Sunday, 2 August 2009

Mitcham Road & Longley Road (Part 2)

Turning down Longley Road was no accident as I wanted to take a closer look at a building that had intrigued me on an earlier visit about a year ago. The building in question is Jubilee Villa and it is one of those buildings that just makes you stop in your tracks for a closer look (whether or not you're writing a blog)
Dated 1887 the building was presumably built in the same year as Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee but what is really striking about the house is its shape (triangular, with a rounded end), the coloured glass windows and the profusion of tiles. If a house could shout out 'I'm Arty!' it would be this one!

With such distinctive decoration you'd assume there would be a story to tell, but if there is it's pretty well hidden. A search on the internet only reveals one significant mention and that is in an article on notable tiles, borough by borough, by Independent Architectural Historian Lynn Pearson Significantly though, she provides much of the background information.

The following extract was taken from her book Tile Gazetteer: A Guide to British Tile and Architectural Ceramics Locations
Tooting Jubilee Villa (1887), 156 LONGLEY ROAD, is something of a showpiece for Maw & Co’s products with seven tile panels on its facade including transfer-printed pictorial tiles by Owen Gibbons, who had worked on the decoration of the South Kensington Museum during the 1870s and produced many designs for Maw’s during the 1880s.
Overlooking the road, this blocked window is
in-filled with Maw & Co's trademark floor mosaics

Maw & Co
are still in existence and still in the quality floor tile business although these days they seem to specialise in the repair, maintenance and restoration of their original Victorian floors. Apart from this window and the tiles in the name plate, most of the other tiles on display are of the wall variety in a range of different 'sets'

A mixed bag of tiles including some with floral and Japanese influences.

The set of tiles underneath the in-filled window seems to be the least coherent set. It consists of ten tiles, three of which are blue and seven a dark brown, Several of the tiles include a young lady in a variety of actions so it could be that they formed part of a set, but you can't really say that there's any overall theme.
Detail of four tiles. The two seaside views are the only ones that have any obvious thematic link

The other side of the main door and it's a different scenario. Here there are two sets of ten tiles beneath two windows but very much similar in content. The middle six in each set are part of a single thematic set depicting various tradesmen.
A closer look and you can see them all hard at work, flanked by a couple of more standard designs.
Get in really close though and not only do you get to see exactly what he's up to but you can also make out the trade depicted as it's name is picked out in all four of the corners - in this example reading SH - OE - MA - KER. Other trades represented are Tailor, Smith, Cooper, Smith and PainterThe second panel completes the set and comprise the trades of Founder, Navy, Sawyer, Shipwright, Carpenter and Bricklayer
Around the curved front of the building, either side of the name plaque, are two other sets, this time of six a set and two 'fillers'. This particular set comprise of the twelve months of the year although it's not at all obvious from ground level
Even when you look at the set as a whole it's not too clear what exactly is being depicted. This is the left hand panel...
And this is from the right of the name plaque.
When you zoom in though you can see the subject matter, the name and the number of days for each of the months. In this example we have a typical May Queen ceremony......and here in August the wheat harvest is being helped in with a touch of cider.
I suppose what intrigues me with this building is how it came about in the first place. Was the name plaque commissioned initially and then some silver-tongued salesman persuaded the owner to invest a bit more? Was the owner an employee of Maws and so able to obtain them at a decent price? Was the owner an artist himself who decided on his own layout and coloured windows? Whatever the answer was it's a very attractive building.

Longley Road Further down the road is a fairly inauspicious chapel that looks like an in-fill between two larger building. The main feature of interest is the arch over the door with its date of construction - so it's a couple of years older than Jubilee Villa then.
There were quite a few coalholes around as well but this one stood out with its Battersea-based Ironmonger.
This intrigued me as a slightly unusual sight with the plaster moulding in the centre of the building being echoed by some infilling of the roof-line. I can't see that it serves any other purpose than a decorative one and no-one else seems to have followed suit in the road
And, to round off the walk, a Blue Plaque for Sir Harry Lauder a Music Hall star from the turn of last century. Presumably this was a convenient location for his work in the London Music Halls. Those not familiar with his work might find this recording of one of his greatest hits of interest and a suitable end to a short but intriguing walk. Well, I might not have been exactly Roamin' in the Gloamin' (more like Tootling in Tooting) but even if short it was an interesting stroll.


Sebastien Ardouin said...

Lovely late Victorian tiles! I shall go and have a look at them one of these days...
Thanks for sharing all those discoveries.

By the way I still haven't included a link to your blog from mine but I'm working on it.

Around the World said...

We have included your blog in our guide Around The World.

The guide is both a record of old blogs and a listing of new blogs. Although originally arising from the "City Daily Photo Blog" lists this is an independent publication. Inclusion here does not imply that a blog qualifies for nor is officially a CDPB. Our criteria are that photographs mainly from and related to a specific geographical location (not necessarily a "city" but usually more specific than a whole country or region) are posted at dated intervals (not necessarily daily) and archives are kept which are readily searchable by date.

Please keep us informed of any changes to your details.

Anonymous said...

This is my house Yelfy! Next time knock the door and I'll give you more on the tiles history. ps how did you get in my garden?!

Tracey said...

This last weekend (June 5th 2012) my friend & I noticed this house for the very first time, despite walking past it on our exercise walks for over a year...! The date is significant, as it's the weekend of the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II - interesting coincidence :)
I can only imagine that some foliage had been removed so that we suddenly noticed it - and so glad to have found this great article and photos on it. Thanks!