Coincidental to my responding to Henry Busiakiewicz's recent thread about house names on the Ladder, I've just discovered that apparently our own Ladder house was given a name by its first occupant, Valentine Osborne.
Until very recently, Valentine was just a name. I have been able this week to flesh him out a little.
I'd only ever known Valentine from the census and voting records. The 1901 census showed him (35) as a bootmaker's assistant, living with his wife Harriet (36), their son Charles (12), daughter Dora (13) and a young servant girl, Ellen (23).
The earliest I can track Valentine down with any certainly is in 1881 when he was just 16. Although later in the decade, on his marriage certificate, he claimed that his father was a doctor, the story of his early life suggests that may have been a confection. The 1881 census, lists him as a 'Shoemaker Checker' living in the Maida Hill Home and industrial School for Working Boys at 95 North street (Now Frampton Street NW8). It sounds like, in fact, he may have had a very tough start in life.
In 1887, he married a shoemaker's daughter, Harriet Thyme. On the marriage certificate, Valentine is shown as a bootmaker's assistant. Harriet is a schoolmistress. They both gave the same address for the certificate. So I assume that Valentine was working for Harriet's father.
By 1891, the couple were living in a house in Hart Street just north of Grosvenor Square with their young son and daughter and one servant. Valentine was listed as a 'bootmaker's shopman'. To have gone from a boy's home to living in a house with a servant sounds like good progress on the face of it. He was indeed using his skills learned at the industrial school to pull himself up by his bootstraps!
The family moved into our house on Hewitt Road at the start of 1896. Just yesterday, I discovered that Valentine wasn't content just to be a bootmaker's assistant. Apparently, soon after the family moved in, Valentine set up the Harringay School of Elocution "for the cultivation of voice production".
From Hornsey & Finsbury Park Journal 18 January 1896 (House number redacted)
Where did this expertise in 'voice production' come from, I wonder? It's possible that it was related to experiences he had at the Maida Hill school, which apparently used to hold dramatic events.
Excerpt from the Reformatory & Refuge Journal. January 1879
Valentine also gave lectures and concerts around Hornsey and in Camden. Not bad for a lad from a boy's home.
Extract from Hornsey & Finsbury Park Journal, 9 October 1897
The Osbornes were in occupation in our house from early 1896 until 1902, when they moved to 13 Duckett Road. I have yet to track down what became of them after Harringay, but I did find a marriage certificate for Valentine's daughter in 1924, which lists him as a commercial traveller.
So, where this all began was on the topic of house names. When I replied to Henry's discussion, I wrote that 'Many late Victorian and Edwardian house names seem to have been drawn from a fairly narrow collection of grandiose or bucolic sounding epithets'. I have now discovered that our house "Ingle Nook" very much fitted that bill.
Did your house have a name?
Wish I could have eavesdropped on Mr Henry Middlemass's rendition of The Uncle - the deeply solemn composition (with musical accompaniment). What an interesting history your house has, Hugh! My house in Seymour had a name faintly visible on the glass above the door. It was Anscombe House.