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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The Elms Hornsey - a Mysteriously Wealthy Tobacconist, a Hidden Russian Princess and a Jujitsu-Loving Victorian Publisher

The Elms was one a handful a large houses built in Hornsey before the nineteenth century, of which none now survive. Its story offers a few interesting secrets.

Fig. 1: The Elms, 1920. The single storey building on the right of the picture is a twentieth century addition

The Elms was built on the ancient thoroughfare between Hornsey and Muswell Hill, then called Broad Lane and now known as Priory Road. It stood next to the westernmost part of the New River loop through Hornsey. Just across the river to the west was the old Hornsey sluice house (Fig. 4). 

Mapping evidence from the Ordnance Survey suggests that The Elms was built by 1807. We might safely assume from this and from pictures of the house that it dates from the late eighteenth century. 

Fig. 2: Extract from the Ordnance Survey Drawing of 1807 (© British Museum). The Elms is ringed in red. To the south-east, runs Middle Lane. Further to the east, you can see St Mary's Church marked with a cross

Immediately to its west, on the banks of the New River, stood a terrace of houses. By the middle of the century they were referred to in official documents as River Cottages (Fig. 5) and were inhabited by New River employees. So I'm assuming that they were on New River Company land, owned by the Company and let to its employees.

Just a few decades after the house was completed, Nightingale Lane had appeared, running north between The Elms and River Cottages. Further north on Nightingale Lane, a row of houses called Nightingale Place had been constructed. Immediately to their south was the Nightingale Tavern.

Fig. 3: Extract from the 1869 Ordnance Survey map. The New River is gone, having been filled in a decade earlier

Fig. 4: The Sluice House at the corner of Priory Road and Nightingale Lane, 1899. In the 1851 census, this building was documented 'Cottage over River'; in 1871 it was 'Old Sluice House'. This photo has been published elsewhere giving this building the name of 'Nightingale Cottage'. It was listed with this name by 1891. The sign directed people to the Nightingale Tavern. The Elms is just out of shot to the right. This view was on Priory Road, directly opposite The Elms

Fig. 5: Nightingale Lane c1890. On the left are River Cottages, which stood just to the north of the Old Sluice House and the junction with Priory Road. On the right is the boundary wall of The Elms. I wonder if the chap in the apron is staff

So much for the situation of the house. What about its occupants? (See notes at the foot of the page about tracking down the early part of The Elms' history) 

The House that Michael Built

The Land Tax records show the first person to pay tax on The Elms was a Michael Mitchell in 1792. He is shown as both proprietor and occupier. This remained the case until his death in 1813. After that time, his oldest son, William took on the house until its sale in 1820.

Those familiar with the area's local history may recognise the name Michael Mitchell. In 1789, a Michael Mitchell purchased the Tottenham Wood Estate at auction from the Lord of Tottenham Manor, the Earl of Coleraine. (The Estate eventually became part of Alexandra Park and the site of Alexandra Palace).

It seems likely that The Elms Michael Mitchell and the Tottenham Wood Estate Michael Mitchell are one and the same. The name matches, and the date he was first connected to Tottenham Wood and Hornsey coincides. The records also show that both properties were sold by a Michael Mitchell during the years around the death of the 'Hornsey Mitchell' in 1813. Various newspaper announcements also refer to 'Michael Mitchell of Tottenham Wood and Hornsey'. So it has to be a probability that the same Mitchell bought and owned both properties.

Fig 6: Extract from 1818 Horney Enclosure Map, with Mitchell's Hornsey land holding clearly marked.

So who was he? There's not much information readily to hand. Wood Green historian Albert Pinching, amongst others, explains that Mitchell was 'tobacconist'. When I read that, knowing the price he paid for Tottenham Wood, I assumed that a little research would uncover a story of fabulously wealthy tobacco merchant. That hasn't yet proved to be the case.

What I have been able to find out is that does indeed appear to have been a tobacconist. He traded out of 213 Spitalfields; a perfectly respectable address and no doubt a healthy business. I found a drawing of it in the Regency version of Google Street View, Tallis London Street Views. The drawing was made in 1838, just 25 years after Mitchell died. It looks like it probably hadn't been developed during that period.

