpike road (toll-road), bypassing the difficult hilly road that ran from Camden Town through Hampstead village (to Finchley and further north). Before the new road was built, traffic had to climb the steep road to Hampstead, and then wind its way down the North End Road, which still exists. North End Road passed through Golders Green. In the first two decades of the19th century, Golders Green was a string of well-spaced properties, a small hamlet, close to common land (the ‘green’), which was located where Golders Green Station stands today. What is now named ‘Golders Green Road’ was then known as ‘North End Road’. This road continued from Hampstead towards the settlement called ‘Brent Street’.

In those early days, before the existence of Finchley Road, to reach Finchley from Hampstead it was necessary to proceed as follows. After passing the commonage of Golders Green, the traveller would have taken a right turn into Hoop Lane, and gone along it in a north-easterly direction to its end where it met Temple Fortune Lane. Next, the traveller would have had to go northwest along this lane until he or she reached a triangular open space, which is now the position of modern Temple Fortune. This place’s name derives from the fact that it stands on land once owned by the Knights Templars. This spot was the southern end of Ducksetters Lane, which wound its way north-eastwards to Finchley. From this description of the route, it is evident that Hoop Lane was an important thoroughfare between London and the North prior to the building of Finchley Road. It was a country lane with few, if any, buildings before the late 19th century.

Oakview Lodge in approx position of 'The Oaks'

Oakview Lodge in approx position of 'The Oaks'

South west of Finchley Road, Hoop Lane was devoid of buildings as late as 1897. Near where the road met North End Road (now ‘Golders Green Road’), there was a building set in the middle of a large plot called ‘The Oaks’. The Oaks were still marked on a detailed 1912 map. This large stately home disappeared in 1920. By 1912, there were plant nursery buildings on Hoop Lane and, also, one building, now the Central Hotel, where Hoop Lane met Finchley Road on its west side. This must be the one of oldest surviving buildings on Hoop Lane.

HOOP LANE Central Hotel

HOOP LANE Central Hotel

There was another early building (now Glentrees estate agent) opposite it on the other side of Finchley Road close to where the Roman Catholic Church of Edward The Confessor stands today. This church’s construction began in March 1914, and it was completed by October 1915, despite wartime difficulties such as a zeppelin raid on Golders Green in September 1915.

HOOP LANE Glentrees and RC Church of Edward The Confessor and the distant spire of St Judes

HOOP LANE Glentrees and RC Church of Edward The Confessor and the distant spire of St Judes

My earliest memories of Hoop Lane date back to when I was three or four years old, and therefore are rather vague. At that age, I attended a kindergarten in Hoop Lane. This was in the hall attached to Golders Green’s Unitarian Church, which was designed in the ‘Byzantine revival’ style by the architect Reginald Farrow (opened in 1925). It contains interesting artworks including a mural by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979), which I have not yet seen.

HOOP LANE Kindergarten

HOOP LANE Kindergarten

The kindergarten was under the direction of Miss Schreuer, who lived a few doors away in Hoop Lane. My only lasting memory from my time there was when my father appeared at the school with a white beard and a red outfit, dressed as Father Christmas. A few years later, my sister and my cousins attended Miss Schreuer’s. One day while my sister was attending, I was allowed to return to the school to act as an older helper. One of my fellow pupils was the late Micaela Comberti (1952-2003), who was later to become an accomplished violinist. Her German mother and Italian father were friends of my parents.

HOOP LANE Unitarian Church

HOOP LANE Unitarian Church

I am not sure what became of Miss Schreuer, but I heard rumours that the end of her life was unhappy. Today, the hall, where her school flourished, is now a Montessori kindergarten. When I lived in the area (I left finally when I was aged thirty), I often walked past the school and the Unitarian Church. The latter had a panel facing the road, upon which posters with pious messages were posted. One that I will always remember said:
“If you think you have seen the light, think again”.
Coincidentally, I now live very close to a Unitarian Church in Kensington, even closer than my parents’ home was to Miss Schreuer’s school, and it also offers pre-school facilities to local children.

At the north-western corner of the point where Hoop Lane meets Finchley Road, there stands the Central Hotel (illustrated above). This building is the one that was marked on the 1912 map, one of the oldest buildings in Hoop Lane. Undistinguished in appearance, it has been a hotel for over forty years. I have never met anyone who has stayed there.

HOOP LANE site of Express Dairy depot

HOOP LANE site of Express Dairy depot

Directly across the Finchley Road on the north-eastern corner of its intersection with Hoop Lane, there stands a corner shop. For at least forty years, it has been the premises of Glentree International, an estate agent. Before that, this corner shop was a dairy shop run by Express Dairies. Next to it, accessible from Hoop Lane, the company had a depot for re-charging and stocking its electric milk floats. These floats moved almost silently, apart from the clinking of the glass milk, cream, and yoghurt bottles, which they delivered from house to house every morning. Deliveries, such as these and those made by a mobile vegetable seller in a lorry and a Frenchman with strings of onions draped over his bicycle, made life a little easier for those living in the nearby Hampstead Garden Suburb, which has never had any shops.

Most of the rest of Hoop Lane to the east of Finchley Road is effectively a ‘necropolis’. On the northern side of the road, there is a huge Jewish cemetery. On the southern side, there is the sprawling Golders Green Crematorium. For almost thirty years, I used to walk between these two final destinations for the dead on my way to and from schools and university, in daylight and at night. The possible presence of ghosts and other supernatural phenomena associated with the after-life never bothered me in the slightest. These final resting places were part and parcel of my childhood.

Meadway Gate

Meadway Gate

Meadway Gate from Hoop Lane

Meadway Gate from Hoop Lane

Beyond the cemetery and the crematorium, Hoop Lane ends. Vehicles have to drive around a tiny triangular area containing gardens, and then can continue along Meadway into Hampstead Garden Suburb. Pedestrians can access the small gardens by means of a short staircase, and then walk through them under a wooden pergola to reach Meadway. This little garden is now called ‘Meadway Gate Open Space’. I am certain that it had no name when I lived in the area (i.e. until about 1990). Wild Hatch that is shown on early maps still exists. The northern part of it is accessible to vehicles, but the last hundred or so yards of it is a narrow, rustic footpath that leads to Hampstead Way and across from that, the Hampstead Heath Extension. Opposite Wild Hatch, and beyond the Meadway Gate Open Space, is the beginning of Temple Fortune Lane, that also appears on early maps.

WILD HATCH

WILD HATCH

WILD HATCH Garage with dovecote

WILD HATCH Garage with dovecote

WILD HATCH house with shutters

WILD HATCH house with shutters

Wild Hatch skirts the eastern boundary of the crematorium. Temple Fortune Lane, which has houses on its eastern side, skirts the eastern boundary of the Jewish cemetery. This picturesque cul-de-sac narrows at its eastern end to become a footpath, which threads it way between the garden gates of houses on one side (north) and the edge of the crematorium gardens on the other.

WILD HATCH footpath section

WILD HATCH footpath section

WILD HATCH old garden door

WILD HATCH old garden door

The path emerges on Hampstead Way. Crossing this, one enters the Hampstead Heath Extension. To the north of a gravel path, there is a clump of wild vegetation. Within this, there are mounds that were used during WW2 to position anti-aircraft guns. In my childhood, these mounds were accessible. Now, they are fenced-off and hidden by the plants growing around them.

WILD HATCH Hampstead Heath end

WILD HATCH Hampstead Heath end

Hampstead Heath Extension: anti aircraft gun platforms site

Hampstead Heath Extension: anti aircraft gun platforms site

The Jewish Cemetery in Hoop Lane appears to be divided into two sections. One, the western half, contains upright gravestones, and the other, the eastern, mainly horizontal gravestones. The vertical headstones are characteristic of the Ashkenazi tradition, and the horizontal of the Sephardic tradition. It is probably by chance that the Sephardis, who are mainly Jews from the south and east, rest in the eastern part of the cemetery.

JEWISH CEMETERY Ashkenazi graves

JEWISH CEMETERY Ashkenazi graves

JEWISH CEMETERY Sephardic stones

JEWISH CEMETERY Sephardic stones

A book, “A History in our Time - Rabbis and Teachers Buried at Hoop Lane Cemetery” (published by the Leo Baeck College in 2006), provides an interesting history of the cemetery. The cemetery opened for ‘business’ in about 1896. The juxtaposition of the graves of two types of Jew in the same cemetery is unusual. The Jewish Yearbook for the year 5658 (Jewish calendar; 1897 AD) noted of the cemetery:
“… a new cemetery at Golders’-green was also made ready for its melancholy purpose this last year. This cemetery has the curious distinction of being used by both the Orthodox Sephardim and the Reform Congregation of the West London Synagogue of British Jews.”
The reason for this juxtaposition was that the two separate Jewish communities had bought neighbouring plots of land. Many years after the purchases, some of the land was sold for house building on Temple Fortune Lane (this happened in 1973, and includes the estate on Sheridan Walk), and another part to build a synagogue, the North Western Reform Synagogue (built in 1936; entered from Alyth Gardens). I remember the housing construction around Sheridan Walk because it was opposite the home of one of my first ever school friends.

JEWISH CEMETERY buildings for funerary procedures

JEWISH CEMETERY buildings for funerary procedures

The cemetery, which I have seen by peering through its boundary fence but never visited, contains graves of many notable people including that of Dr Leo Baeck (1873-1956), who was born in Germany and became a leader in both Liberal and Progressive Judaism. During WW2, he represented all German Jews and narrowly avoided being murdered at Theresienstadt. More recently, another well-known Ashkenazi Jew, Rabbi Hugo Gryn (1930 – 1996), a cleric and a broadcaster, was buried here. Amongst those who are buried in the Sephardi section, one is of particular interest to me. This is the barrister and historian Philip Guedalla (1889-1944), who published many books on historical subjects. He was related to my late mother’s family, albeit quite distantly.

