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OLIVER CROMWELL, SHEEP, AND SHEPHERDS BUSH

Explore an area of West London that lacks the charm of, say, Hampstead or Kensington, but which is not without its own fascination.

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In the 1870s, Shepherd Bush was a small village, built around a triangular green, Shepherds Bush Green (formerly ‘Common’), that was beginning to become engulfed by London’s relentless growth. “The place has little to interest anyone”, James Thorne wrote about Shepherds Bush (in his 1876 “Handbook to the Environs of London”). Many people erroneously share his opinion today. I hope to demonstrate that what Thorne wrote is now no longer true.

The name Shepherds Bush and variations of its spelling existed in the 17th century (see: “Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names”, by AD Mills, publ. 2004). It appears, for example, on a 1775 map, in the middle of open countryside, as ‘Sheperds Bush’. The name might either refer to a family name or to shepherding. A ‘shepherd’s bush’ is a bush from which a shepherd can shelter from the elements to watch his (or in the case of Little Bo Peep, her) flock. The place name might also refer to a place where shepherds rest their sheep on their way to Smithfield Market. Whatever the name’s origin, you are unlikely to spot a sheep anywhere in the area except in a butcher’s shop.

Shepherds Bush Green view of Westfield

Shepherds Bush Green view of Westfield

Until recently, Shepherds Bush Green was an uninviting triangular open space littered with drug-users’ syringes. Between 2012 and ’13, the Green was re-developed, and has become a pleasant island of greenness surrounded by a seemingly unending stream of traffic. Shepherds Bush Station on the Central Line first opened in 1900. In 2008, coinciding with the opening of the nearby Westfield shopping centre, an attractive, airy modern station opened to replace an older one, which had been closed. The station gives access to both the Underground and the Overground railways. Not being a lover of shopping malls, I will not describe the vast and, in my opinion, hideous Westfield.

Shebherds Bush Station and Westfield

Shebherds Bush Station and Westfield

Shepherds Bush Green ventilator

Shepherds Bush Green ventilator

At the eastern apex of the Green, there is a solitary metal pipe sticking up from the ground. Just below its pointed top, it is perforated by six rows of small circular holes. I have not discovered what function this neglected tube serves or served. Maybe, it is related to what remains of a subterranean public toilet nearby. The Edwardian ironwork around its entrances is decorative. According to detailed maps drawn early in the 20th century, there was a public toilet at two of the Green’s three apices. The one that remains is now derelict. After having been used as a subterranean snooker hall for some years, it was converted into a subterranean nightclub called Ginglik in 2002. It provided a stage for up and coming artistes as well as for established ones, such as Robin Williams and Ellie Goulding (see: https://www.residentialadvisor.net/club.aspx?id=935). The club closed in about 2008 because it was prone to flooding.

Shepherds Bush Green old WC

Shepherds Bush Green old WC

Shepherds Bush Green war memorial

Shepherds Bush Green war memorial

A few feet west of the disused ‘loos’, there is a war memorial. This is a winged Victory holding a sword in her left hand and a wreath in her right. It was sculpted by HC Fehr (1867-1940), and erected in 1922. Of Swiss heritage but born in London, one of Fehr’s ancestors was a former President of Switzerland.

Shepherds Bush Green north side

Shepherds Bush Green north side

The north side of the Green is lined with shops and restaurants, which are beneath brick buildings that date back to the early 20th century, or a few years before. They are trimmed with white stone and topped with variously shaped gables.

Shepherds Bush Green south side

Shepherds Bush Green south side

Romney Court Shepherds Bush Green

Romney Court Shepherds Bush Green

On the south side of the Green, there is a 1980’s shopping cinema, which includes a cinema complex where Bollywood films are shown regularly. Towering above the shopping centre, there are four identical blocks of flats built in 1961, designed by Sidney Kaye. Although most of the pre-WW2 buildings, some of which might have suffered bomb-damage, have been replaced by newer ones, there are still a few buildings at the western end of this side of the Green, which were built before the one or two of the World Wars. Romney Court, a tall art-deco block of flats built in the 1930s, stands between Kaye’s four towers and the remaining older buildings. There is another fine art-deco building nearby (see below).

