Saturday, 16 January 2010

The [Not Very] Long And [Only Slightly] Winding Road - Sutton to Carshalton

A few weeks ago I was a man on a mission - and that mission was to obtain a decent picture of a Nuttman Brothers ghost sign I'd seen in Sutton. I'd featured it on the blog some time back but only had a poor quality snap on my daughter's mobile phone to illustrate it and as it was to be deposited in Sam Robert's new national Ghost Signs archive I thought I'd better get a decent image for him.

Taking the photo was just a matter of minutes though, and with a bit of time before a planned rendezvous I was tempted to have 'just a look' down the road. Actually I've done this often enough to realise that deep down I've no intention of stopping after 'just a look' but will keep on going until guilt, shame and embarrassment  finally get the better of me and I beat a hasty retreat to wherever it was I supposed to be in the first place.

As it turned out the road I was travelling was the old route connecting two old Surrey villages that now form part of the London suburbs - Sutton & Carshalton. Sutton is the senior partner presumably because of it's position on a crossroads on a main route into London meant it grew into a small town whilst Carshalton retained a very strong village character with its ponds and attractive High Street. They're not all that far apart which was just as well as time was in short supply

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Setting off the first thing that caught my eye was some very neat tile-work on the front of a corner shop. I always expect shops like this to have been either butchers or dairies, presumably because of the need to have a hygienic, washable surface, but I don't think it's very usual to be advertising the name of the building rather than the business

These were quite elaborate tiles as well with raised three-dimensional lettering. They actually reminded me a bit of the sort of tile-work you see at Underground stations on the Bakerloo line. I think the Poole Pottery had a hand in lots of that sort of work and I wonder if they might have produced this as well?

Carrying on down the road I came across the first of the houses with elaborate construction dates on them. Sutton became an Urban District in 1894 so this house looks as though it was part of that suburban growth spurt sparked by the arrival of the railways 40 years earlier.                                                                                     There was a fair number of interesting villa-style houses along what must have been an important and busy street and another plaque soon caught my eye on the other side of the road
The house itself was of a decent size but it looked fairly plain and a bit austere to me and from a distance it was a bit tricky trying to make out the motto. Of course with a bit of zoom it was easy enough to make out St Mary's Presbytery and what I assume is a picture of St Mary herself in the middle. I was quite interested by this. Although I'd heard the term Presbytery I couldn't hand on heart tell you exactly what it was, or how it related to Presbyterian - as I assumed it did. According to this site  though
Presbyterianism is the form of church government in which elders, both lay people and ministers, govern. The name derives from the Greek word presbuteros, or "elder."
Wikipedia defines a presbytery (as opposed to a Presbyterian) as being  'the name for an area in a church building which is reserved for the clergy' so I assume that the term has evolved from being part of a church reserved for the elders to being another name for a sort of vicarage - although I'm sure there must be some technical differences between them (like being used by different religions or not being for the use of a vicar or something)

It was at about this point that I spotted the interesting old stink-pipe that had it's own posting a few weeks ago. That in itself made the walk worthwhile but there were also few more date plaques down the road. This one was the oldest I spotted at 1870

but there were some more recent ones as well, including this one with the initials of either the builder, architect or first owner I suppose, 'CP' from 1905. I often wonder what the rationale was behind the naming of these sorts of buildings. I've seen some Alma Villas and suchlike which are obviously inspired by notable battles, but I'm sure there were many interesting stories behind the more obscure ones that were probably personal but now lost forever.

This was an interesting door to find though, leading straight out onto a busy road. It looks as though it was last used in a more leisurely age and the ivy creeping through suggests that it's rarely, if ever, used these days.

Honeywood Cottage is presumably related in some way to the larger Honeywood House, a very attractive building next to the ponds which is now Sutton's local museum.

There's a short windy bit in the road as it approaches Carshalton and it takes you past what is now the front gates of St Philomena's Catholic Girls School, reknowned locally for the quality for its car-boot sale and the outcry a few years ago when an 'adult' shop (now gone) opened oppposite the gate.