CREMATORIUM general view from Hoop Lane

CREMATORIUM general view from Hoop Lane

CREMATORIUM Garden cloisters

CREMATORIUM Garden cloisters

CREMATORIUM View of gardens

CREMATORIUM View of gardens

The Golders Green Crematorium faces the two Jewish cemeteries across Hoop Lane. This was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson, president of the Cremation Society of England. Before its existence, Londoners wanting to cremate had to use the Woking Crematorium that opened in 1885. The buildings of the crematorium are all close to the brick boundary wall that runs along Hoop Lane. Behind them spread attractive and extensive memorial gardens. According to www.historicengland.org.uk website, the main buildings were designed in the ‘Romanesque Lombardic style’. That may well be the case, but they present a fairly forbidding appearance. Many of the original buildings were designed by teams that included Alfred Yeates (1867-1944) and Ernest George (1839-1922), who formed a business partnership in 1892. George’s speciality was garden architecture. The gardens and some of the buildings at the crematorium are fine examples of his work. Although the various buildings exhibit a certain architectural homogeneity, they were built over several decades as, gradually, money became available to pay for their construction.

CREMATORIUM View of entrance to a columbarium

CREMATORIUM View of entrance to a columbarium

CREMATORIUM Columbarium apse

CREMATORIUM Columbarium apse

CREMATORIUM Anna Pavlova's ashes in the columbarium

CREMATORIUM Anna Pavlova's ashes in the columbarium

CREMATORIUM Columbarium arches

CREMATORIUM Columbarium arches

It is well worth asking to visit the inside of the Ernest George Columbarium. This building, which is usually locked, contains urns of ashes and memorials placed in beautiful stone settings and shelves. Amongst those ‘stored’ in this columbarium are Sigmund Freud and his wife, as well as Anna Pavlova, the ballet dancer. Many other famous people have been cremated at this crematorium (a good list is available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golders_Green_Crematorium). These include, to name a few, Ivor Novello, Bram Stoker, Peter Sellers, Ronnie Scott, Ernő Goldfinger, Kingsley Amis, Enid Blyton, Rudyard Kipling, and Ernest Bevin.

CREMATORIUM Sigmund Freud urn

CREMATORIUM Sigmund Freud urn

CREMATORIUM Dispersal area

CREMATORIUM Dispersal area

Not all of the ashes of the cremated are stored or scattered at the Crematorium. Many are taken away to be disposed of elsewhere, as were, for example, the ashes of Soviet politician and a proponent of the idea of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow Leonid Krasin (1870-1926), which were buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. According to S Kotkin in his “Stalin. Paradoxes of Power” (published 2014), it was Krasin, who had: “… proposed inclusion of a terrace from which the masses could be addressed…”. This was added to the design of Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Sadly, the crematorium is a place that I have had to visit too often. Friends of my parents and colleagues of my father have been cremated here. These included Professor William Baxter, who was responsible for encouraging my father to come from South Africa to study in the UK in 1938. My father’s colleague at the London School of Economics, the philosopher Professor John Watkins, was another person whose funeral I attended in one of the larger of the crematoriums multi-denominational chapels. We attended the final farewell of Dr ‘Sushi’ Patel, who studied medicine in Bombay with my mother-in-law. She was a Hindu. I remember that the whole congregation filed past her open coffin before she was cremated.

CREMATORIUM View from gardens

CREMATORIUM View from gardens

Closer to home, my heart was filled with great sadness when I attended the memorial services for two of my uncles. At one of these services, the ceremonies were conducted by a Humanist celebrant. At the other, the Jewish Kaddish was recited, this being the final wish of an uncle who in life showed little outward interest in his Jewish background. Later, when his belongings were being sorted, we discovered to our surprise that his interest in Judaism and its practices was greater than anyone had realised.

The saddest funeral that I attended at Golders Green’s Crematorium was my mother’s. She died young after suffering painfully for months in hospital. Very few of us sat in one of the smaller chapels. There was no ceremony, nothing was said. When my mother’s coffin was carried past me along the aisle, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realised that this was the very last time that I would ever be physically close to her. As soon as I was able, and that was moments after her coffin slid out of sight, I fled from the small gathering, and walked briskly down Hoop Lane towards Finchley Road. Later that day late in December 1980, I bought a boxed set of LPs containing recordings of Bach’s Cello Sonatas. To this day, I have felt unable and unwilling to open them, let alone to play them.

CREMATORIUM Ivor Novello

CREMATORIUM Ivor Novello

My mother was one of many thousands to have been cremated in Golders Green. She was a sculptress. Other artists cremated here included Boris Anrep, Walter Crane, and Percy Wyndham Lewis. Our family lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a stone’s throw from St Judes Church, whose architect was Edwin Lutyens, famous for his work in New Delhi. Many of my parents’ friends were psychoanalysts. The greatest of them all, Sigmund Freud, was rendered to ashes in this crematorium. The list of celebrities in all fields who ended up at this place is enormous. I knew nothing of this during the many journeys that I made by foot along Hoop Lane during my younger years. In those days, my mind was on the future rather than the past.

CREMATORIUM Large Chapel

CREMATORIUM Large Chapel

When I was being shown around the Columbarium by one of the Crematorium’s officials, I told him that my mother and uncles had been cremated there. To which he smiled, shook my hand, and then said:
“Well, in that case, I suppose that you will end up here one day.”

Meadway Gate: Horse trough

Meadway Gate: Horse trough

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:30 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london cemetery jewish kindergarten freud crematorium golders_green pavlova Comments (1)

ART AND ALE: A WALK BESIDE THE THAMES

Walking along the river Thames between Hammersmith and Chiswick is a joy for lovers of history, architecture, art, and ale.

Cormorant near Hammersmith Bridge

Cormorant near Hammersmith Bridge

I was taking a photograph outside a house on the riverbank at Chiswick, when a man sitting in a van nearby called me over to tell me about the building. During our conversation, he said that the River Thames was used to carry freight, just like the M4 motorway does today. He was right. Before the early 19th century when the railways were built, the river, equipped with locks where necessary, was used to transport goods by boat or barge. After the advent of the railways, except for the tidal stretches of the river (particularly to the east of the city), the waterway almost ceased to be used for transport. This exploration follows the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge to the old village of Chiswick. On our way along this delightful stretch of the river, we will see many examples of buildings built in the 18th century and earlier and discover several lovely places to stop for a drink...

King Street, Hammersmith’s high street, was part of the Great West Road (the ‘Bath Road’, and more recently the ‘A4’). This road, which originated before the Roman conquest, connects the City of London with Bath and Bristol. As late as the mid-19th century, this road through Hammersmith was lined with orchards and market gardens. In his “View of the Agriculture of Middlesex” (publ. 1807), J Middleton wrote:
“From Kensington, through Hammersmith, Chiswick, Brentford, … the land on both sides of the road for seven miles in length … may be denominated the great fruit-garden, north of the Thames, for the supply of London…”
Gradually at the 20th century approached, these disappeared, and were replaced by residential (and other) buildings as London grew westwards.

In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, industrial buildings existed close to Hammersmith’s river front. On a 1936 map, the following are marked: a lead mill; a large water pumping building; an industrial bakery; breweries; a folding-box maker; and a motor works. Interspersed with these, there were many wharves, boat-houses, clubs, pubs, and private residences. Today, the industry has disappeared, but the homes, pubs, clubs, and boat houses remain, making a riverside walk between Hammersmith and Chiswick a pleasure.

Bradmore House

Bradmore House

Beginning at the Broadway centre, which incorporates one of Hammersmith’s two Underground stations, a shopping mall, and a busy split-level bus station, the first sight of interest is Bradmore House. This was originally an 18th century extension of a 16th century building, Butterwick House (see: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1192636). The extension was built by Henry Ferne, Receiver General of Her Majesty’s [i.e. Queen Anne’s] Customs, to house his mistress, the leading actress Mrs Anne Oldfield (1683-1730). Butterwick House was demolished in 1836, followed later by its extension. The 18th century baroque façade, which used to face the original house’s garden, was dismantled and stored. It was reassembled and put onto a 20th century bus garage, facing west instead of its original east. The garage was demolished, and then replaced by a newer Bradmore House, completed in 1994 with the original 18th century façade still facing west.

St Pauls Centre and Church

St Pauls Centre and Church

Directly across Queen Caroline Street in a large green space, stands the large neo-gothic church of St Pauls (consecrated 1883), which was designed by JP Seddon (1827-1906) and HR Gough (1843-1904). There have been churches on this spot since the early 17th century. In the late 1990s, I attended a couple of theatrical performances staged in the then rather neglected-looking church. Our daughter’s school also used the building for its annual Christmas carol service. More recently, the church has been restored and a modern extension, the St Pauls Centre (opened 2011), added to its west end.

Under Hammersmith flyover

Under Hammersmith flyover

Immediately to the south of the church, traffic races over the Hammersmith Flyover. Designed by G Maunsell and Partners, this viaduct, which is over 2000 feet long, was completed in 1961. Built using a design that was very new at the time, this road bridge allows traffic to avoid the very busy Hammersmith roundabout beneath it. Once, it took us an hour to drive less than halfway around it.

The Hammersmith Surgery

The Hammersmith Surgery

Immediately south of the flyover, there is a contemporary building with an original design, whose bold sculptural ‘façade’ consists of overlapping curved concrete slabs. This contains the Hammersmith Surgery, a medical practice. Completed in 2001, it was designed by Guy Greenfield Architects. It stands at the beginning of the road leading to Hammersmith Bridge.

Detail of Hammersmith Bridge

Detail of Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge

The suspension bridge, completed in 1887, was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette (1819-91). It replaced an earlier one built in 1827, but uses its predecessor’s original pier foundations. Slightly chunky in appearance, it is covered with decorative features. It crosses Lower Mall, which runs along the Hammersmith bank of the Thames. This riverside thoroughfare and its continuation upstream, Upper Mall, is lined with buildings of historic interest.

Lower Mall: east end by bridge

Lower Mall: east end by bridge

Lower Mall rowing club

Lower Mall rowing club

Kent House Lwr Mall

Kent House Lwr Mall

The rowing club at number 6 Lower Mall with its prominent bow first floor window overlooking the river and supported on slender pillars is one of a row of several recognizably Georgian houses, all of which have been modernised. The elegant Kent House, built in about 1782 (maybe 1762), stands west of these. Over the years it has had many owners including Mr and Mrs Thomas Hunt who used it as a seminary for young people.

