Around Abbeville Road?


The land immediately behind the large houses which faced the south side of the Common remained virtually undeveloped until about 1875. Bland's map of 1849 shows three large ponds and a few isolated buildings in the area between Brixton Lane (now Crescent Lane) and Cavendish Road. Wide ribbons of gardens ran back from the Georgian mansions of South Side and around the villas in Clarence Road (now Clarence Avenue). Almost all this large area formed the grounds or holdings of just nine houses. The first inroads were made in 1865 at the top of Elms Road, and in the mid 1870s at the junction of Cavendish Road and Abbeville Road. Building gradually gathered pace as the large houses were demolished and their grounds sold for development, and by 1910 the area was almost completely covered with terraces of two or three-storey houses. Later building has been largely confined to the development of blocks of council flats, post-war replacement of damaged houses, and 1990s gated mews developments tucked in behind existing houses or converted from former industrial premises.


Cavendish Road, cut by Thomas Cubitt from South Side to the junction of Poynders Road, consists of terraces of the late 1880s on the north and from 1907 onwards on the south, with the police station at the corner of Klea Avenue and two pairs of impressive semi-detached houses of 1878 adjoining Abbeville Road. Large and distinctive houses of 1881 flank the entrance to the terraces of Englewood Road and Hazelbourne Road, and between these two roads Joseph Powell Close, Anchor Mews and Fernbank Mews have been inserted in the late twentieth century.


Development of Abbeville Road started at the southern end in 1875 when the Clock House Farm was sold and laid out as Cavendish Grove. The first houses were large mansions (2-6) followed by several lesser houses with enormous gables (8-12) each of differing design and appearance. The houses opposite are of the same period, but in comparison, rather restrained with the exception of 13 which has an attractive balustraded tower. Much of the land remained undeveloped for twenty years. The adjacent parts of Abbeville Road, Trouville Road, Bonneville Gardens and Elms Crescent (Deauville Court and Deauville Mansions) comprise mostly flats and maisonettes with an Edwardian flavour; their big porches and balconies make them unusual in Clapham, perhaps more akin to West Kensington.


The Clock House estate was the next to be developed. The Clock House had once been home to the King's printer, Charles Eyre (1732 - 1795) whose extensive garden was 'ornamented with pleasant shrubberies, consisting of a variety of exotic plants.' John Kemp-Welch, proprietor of Jacob Schweppe & Co, who bought the house in 1862 sold it for development in 1885. The ground was laid out with a tight grid of streets, Klea Avenue, Cautley Avenue, Lessar Avenue and Lynette Avenue. Plots were sold to speculative builders, but the freeholder, Edward Hammond Thomson, tried to keep control over the design of the houses. Next came the development of Eagle House estate, after the death of the widow of William Edgar in 1889. From a narrow frontage to South Side, reflecting the width of the original house, Narbonne Avenue was cut, with Hambalt Road, Mandalay Road, an extension of Klea Avenue and Shandon Road laid out on the grounds. At the top of Narbonne Avenue the west wing of the former Eagle House survives, rescued from dereliction and refurbished for office use in 1989. Further along Narbonne Avenue is the Church of the Holy Spirit of 1912 - 1913, a good example of the end of the Gothic Revival - austere and well proportioned, with finely crafted detail. Development of Abbeville Road continued with several parades of secondary shops, of which few now retain their original shopfronts. This part of the street was originally known as Abbeville Road South. Abbeville Road North ran from the junction of Elms Road as far as Crescent Lane. The two parts were united and renumbered in 1895, but the final stretch linking up with Clapham Park Road was not completed until 1903.

Elms Road was started following the sale in 1863 of John Allnutt's palatial mansion, Elm House, overlooking the Common. The group of very large and rather forbidding mansions near the Common were built first and the rest of Elms Road, together with the adjoining streets of Franconia, Caldervale and Leppoc Roads followed from 1882 onwards, on the Elm House Estate. The later houses in Elms Road are generally of a superior standard, exhibiting a fascinating variety of styles and ornament. In 1988 and 1992 respectively Waldo Close and Timothy Close were inserted behind existing houses.


Abbeville Road continues in the general style of the terraces of houses in the adjoining streets, although there are three detached double-fronted villas on the west side (87-91). Nearby on the same side is the remains of an old water pump. Crescent Lane, originally Brixton Lane, runs from the Common to Lyham Road, the old Parish boundary. As it leaves the Common the road is immediately dominated by the oppressive blocks of flats of the Notre Dame Estate, 1947 - 1952. On the edge of the estate is St Mary's School, and behind, in Worsopp Drive, the Orangery, a sad reminder of the former splendour of the grounds of the Thornton mansion, which faced the Common. Further down Crescent Lane the Notre Dame estate continues with Prestwich Terrace, a pleasing terrace of small red brick houses, and adjoining Tableer Avenue and Allnutt Way with less brutal blocks than the earlier ones. The two former Trades Union headquarters opposite are fine 1930s additions to the street, though some of their grounds were sacrificed when Henry Twining Court was built in the 1980s.

Across Abbeville Road the boundary of the Elm House Estate was formed by Crescent Lane, where the houses on the west side were built in 1885 - 1887. The east side of the street, together with Briarwood Road (west) and the connecting section of Abbeville Road were built on the Chapel Fields of St James' Park Hill from 1902.


Elms Crescent reflects the styles of adjoining streets, with some impressive houses with a staggered building line at the northern end, and an Edwardian feel towards the south with the maisonettes and mansion blocks adjoining Trouville Road.


Rodenhurst Road runs roughly parallel to Elms Crescent, but is a wider, more spacious tree-lined road conveying a solid and dignified appearance. It was cut through in 1898 on the grounds of Lincoln House, the mansion which Thomas Cubitt had built for himself and his family from 1826 - 1830. Most houses date from 1901 - 1904, with the later addition of the post-war part of the Oaklands Estate to the south and small blocks of 1960s flats at the northern end.

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