The entrance is flanked by these two imposing lions, although it does look as though one of them has lost his crown. The school building is the old Carshalton House whose story was described in the 1912 History of the County of Surrey
It was the property of Dr. Radcliffe, physician and M.P., and after his death was bought by Sir John Fellowes, a director of the South Sea Company. It was confiscated after the South Sea catastrophe in 1721, although Fellowes still continued to reside in Carshalton. It subsequently came into the possession of Lord Chancellor Hardwick,  was afterwards used as a military college, and from 1859 to 1893 as a private school, kept by Mr. Bath and Dr. Barrett, who added a wing containing a dormitory. In 1893 it was taken over by the Daughters of the Cross, a Roman Catholic body founded in LiĆ©ge in 1833.
Dr Radcliffe was not only a Tory MP but a Royal physician but was apparently not always admired locally 
...founder of the Radcliffe Library and Observatory at Oxford, who during his residence at Carshalton made himself exceedingly unpopular with many patients by his candid speeches about their disorders.
Following the road along I soon came to the area of the ponds which I suppose is the heart of Carshalton. Just by a small but busy roandabout I saw an old village-style handpump railed off but obviously still revered. I haven't come across many hand-pumps on my meanderings although I'm sure there must be a few survivors around various old buildings in the City so I was keen to see if there were any makers marks or insignia. Well you can't get much clearer than a large manufacturer's plate slapped right on it's front, so I was happy to go away and see if I could find out anything about the pump-manufacturing firm of J. Tylor & Sons of Highgate Street, London. As usual the internet comes up trumps with an interesting site devoted to village hand-pumps which provided a wealth of information on the subject including an excellent distribution map of remaining hand pumps. (Why so many in Essex I wonder?) The Carshalton pump is mentioned and there's a little potted history of the company as well 
The company was founded in 1778 by John Tylor (b. 1756), who was a Quaker. It became J. Tylor and Sons Ltd in 1892, and in turn was renamed Tylors (Water & Sanitary) Ltd in 1920 and Tylors of London Ltd in 1947. They initially specialised in making tea urns, but by the end of the 19th Century had moved into manufacturing a wide range of hydraulic and sanitary equipment, including fire engines. They existed until 1974, when the company was sold and broken up.

That's all what I suppose you'd call 'quite interesting' but what I think is the really interesting bit about Tylor & Sons are the sons themselves, two very interesting characters with very interesting lives who both seem to have turned their backs on the family manufacturing business for a life in academia.

The first was Edward Burnett Tylor who started working with his father after leaving university early but who then suffered from a bout of tuberculosis. In an effort to restore his health he took a long recuperative break in sunnier climes and found himself in Central America in 1855. On the way he met an ethnologist by the name of Henry Chrisite and that was that as far as pump-manufacturing was concerned. He wrote several highly influential books and Wikipedia sums up the trajectory of his new career
In 1871 Tylor was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1875 received the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws from the University of Oxford. He was appointed Keeper of the University Museum at Oxford in 1883, and, as well as serving as a lecturer, held the title of the first “Reader in Anthropology” from 1884-1895. In 1896 he became the first Professor of Anthropology at Oxford and he was knighted in 1912.
Well that's quite impressive but his younger brother Alfred Tylor didn't do badly either. He was working on the foundry business from the age of 15 but was apparently fascinated with geology and a love of learning which he put to good use. He was soon a regular contributor to magazines and journals and also became a council member of the Geological Society.

He put this knowledge of geology to good financial use as well, buying the mineral rights to land in the Rhondda Valley in Wales where he created both a thriving colliery and a new settlement called (nodestly) Tylorstown!

I found most of this information about Alfred on a site of Rhondda Valley Place Names but one section really caught my eye.
Alfred Tylor spent the latter years of his life at Carshalton In Surrey where he died In 1884. His interest in the welfare of young people was reflected In his will in which he bequeathed a percentage of his estate to the founding of scholarships for boys and girls in the London area and for the purchase of land for a cricket ground for the use of the youth of Carshalton.
As there are only four surviving Tylor pumps recorded I think it's a fair assumption to make that resumably he was also the kind donor of the village pump!