12 and 11 Lwr Mall

12 and 11 Lwr Mall

Blue Anchor pub Lwr Mall

Blue Anchor pub Lwr Mall

The Rutland Arms pub Lwr Mall

The Rutland Arms pub Lwr Mall

The lower, modest building neighbouring Kent House, numbered 11 and 12, was built in the 17th century, but although modernised it retains original features. The Blue Anchor pub close-by bears the date 1722, but its present home is a more recent building, if not a highly modified version of the original. The composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934), who was Director of Music at Hammersmith’s St Pauls School for Girls, composed his “Hammersmith Suite” (1931) in the pub (see: “Gustav Holst: A Research and Information Guide”, by MC Huismann, publ. 2011). The nearby Rutland Arms pub opened in the late 1840s, and was rebuilt in the 1870s. Before WW2, this building had a third floor and a pitched roof, but now it has only two beneath a flat roof.

Westcott Lodge Lwr Mall

Westcott Lodge Lwr Mall

Furnivall Park and storm outlet (maybe the former Creek)

Furnivall Park and storm outlet (maybe the former Creek)

Westcott Lodge, a modernised Georgian structure (built about 1746), has a porch supported by two pillars and two pilasters, all with Ionic capitals. Formerly St Paul’s vicarage, it stands on the eastern edge of Furnivall Gardens, a pleasant open space created in 1951. Before WW2, the area was covered with industrial buildings including the Phoenix Lead Mills, which stood east of The Creek, an inlet of the Thames that was filled-in in 1936. In earlier times, The Creek, which extended as far inland as today’s King Street, was centre of Hammersmith’s flourishing fishing industry. Writing in 1876, James Thorne described The Creek as follows:
“… a dirty little inlet of the Thames, which is crossed by a wooden foot-bridge, built originally by Bishop Sherlock in 1751 … the region of squalid tenements bordering the Creek having acquired the cognomen of Little Wapping, probably from its confined and dirty character.”
The Creek is long gone, but there is a storm outlet in the bank of the Thames close to where The Creek must have emptied into the river. This can be seen from Dove Pier at the western end of the Gardens.
The little bridge described by Thorne led west to the beginning of Upper Mall. Before looking at that, follow the path to the busy A4, across which can be seen the façade of Hammersmith Town Hall. Built 1938-39 beside the former Creek, it was designed by E Berry Webber (1896-1963), an architect best-known for his civic buildings.

Detail of Hammersmith Town Hall

Detail of Hammersmith Town Hall

Hammersmith Town Hall

Hammersmith Town Hall

The Seasons and the Dove and Sunderland Hse (topped with a balustrade)  seen from Dove Pier

The Seasons and the Dove and Sunderland Hse (topped with a balustrade) seen from Dove Pier

A narrow passage forms the eastern part of Upper Mall. Sussex House, brick-built and well-hidden behind its garden’s fencing, was built in the early 18th century (about 1726) on the site of an earlier 17th century house. Despite its name, it is unlikely that the Duke of Sussex (1773–1843), who laid the foundation stone of the first Hammersmith Bridge, lived here.

Sussex House Lwr Mall

Sussex House Lwr Mall

The east part of 15 Upper Mall

The east part of 15 Upper Mall

Across the passage from this house, there is another whose shuttered ground-floor windows resemble a shop front. This building is part of, or attached to, number 15 Upper Mall. The latter bears a plaque recording that Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson (1840-1922), the printer and bookbinder, founded his Doves Bindery and Doves Press in this building, where he also lived. Involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a friend of its great proponent William Morris, who lived and worked close by. Thomas was married to Anne, daughter of the radical Richard Cobden (1804-1865). Along with his sometime business partner, the engraver and printer Emery Walker (see below), Thomas developed a new type-face. When they fell out, Thomas dumped all the font’s casting punches and matrices for their new font into the Thames, and they were lost until some of it was recovered in was discovered below the water in 2015.

The Dove Upp Mall

The Dove Upp Mall

Dove Pier from Upp Mall

Dove Pier from Upp Mall

A quaint riverside pub, The Dove, is a few steps west. Beginning life as ‘Doves Coffee House’ in the late 18th century, it became a pub by the early 19th century. To its east, its neighbour is The Seasons, a narrower building with wide, tall windows overlooking the river. The Seasons might have been built as a ‘smoking box’ (a place to enjoy tobacco) for the Duke of Sussex (see above).

The Dove pub is joined to a larger building with a rooftop balustrade (best viewed from the river or from Dove Pier). This 18th century building is number 21, Sunderland Cottage, where William Morris housed the hand-operated Albion press used for printing an edition of Chaucer (see: “The Kelmscott Press: A History of William Morris’s Typographical Adventure”, by WS Peterson, publ. 1991). Prior to that (in 1867), the house was used by T Day, a coal merchant. The author George Borrow (1803-1881) was one of his customers in 1864 (see: http://georgeborrow.org/timeline/brompton1864.html).

River Hse: 24 Upp Mall

River Hse: 24 Upp Mall

River House, number 24, was built in the mid-17th century. When Catherine of Braganza (1638-1705) lived in Hammersmith (in 1685 after her husband King Charles II died), some of her servants lived in this house. It western neighbour, a much larger brick building, built in the 1780s, is now called Kelmscott House. Built on the site of an old warehouse, this became the home of Sir Francis Ronalds (1788-1873) in the early 19th century. Sir Francis, an inventor, laid eight miles of insulated electrical cable in the house’s extensive garden, which in his time stretched as far inland as King Street, and with that he demonstrated the use of telegraphy for the first time in history in 1816. When he reported his discovery to Lord Melville, the First Lord of The Admiralty, he was told (by Melville) that telegraphs were totally unnecessary, because the semaphore did the job of communication just as well!

Kelmscott Hse Upp Mall

Kelmscott Hse Upp Mall

In 1878, the house, known then as ‘The Retreat’, was bought by the writer and artist William Morris (1834-1896), a leading exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement and a social reformer. It was renamed Kelmscott House (the name of Morris’s dwelling in Oxfordshire). Morris and his family lived in this large house, which also served as a meeting place for his many artistic and socialist friends and acquaintances. Its interior was decorated with wallpapers designed by Morris and his company, as well as with oriental carpets. There were also textiles woven to his designs. Today, the house, which is owned by the William Morris Society, is leased to private tenants.

Coach house of Kelmscott Hse

Coach house of Kelmscott Hse

The long narrow coach house attached to the west side of Kelmscott House was used as a lecture hall in William Morris’s time. It hosted many meetings of groups sympathetic to socialism, including that which Morris joined in 1883: the ‘Democratic Federation’, later known as the ‘Social Democratic Federation’. Like some of today’s leading British socialists, Morris was also far wealthier than the people whom he hoped to help with his left-wing political sympathies.

William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Today, the coach house, which bears a plaque in memory of Sir Francis Ronalds, houses the offices of the William Morris Society and a small museum. On the ground floor, there are a few chairs set in front of a screen where a short, informative film about Morris is shown. In the basement, there is a shop and two rooms full of exhibits. Most of them relate to Morris, but there is also a bust of Sir Francis. What particularly interested me was a temporary exhibit describing Morris’s interest in oriental carpets. It was he who persuaded the Victoria and Albert Museum to purchase (in 1893 for £2000) the now priceless 16th century Persian Ardabil carpet (Morris described it being of “singular perfection … logically and consistently beautiful”; see: https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/the-ardabil-carpet), and other fine woven carpets from Persia.

Printing press in William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Printing press in William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Sir Francis Ronalds at William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

Sir Francis Ronalds at William Morris Soc Museum Upper Mall

In another room, there stands a well-preserved example of a hand-operated printing press used by Morris’s printers. Next to it, there are racks of movable type ready to be set in the press. Seeing this, reminded me of my days at Highgate School in north London, where I helped print the school calendars using very similar equipment. The staff at the museum were friendly and knowledgeable.

Rivercourt Hse Upp Mall

Rivercourt Hse Upp Mall

Further west, Rivercourt House (number 36 Upper Mall), a large brick building topped with a balustrade facing the river, was built in 1808. In its grounds stood a house where the Queen Dowager, Catherine of Braganza, lived whilst she was in Hammersmith. The ruins of this were pulled down at the time the present house was built. Naomi Mitchison (1897-1999), the novelist, socialist, and feminist, lived here with her family between 1923 and ’39. One of her children is the famous immunologist Avrion Mitchison, who worked and taught at my university, University College London. Today, the house and its newer neighbour to the west of it contain The Latymer Prep School.

Between 1931 and ’35, the artist (and print-maker) Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) lived in the house on the east corner of Upper Mall and Weltje Road. ‘Weltje’ might refer to a place with a WW1 cemetery near Ypres in Belgium. Or, more likely, it refers to the actor Lewis Weltje (see: “Records of My Life: In Two Volumes, Volume 1”, by J Taylor, publ. 1832), who lived in Hammersmith, and died in the late 18th century. In 1781, he founded a club in Mayfair, which was noted for gambling and extravagant entertainments. Weltje Road crosses part of the garden of the now demolished Seagreens House, which was owned by Weltje. West of this, Linden House is set back from the River. This grand building with a central pediment was constructed about 1733. Today, it houses the London Corinthian Sailing Club and the Sons Of The Thames Rowing Club.

Linden House Upp Mall

Linden House Upp Mall

The Old Ship Upp Mall

The Old Ship Upp Mall

Next, we pass two pubs. The Old Ship is truly old. There has been a hostelry on its site since the early 18th century. West of that, and set back from the riverfront, is the Black Lion. It is housed in a much modified late 18th century building, and has pleasant gardens where I have enjoyed drinks on warm summer’s evenings. This pub was one of many Thames-side inns, where the once popular game of skittles was played seriously as late as after WW2. The pub’s skittle alley exists no longer.