TGCM Church Shepherds Bush Rd

TGCM Church Shepherds Bush Rd

A brick and stone, neo-gothic church stands at the north end of Shepherds Bush Road. This was formerly a Baptist chapel, built about 1893. Now, it is used by the Great Commission Ministry Church (founded in the USA c. 1970), which has owned the building since 2008. Pevsner notes that the church was built in 1907 to the designs of PW Hawkins. However, I noticed that part of the building has a stone “… laid by Mrs Robert Miller November 3rd, 1892”.

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The Grampians Shepherds Bush Rd

The church’s neighbour is the spectacular art-deco Grampians building. Designed by Maurice E Webb (1880-1939), son of the architect Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930; he designed the principal façade of Buckingham Palace), and Stanley Hinge Hamp (1877-1968) of Collcutt and Hamp (see: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1390753), this block of flats was built in 1935. The ground and first floors are occupied by shops with curving glazed facades and flats above them. These curving structures project forward from the main twelve-storey tower.

St Simons Church, Minford Gdns

St Simons Church, Minford Gdns

Minford Gardens leads to St Simons, a neo-gothic church with a slender hexagonal steeple decorated with tiles and stones of various colours. It was designed by AW Blomfield (1829-99), and built by 1886. The church contains an organ (c. 1865), which was originally that of Dunblane Cathedral in Scotland (see: http://www.stsimons.co.uk/). It was acquired in 1893, when the Scottish cathedral was being re-furnished. St Simons stands on the corner of Rockley Road, which leads north to the Green.

The Shepherds Building

The Shepherds Building

Charecroft Way leads off Rockley Road. Most of its south side is occupied by The Shepherds building, with its bold lettering on a vertical structure next to an external metal staircase projecting from the front of the long brick edifice. It was built in the 1960s on disused railway land that was surrounded by terrain that had suffered bad bomb damage during WW2. In 2000, it was refurbished, and another floor was added. Apart from being an office building, this also provides a centre for budding creative entrepreneurs. A few yards north, we return to the Green.

The Empire

The Empire

The Empire

The Empire

The west side, the shortest of the Green’s three sides, is lined by several historic places of entertainment. At the southern end, there is a pub, the Sindercombe Social (see below). This is neighboured by a building with a tall circular tower, The Empire. The cylindrical tower reminds me of some castle towers in Germany. The Empire was built as a theatre in 1903. It was designed by Frank Matcham (1854-1920), who designed many theatres in London including the London Coliseum and the London Palladium. Charlie Chaplin was one of the first to perform in the Empire (in 1906). In 1953, the theatre was bought by the BBC, who renamed it the ‘BBC Television Theatre’. Since 1993, after the BBC had left it, the Empire has become a ‘venue’ for popular music ‘gigs’. Despite its many changes of ownership, the building retains its original external decorations including a bow window decorated with a row of bas-relief ‘putti’ playing musical instruments.

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium cinema Shepherds Bush Green

Smaller than the Empire, is its northern neighbour: a long squat building with a façade bearing two snarling lion’s heads on either side of a large, centrally located hemi-circular arch that frames a window above what was originally the front entrance. This building, which until recently was home to an ‘Australasian Bar’, was originally the Palladium cinema (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/3776). This was built in 1910, and opened as the ‘Shepherd’s Bush Cinematograph Theatre’. It was the sixth of a chain of cinemas opened by the former ‘cinema king’ Montagu Pyke (died 1935). In 1923, after having been closed for a few years due to insufficiencies of the local electricity supply, it re-opened as the ‘Palladium’, which was renamed several times before it finally ceased functioning as a cinema in 1981. Running along the southern wall of the building, there is a long notice written in deeply engraved letters. It reads: “Cinematograph Theatre Continuous Performance Seats 1/- 6d 3d”. After standing derelict for many years, it was reopened in about 2011 as a branch of a chain of ‘Australasian’ bars. This closed in 2013, and the future of the building is now uncertain.

The former Palladium and Pavilion cinemas Shepherds Bush Green

The former Palladium and Pavilion cinemas Shepherds Bush Green

Remains of former Pavilion Cinema now Dorsett

Remains of former Pavilion Cinema now Dorsett

The Palladium’s neighbour to the north is all that remains of a much larger cinema, the former ‘Pavilion’. It has a long brick façade that has been preserved since the rest of the cinema was demolished and replaced by the luxurious Dorsett Hotel, which opened recently. Designed by Frank Verity (1864-1937), a cinema architect, the original cinema opened in 1923 (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/3777). It won Verity a prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects. The architect of New Delhi and Hampstead Garden Suburb, Edwin Lutyens, was one the judging committee. The cinema was hit by a flying bomb in 1944, and reopened in 1955. Until 1962, when it became an Odeon cinema, the Pavilion had been part of the Gaumont chain. The cinema finally closed in 1983, and was used as a bingo hall until 2001. Now, its ‘innards’ have been removed, and replaced with the new hotel (see: http://flanaganlawrence.com/project/shepherds-bush-pavilion/).

