Towards The Junction

 

The name Lavender Hill derives from the use of the fields on either side of this stretch of road for the cultivation of lavender and other herbs, by the nursery business set up in 1820 by William Pamplin. The hill would have been a fragrant and beautiful place until the late 1850s, with a few cottages, several large country houses and small farmsteads here and there along its length. Between the hill and the Common lay tree-fringed meadows, ponds, nursery gardens and country estates. Near the western end was Lavender Sweep, a private carriage drive serving a few Georgian country houses set among lawns, cedar trees and flower gardens.

 

In 1863 the inaccurately named Clapham Junction station opened and urbanisation began. Within thirty years the entire area had been transformed into a densely populated London suburb.

 

Near the station is the Falcon Tavern, named after the brook which ran west of the original quaint seventeenth-century coaching inn. The present listed building dates from 1884. This is the hub of Clapham Junction, now a conservation area, as well as an important and thriving shopping centre.

 

Opposite is the Arding & Hobbs building of 1910, now Debenhams, with its distinctive green copper bellcote, and the crisp red brick and stone terrace balancing it on the other side of St John’s Road. The tall curving shop terrace, 274 - 242 Lavender Hill, marching confidently up the hill, conceals an interesting secret: behind in Mossbury Road is an original farmhouse, The Chestnuts of 1812, which has survived against all the odds. The shopping centre was very late to develop; key sites were occupied by farmland until the Chestnuts Estate was developed by Alfred Heaver from 1887-89.

 

Up Lavender HIll is the impressive library, 1889, by E W Mountford, and round the corner in Altenburg Gardens, the Reference Library of 1924 by T Hayward - a charming late flowering of Arts and Craft style. Further along this street, 30 - 54 are an interesting late example (1868) of Greek Revival design, with the Catholic Church of 1907 sitting easily amongst them. Lavender Gardens too has grand houses, in Alfred Heaver’s distinctive design and a rare survival - a colossal Empire style house, The Shrubbery, over the grounds of which the rest of the street was built.

 

Elspeth Road, Mysore Road, Marjorie Grove and part of Sisters Avenue form the Sisters Estate, developed in two phases over the gardens of the surviving Sister house, now Gilmore House on North Side, and the site of its demolished twin. The first part was developed by Thomas Wallis in 1878-80 with the huge gabled houses and wide carriage road at the top of Sisters Avenue and Mysore Road. This grand scale was the result of conditions imposed by Wallis, who lived at Sister House, in the hope of attracting congenial neighbours. The second part was developed by Herbert Shepherd Cross MP, from 1894. Particularly noted are the eccentric 106 Mysore Road of 1896, and Avenue Mansions, 1895, with its fine brickwork and iron balconies.

Back in Lavender Hill, Battersea Town Hall, now Battersea Arts Centre by E W Mountford, 1893, is an early example of Edwardian Baroque. Further along, the Church of the Ascension by James Brooks, 1876-98, is a striking building, best viewed from the east end. The entrance porch has an unfinished appearance since it was originally intended to rise to form a tower. In 1894-95 Longbeach Road and Thirsk Road replaced two eighteenth-century houses and their grounds, Coombe Lodge and Linden Lodge. The Rush Hill Estate, laid out by developer Henry Shadwell Willett from 1872-80 on the site and grounds of Rush Hill House, includes the area bounded by Stormont Road, the north side of Nansen Road, Taybridge Road and part of Lavender Hill. Amongst the good variety of houses those of particular note are 4-8 Stormont Road and 73-83 Lavender Hill. The southern side of Nansen Road, together with Fontarabia Road, Marmion Road and 54-76 Taybridge Road comprise the Northfields Estate, laid out from 1890-94 by HN Corsellis. This area suffered some war damage, but infill housing by Howes & Jackman blends in well. James Holloway, one of the builders of the Rush Hill Estate, laid out Freke Road in 1878-79 on the site of four Georgian houses on Lavender Hill and built Garfield Road, 1882-86, in neo-Queen Anne style.

 

Wix’s Lane, part of which is still a footpath, is an ancient boundary and some parish boundary markers can be seen. The lane has had no more than gardens and outbuildings of houses on North Side until the fine Board school and a long terrace of flats by Arthur Balls, were built in 1903-04. The upper end of Taybridge Road was developed by John Cathles Hill in 1894-95 as the Maitland House Estate, whilst the middle part of the street, Meteor Street, Jedburgh Street and Tregarvon Road were developed by H N Corsellis with very simplified red brick houses from 1897-1900 after the demolition of the house called Northside. Corsellis was also responsible for the development of Stormont Road and 20-66 Marney Road on the adjoining Eukestons Estate, 1894-96, after the demolition of the house of that name.

 

Battersea Rise, like Lavender Hill, is an old coach road. A small hamlet grew up where the Rise was crossed by the Falcon Brook. With the advent of the railway the hamlet expanded and St Mark’s Church and School were built to serve the new community. The church, 1872-74 by William White, is an early example of concrete construction with brick exterior. The tower, with a faintly Germanic looking timber shingled spire, is a delightful addition to the landscape, especially when viewed from the opposite end of Battersea Rise.

 

On the death of the most famous resident of Lavender Sweep, Tom Taylor, the area was redeveloped in 1881-83. The new roads were Eccles Road, Parma Crescent, Limburg Road, Hafer Road and Hauberk Road (since destroyed by bombing) and Lavender Sweep itself. The curved layout of the original Sweep dictated the form of the development. Nearby another ancient lane, Lavender Walk, survives. At the same date Alfred Heaver developed Beauchamp Road, Ilminster Gardens, and parts of St John’s Road, in his distinctive style. A pleasant surprise here is the Welsh Chapel. Finally, Barnard Road was laid out as late as 1904, after the death of Noel Whiting of Lavender Lodge.

 

Over St John’s Road a large meadow belonging to Lavender Lodge has been developed, again by Alfred Heaver, in 1885-89 as St John’s Park Estate. This comprised Aliwal Road, Comyn Road, Boutflower Road, Eckstein Road and Severus Road. St John’s Road probably dates from about 1790. Until the 1880s it was mainly fields, with a few cottages and a hedgerow and brook behind the shops opposite the Arding & Hobbs building.

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