Fig. 7: 213 Shoreditch in 1838. It was still trading as a tobacconist at the time Tallis published his guide

The sum paid for Tottenham Wood Estate was £11,410. The Measuring Worth website calculates the value of that sum today at between £1.3M and £127M. Even if you stay towards the conservative end of that range, it's a huge sum. Could someone running a relatively modest tobacconist business have afforded it? My habit is to seek out solid evidence before stating something as a fact of history. I don't feel that I have that yet where Mitchell is concerned Something is missing somewhere. I've asked Albert Pinching if he has any further information. So let's hope we can bottom that one out. In the meantime, back the The Elms.

However he managed to acquire his property holdings, the major part of them were sold off in the years immediately preceding and following his death. In 1811, the Tottenham Wood Estate was put up for sale.

Fig. 8: Advertisement for the sale of Tottenham Wood, Star, 21st May 1811

The estate was successfully sold to a relative of Cecil Rhodes before eventually ending up as a major part of Alexandra Park.

A year after Mitchell's death, a Hornsey property was put up for sale. I can only find one property owned by Mitchell in Hornsey. Reading the description given in the sale advert below, it sounds quite different to the Tottenham Wood 'farmhouse' described above and matches what I know of The Elms, down to the carriage sweep, cellaring and proximity of the New River.

Fig. 9: Morning Post, 11th April 1814


Whilst the description is not an exact match for the property as described in 1895 (Fig. 21), if we allow for some rearrangement of rooms over eight decades, it's not a bad match. The most notable discrepancy is the size of the land holding that came with the house. By 1895, it was 1¾ acres acres. In 1814, it was being offered with 25 acres. This difference doesn't concern me: either the eventual sale included only a small portion of land, or the purchaser sold it on after purchase. 

If you read the 1814 advertisement, you'll find the following:

..the house was erected on an excellent plan and handsome elevation, by the late proprietor, Michael Mitchell Esq. for his own residence.

The Elms name isn't recorded as having been used until the middle of the century. So the house is apparently nameless. Where houses were named, their names were usually used in sales particulars. Without one, it's more difficult to be sure about a property's identity, as in this case. However, whilst I can't be absolutely certain that the house in Fig. 9 is The Elms, I think there's a strong probability that it is. I hope so,  because if it is, we've also found the person who commissioned the house to be built in the first place and its first occupier. Everything fits, but I'd feel more comfortable with a couple of bits of confirming evidence. Hopefully they will emerge. 

Houses often took a number of years to sell. The Elms didn't sell until 1820. In the meantime, William Mitchell continued to live there. Land tax records show that he continued to hold land near the house even after the house sale. This fact suggests that the house may well not have been sold with its full 45 acres.

Tullie Joseph Cornthwaite

The purchaser of the property in 1820 was Tullie Joseph Cornthwaite. Born in 1772, the son of a vicar, Cornthwaite was a bill or exchange broker in Old Broad Street. He married Agnes Wollaston, possibly a descendant of Sir John Wollaston, the 17th century holder of the Manor of Hornsey. 

The Cornthwaites lived in a property in Crouch End and appear never to have lived in The Elms. They either bought the house as an investment, or bought it and found somewhere they liked better in Crouch End. During the entire period Cornthwaite owned the house (1820-1831), he rented it out. 

From 1820 to 1824, the tenant was one J Bell. From 1825 to 1830 it was a Thomas Simpson. I have been unable to find out anything about either of these two.

Cornthwaite's last tenant was Joseph Bradshaw, to whom he leased the house in 1831. By 1832, the house had a new owner, probably another Regency but-to-let landlord.

Third Owner - Richard Percival 

Richard Percival, Junior, is recorded as the owner of The Elms between 1832 until his death in 1851. It was during his period of ownership that we see the first recorded use of the house name, The Elms.

Percival was a banker of Lombard Street, a partner in Willis Percival & Co. Founded in 1700, the company was one of London’s oldest private banking partnerships. Percival is also well known as a book collector. A catalogue of books from his library was prepared for sale twenty years after his death and much of it was purchased and is still held by the British Museum.