Defectors Weld pub former Beaumont Arms

Defectors Weld pub former Beaumont Arms

At the southern end of Wood Lane overlooking the Green, there is a pub called The Defector’s Weld. It stands at the start of the busy Uxbridge Road. This late 19th century pub building was originally called the ‘Beaumont Arms’. There has been a pub on this site since the early 19th century, and maybe before. After being renamed ‘Edwards’ for a while, it got its present curious name. The ‘defector’ part refers to a local Cold War spy, and the ‘weld’ part refers to joining together as in welding (see: https://londonist.com/pubs/defectors-weld). I do not know of the identity of the spy, but in 1966 Shepherds Bush was swarming with policemen after the Soviet spy George Blake (who was born George Behar in Rotterdam in 1922) escaped from nearby Wormwood Scrubs prison (see: “Eccentric London: The Bradt Guide to Britain's Crazy and Curious Capital”, by B Le Vay, publ. 2007). He continues to live in Russia.

Old Drill Hall  Wood Lane

Old Drill Hall Wood Lane

The Du Boisson Dance Studio is housed in a brick building a few yards north of the Defectors Weld. Its two-coloured brick façade is decorated with bas-reliefs including the date “1898”. It was originally built to house a drill hall (see: http://www.indyrs.co.uk/2011/08/halt-for-gootness-sake-der-bushmen-are-in-sight-they-mean-bizzness/) for the Bushmen’s Training Corps and, later, 1st City of London Volunteer Artillery (who served both in the Boer War and WW1). Later, after WW1, it served as a village hall, a community centre, for Shepherds Bush. The present occupants of this building are part of the West London School of Dance, which was founded by a former Rehearsal Director of the Ballet Rambert, Anna Du Boisson.

Palms Hopwood Street

Palms Hopwood Street

2B Macfarlane Road

2B Macfarlane Road

Macfarlane Road leads west from Wood Lane. At the corner of Hopgood Street, there is a terraced house outside of which I saw a small thicket of tropical palms planted in its small front garden. At the corner where Macfarlane Road makes a right-angle and heads north instead of west, number 2B with its plain triangular pediment looks as if once it was a meeting hall of sorts. Hopgood Street leads into Uxbridge Road opposite an elegant brick building with stone trimmings around its windows and triangular roof gables.

Bush Green House

Bush Green House

Dated 1900 and rising above a row of shops and restaurants, this is Bush Green House, which bears the words “London County Council” (‘LCC’) in gold coloured letters. The Council existed between 1889 and 1965, when it was superseded by the Greater London Council. The building on Uxbridge Road looks as if it were built in the earlier years of the LCC. It does not appear on a detailed 1894 map, but on a similar one published in 1916, it is marked as a fire station.

Bush Theatre

Bush Theatre

Bush Theatre 1895 and its new extension

Bush Theatre 1895 and its new extension

Just west of the former fire station, stands the Bush Theatre, which is housed in a brick building adorned with stone trimmings including pillars with Ionic capitals, mansard windows, and a tall chimney stack bearing the date 1895. Designed by Maurice B Adams (1849-1933), and built as the ‘Passmore Edwards Public Library’, this elegant edifice has been, since late 2010, home to the Bush Theatre, which I have attended several times to see plays that are usually overloaded with political messages. Before moving into the library, the theatre used to be above the pub at the corner of Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush Green. Recently, an attractive glass and steel extension containing a seating was added to the western side of the ground floor. The philanthropist John Passmore Edwards (1823-1911), a journalist and newspaper owner, paid for many libraries to be built in London. One of his libraries, that in Whitechapel, became incorporated with its neighbour, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, in 2009.

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

The theatre is a few steps away from Shepherds Bush Market. This runs from Uxbridge Road to Goldhawk Road. It is located beneath and beside the railway track, part of the Underground that runs overhead along a series of brick arches. The market first opened for business in about 1914 (see: http://www.horatha.com/our-history/). Free of vehicles apart from occasional trains running overhead, this market is a quiet place. When I visited it, I heard very few, if any, sellers shouting about their wares.