Last item now and something that has often caught my eye on the way though Carshalton as being slightly incongrous- a mediaeval statue on the side of a fairly modern building.

Actually it turns out that it's a modern work by a sculpture called Dennis Huntley and it was created in 1987. Anne Boleyn was supposed to have stopped off at Carshalton on her way to various 'meetings' with King Henry VIII so I assume the statue was commissioned with that link in mind.

It's nice and definitely adds to the local colour but I find it a little bit on the spooky side and looks as though it would be more at home in an ancesteral tomb rather than on a modern building!

That was about all I had time for but I'd really hardly touched Carshalton proper, so I think I'll be making another trip in the not too distant future to see if there's any more nugets to pick up.


Anonymous said...

A very careful and interesting account. Tigger too is interested in "ghost signs" and has a knack of spotting them even when semi-obscured.

Though my amateurish attempts do not match yours, I have added you to my blogroll, hoping that's OK.

Anonymous said...

Talking of tiles, I have always been fascinated by a shop near us (see A walk along St John’s Street), where the shopkeeper, presumably having put his own name above the window, posted the name of the previous owner ("Late Bland"), perhaps hoping to benefit from the latter's goodwill.

Sam Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam Roberts said...

Fascinating stuff as ever Yelfy, it must take you hours to cover very small distances! Thanks for the archive plug, still a bit of work to do but it's looking good. Hopefully see you at the launch. Sam

Shilpa Bhatnagar said...

Fascinating account. Have never been to this area, your description makes me want to visit pronto!


Charles said...

Like most people coming from a protestant background I too thought that a presbytery would have had something to do with Presbyterian, until I moved to Ireland and noticed that it's often the name for a house lived in by a Catholic priest. So I would suggest that the house you mention was once used for this purpose.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Tylors moved several times. They were also Bronze Founders with such a reoputation for quality that they were commissioned to design and make the wheels for the Duke Of Wellington's funeral carriage. They can be seen on the carriage itself which is now at Stratfield Spey but was once in Westminster Abbey.
They never really went out of business. The company moved to Burgess Hill and, because of their water meter business, were acquired by the AMerican company Crane. They wre then sold on to GEC Elliot Marconi who merged them with Rotameter (who were in Purley Way Croydon before also moving to Burgess hill) who sold them on to Fisher Controls. As I recall they then were owned by KDG (A Crawley company). Next came Bestobell Mobrey and what was left became part of Emerson who finally killed off the last of the Tylors flow meters. There were probably still one or two wokers who came donw to Burgess Hill from London.

Dave Pepper said...

Actually the Anne Boleyn statue has been there since way before 1987. I've lived in the area all my life and I can remember it since I was a small child in the 70s. Indeed, there's a photo of it in the Francis Frith Collection dated 1965. Sorry to be pedantic! I'd just really like to know a bit more of it's history.

Ian Gowans said...

If you found the statue of Anne Bolen spooky, don't worry - it's disappeared, and hasn't been in place for years. I am trying to get some sense of what has happened to this lovely piece of heritage, now possibly destroyed.

Ian Gowans
Flat 32, Tollard House, W14 8NL but born in Milton Ave., Carshalton in 1947

June 2018

Robert Walker said...

I'm currently trying to get Anne Boleyn replaced. It was only ever on loan from the sculptor. I spoke with Sutton Housing Partnership again yesterday and we're talking through the options.

Apparently the sculptor had taken Anne Boleyn back for restoration but then decided to keep hold of her. Although people have told me that the architects commissioned the piece for that niche, apparently that's not true.

I'm thinking of four potential courses of action;
- take a cast or scan of the original and manufacture a facsimile?
- use the space for displaying work from local artists, rotating on annual basis?
- see if it would be possible to get the original back?
- another artist creates something fitting, another Anne?
- put a printed image up there in the short term?

Cam Morris said...

I enjoyed reading your poost