The Black Lion and St Peters Church  from Hammersmith Terrace

The Black Lion and St Peters Church from Hammersmith Terrace

Hammersmith Terrace

Hammersmith Terrace

Hammersmith Terrace is separated from the river by a row of terraced houses, which were built in the third quarter of the 18th century. They vary in design, but all have attractive front porches. Edward Johnston (1872-1944) lived at number 3 between 1905 and ’12. Born in Uruguay of Scottish parentage, he was an important modern calligrapher. In 1916, he designed the type font, which, with small modifications made recently, is still used for of the lettering on London’s Underground. In addition, he was responsible for modifying the system’s logo to look as it does today: a circle with a horizontal bar crossing it.

Alan Herbert lived at 12 Hammersmith Terrace

Alan Herbert lived at 12 Hammersmith Terrace

From 1903 to ’33, number 8 was home to the typographer and antiquary Sir Emery Walker (1851-1933). An exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a friend of William Morris. Walker’s collection of antique typefaces inspired Morris to set up his Kelmscott Press, which attempted to revive the aesthetics of the early era of European printing and illuminated manuscripts. After Morris died, Walker formed the Dove Press with Cobden Sanderson (see above). As already described, they fell out. Walker’s house now houses a museum, which I have not yet visited. Like Morris, Emery was a member, and one-time branch secretary, of the Hammersmith Branch of the Socialist League. After meetings held in the coach house at Kelmscott House, Morris used to invite the speaker and the audience to have dinner in his home. Emery was usually present at these meals (see: “William Morris”, by F MacCarthy, publ. 1994).

Sir Alan Patrick Herbert (1890-1971), writer, Member of Parliament, and law reformer, lived at number 12, whose porch is supported by Doric columns. A member of the Thames Conservancy and author of books about the river, he lived and died there. The Terrace leads west into Chiswick Mall, a small stretch of which is in the Borough of Hammersmith. Before the boundary of the borough is reached, we pass some 20th century houses. Soon after entering the Borough of Hounslow, there is a quaint house, Mall Cottage, with a neo gothic front door and windows framed by gothic arches.

Mall Cottages Chiswick Mall

Mall Cottages Chiswick Mall

Chiswick Eyot eastern end

Chiswick Eyot eastern end

Continuing along Chiswick Mall, we pass the eastern end of Chiswick Eyot. It is the easternmost island in the Thames except for the Isle of Sheppey, which is 44 miles east in the Thames estuary. In the past, this spindle-shaped islet was used for the cultivation of osiers (willows with long flexible shoots used in basket and furniture making). One of the houses facing the island is the over ornate heavily stuccoed Island House with Ionic pillars and Corinthian pilasters. It was built in the early 19th century. Nearby, is the appropriately named Osiers, whose stuccoed exterior hides an old structure built in the 1780s. Once a haunt of intellectual homosexuals, it was later the home of the pathologist Leonard Colebrook (1883-1967).

Island House, Chiswick Mall

Island House, Chiswick Mall

Osiers, Chiswick Mall

Osiers, Chiswick Mall

Osiers is the most eastern of a terrace of 18th century (and earlier) buildings. Its immediate neighbour, Morton House, which was built around 1726, has had many owners and uses, including housing a school for young children in the 1920s. Before that, the artist Francis Ernest Jackson (1872–1945) lived here between 1912 and ’19 (see: “F. Ernest Jackson and His School”, publ. by The Ashmolean Museum, 2000) prior to moving into Mall Cottage (see above).

Morton House Chiswick Mall

Morton House Chiswick Mall

Riverside Hse Chiswick Mall

Riverside Hse Chiswick Mall

Riverside House and its adjoining Cygnet House, both with pretty latticework porches, were built in the Regency period at the beginning of the 19th century. The Russian Vladimir Polunin (1880-1957), who lived in Cygnet House, not only taught at the Slade School of Art but also painted scenery for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet. The Mall runs in front of the houses already described, but is separated from the Thames by a strip of private gardens belonging to the houses. Beyond the gardens, the Eyot provides a verdant backdrop.

A riverside garden with Chiswick Eyot behind

A riverside garden with Chiswick Eyot behind

Greenash Chiswick Mall

Greenash Chiswick Mall

The tall Greenash house makes an architectural contrast with its 18th century neighbours. It was designed by John Belcher (1841-1913), and completed in 1882 for the shipbuilder Sir John Thornycroft (1843–1928), who owned a wharf just west of the nearby St Nicholas Church. It was converted into flats in 1934 by its then owner the architect Ernest Brander Musman (1888-1972), a designer of many 20th century pubs in a wide variety of architectural styles.

Staithe Hse Chiswick Mall 19th cent

Staithe Hse Chiswick Mall 19th cent

Western end of Chiswick Eyot

Western end of Chiswick Eyot

Fullers Griffin brewery from Chiswick Mall

Fullers Griffin brewery from Chiswick Mall

Staithe House, part of a Victorian terrace which would not look out of place in Belsize Park, faces the western sharp tip of Chiswick Eyot. The house is separated from Fuller’s Griffin Brewery (building commenced 1845) by Chiswick Lane South. The brewery stands on a site where beer has been brewed since the 17th century or earlier. The Lane runs along the east side of the brewery, passing a brewery retail outlet, to a row of 18th century buildings, named Mawson Row in memory of Thomas Mawson (c. 1660-1714) of Chiswick, who took over the brewery in 1685.

Mawson Arms at end of Chiswick Lane South

Mawson Arms at end of Chiswick Lane South

Near the Mawson Arms pub at the north end of the row, there is a plaque commemorating the oft-quoted poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Pope and his parents lived here in this row between 1716 and ’19. According to James Thorne, writing in 1876, Pope wrote portions of his translation of the “Iliad”, which appeared between 1715 and ’20, on the backs of letters addressed to him in the (then named) ‘New Buildings’ in Chiswick. Pope’s father died in this row of buildings in 1717, and is buried in the nearby churchyard.

Former Red Lion Pub Chiswick Mall

Former Red Lion Pub Chiswick Mall

Back on the Mall, immediately west of the brewery buildings, there is a building named Red Lion House. It was formerly a pub, the ‘Red Lion’, built in the 18th century. This, I was told by a passer-by, went out of business because of the reduced demand for alcohol following the legislation of pub opening hours that was introduced in WW1 (i.e. The Defence of The Realm Act of 1914). In its heyday, the pub was used by bargemen and, also, osier cutters, who sharpened their knives on a whetstone that used to hang by its entrance.

Thames View Hse Chiswick Mall

Thames View Hse Chiswick Mall

Said and Lingard Houses on Chiswick Mall

Said and Lingard Houses on Chiswick Mall

Thamesview and its neighbour Lingard House are both 18th century, and were originally parts of a single building. The illustrator and engraver Robert Sargent Austin (1895-1973), who advised on the design of British banknotes in the late 1950s, lived in Lingard. Frederick William Tuke (1858 - 1935), who helped his brothers run a mental asylum in Chiswick, lived in Thamesview in the late 19th century. Next door to Lingard House is Said House, whose façade is dominated by an overly large bay window. The building’s earliest structures date back to the 18th century, but much has been done since to distort its appearance. The actor and theatre manage Sir Nigel Playfair (1874-1935) was one of its inhabitants.

Eynham House Chiswick Mall

Eynham House Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse detail Chiswick Mall

Bedford Hse detail Chiswick Mall

Eynham House and its adjoining Bedford House provide pleasant visual compensation for their ugly neighbour Said House. Originally, the two houses were parts of a single house, whose construction dates to the 17th century. The façade of the house(s) with its harmonious bow windows is 18th century and surmounted by a graceful pediment. One of the owners of Bedford House was John Sich, who owned the nearby Lamb Brewery (see below). There are sculpted heads above the ground floor windows.

Woodroffe Hse Chiswick Mall

Woodroffe Hse Chiswick Mall

The first two storeys of the nearby austere brick building, Woodroffe House, were built in the early 18th century, and the third added later. The sculptor Wilfred Dudeny (1911-1996) lived there from about 1963 onwards. Chiswick Mall ends just West of this building, and the roadway continues northwards as Church Street. At the corner, stands a house (pre-18th century, but much modified), The Old Vicarage. Opposite it, a slipway runs down into the river. It has been there a long time, and is marked on a detailed map surveyed in 1867. Near it, opposite the Red Lion Pub, this same map marks a ferry that ran from the pub, around the western tip of the Eyot, to the southern bank of the Thames.

The Old Vicarage Chiswick Mall

The Old Vicarage Chiswick Mall

Slipway at western end of Chiswick Mall

Slipway at western end of Chiswick Mall

"Couplet" by Charles Hadcock Chiswick Mall

"Couplet" by Charles Hadcock Chiswick Mall

Close to the landward end of the slipway (near the vicarage), there is what looks like a pair of oversized interlocking, rusting chain links with nuts and bolts. This is a cast-iron sculpture, “Couplet”, made by Charles Hadcock (born 1965) in 1999. The work of art, which reminded me of the works that my late mother, a sculptress, might have made. It stands beside the gateway into the churchyard of St Nicholas. Nicholas, whose church is beside the Thames and near at least two breweries, is patron saint for fishermen, sailors, and coopers (barrel-makers).

St Nicholas churchyard

St Nicholas churchyard

St Nicholas churchyard William Hogarth

St Nicholas churchyard William Hogarth

The idyllic, romantic, leafy churchyard by the river is chock full of graves. Two of them caught my attention. One is that for the artist William Hogarth, who lived close-by (see below). His monument, protected by a cast-iron fence, an urn on a plinth decorated with an artist’s palette and brushes, was erected after the death of his sister in 1781 (who is also commemorated on this monument), and was restored by a William Hogarth of Aberdeen in 1856.

St Nicholas churchyard Ugo Foscolo

St Nicholas churchyard Ugo Foscolo

The other grave that I found interesting was a monument to the Italian poet and patriot Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827). He spent the last eleven years of his life in England. He died at Turnham Green, and was buried in the graveyard at St Nicholas. In 1871, the poet’s remains were removed to Italy, which had recently achieved Unification and Independence. They were interred in the church of S Croce in Florence.