Like Cornthwaite, Percival never lived in The Elms. He lived further south in Highbury. When he bought the house, the Bradshaws were already installed and they stayed until 1841. After their departure Percival found The Elms' most illustrious tenant!

The Bradshaws

Joseph Hoare Bradshaw was the son of a Northern Irish linen manufacturer. His mother, Sarah Hoare, was a member of a rather accomplished quaker family. The Hoares had been leading London bankers since the seventeenth century. One of Joseph's uncles, Samuel Hoare was a partner in the Lombard Street bank Barnett, Hoare & Co. He was also a leading abolitionist and his home, Heath House, became the backdrop for meetings of many of the key abolitionist meetings that led up to the 1833 act of parliament that swept away slavery in the British Empire. Many renowned campaigners attended, including William Wilberforce.

Another uncle, Jonathan Hoare, built Clissold House, now the centre of Clissold Park in Stoke Newington. 

Our Elms resident, Joseph Bradshaw married Catherine Stewart in 1823 and they took a house just off Hyde Park in Upper Hyde Park Street. They went on to have five children. In 1831, shortly after the birth of their fourth child, Henry, they took a lease on a second home just outside London, The Elms in Hornsey.

Henry went on to become a well-known scholar and librarian. The preface of his memoirs offers the following memory of his childhood at The Elms.

In the thirties of this century, Hornsey was still a country village, with fields and shady lanes, where Henry may well have learnt that love of natural objects, especially of flowers, which was so strong a feature in his character. .....An old friend of the family tells me that she remembers Henry, then a child three or four years old, lying at full length on the drawing-room floor, absorbed in the study of a genealogical map of the kings of England, with their portraits and the dates of their reigns. In a short time he committed this map to memory, and could repeat it word for word in imperfect baby-speech. The floor seems to have been his favourite place of study, for another friend frequently observed him lying under the table with a sheet of The Times open before him, by the aid of which he was learning to read. 

Joseph, took a position in his uncle's banking firm and became a successful and well-known member of the London banking community. Meanwhile, Catherine's life at Hornsey sounds like it may have included an interesting set of people. During my research, I came across a set of letters written by Alfred Lord Tennyson to Catherine which suggest a reasonably close relationship.

In 1841, the Bradshaws moved out of Hornsey, I assume after the expiration of a ten-year lease. The next occupant was annuitant Magdalene Lumsden. Born and married in Calcutta, Magdalene had returned to England in the second decade of the century and was widowed in 1818. She moved to The Elms in her mid-sixties with her thirty-year old daughter Sophy. She died four years later and the house was put up for rent once again in 1845. 

The Russian Princess

The house was taken at the end of 1845 as a home for the Russian princess, Her Illustrious Highness Princess Elizabeth Catherine Louisa Maria Bariatinsky (sometimes the first two names were reversed as Catherine Elizabeth etc). The princess's backstory and of her arrival in Hornsey is a rather sad one. 

Elizabeth's parents both came from well-known families. Her mother was the Honourable Frances Mary Dutton, the daughter of James Dutton, 1st Baron Sherborne. Her father was His Serene Highness Prince Ivan Ivanovich Bariatinsky, a member of a branch the Russian royal family, apparently older than the Romanovs. The couple met at a ball in Bath in 1804 and married in April 1806.

The Bariatinsky family was extraordinarily well connected. Prince Ivan's father was one of the assassins of Peter III and so had a very strong relationship with Catherine the Great and with later tsars. He went on to be the Russian ambassador to France through both the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.

Prince Ivan continued the tradition of  mixing at the highest levels of Russian society. He was aide-de-camp to Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin-Tauricheski (better known as simply Potemkin), Catherine the Great's lover. It was probably this connection that explains why a good number of Catherine the Great's jewels ended up in Bariatinsky's private collection. His home in Russia was a grand estate in Ukraine, where he owned 100,00 serfs.

After Potemkin's death, Bariatinsky became a privy counsellor to the Russian monarch and arrived in England to take up a post of one of Russia's ambassadors. 

In 1807, the Prince took his new bride to Hamburg where he had been appointed to a new ambassadorial role. Shortly after they arrived, Elizabeth went into labour and died giving birth to her daughter. The Prince promptly brought the baby brought to England to be brought up by her grandparents, the Sherbornes. He remarried and apparently never saw his daughter again. He died in 1825 and passed his title to his oldest son, who also played a part in Elizabeth's story.

