Thursday, June 14, 2007

Our house may be Georgian

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...


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That will be interesting research, MArk. It'll be fantastic if it turns out to be Georgian! Do keep us posted. "Pickpocket Lane" - glad they renamed it!

Janejill said...

Hi Mark - saw you at Welshcakes; Your house certainly sounds Georgian to me; some time ago,we did a big restoration job on a Georgian house ; the shutters and the thin window panes were identical ; why not contact the Georgian Society? I used their notes for paint colours , doorways etc, and they were very informative. We found out that part of the attic and the back of the house was Tudor (there was a trend of demolishing the front of many old properties and then building a Georgian facade. Fascinating - good luck with your research.

petercmoore said...


Found your blog while looking for information about "The Original Box Sash Windows Company". I note that they did some renovations for you.

I'm having problems finding information on the costs of renovating (not replacing) and double-glazing our Victorian (not Georgian!) sash windows.

The Original Box Sash Windows Company website looks good, and I'm thinking of approaching them for a quotation, but it would be good to get an opinion from someone who has used them.

Hope you can spare me 10 minutes to let me know.

My email address is peter.c.moore [at]

Many thanks.
Peter Moore