St Nicholas Chiswick

St Nicholas Chiswick

St Nicholas churchyard gargoyle on tower

St Nicholas churchyard gargoyle on tower

There has been a church on the site of St Nicholas since before the 12th century. The tower of the present building was begun in the 15th century. Its south face has a small picturesque gargoyle with prominent eye-brows and bulging eyes. The rest of the church was rebuilt in the late 19th century in Victorian gothic style.

Ferry Hse Church Str Chiswick

Ferry Hse Church Str Chiswick

The large Ferry House on Church Street and some of its neighbours were built in the 18th century. Even older is the half-timbered Old Burlington, an old coaching inn, whose construction began in the 16th century. Close to this, there is a building on a corner plot with timber-cladding and a ground-floor bow window. This was once The Lamb pub.

Former Old Burligton pub and behind it the Lamb Brewery Church Str

Former Old Burligton pub and behind it the Lamb Brewery Church Str

The former Lamb pub Church Str Chiswick

The former Lamb pub Church Str Chiswick

Established by about 1732, it became the brewery pub for Sich & Co brewery. It closed in 1909. It achieved fame in 1889 because it was here that an inquest was held into the death by drowning of a Jack the Ripper suspect, Montague John Druitt (see: http://www.closedpubs.co.uk/london/w4_chiswick_lamb.html). The buildings that housed Sich’s brewery, the Lamb Brewery, can be seen behind the former pub. The brewery was leased to the brewers John Sich and William Thrale in 1790. Brewing ceased in the early 20th century. The premises were then used until 1952 by the Standard Yeast Company, and now they have been converted into offices, studios, and flats.

Chiswick has been a centre for brewing since early times, since at least the 13th century when many of the local inhabitants owed taxes for making malt (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol7/pp78-86#h3-0007). Earlier than that, by the 11th century, Chiswick was known for cheese making. Its earlier name, the Old English ‘Ceswican’, meant ‘cheese farm’ (see: “A Dictionary of London Place-Names”, by D Mills, publ. 2010). By the late 16th century, there was at least one brewery in the area. Fuller’s brewery is the last of these to survive.

Old shop 6 Church Str

Old shop 6 Church Str

Pages Yard off Church Str Chiswick

Pages Yard off Church Str Chiswick

Number 6 Church Street has a large disused shopfront with central double doors and decorative masonry brackets ate each end of the former fascia. This building was marked as a ‘Post Office’ on old (pre-WW2) maps. It is almost opposite Pages Yard, a cul-de-sac lined with 18th century brick houses with luxuriant gardens. The north end of historic Church Street opens abruptly into to modern day life in the form of the busy Great West Road dual carriageway.

The George and Devonshire pub

The George and Devonshire pub

Boston House Chiswick Sq

Boston House Chiswick Sq

Chiswick Sq

Chiswick Sq

Many people whizzing along this road or stuck in a traffic jam probably do not notice the historic George and Devonshire pub, which has been in business since the 1650s, although its present home dates from the 18th century. Its neighbour Chiswick Square is dominated by the elegant Boston House. Pevsner compares the design of this building, erected in the 1740s, to London’s Albany (in Piccadilly). Its name probably derives from Viscount Boston, Earl of Grantham (died 1754), who lived there. The buildings on the other two sides of the square, whose north side has no buildings, are late 17th century.

Flyover at Hogarth Roundabout

Flyover at Hogarth Roundabout

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

St Mary's Convent and Nursing Home

Putting Boston House behind you, one cannot avoid seeing a stream of vehicles ascending the slope of the western end of the slender flyover that carries traffic eastward above the Hogarth Roundabout. St Marys Convent, a short distance west of Chiswick Square, was designed by Charles Ford Whitcombe and constructed in 1896. It bears some architectural details typical of the Arts and Craft Movement. Over the years, it has been considerably enlarged to encompass a hospital.

Corner Paxton and Short Roads

Corner Paxton and Short Roads

Paxton Road, which leads northwest from the Convent runs alongside the grounds of Chiswick House. It is lined by 19th century ‘villas’, which in this context mean mundane terraced houses. On the corner of Paxton and Short Roads, there is a house with extensive ground floor windows separated by orange tiling and surmounted by what might once have been a shop or pub fascia boarding above. It is more likely to have been a shop than a pub because no pub is marked on old maps of Paxton Road. Now, it is residential.

Hogarth's House

Hogarth's House

Paxton Road becomes Sutherland Road at its northern end, and the latter leads to the busy Great West Road (A4), known at this point as Hogarth Lane. This is no country lane, but a six-lane highway! When the artist William Hogarth (1697-1764) moved to Chiswick in 1749, the house he bought, which still stands today, was surrounded by quiet countryside. This building constructed between 1713 and ’17 is now bordered by the busy A4 and is only a few yards from the Hogarth Roundabout. The house, which cost all of £7, was run-down when Hogarth bought it. Like so many people who by run-down properties abroad today in picturesque places like Andalucía and Tuscany, Hogarth restored and extended it. For example, he added the first floor oriel window that projects over the front door.

Hogarth House

Hogarth House

Hogarth House staicase with panelled walls

Hogarth House staicase with panelled walls

During WW2, Hogarth’s home, which had become a museum, suffered bomb damage. This was repaired, and by 1951 the museum, having been extended, was re-opened to the public. When I visited it in October 2017, the upper floor was closed because work was being done to repair damage that had occurred in the ceilings. There is not too much to be seen in the two ground floor rooms. One of them is wood-panelled and feels and looks like the living room of a friend’s house in Kensington, which was built shortly after Hogarth’s home. The exhibits include a sculpture depicting the artist and several Hogarth’s prints. This place is worth visiting not because it is a wonderful museum, but because it is fun to stand where once the great artist stood, and, also, because it is interesting to see inside a house of this vintage, which is neither a palace nor a stately home. The house has a pleasant garden with a large lawn and trees.

Hogarth roundabout pedestrian subway

Hogarth roundabout pedestrian subway

This exploration ends here. If you feel stranded and surrounded by an unending stream of traffic, it is worth knowing that an escape route exists in the guise of a pedestrian subway beneath the Hogarth Roundabout.

The riverside between Hammersmith and Chiswick was once alive with industry and barge traffic. Interspersed among this were many houses of considerable vintage, some of which were the homes and workshops of artists, calligraphers, engravers, bookbinders, and printers. The industry and working river traffic has disappeared, but much of the early architecture remains alongside a series of pubs and boathouses, making this stretch of the Thames a delight for leisure-seekers.

8 Lower Mall, Hammersmith

8 Lower Mall, Hammersmith

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 14:13 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged architecture beer pubs thames hammersmith river_thames ale william_morris breweries chiswick Comments (2)

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROMANS

A short historic street in the City of London recalls one of the great roads that the Romans used when they occupied Britain.

Watling Str looking west

Watling Str looking west

The existence of Watling Street predates its naming. Before the Romans arrived in Britain, the road existed as a track between modern Canterbury and St Albans. It acquired its name after the Roman occupation from the Old English ‘Wæcelinga Stræt’, which means the road of the Waeclingas (an Anglo-Saxon ‘tribe’ that lived in the St Alban’s area after the Romans left Britain in the 5th century AD). This was after the Romans had established it as a major road, improved, and lengthened it.

It is accepted that in Roman times Watling Street ran from places in East Kent (e.g. Richborough, Reculver, Dover, and Lympne) to modern-day Southwark, and then across the Roman London Bridge, through London (‘Londinium’), and onwards via St Albans (‘Verulamium’) to Wroxeter (‘Viroconium’) in Shropshire. Its detailed route through London is uncertain. Archaeological evidence has determined that the Roman Watling Street went through the north of Southwark to the southern end of the Roman London Bridge (see: “London City of the Romans” by R Merrifield, publ. 1983). North of the Thames, the road’s course through London is less well-defined. It is highly likely that the road followed the course taken by today’s Edgware Road (the A5). There is little evidence to define the road’s route between London Bridge and Marble Arch, where the Edgware Road begins.

After the Great Fire of London (1666), a portion of the paved Roman Watling Street was discovered whilst the Church of St Mary-le-Bow was being rebuilt in the early 1670s. Aga’s 1561 map of London (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/london-map-agas/1561) shows a stretch of road named ‘Watling Streat’ running east to west just south of ‘Bowe church’. John Rocque’s 1746 map (see: https://www.locatinglondon.org/) marks the same road, but in greater detail. It ran from Queen Street (which did not exist in 1561) westwards towards St Paul’s Cathedral churchyard. This short stretch of what might be part of the course of Roman Watling Street exists today, and is well-worth exploring.

The present-day Watling Street begins at the point where Queen Street meets Queen Victoria Street, a few yards south-west of the (3rd or 4th century AD) remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras. These used to be visible from the pavement of Queen Victoria Street but now (October 2017) they are hidden below the new Bloomberg Building. Eventually, they will be accessible to the public again.

Cordwainer sculpture

Cordwainer sculpture

Heading west along Watling Street from Queen Street, there is a sculpture of a seated cordwainer (a shoemaker as opposed to a cobbler, who repairs shoes) at work. The sculpture was made in 2002 by Alma Boyes, who teaches at the University of Brighton. It stands in Cordwainer Ward, an area that was a centre of shoe-making in the mediaeval City of London. The word ‘cordwainer’ is derived from the Spanish city of Cordoba, where some of the finest leather was produced in the Middle Ages.

Across the road, there is a plaque commemorating the fact that the building to which it is attached is on the site of the headquarters of the London Salvage Corps between 1907 and 1960. This organization, whose job it was to reduce the loss and damage following fires, was founded in 1865 by the insurance ‘industry’. In 1984, the Corps was disbanded. Then, it became incorporated into the London Fire Brigade.

Watling Str

Watling Str

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

Bow Lane leads south from Watling Street to St Mary Aldermary church, a lovely gothic building with a tall tower, also adorned with gothic decoration. There has been a church on this spot since before 1080. It was rebuilt in 1511, but not completed until about 1629. The lower bit of the tower of the present church is a part of the 1511 church, but the rest was rebuilt in 1682 after The Great Fire to the designs of Christopher Wren (1632-1723).