Princess Elizabeth had an apparently normal aristocratic Regency childhood with her grandparents. In 1825, she 'came out', was presented at court and attended several royal events at the court of George IV and a season of aristocratic balls. However, shortly after this first foray into London society, she somewhat disappeared from sight. She had gone to stay in a house in Highbury and her appearances in public became rarer and rarer.  

A report in the London Evening Standard on 16th January 1844 looked back at events of the previous fifteen years and reveals the cause of the disappearance.

It was in the autumn of 1829, when Princess Elizabeth was on a visit to Lord and Lady Ducie, that she certainly did manifest very extraordinary conduct, and which led to a good deal of remark, for it was very different from that to be expected from a lady of her age, rank, and station, and so strange as to indicate that the mind was not as it had previously been.

This strange and extraordinary behaviour was, he should observe, but for a short period, and perhaps, had it passed away, would not have occasioned further remarks; but, coupled with a variety of circumstances, it left no doubt that her mind had at that time begun to fail. Indeed, subsequent events showed that this was the incipient stage of a malady that had since exhibited itself in a confirmed state, and he thought there would not remain a shadow of a doubt in the minds of the jury as to the lady's state of mind being such that wholly incapacitated her from taking care of herself and her property. The jury would see her themselves, and he thought they would speedily come to the conclusion that there was no mental capacity left.

In 1830, having been in the country with her aunt, the Hon. Ann Margaret Dutton she returned to Lord Sherborne's house, and in the autumn of the year the disease manifested itself in a manner that left no doubt as to her insanity, and it became necessary she should be removed from society, as her manner was of a nature to compromise herself and others.

She was taken to various places, and in all of them so extraordinary was her conduct that it was absolutely requisite to take some steps to protect her. He should mention that she was taken to church and other public places, and also in the streets with her cousins and proper attendants, but so unbecoming was her conduct that, as he had before stated, there could be no question as to the unsoundness of her intellect.

She fell into practices in the public streets only consistent with a state of aberration, lifting her clothes, certainly not so as to expose her person, but so high as to expose her garters. On one occasion she was taken to the theatre, under the impression that such a source of amusement might unbend her mind, but her conduct was so outrageous, as the jury would hear from a lady in the family, that it was deemed inadvisable to take her then again.

At this period the princess was at Lord Sherborne's, and his lordship felt it necessary to take some measures for her security. In the first instance he applied to the chaplain of the Russian embassy, the Rev. Mr. Smyrnoff, who had been a friend of her father, Prince Bariatinsky, and who had united him with his late wife. Upon his lordship stating the circumstances, the rev. gentleman at once suggested medical advice should be had, and recommended Sir George Tothill, since dead. That gentleman visited the princess and had no hesitation in saying that she was at the time of unsound mind.

It then became necessary to place her under some restraint, and accordingly she was not taken to an asylum, but Lord Sherborne sought for some proper person to take care of her. Lodgings were taken in the neighbourhood of Fulham, and she was placed, with a proper domestic establishment, under the care of Miss Clifton, a lady who was known to the family and who had been the princess' governess. She remained with Miss Clifton for some time but it being found that the habits of the family to which the house belonged were not altogether suitable, she was removed to the house of Mrs. Newman, who also had been her governess. That continued for a short time, and in 1833 she was placed under the care of Miss Chalmers, in Highbury-grove, and had remained with her ever since.

By 1833 Elizabeth had been dropped from the who's who peerage publications. Her grandparents claimed that their daughter had only given birth to a single child, a son. Evidently, he single child part was accurate; the reported gender was not.

In 1844, Princess Elizabeth's half-brother, the new Prince Alex Bariatinksly followed in his father's footsteps and started travelling regularly to London as an ambassador. Keeping up the family's court connections, he often travelled with the Tsarovitch and Grand Dukes. 

