This immaculate four-bedroom house in Brockley lies on Upper Brockley Road, which forms part of the handsome developments built by the Tyrwhitt-Drake family in the 1850s. The house is on the elevated eastern side of the road, allowing long-reaching views over south London from the top floors. Each space across its four voluminous levels has been restored and recently redesigned with a deft touch. Colour has been used with an intelligent sensibility sympathetic to original detailing, yet a bold approach means the result is thoroughly modern. There is a long garden to the rear of the house. A large hard standing lies between the house and the mews and although it is currently used for parking, others nearby have been successfully developed into small studios.
Setting the scene
The townhouses that characterise Brockley’s elegant avenues were predominantly built for the newly wealthy industrialists in the second half of the 19th century. Before its residential development, Brockley was well regarded for the quality of its soil, which led to the creation of many market gardens; the area was renowned for growing giant rhubarb and its exemplary strawberries. Today, the area remains very leafy, with lovely public green spaces, tree-lined streets, nature reserves and large gardens. This house is in the Brockley Conservation Area, noted for the mostly Victorian buildings’ various architectural styles and good quality Italianate stucco and Gothic terracotta detailing. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
The gentle incline of the hill gives the houses on this side of Upper Brockley Road a veritable sense of height and light. Positioned on the end of the terrace, the house is accessed by a porch and hallway adjacent to the raised ground-floor living spaces. There are two main reception rooms, both with large original shutters surrounding new sash windows. The larger of the two rooms has been painted in the sumptuous ‘Boxington’ a lively colour that changes with the light throughout the day. Colours throughout the house are by Little Greene. Beyond this, the garden-facing reception has been conceived as a home office with built-in cabinetry. Plasterwork throughout the house has been restored and carefully reinstated where required.
The hallway runs along the right-hand side of the interior plan, drawing light in from the rear. Mellow ‘Sanderson Blue’ envelops this space, with ‘Basalt’ on the woodwork balancing the fresh green in the reception. The hallway gives separate access to the garden on the ground floor, perfect for muddy boots or guest access via the garden rather than the front door.
The lower-ground floor of the house has been treated with particular care. The front of the plan has been cleverly composed as a large but cosy guest bedroom with a shower room next door. Beyond the hallway are the kitchen and dining room, connected by an architectural opening that allows for cooking and hosting simultaneously. This part of the house has been treated with a more contemporary and eclectic touch than the upper floors; the dining room has been panelled in warm pine. The kitchen is by Maisons Du Monde with appliances by Hoover. Large Crittall doors open from the dining room onto a sunken courtyard garden.
The first and second floors are currently used as secondary living spaces and the principal suite, respectively. The rooms on the first floor have been decorated with a cool white, contrasting with the bold use of colour elsewhere. The crisp walls chime gloriously with the dark-stained floorboards that run throughout the house. The two rooms are currently organised as a living room and library but would make excellent bedrooms. Above, the original layout has been completely reimagined to create a bedroom suite with a large bath, a Jack-and-Jill shower, a WC and a dressing room. It is a calming retreat from the city and exemplifies the care taken to interior design throughout the house. There are far-reaching views from a large sash window on the front elevation towards the city and The Shard, which glitters at night. The back of the house has a leafy aspect, given the length of the garden and the dividing tree-lined mews. There are bathrooms on three of the four levels.
At the rear of the garden is a separate hard-surfaced parking space with room for two cars. This is accessed via Ashby Mews, where many other similar areas have been developed, including a collection of architect-designed houses, studios and small commercial spaces. The mews remains a wonderfully eclectic community hub – as was originally intended.
The Great Outdoors
The 70-foot-long garden can be accessed from the ground-floor hallway, the kitchen and Ashby Mews. It is a quiet haven, mostly laid to lawn with established fruit trees.
Out and About
Upper Brockley Road is a short walk from the coveted cafes, restaurants and bars that sit astride the train station, including the reputable Browns of Brockley coffee shop, Joyce natural wine bar, L’Oculto for tapas and Good as Gold. Brockley has the feel of a proper local town centre, with all the associated amenities available.
Hilly Fields is less than fifteen minutes’ walk away. With expansive green spaces, elevated views across the capital, as well as a café, playground, nature reserve, tennis courts and basketball courts, it is arguably one of the finest parks in South London. Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery is also within easy reach, spanning 37 acres of beautiful green space protected within the Brockley conservation area.
There is a renowned farmers’ market every Saturday at Brockley Market, offering a wide range of organic produce alongside food trucks and wine merchants. Nearby Deptford, recently voted one of the world’s coolest high streets, has plentiful shops, restaurants and cafes.
Deptford Market Yard, a recently launched collection of independent shops and restaurants set within and around Deptford’s refurbished railway arches, is nearby. Goldsmiths University is within walking distance and will soon open the doors to its new gallery designed by Turner-prize-winning architects Assemble.
The house is equidistant from three stations. St Johns station is at the end of the road and runs direct services to London Bridge (for the Jubilee and Northern lines) and Canon Street (for the Circle and District Lines). Brockley Station runs London Overground services to Canada Water (for the Jubilee Line), Shoreditch, and Whitechapel. Brockley station also runs direct services to London Bridge in around ten minutes via Southern Rail. Lewisham operates the DLR for connections to Canary Wharf, Bank and National Rail services.
Council Tax Band: E
In the early 18th century, Brockley was a rural settlement around a lane which led from the Deptford Royal Naval Dockyard to Brockley Green. At the time, the area was largely agricultural, with farms, nurseries, orchards and market gardens serving London. As such, there are still many old fruit trees in the gardens here and the rich soil nourishes new varieties in a similar vein. As the area remains wonderfully green, it is a haven for the wildlife of London and it is believed the Brockley Badger lives on in certain enclaves, namely the New Cross Gate Cutting, a 10-acre wildlife reserve a short walk from Wickham Road. Indeed, the name Brockley is a derivation of ‘Broca’s woodland clearing’, ‘Broca’ being Old English for badger.
Between 1844 – 1885, the land was developed by two great landowners – the Wickham-Drake Estate and the Tyrwhitt-Drake Estate. The Wickham, Tyrwhitt and Drake families had become intertwined through marriage, and most of the road names in the area mark the family associations.
The northern part of Brockley, including Upper Brockley Road, was owned by the Tyrwhitt-Drakes, who built terraces of classical houses for the professional classes in the 1850s. Characterised by wide streets and large Italianate villas, the houses are backed by free-access mews service lanes, once used by workers, as well as horses and carriages. More salacious rumoured encounters in the mews include Edward VII, who is believed to have used Wickham Mews for discreet visits to mistress, the actress Lillie Langtry.
This development is typical of the considered development of urban sprawl undertaken by landowners, and the houses on Upper Brockley Road are handsome, with fine views from their elevated position.
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