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

St Mary Aldermary

In Kenneth Clarke’s book “Gothic Revival An Essay in the History of Taste” (first publ. 1928), he argued that maybe the taste for gothic never actually died in Great Britain. What we describe as ‘gothic revival’ or ‘neo-gothic’ should be regarded as part of a continuum, which began with early gothic in the mediaeval era. I feel that Wren’s St Mary Aldermary is a good example of this. Built when many people would say that the era of ‘true’ gothic was over, this church is a perfect example of all that is pleasing about early gothic. The most impressive feature of the church’s interior is its delicate fan vaulting, both above the nave and its two parallel side aisles. Unlike earlier gothic churches (e.g. Kings College Chapel in Cambridge), this is not stonework but plasterwork, and therefore has no structural function. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner wondered whether by using this fan vaulting, Wren was trying to imitate the vaulting that had been present in the 1629 church, which was built during a time when fan vaulting was still being created in some buildings.

Ye Olde Watling

Ye Olde Watling

Wren's study at Ye Olde Watling

Wren's study at Ye Olde Watling

Cleveland Court

Cleveland Court

Returning north along Bow Lane, we reach a pub, Ye Olde Watling, on the corner of Watling Street. Built in 1668 to replace its predecessor, which was burnt down in the Great Fire, it is said that Christopher Wren occupied rooms above the pub while he was designing the new St Pauls Cathedral. A room on the first floor, now used as a dining room, is said to be the room Wren used to prepare his architectural plans and drawings. However, the pub was rebuilt in 1901, and then again in 1947 after bomb damage during the Blitz. So, how much remains of what Wren used is questionable. Having said this, the study on the first floor has an authentic feeling if you use a little imagination.

St Mary le Bow

St Mary le Bow

Bow Lane continues north, passing some narrow alleys such as Groveland Court, to reach the eastern end of Bow Churchyard. The main part of this yard opens out onto Cheapside. The church of St Mary-le-Bow was founded in about 1080 as the London headquarters of the archbishops of Canterbury (see: http://www.stmarylebow.co.uk/history/4535373215). It was the bells of this church that the young Dick Whittington, who was to be thrice Mayor of London, heard as he rested at Highgate. Legend has it that he thought that their chimes were telling him to return to London. To be a cockney Londoner, one is supposed to have been born within hearing of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow (rather than Bow Church, which is in the East End). Long ago, these bells could be heard as far away as Southwark, and much of north and east London, but now with high ambient noise levels they can only be heard in the City of London and Shoreditch (see: “Daily Telegraph”, 26th June 2012), where few people are now born.

St Mary le Bow

St Mary le Bow

The mediaeval church was destroyed in the Great Fire, and was rebuilt to the designs of Christopher Wren between 1670 and ’80. Pevsner writes that the northern positioning of the church’s tower is because Wren built it on a Roman gravel roadway running from east to west (discovered eighteen feet below ground level while preparing the site for the new church), which made a solid foundation for it.

The church’s wide nave is covered by a barrel-vaulted ceiling supported by pillars with Corinthian capitals. Since Wren’s time, the church has undergone repeated renovations and restorations.

Site of Eleanor Cross at St Mary le Bow

Site of Eleanor Cross at St Mary le Bow

A paving stone with a carved inscription outside the western doorway of church’s tower records the former existence of an Eleanor Cross nearby on Cheapside. This cross was one of a series of such monuments marking the places where the corpse of Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of King Edward I, rested on its way to Westminster Abbey in 1290. This cross was demolished in 1643 during the English Civil War (1642-51).

Capt John Smith outside St Mary le Bow

Capt John Smith outside St Mary le Bow

There is a statue in the churchyard. It depicts the cordwainer Captain John Smith (1580-1631), who was amongst the first settlers in Jamestown, Virginia (now in the USA). He set off from the docks at Blackwall in 1606. Wearing knee breeches and boots with very wide rims, the bearded figure stands with his right hand holding a book, and his left resting on the handle of his sheathed sword. The statue, cast in the USA and erected in 1960, was presented to the Corporation of London by Jamestown Foundation of the Commonwealth of Virginia (see: https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/captain-john-smith). It is a copy of an earlier one originally sculpted in 1907 by William Couper (1853-1942), which stands in Jamestown.

23 Watling Street

23 Watling Street

23 Watling Street

23 Watling Street

Returning to Watling Street, number 23 has a façade covered with short pilasters which separate the windows from each other. Its two entrances are adorned with lions’ heads, scrolls, floral festoons and crests. Its ground-floor now houses a cricket-themed pub.

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Admiral Arthur Phillips memorial

Near the western end of Watling Street there is a stone monument shaped like a small classical building. This celebrates Admiral Arthur Phillip, who was born in Cheapside in 1738. He died in Bath in 1814. In 1788, he established a penal colony in New South Wales (Australia), which was later to become the city of Sydney. The monument originally stood in the Church of St Mildreds, where it was placed in 1932. The church was destroyed by bombing in 1941, but the bust and the bronze commemorative plaques were salvaged, and then placed on a new monument near the present place in 1968. Recent redevelopments caused it to be moved to its present site.

St Augustines's tower east of St Pauls

St Augustines's tower east of St Pauls

Between the Phillip monument and St Pauls Cathedral, there is an old church tower with an elaborate spire covered in lead. This is attached to a far newer building, a choir school designed by Paul Paget (1901-85). The tower is all that remains of St Augustine Church that was designed by Wren between 1680 and ’83. The spire was added later in 1695.

Site of Chapter House of Old St Pauls

Site of Chapter House of Old St Pauls

Watling Street ends here, but from Aga’s time up to WW2, it ended at the eastern end of St Paul’s Churchyard. Whether or not this Watling Street is part of the actual Roman Watling Street matters little, because it is close to, or actually where, it ran. Short as it is, it is full of interest, and, also, provides a nicely framed view of St Pauls Cathedral.

West end of Watling Street

West end of Watling Street

PS: Some of the traffic using the Watling Street route in Roman times and before London Bridge was built might have travelled through what is now the London area by the following approximate route (using modern place names): Elephant and Castle to a ford across the Thames between today’s Westminster and Lambeth Bridges. Interestingly, if one draws a straight line from Marble Arch to this point, it becomes a notional straight continuation of the Edgware Road.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 08:09 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london st_pauls gothic romans christopher_wren watling_street Comments (6)

MONKS AND MAMMOTHS ON THE MERIDIAN

A stroll from historic Waltham Abbey along the River Lea to industrial Ponders End reveals many interesting surprises.

Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290), first wife of King Edward I, died near the city of Lincoln. Her body was transported to London. The journey took twelve days and nights. Each night, her body rested somewhere along the route. These resting places were later remembered by a series of carved ‘Eleanor Crosses’, one placed in each stopping place. On the tenth night, Eleanor’s remains rested in the church of Waltham Abbey in Essex. This is now west of the present-day Epping Forest, but was once within it, when the woodland was then known as ‘Waltham Forest’. This stopover was later commemorated by the placing of an Eleanor Cross at the place now known as Waltham Cross.

Waltham Abbey ruins Gateway

Waltham Abbey ruins Gateway

The station at Waltham Cross makes a good starting point for an exploration of an area that once contained the largest Augustinian monastery in Britain.

If those who were accompanying Eleanor’s corpse were to revisit the Waltham (the name means ‘weald’ [or ‘forest’] ‘home’) area today, they might still recognise a few things, but would be surprised to discover that what was a rural parish in their time is now a suburb of London.

The Small River Lea at Station Rd

The Small River Lea at Station Rd

A busy road lined with occasional recently-built edifices runs east from Waltham Cross Station to the ‘town’ of Waltham Abbey. After a while it crosses a bridge with balustrades (rebuilt 1924), under which flows the Little River Lea (or ‘Lee’), a tributary of branch of the larger River Lea (or ‘Lee’). Beyond this, a little further east, the road leaves Hertfordshire and enters Essex. The boundary between the counties is the River Lea and its various channels including The River Lea Navigation (see below).

entering Hertfordshire

entering Hertfordshire

Entering Essex

Entering Essex

Waltham Abbey is the settlement in Essex immediately to the east of Waltham Cross. In the 7th century AD, its locals were converted to Christianity, probably by Mellitus (died 624), bishop of the East Saxons and first bishop of Saxon London. In about 1030 AD, Tovi the Proud, King Canute’s standard bearer, built Waltham Cross’s first parish church. Tovi had lands in Somerset. It is said that when a ‘wondrous’ cross was found there, Tovi had it placed in a cart to be taken to Glastonbury. However, the beasts drawing it, refused to move. When they were next asked to transport the religious object to Canterbury, they still refused to budge. When Tovi thought of Waltham, where he had built himself a hunting lodge, the creatures eagerly moved the cross to that place, and that is why he built a church there, The Church of the Holy Cross.

The town’s history is detailed in “Waltham Abbey Chronology” by R & B Sears (publ. 2000). In 1059, after Earl Harold (later King Harold II) was cured of paralysis at Waltham, he erected a Norman church on the site of Tovi’s. This became the nucleus for an abbey. When King Harold died at Hastings in 1066, he was buried in front of the high altar of his Waltham Abbey Church. After the assassination of Thomas à Becket in 1170, the repentant King Henry II enlarged Harold’s church and founded an Augustinian priory, Waltham Abbey, beside it as partial penance for Becket’s death. A small town grew up around it.

Waltham Abbey was the last of the monasteries to be ‘dissolved’ by King Henry VIII. This happened in 1544. Just over sixty years later, in 1604, Guy Fawkes bought gunpowder (for treasonable purposes) from the Waltham Abbey gunpowder factory. For many centuries, Waltham (for example The Waltham Abbey Mills, founded 17th century) and various other places (see below) along the River Lea have been associated with the manufacture of explosives.

Highbridge Str

Highbridge Str

The Old Courthouse

The Old Courthouse

Highbridge Street retains the appearance of a typical old-fashioned, small country town. Number 31 bears the date 1704. It is named The Old Courthouse. It faces the site of a newer courthouse, which was destroyed by a V2 missile in 1945. The town was hit by many enemy weapons, probably because of its proximity to the explosives factories in the Lea Valley. The Town Hall is further east along the street, almost opposite the west front of Waltham Abbey Church. The brick municipal building trimmed with white stone was erected in1904. It was designed by WT Streather, who had been surveyor for a suburb of Bournemouth before joining Waltham’s council. The tower above the main entrance and the roof of the meeting hall behind sport attractive ‘fin-de-siècle’ mansard windows.