The new prince became aware of his half-sister's situation. He took the decision to sue Lord Sherborne for custody of the princess and questioned the validity of a will she had made in 1830.  In comparison to the will she had first signed in 1828, the new one unaccountably disinherited her Russian relatives and awarded all of her estate to her spinster maternal aunt. The Prince's motives in mounting legal action are perhaps made clear when we consider that he objected to Lord Sherborne's right to serve as her guardian, and implied fraud in the handling of the princess’ finances. He never disputed the Princesses's state of mind.

The result of the legal action was a much talked about court case. The final judgement of the court was to approve the continuance of the Sherbornes as Elizabeth's guardians. But it also strongly recommended finding a better place for Elizabeth to live than Highbury. The following report related how the Sherbornes came across The Elms in Hornsey.

Fig. 10: Account of the finding of The Elms by Lord and Lady Sherbourne, Morning Post, 25 July 1845

Elizabeth lived at The Elms from 1845 to 1867. During this time, she lived with a 'companion' and a staff of five servants.

Fig. 11: 1851 Census for The Elms

Elizabeth died at the house in September 1867. She was buried in St. Mary Magdalene Church, next to Sherborne House, the family seat. In her will, she left effects to a value of approximately £1.25 million today. So not fabulous wealth, but an amount worth squabbling about. 

The City Printer

The last people to occupy the house as a home were William Hill Collingridge and his family.

The Collingridges had occupied the house by 1870 and stayed until 1894.

William Collingridge was born in 1827 in Olney, Buckinghamshire, where his father was a printer. As a young man, he arrived in London to work for Dr David Doudney, a printer of religious books.  In 1846 he set up his own printing firm. Some of the first works he published were those written by his former employer who had quit the business to become a minister.

In 1857, he founded City Press, the City of London's first local newspaper from offices at 1 Long Lane off Borough High Street and his Aldersgate printing works. In 1869, William brought his brother, Leonard, into the firm and together they ran the W.H & L. Collingridge printing firm. William continued as editor of the City Press until it ceased publication in 1871.

Fig. 12: 117 - 120 Aldersgate as shown in Tallis's London Street Views 1838-1840 (a kind of printed Google Street View of its day!). Although Tallis has 120 written above the building, the street directory numbers it as 117-119, the premises of Wood and Sharwoods. Number 120, the house on the left, was the private residence of R.M. Wood

Fig. 13: Interior view of W.H. and L. Collingridge's printing works showing typesetters c 1900

W.H & L. Collingridge produced magazines, maps of London and a variety of books.

Fig. 14: Part of a postcard advertising the company c1905

A surprising number of Collingridges' books are still remembered today. Amongst their catalogue was How to Woo, When, and to Whom. You may think that a book about wooing is simply a quaint relic of our past. But you might be wrong. I was amazed to find that it's been recently republished and Barnes and Noble are promoting it as still relevant today, "Originally published in 1855, this brisk, no-nonsense handbook still has much to teach lovers and their suitors today."

William Collingridge also seems to have had time to publish some interesting books as the author/editor. One classic was 'Tricks of Self-Defence, A Useful Book for Everybody'. Apprently Collingridge trained for several years with Japanese jujitsu experts. His book ended up developing a real following with the suffragette movement. it was used by members like jujutsu expert  Edith Garaud who taught a 'Suffragettes Self-Defence' class.

Fig. 15: Front cover. The first date of publication seems uncertain. This is another Collingridge survivor, having republished by lulo.com in 2019

Good Reads offers the following description.

Probably the 1st English book to record the use of pressure points in self-defence. This historic work was a breakthrough in its day & remains a classic. Until the publication of 'Tricks of Self-Defence, A Useful Book for Everybody', in about 1910, most of the English books on jujitsu and connected martial arts dealt more with the systems in question. These were often quite complicated & took time to master. W. H. Collingridge's concept was to publish a practical, illustrated textbook for the everyday person, outlining the effective applications that anyone can easily pick up for self-defence. The result was this book, which graphically outlines 33 'Standing Positions', and 9 'Ground Tricks'. All of these require little space to practise and notably some use arm or wrist grappling, while applying pressure to nerve points. In these respects, 'Tricks of Self-Defence, A Useful Book for Everybody', is considered to be the 1st of its kind in English to record Japanese techniques of applied practical self-defence.

Below are a couple of a wonderful old photos from the book which have little to do with the current topic. But I couldn't resist including them.