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Many goods are on sale including: meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables; clothes and shoes; flowers: real and artificial; materials for clothes and curtains; electronic goods; music recordings; cooking and other household utensils; refreshments; baggage items; bedding; and much more. The clientele and sales people hail from all over the world, as do the products that are on sale.

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Shepherds Bush Market

Stepping into this colourful market is like stepping out of London into a place where Asian (middle East and Indian subcontinent), African (north, east, and west), and Caribbean cultures flourish in harmony with the uncertain British climate. Although in detail this market looks exotic, its variety is what London is all about. In amongst the shops selling things, there are stalls offering services like tailoring. Some of the market stalls are in the open, but many are sheltered by a translucent canopy attached to the railway brickwork. In some places, the market invades the spaces under the railway arches.

Goldhawk Road Station

Goldhawk Road Station

Across a busy road from the southern end of the market, there is the entrance to Goldhawk Road Underground Station. It was opened in 1914. Architecturally unexceptional, part of its eastern platform is supported by a series of steel supports, whose appearance is reminiscent of the elevated parts of the Subway in New York City.

The New Shepherds Bush Market

The New Shepherds Bush Market

The New Shepherds Bush Market

The New Shepherds Bush Market

New Shepherds Bush Market

New Shepherds Bush Market

Just west of the market on the other side of the railway tracks, there is another similar, but administratively distinct, market called The New Shepherds Bush Market. Although it seems like its neighbour, it is a separate market. By walking into the depths of the newer market, I suddenly found myself in the older market. The two markets merge beneath one of the railway arches.

Former White Horse pub

Former White Horse pub

St Stephen and St Thomas Uxbridge Rd

St Stephen and St Thomas Uxbridge Rd

Continuing along the Uxbridge Road, we reach a building with a small tower on the corner of Lime Grove. Now a branch of Tesco’s supermarket chain, this was formerly a pub, the ‘White Horse’. The pub existed early in the 19th century, and closed before 2011. Between 1949 and ’93, the BBC had TV studios in Lime Grove. Built in the 1920s, the studios were first owned by the Gaumont-British cinema film production and distribution company. West of the pub is the stone clad neo-gothic church of St Stephen and St Thomas, which was built 1849-50. It was designed by Anthony Salvin (1799-1881), an expert on mediaeval buildings. He also designed the parsonage, now called ‘Glebe House, in Coverdale Road.

Glebe House Coverdale Rd

Glebe House Coverdale Rd

Miles Coverdale Primary School

Miles Coverdale Primary School

The Miles Coverdale Primary School, built in brick, stands where Coverdale Road meets Thornfield Road. Opened in 1916, the school’s name that of a man who lived from 1488 until 1569. This Coverdale was and English ecclesiastical reformer and translator of the Bible.

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church near Thornbury Rd

Where Thornfield Road, lined by terraced housing, crosses Godolphin Road, there is a brick church with gothic windows. A Greek flag flies from a flagpole near the church’s eastern entrance. Above this doorway, there are words written in Greek. Designed by AW Blomfield, this church, St Nicholas, was constructed in 1882 (a chancel was added in 1887). The church of St Nicholas, formerly known as ‘St Thomas’, was closed in 1960, and two years later its congregation combined with that of the nearby St Stephen, which was then renamed St Stephen and St Thomas (see above, and also: https://www.ststephensw12.org/history-of-st-stephens/). Since 1965, the abandoned church, now St Nicholas, has been used as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicholas.

Massacred Vespas in  Havilland Mews

Massacred Vespas in Havilland Mews

The street outside the west end of the cathedral was littered with the carcases of five abandoned Vespa motor scooters. Resembling victims of a ritual killing, they were all denuded of their seats, wheels, and front panel covers. A vehicular version of the “Sicilian Vespers” massacre, you might say. I suspect that by the time that this goes into print, they might have been removed.