Waltham Abbey Town Hall

Waltham Abbey Town Hall

Rear of Waltham Abbey TownHall

Rear of Waltham Abbey TownHall

Almost opposite the Town Hall, there is a small tourist information office, where its friendly staff plied me with free information leaflets, and sold me a couple of interesting local history booklets. A small building next to the northwest corner of the Abbey Church is The Rectory. Part of it, the western section, was already built by the 15th century. The part nearest the church was added in the 17th century.

Waltham Abbey Church rectory

Waltham Abbey Church rectory

A path runs north (of the west side of The Rectory) along Cornmill Stream to a bridge that crosses it. The path it carries leads to the ruins of the main entrance of the former monastery grounds. The smaller of its two stone gothic arches was for pedestrians. The larger one was for vehicular traffic. The weathered remains of two stone heraldic crests can be seen on either side of the larger arch.

Waltham Abbey ruined Gateway from outside

Waltham Abbey ruined Gateway from outside

North side of Waltham Abbey Church and rectory

North side of Waltham Abbey Church and rectory

Monastic figure by H Stylianides

Monastic figure by H Stylianides

Passing through the arches, one enters a large park containing some remnants of the abbey. In addition, there is a fine view of the north side of the church with its mixture of Romanesque and gothic windows. Standing in the middle of a lawn, there is tall wooden sculpture, carved from a single oak trunk in 1992 by Helena Stylianides. It depicts a hooded monastic figure.

The Stoney Bridge

The Stoney Bridge

Northeast of the sculpture, another small bridge traverses the Cornmill. Cross this, and follow the stream a few yards eastwards to reach a metal fence which encloses the remains of a 14th century stone bridge (restored in 1902), the Stoney Bridge. It was built to carry carts coming to and from the monastic farm of Waltham Abbey without having to pass through the walled precinct of the monastery.

A  wall of Abbey House, formerly the Chapter Hse

A wall of Abbey House, formerly the Chapter Hse

Returning from the bridge back towards the church, we reach the long wall, part of what was once Abbey House, and before that the north wall of the Chapter House of the abbey. Following the dissolution of the abbey in 1540, Anthony Denny (1501-1549), one of Henry VIII’s favourites and a member of his Privy Chamber, leased (and later purchased) the lands of the abbey. Denny not only built Abbey House (demolished 1770), but also set up a mill (on a tributary of the Lea), which used to supply Henry VIII with gunpowder.

Outer entrance to cloisters

Outer entrance to cloisters

East end of Waltham Abbey Church and Harold Stone

East end of Waltham Abbey Church and Harold Stone

A 12th century archway in the north wall leads through a short passage into what used to be the abbey’s cloisters. I could see no remaining evidence of the cloisters. Standing where the cloisters used to be, one gets a good view of the east end of the abbey church, or, at least, what remains of it. The church that stands today, the parish Church of the Holy Cross and St Lawrence, is about one third of the length of the original abbey church (see below). The external features of the east wall of the parish church include elements that were once part of the interior of the larger church before it was truncated. For example, the rose window is surmounted by an almost semi-circular stone arch, now part of the external wall, which must have been a Romanesque arch supporting part of the long nave of the earlier longer church.

The Harold Stone at Waltham Abbey

The Harold Stone at Waltham Abbey

A few feet east of the parish church, there is a small upright stone, the so-called Harold Stone, which stands behind a larger horizontal stone bearing a carved inscription. This tells that the Harold Stone marks the site where King Harold is said to have been buried in 1066. It stands behind the place where the high altar stood in the 11th century. Now outside the body of the existing parish church, this simple monument still attracts wreaths with personal messages to King Harold written on labels attached to them.

Waltham Abbey Church west front

Waltham Abbey Church west front

Waltham Abbey Church

Waltham Abbey Church

Norman pillars Waltham Abbey Church

Norman pillars Waltham Abbey Church

The parish church is well-worth entering. Its nave and aisles are survivors of the once longer nave of the much larger Norman church that was built between 1090 and 1150 AD. The circular pillars, some of which are carved with zig-zag chevrons or spiral helices, support Romanesque arches on either side of the nave. There is a fine Tudor funerary monument to the Denny family at the south-east corner of the church, and close to this some other old funerary sculptures.

Ceiling detail Waltham Abbey Church

Ceiling detail Waltham Abbey Church

In 1860, the church was extensively restored under the direction of William Burges (1827-1881), who reconstructed Cardiff Castle and built one of Kensington’s most curious buildings, the Tower House in Melbury Road. The spectacular painted ceiling above the nave was created by the artist and one-time President of the Royal Academy Edward Poynter (1836-1919). Its diamond-shaped panels contain various symbolic images as well as the signs of the zodiac.

Burne Jones windows Waltham Abbey Church

Burne Jones windows Waltham Abbey Church

Poynter’s contemporary, the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) designed the stained glass in the rose window above the high altar. Each of the seven smaller circular windows depicts one of the Seven Days of The Creation. The central, larger window, depicts a seated crowned regal figure with a halo. He holds an orb and behind him there is a group of figures, some with musical instruments.

Market place Waltham Abbey

Market place Waltham Abbey

Green Dragon Inn Market Sq

Green Dragon Inn Market Sq

Welsh Harp Inn

Welsh Harp Inn

I visited Waltham Abbey on a Tuesday, which has been market day since time immemorial. Several market stalls (selling clothes, shoes, food, stationery, and tools) were crowded into the small market square at the western end of Sun Street. On one side of the square stands the half-timbered Welsh Harp Inn whose structure dates from the 16th century. The Green Dragon pub, whose windows were boarded up on my visit, was built in the 19th century on the site of the Market Hall (and an earlier Moot Hall, where the Abbot held courts of justice in mediaeval times).

Sun Str and The Sun Inn

Sun Str and The Sun Inn

Drain 33 Sun Str

Drain 33 Sun Str

South Place

South Place

The Sun Inn on Sun Street is a timber-framed building that was already standing in 1633; it has been enlarged considerably since then. Its next-door neighbour, now an estate agent, has a clapboard façade. The drainpipe of number 33 Sun Street, now Kalik Coffee House, has a picturesque feature decorated by a fleur-de-lys and two thistles. The short South Place leading off Sun Street, has some pretty cottages dating back to the 17th century. The double cottage (it has two adjoining roofs) at the south end of the Place was occupied by a farmer in the 17th century. He farmed the open land, which was, in his time, immediately south of his home.

Former police station Sun Str

Former police station Sun Str

Epping Forest District Museum

Epping Forest District Museum

Number 35 was built as a police station in 1874. It is now no longer used for that purpose. Its neighbour is the town’s library. This is adjoined to a half-timbered building, which houses the small but excellent Epping Forest District Museum. Much of the half-timbered house, first built in about 1520, has been restored, but the rooms of the museum, which are part of that house display parts of its original wooden structural elements: doorways, fireplaces, and timber beams. The building has been beautifully restored and conserved, skilfully blending original elements with new features including a lift for handicapped visitors.

The first floor Epping Forest District Museum

The first floor Epping Forest District Museum

Lucien Pisarro in Museum

Lucien Pisarro in Museum

Amongst the numerous exhibits, several caught my attention. On the top floor, there is a painting by the impressionist Lucien Pisarro (1863-1944), who first visited the UK during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), and then returned to settle permanently in London in 1890. Just after he married (in 1892), he lived in Epping between 1893 and ’97. The painting depicts the garden of his house in Epping, where his daughter the artist Orovida Camille Pissarro (1893-1968) was born.

Museum. Possibly Edward III

Museum. Possibly Edward III

There is a carved stone head on the floor below. This was carved in the 14th century, and was originally in the Abbey’s Chapter House. It is believed to be a portrait of King Edward III, who was a patron of the Abbey, which he visited often. According to the museum label the beard and hair of this sculpture bears traces of the gold that used to cover the whole piece.

Museum -  part of pannelling from Waltham Abbey

Museum - part of pannelling from Waltham Abbey

The ground floor contains some elaborately decorated wooden panelling (dated about 1526) that has survived since the demolition of Waltham Abbey. It is owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has lent it to the Epping Museum.

Mammoth tusk found Waltham Abbey

Mammoth tusk found Waltham Abbey

The oldest exhibit in the museum is in a cabinet on the wall of the main staircase. Dated roughly 12,000 BC, it is the curved tusk of a woolly mammoth, which was discovered near Waltham Abbey. It is believed that these beasts roamed around today’s Lea Valley during the ice ages.

The museum has a pleasant little garden decorated with a large mosaic. From the garden, there is a good view of the east end of the museum, which, although restored, looks like it must have done several centuries ago.

Lea Valley Church

Lea Valley Church

Facing the eastern end of Sun Street, there is a brick building trimmed with white stone and topped with a tiled steeple supported by slender columns. This was built in 1902 for the Methodists (Wesleyan). In 1974, it became a Roman Catholic church, and then later it became the Lea Valley Church (see: https://www.leavalleychurch.org.uk/), which is neither Methodist nor Roman Catholic (nor Church of England).

Greenwich Meridian line Sun Str

Greenwich Meridian line Sun Str

Returning westwards along Sun Street, we reach a mosaic that stretches almost the width of the pedestrianised roadway. A red line runs in the middle of it from north to south. This marks the path taken by the Greenwich Meridian, which separated the east from the west. Along with Greenwich, the town of Waltham Abbey has at least one thing – the Meridian – in common with Accra in Ghana. According to recent measurements, the line of the Meridian may, really, be some 334 feet east of its present accepted position (based on observations made in 1884) at Greenwich (see: The Daily Telegraph, 20th October 2017). The Waltham mosaic was constructed before this discovery.