Fig. 16: Photo number 7 from 'Tricks of Self-Defence'. I assume that this is one of the 'ground positions'

Fig. 17: Photo number 21 from 'Tricks of Self-Defence'. I assume that this is one of the 'standing positions'

As far as Collingridge's domestic life is concerned, the 1871 census provides a view of his household just a year after he brought his family to the The Elms. In addition to himself, others living in the house were his wife, six daughters and three sons aged between 1 and 18 years old, his wife's sister and five domestic staff including a governess. 

Collingridge seems to have been quite active in social causes and I've managed to turn up details on a few of his charitable activities.

One of the causes about which he was most passionate was the care of retired printers. He took a great interest in the Printers' Pension, Almshouse and Orphan Asylum Corporation of which he was the chair.

He and his wife were also 'local visitors' at the Printers Almshouses in Wood Green of which William was also a trustee.

Fig. 18: Illustrated London News, 24th September 1887

In 1867, William started a fund to enlarge the almshouses with a gift of 100 guineas. When the enlargement was completed over twenty years later, Mrs Collingridge was one of the dignitaries at the opening ceremony, alongside Baroness Burdett Coutts. 

Collingridge also helped to finance a children's home in Holloway. 

Fig. 19: Islington Gazette - Monday 26 August 1889 (Note the source for this article right at the end!)

In 1854, Collingridge purchased the family a country home in his birthplace of Olney. The house had originally belonged to the famous Georgian poet and anti-slavery campaigner William Cowper. In his will, Collingridge gave to house to be used as a museum. it continues in that role to this day.

Fig. 20: Orchard Side House / the Cowper house in Olney, Bucks

Their London home, The Elms was put up for sale by the owner at auction in 1884, Apparently the sale followed a case in the Chancery Division. But I have not undertaken the significant work to find out who the vendor was or what the circumstances of the case were, (although the answers to both questions would be of great interest to me; perhaps one day!). At any rate, there were no takers at auction and the premises was put up for sale privately in 1885.

Ten years later, with Hornsey rapidly urbanising, the Collingridges left the The Elms, and moved to a house called Ingelboro on the Ridgeway out in Enfield. Reading between the lines of the 1895 advertisement for sale (the reference to the vendor having previously been the lessor), it seems probable that Collingridge had bought the property in 1885. 

Fig. 21:  Advertisement for sale of The Elms, Standard 18th May 1895 

Arrival of the Army

The next and current occupant of the house is the Army.

We learn about the how the Army came to acquire the premises from reports of a court case brought by Hornsey Council against the Army for monies they claimed for the improvement of Nightingale Lane.

In 1895, the house had been bought from Collingridge by the Suburban Building Land Company Ltd. I assume that the company's primary interest was the 1¾ acres of land behind the house, although in the event this was not used for building until the 1920s. 

Fig. 22:  The Elms land, shown (from left to right) on Ordnance Survey maps of 1893, 1914 and 1938. (see Fig. 2 for 1807 map and Fig 3 for 1869).

In a show of how things operated amongst the ruling elite at the time, the house was purchased In June 1896 from the Suburban Building Land Company for £1,910 by Colonel (Ret'd) Sir Reginald Hennell, commanding officer of the 1st Volunteer Brigade (Duke of Cambridge's Own) 3rd Middlesex Middlesex Regiment Rifle Volunteers, a veteran of colonial Afghan and Burma campaigns. The premises were apparently acquired personally with a view to having the money refunded by the Army, a situation that is unthinkable today.

Fig. 23:  Colonel Sir Reginald Hennell, 1844-1925.

During the first six months of the Army's ownership, part of the premises was converted for use as an armoury and magazine.

The purchase money was paid back to Hennell via a loan from the Secretary for War in 1897 and the premises opened in December of that year.

By 1903, the old house had been extended to form the first a drill-hall (see Fig. 1: the new drill hall is on the right of the photo). The address continued to be given as The Elms until the property was rebuilt. 

Fig. 24: The Elms c1905

In 1908, the Hornsey unit became the 7th Battalion, of the Volunteer Brigade, The Middlesex Regiment (part of what eventually became the Territorial Army and today is known as the Army Reserve).

