I am beginning to suspect our house may not be Victorian (1837-1902) but in fact Georgian (1714-1830).
When we bought the house the vendor told us it was 1890 but there is nothing in the legal paperwork to confirm this date. Stylistically nothing about it really looks late-Victorian: the cube-like overall shape of the building, the horizontal (not-arched) window lintels, the small panes in the sashes, the original wooden shutters, the tall (12 foot, 3.66 meter) ceilings. We have been describing the house to our friends as Victorian but with Georgian dimensions.
On Sunday I was chatting to Jo next door and she tells me we are listed in the 1851 census. Suddenly that makes more sense of the Victorian extension at the back. Why build a house and almost immediately extend it? But if the original property was built at least 40 years earlier that is far more plausible scenario.
Wednesday evening I called in at Battersea Library Local History Service near Clapham Junction to inspect the census which they had on microfilm. It was not possible to identify our property exactly as the street had changed name and length. It was previously North Street and ran all the way to the river.
Apparently a lot of street naming went on at the request of the emergency services because there were so many North Streets, Victoria Roads, etc. There used to be a field where B & Q now stands which was the site of Wandsworth Fair, marked on the 1894 OS map as "Fairfield" hence the new name of our street. I will chat to Jo again then go back armed with the original address.
Further evidence came last night when Mike from The Original Box Sash Windows Company came round to quote for refurbishing the side and back windows. He looked at the bathroom window and exclaimed "Good Lord, I have never seen a window that old!" This from a man whose company specializes in repairing Victorian windows.
He explained that the thin profile of the wood and quality of the joinery spoke to an earlier age of craftsmanship. This was repeated around the house. He also, interestingly pointed out the slightly opaque pane in our bedroom window as "sugar glass" - low quality glass from a repair sometime during WW2.
Wandsworth in 1786
This map from 1786 shows a street there and buildings. North street runs from just above the "W" of Wandsworth to the "r" in Creek. Pickpocket Lane is now, more prosaically, York Road. Unfortunately the scale and detail are not sufficient to confirm anything useful, merely to encourage. Now I am getting excited at the prospect of playing House Detective and researching the true age of our home. Watch this space...
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