Leaving Waltham Abbey along Highbridge Street, we pass an undistinguished looking modern (yellow and red) brick building facing the large traffic roundabout. This is the current ‘avatar’ of the Francis Greene Alms-house. The original alms-house on this spot was built by Francis Greene in 1626. It was rebuilt in 1818, and survived until 1945 when it was destroyed by a German V2 missile. The present building replaces the post-war building, which was constructed in 1953.

Francis Green almshouses: old memorial stone

Francis Green almshouses: old memorial stone

'WD' stone Just west of Francis Greene House

'WD' stone Just west of Francis Greene House

The alms-house stands on a corner plot separated from its neighbour by a small street, Grove Court. The brick wall on the western corner of Grove Court and Highbridge Street is of recent construction, but it includes a much older corner stone (not brick), which bears the letters ‘WD’ separated by an upside down ‘V’. This resembles, but is not identical to, the letters carved on stones by the War Department (after 1954, the Ministry of Defence). On old large-scale Ordnance Survey maps, a surveying benchmark is marked close to the position of the stone that I spotted.

The western end of Highbridge Road is the bridge crossing the River Lea Navigation. The River Lea, which rises in the Chiltern Hills near Luton, flows mainly through north-east and east London, and joins the River Thames at Trinity Buoy Wharf (described elsewhere) near Canning Town. Along much of its course, the Lea divides into various separate channels, some of them narrow clogged-up streams and others much bigger.

During the 16th century, efforts began to create a navigable channel along the course of the Lea. The civil engineer John Smeaton (1724-1792) was largely responsible for designing what is now called the River Lea Navigation, work on which was completed by 1771. Smeaton’s work, effectively a canalised part of the river, ensured that there was a wide enough channel that always contained sufficient water to keep it deep enough for vessels to navigate its length. Modifications and improvements on his canal have been made subsequently. A good footpath runs alongside it.

Waltham Town Lock

Waltham Town Lock

The Waltham Town Lock is just north of the bridge to which Highbridge Road leads. It is surrounded by the greenery of the southern end of the Lea Valley Regional Park. I explored the part of the Lea Navigation (‘Lea’) that flows from this lock southwards towards that at Ponders End.

Waltham Town Lock house

Waltham Town Lock house

River Lea Navigation Entrance to small dock near Station Rd

River Lea Navigation Entrance to small dock near Station Rd

Just south of the bridge on the western shore of the Lea, there is a currently disused brick building (whiteish bricks with occasional rows of red bricks). This was the lock house built in 1878 beside the old Waltham Town Lock (see: http://www.leeandstort.co.uk/Waltham_Town.htm). The latter was removed in 1922, when the present lock was built further north on the other side of Highbridge Road. A short footbridge crosses the watery inlet to a small dock next to the disused lock house. Before WW2, this dock had its own travelling crane for loading and unloading goods. Now, it is being converted into a water feature for a new housing development.

Pumping station near Waltham Abbey

Pumping station near Waltham Abbey

We next pass a Water Board water treatment plant whose grounds contain an elegant yellow brick building with stone trimmings. It has tall circular arched windows and a porch supported by pillars with Doric capitals. This was built as a pumping station, constructed in the late 19th century (between 1884 and 1898, according to detailed maps).

River Lee Navigation M25 crossing

River Lee Navigation M25 crossing

River Lee Navigation M25 crossing looking west

River Lee Navigation M25 crossing looking west

River Lee Navigation M25 crossing looking east

River Lee Navigation M25 crossing looking east

A little further south, the canal and its footpath pass beneath a large bridge that carries the busy traffic on the M25 London Orbital motorway. There was a pitched tent and a vandalised car as well as various bits of junk under the bridge. Although I saw no one, this encampment had the look of still being in use. South of the bridge, the Lea flows through open countryside. To the west, there is the vast expanse of Ramney Marsh. To the west, there is a wide swathe of uninhabited land separating the Lea from a housing estate.

Ramney Marsh from River Lea Navigation

Ramney Marsh from River Lea Navigation

River Lea Navigation Ramney Marsh Lock

River Lea Navigation Ramney Marsh Lock

River Lea Navigation Ramney Marsh Lock cafe

River Lea Navigation Ramney Marsh Lock cafe

Ramney Marsh Lock was first built in 1768, and rebuilt several times since then, the last time being 1902. Parts of the supports of the footbridge across the lock consist of blocks of Portland stone recovered from the old Westminster Bridge, which was demolished in about 1862. The footbridge leads east to the Narrow Boat Café, at which I did not stop. A map surveyed in 1895 shows that there was a nitro-glycerine factory on the land east of the lock. For years, this area was used for testing munitions, but now it has been rendered safe for all. Its presence is remembered today by naming the open land, now a public open space, ‘Gunpowder Park’.

Just south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Just south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Just south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Just south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Just south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Just south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

South of the lock, the canal was lined with moored barges, electricity pylons, and occasional small canal-side gardens, often quirkily decorated. After passing the stone supports of a demolished bridge that once carried pedestrians and a large-bore pipe over the river, a stream branched off from the Lea at the northern point of a slender island.

Remains of bridge  south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Remains of bridge south of Ramney Marsh Lock River Lee Navigation

Northern part of Government Row River Lee Navigation

Northern part of Government Row River Lee Navigation

Southern part of Government Row River Lee Navigation

Southern part of Government Row River Lee Navigation

On its west shore there are rows of identical terraced two-storied houses built of brick along a road named Government Row. These were once homes for workers at the Royal Small Arms Factory, which was behind them to the east. The factory was opened in 1816. It produced rifles and other small arms for the British Army throughout the 19th century. Its products included the famous Martini Henry and Lee Enfield rifles, as well as the Sten (Shepherd, Turpin, and Enfield) Gun. The factory and its site closed in 1988. Since then, a housing development has been built on the land behind Government Row.

Enfield Lock looking north

Enfield Lock looking north

Enfield Lock seen from the north

Enfield Lock seen from the north

Enfield Lock is situated at the southern end of Government Row. This was first built by 1722. The present structure was built in 1922. It is located next to the Lee Conservancy headquarters. This organisation was founded in 1868 to look after (maintain) the Lea Navigation, to keep it clean and navigable. The lock house at Enfield Lock bears a sign that states it was built in 1889 by the Conservancy. The headquarters of the organisation is immediately south of the lock on the Lea’s west bank. It is housed in a low brick building (cruciform in plan, built 1907) with a reddish tiled roof with a small centrally-located clock-tower surmounted by a weather-vane.

Enfield Lock Lee Conservancy 1907

Enfield Lock Lee Conservancy 1907

A Swan and Pike Pool River Lee Navigation

A Swan and Pike Pool River Lee Navigation

The charmingly rustic Swan and Pike Pool, an old dock surrounded by trees and joined to the Lea by a short channel, is opposite the Conservancy, across the water. The Pool was “…once a bathing pool and a turning point for barges that serviced the nearby Gunpowder Mills” (see: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/). It is named after a pub, the ‘Swan and Pike’, which existed close-by until the early decades of the 20th century. This hostelry existed as an isolated structure in the marshes lining the Lea Navigation before the 19th century and the construction of the small-arms factory (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/pp212-218).

Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

Out of curiosity I decided to explore south along the Lea to Ponders End Lock, a distance of just over two miles. Take it from me that unless you are fascinated by electricity pylons there is not much point walking along this stretch of water. Immediately south of the Conservancy, there are several modern factories. For most of the distance, the Lea is bordered to the east by the high grassy bank of King George’s Reservoir. Constructed between 1908 and 1912, it was opened by King George V. It is the largest of London’s reservoirs. The steep bank of the huge reservoir is grazed by sheep. I also saw horses wandering amongst the pylons in the muddy fields between the water-storage area and the Lea. The west side of the Lea is bordered by vegetation which conceals various industrial concerns.

Sheep on the reservoir slopes  Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

Sheep on the reservoir slopes Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

A sculpture  Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

A sculpture Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

Apart from a group of Geese that landed in the water with balletic precision, and one barge travelling slowly, there was little of interest to see. At one point, I came across four small metal sculptures by the footpath. Why they were there is not clear to me. As with the path north of Enfield Lock, I met with several other walkers and some cyclists, but far less than I had encountered above that lock. Eventually, I reached Ponders End Lock, a double lock with two parallel lock chambers. The lock was first built there in the early 18th century. The second chamber was included as part of a rebuild done in the 1950s. Canal users now have the choice of using the newer mechanised lock or the older manually operated one.

Ponders End Lock looking north

Ponders End Lock looking north

Between the lock and Ponders End railway station, I passed a small square bungalow with neo-gothic windows. This building on Wharf Road was once part, an entrance lodge, of the former Wright’s Flour Mill. It was built in the early 19th century. There had been mills on this site since the 16th century, maybe since the Domesday Book’s era. George Wright took over the mill in 1870. Originally water-powered (by the River Lea), it was later run by electricity when the waters of the Lea were diverted to fill the nearby reservoir.

Mill Lodge, Wharf Rd, Ponders End

Mill Lodge, Wharf Rd, Ponders End

When I was about ten years old, I managed to persuade my grandmother, then in her seventies and visiting from South africa, to join me on a series of bus journeys using a Red Rover. This ticket, costing six shillings (30 pence) in those days, allowed its holder a whole day’s unlimited usage of London Transport’s red buses. Granny and I set off from Golders Green, and after a few hours ended up in Ponders End, which looks no more attractive today than it did then. Having reached this place, which neither of us had ever heard of, we decided that enough was enough, and then returned to Golders Green. This is how I felt many decades later having reached there from the far more attractive Waltham Abbey.

Waltham Abbey, which still resembles a small country town far from London, is now a part of the city. Its well-preserved historic centre is surrounded by modern housing. The River Lea and its various channels supply London with water, now via the reservoir, and earlier via the New River. It has been one of London’s important transportation arteries, which has served industry in the past (before motorised road transport and the railways), and is now a valued leisure facility. Exploring the area described above brings one into contact with many aspects of history from prehistoric times until today: from wandering mammoths to mammoth motorways.

Reservoir slope  Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

Reservoir slope Between Enfield Lock and Ponders End

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 14:51 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged monastery lee essex enfield pylons locks lea explosives hertfordshire waltham_abbey river_lee pre-raphaelite Comments (2)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 50) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 »