Thornfield Road ends at Stowe Road that first proceeds north, and then west. Where it changes direction, it passes the entrance to a gated community called Havilland Mews. This was built on the site of the former Paragon Works. The works belonged to the Brilliant Sign Company, which was founded in 1888. They brought about a revolution in shop sign technology with their ‘Brilliant letter’ which: “…was a pressed copper sheet with a v-shaped cross section so as to imitate the classic incised wooden facia letter. These were then fixed to the rear of the painted glass by way of flanges with shellac, furthermore they were then covered with lead foil to then ‘hermetically seal’ them from the weather and condensation.” (see: http://www.brilliantsigns.co.uk/OUR-HERITAGE). In 1907, the company bought the three-acre site at Stowe Road, where they built a factory that continued production until 1976 – the year the company was ‘wound up’. In 1999, the company was revived under new management, and now has a factory in Buckinghamshire.

Coningham Road connects Stowe Road with Goldhawk Road. This road runs from Shepherds Bush Green to Turnham Green. The name of this thoroughfare derives from John Goldhawk, who owned land in Fulham in the 14th century. It has been called ‘Gould Hauk Road’ in the past. In Thomas Faulkner’s “The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Hammersmith”, published in 1839, he suggests that the road followed the course of a Roman Road built in the first century AD. This is confirmed in later accounts (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol7/pp51-54). In the 1870s, the road was called ‘New Road’, as well as ‘Roman Road’ (on an 1866 map), but it reverted to Goldhawk after the mid-1890s.

Former Swakeley Hotel

Former Swakeley Hotel

Former Wheatsheaf pub Goldhawk Rd

Former Wheatsheaf pub Goldhawk Rd

O’ Donoghues pub on the corner of Coningham and Goldhawk roads, whose ground floor is adorned with pillars and pilasters bearing Ionic capitals, was formerly the ‘Swakely Hotel’. This is a 19th century pub building, which does not appear on a detailed map drawn in 1866. In contrast, the former ‘Wheatsheaf’ pub almost opposite on the corner of the now fashionable Brackenbury Road was in existence in 1866. It is a three-storey building with decorative ironwork above its main entrance. Its name changed to the ‘Brackenbury Arms’, which closed in 2009. Now, the premises house the Zaman Lounge, an ethnic restaurant with ‘African’ and ‘Mediterranean’ food.

Brickfield House Brackenbury Rd

Brickfield House Brackenbury Rd

Neighbouring the Zaman Lounge, the first house on Brackenbury Road is a small apartment block in a building, Brickfield House, that looks as if it might have been built more than 100 years ago. In the 19th century, there were brickfields in the area. By the mid-1890s, these had been built on as part of the spread of residential housing developments. Nearby, Brackenbury Primary School, housed in a large brick building with triangular gables and a small wooden tower, was already built by 1893.

Townhouse Mews formerly Townhouse Studios

Townhouse Mews formerly Townhouse Studios

Heading east along Goldhawk Road, we pass a building on the corner of St Stephens Avenue. Its ground floor is contemporary, but the upper storeys facing Goldhawk Road look Victorian. This is deceptive because this old-looking façade is part of a very much more contemporary building. This is the Townhouse Mews, a recently constructed development of twelve up-market housing units. The housing complex is built on land that had previously been occupied by ‘Townhouse Studios’, a recording studio set up by Richard Branson in 1978 (see: http://www.bective.co.uk/downloads/sales/3870007_2245918_DOC_54.PDF). Artists who have recorded there include Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Robbie Williams, and Elton John.

Shepherd and Flock pub Goldhawk Rd

Shepherd and Flock pub Goldhawk Rd

The small Shepherd and Flock pub, on a corner plot and decorated with pillars and pilasters that serve no obvious structural function, is further east along Goldhawk Road. It was built in 1869 (see: https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/Hammersmith/ShepherdFlock.shtml). It has an attractive painted sign hanging over the pavement.

Ethiopian shop Goldhawk Rd

Ethiopian shop Goldhawk Rd

A few doors east of this pub, there is a shop adorned with words in the Ethiopian alphabet (Amharic). Called Messi Abyssinia, the shop sells fashion accessories and Ethiopian outfits. Its presence is one of many signs of the area’s multi-ethnic composition.

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

Former British Prince pub Goldhawk Rd

On the corner of Richford Street and Goldhawk Road, stands a branch of Kerr & Co, an estate agent. Their ground floor offices retain bas-reliefs including the date 1898 and the three feathers of the Prince of Wales. This building housed the ‘British Prince’ pub, which was already in existence by 1855 (see: https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/Hammersmith/BritishPrince.shtml). It closed in about 2013, after having been renamed ‘The Prince’, and then ‘Raving Buddha’.