Fig. 25: 7th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment, newly arrived at The Elms in 1908

The battalion was mobilised at the drill hall in August 1914 before being deployed to the Western Front.

Fig. 26: The Elms from a postcard postmarked in 1915

Fig. 27: Shortly before it was demolished  the Elms in 1935. Either side of the steps are souvenirs of the First World War

In 1938, The Elms was demolished and the site was completely redeveloped as a Territorial Army Centre. The photo below was snapped as the demolition men moved in.

Fig. 28: Saturday, 3rd September, 1938 at 8.am of a bright sunny day, according to the legend on the back of the photo. 

Fig. 29: The new building on the Elms site, 1947

After various changes of regiment occupying the building, the current occupants are 144 Parachute Medical Squadron RAMC, the Army Reserve contingent of 16 Close Support Medical Regiment RAMC.


Occupants from 1790 to 1840

As ever, the further back I've searched on this house, the tougher it becomes to pin down facts. For the first 50 years of the house's life, the best evidential records I can lay my hands on are the Poor Rate and Land Tax records. Those records give the scantest details of a property. House numbers didn't start to be used until the later nineteenth century and only occasionally did the local enumerator bother to even record the house name. So what you're generally given is the name of the proprietor and/or occupier of a property, the rental value and the tax due. The records are little more than rough and ready notes, in the equivalent of an exercise book. So, without corroborating sources, they do have their issues. However, beggars can't be choosers.

One helpful feature of the books is that the way the properties were organised in a book did generally follow the set-up on the ground (so number 4 Hornsey High Street would have come before or after number 6 etc). This means if you can be certain of the details of one property and can be pretty certain about the set-up on the ground, you can often find the details you want from these records.

I was quite lucky with The Elms, in that I know that its immediate neighbour to the east was the Rectory. That building was either reliably recorded with the building name or the name of the Reverend occupier, whose identity is known. I was even luckier in that in a newspaper report of a court case in 1845, the owner of The Elms is identified as a 'Mr Percival'. The Poor Rate Assessment record of 1837 identifies him as the proprietor of the house inhabited by Jospeh Bradshaw, who I had previously calculated to be the occupant of The Elms using Land Tax records alone. The Percival link confirmed it.

So, both through the organisation of the land tax and poor rate records and more particularly by the evidence link of Percival to the house,  I am very confident that Bradshaw lived in The Elms. From that base, using the tax records, I was able confidently to identify owners and occupants of the house back to 1790.

Occupation 1860s

Over a year after first writing this piece, I stumbled a cross a mention of a certain Beacham Peacock listed as residing at The Elms in the Post Office Directory for London Suburban, 1863. I have been unable to find any further record for him. 

Houses opposite

A brief account is given of the houes opposite, here


I am grateful to the kind assistance from Major (Ret'd) Derrick Harwood, Historian and Archivist of the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations for Greater London and to Trevor Canton, Chairman, Middlesex Branch and Alasdair Goulden, Secretary, both of the Queen's Regimental Association. 

Following up leads on Princess Bariatinsky, I was pleased to come across research by Diane Lovell, some of which I have used in writing this article. 

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks SC. I appreciate your comments. I have wondered about how to save / archive all the HoL local history collateral. This site was never designed for it and at some point the site will probably die.

I hadn't thought about approaching HHS. They're aware of HoL and I've assumed that they'd approach me if they were interested in anything. I'll give it some thought.

By the way, when I referred to archive earlier, I seem to have misled you again. I meant the internet archive. It has versions of this article stored from 11 and 12 Sept.

You say  "..... ........................at some point the site will probably die."

I say  "There will be an awful lot of mourners !"

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

New map extract added as fig. 6.

Thank you Hugh for drawing my attention to the John Tallis view of Shoreditch. My great-great-grandfather John Haylock Robinson had his bakery in number 212 (1855 PO Directory, 1861 census). He retired to the Master Bakers Almhouses, Leyton (1871 and 1881 census) where he died in 1883. He should not be confused with his son of the same name, a multiple bankrupt.

A belated addition to the record:

Fig. 27, newly acquired by Ken and I for the HHS - and of course scanned before donation.

Fascinating! And a great read.

Another new image - added as Fig. 26.




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