Watch repair shop Goldhawk Rd

Watch repair shop Goldhawk Rd

The narrow, small watch- and clock-repairer’s shop a few feet west of Goldhawk Road Underground station, AR Roberts, looks as if it has remained unaltered for many decades. It is popular, and rated reliable.

A Cooke's  former pie shop

A Cooke's former pie shop

Just east of the railway bridge, the shop that used to house A Cooke’s ‘Traditional Pie, Mash, Liquor, and Eels’ - formerly favourite foods of Londoners – looks (December 2017) as if it about to be demolished, or totally changed. The company was started by Alfred Cooke in 1899 (see: https://www.cookespieandmash.com/about-us/). He moved to the now derelict shop on Goldhawk Road in 1934, which served customers until it closed in 2015. Alfred’s great-grandson, Mike Boughton, continues the family tradition by providing customers with the same fare via an on-line delivery service.

Pennard Mansions

Pennard Mansions

The old pie shop is in a terrace of shabby two-storey buildings that, at its eastern end, abuts a late Victorian block of flats, Pennard Mansions, built in brick with stone window surrounds. Currently the ground floor is occupied by textile shops that bear Arabic lettering on their signboards. Roger Waters of The Pink Floyd (a popular rock music group) and his wife, the potter Judy Trim (1943-2001), lived in the Mansions in the late 1960s (see: “Pink Floyd: The Early Years”, by B Miles, publ. 2011).

Former Bush Hotel pub, Shepherds Bush Green

Former Bush Hotel pub, Shepherds Bush Green

The elaborately decorated brick building with a corner turret with a bell-shaped tiled roof on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Shepherds Bush Green, where we started this exploration, is now called the Sindercombe Social. It is a place for drinking, dining, and dancing. The building began life as the ‘Bush Hotel’, a 19th century pub. Between 1972, when it was established, and 2010, the Bush Theatre (see above) occupied the first floor of this hostelry in what had before been the dance studio of Lionel Blair (see: telegraph.co.uk, 18th April 2002). ‘Sindercombe’, the name of the present establishment, which opened in 2014, has an interesting history.

Miles Sindercombe (died 1657) was involved in at least two plots to assassinate members of the government of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). Cromwell’s biographer Antonia Fraser writes in her “Cromwell Our Chief of Men” (publ. 1973) that Sindercombe and accomplices: “… had in the first place intended to fire at Cromwell with ‘screwed guns’, each containing twelve bullets and a slug, on his route to Hampton Court…” The place chosen was a banqueting room in Hammersmith, where it was known that the coach carrying Cromwell would have to slow down because the road outside it was narrow and in bad condition. On the day that the shooting was planned, Cromwell escaped with his life because he had chosen to travel by boat instead of by road.

Sindercombe was less fortunate. Convicted of treason, he was sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered. He escaped this fate by killing himself with poison, which had been smuggled into his cell in the Tower of London (see: “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”). Walter Besant wrote in his “London North of the Thames” (publ. 1911): “At Shepherds Bush, in 1657, one Miles Sindercomb [sic] hired a house for the purpose of assassinating Oliver Cromwell … the precise spot on which the attempt took place is impossible to identify. It was somewhere near ‘the corner of Golders Lane’, says Faulkner, but the lane has long since been obliterated.” Faulkner (writing in 1839: see above) is more specific than Besant implies: “The house which Syndercomb hired for the purpose of killing the Protector was an inn, much frequented by travellers on the great western road. It was situate [sic] at the eastern end of the Gould Hawk Road, which was at that time very narrow, and nearly impassable. This old house was pulled down about sixty years ago.” This would place the scene of the crime very close to the present-day Sindercombe Social.

When I first set-out to explore Shepherds Bush, I was afraid that I would not find much of interest there. I hope that what has been described shows that the area, which lacks the charm of, say, Hampstead or Kensington, is not without its own fascination. Although there be no more sheep to be seen, there is more than the Westfield shopping centre to attract visitors to the ‘Bush’.

PS: I looked around Shepherds Bush for just over an hour and a half whilst waiting for my wife to have her hair 'done' at a local hair salon. I thought that I would lose interest after a short time, but how wrong I was to have made that assumption!

New Shepherds Bush Market

New Shepherds Bush Market

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:20 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged markets cinemas london pubs hammersmith oliver_cromwell shepherds_bush Comments (4)

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)

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