This magnificent Grade II*-listed early-Georgian house is set in the Wandsworth Town Conservation Area in southwest London, on historic East Hill. The house unfolds over four spacious and atmospheric storeys, which contain six bedrooms and measure over 5,000 sq ft in total. There are also wonderful private walled gardens to both the front and rear of the house, and three secure off-street parking spaces. Interior architectural features remain in abundance and have been carefully restored and preserved, including fine panelling, joinery, plasterwork and some chimneypieces. This house is an exquisite set piece in southwest London’s history, representing an exceptional example of preserved early-Georgian domestic architecture.
Setting the Scene
This fine home is situated on East Hill as it rises towards Wandsworth Common. The brick houses on both the East and West hills were reserved for the wealthy 18th-century inhabitants, and overlook the village below. Several country seats of London gentry were scattered around this elevated position, though most had departed by the early 19th century as the area was rapidly urbanised, later becoming a London suburb.
This home is one of the last surviving examples of an intact Georgian house from that time and was built in 1736 with later additions to the rear in the early 19th century, though it is believed to have originally been a farmhouse, built in around 1690, that was aggrandised. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
From East Hill, mature shrubs and trees grow over tall cast iron railings to form an impenetrable and mysterious screen, giving few clues to the remarkable home that lies behind. An iron gate is set within tall brick piers and electronically operated via intercom from the house. This opens to the front garden, where a York stone pathway leads through the garden to a stone balcony with iron railings, as well as the entrance to the house; a separate entrance to the lower-ground floor is positioned below, in the lightwell.
Four storeys high and five bays wide, the house is made of London stock brick with red brick dressings and has a Welsh slate roof with four hips to the rear, set behind a parapet wall. The main elevation is punctuated with six/six box sash windows – with secondary glazing for sound insulation – and the grand wooden doorcase, with Doric engaged columns, triglyphs and pediment, is positioned centrally. The original fielded four-panel front door is inset, and a transom light is set above.
Entrance is to the central hallway, with a clear vista to the garden beyond and the grand staircase. The hallway is panelled, with box cornicing above, framing the elevations. Original floorboards extend from here through most of the house, and six-panel doors open to each room.
At the east range of the house is a bipartite living room, comprising an informal sitting room to the front and a drawing room to the rear, connected by an open wide-set architrave. The sitting room is fully panelled with a box cornice and dado rail; a statuary marble bolection chimneypiece frames the open hearth, which houses an iron grate and working fire. Original shutters surround the two sash windows. The drawing room to the rear features a neoclassical chimneypiece with marble slips, which is inset with a wood-burning stove; the room’s elevations are framed by wonderful plaster cornicing in a decorative design. The room looks out to the rear gardens through an elegant, curved canted bay, with three box sash windows surrounded by further working shutters.
The kitchen is set to the rear of the west range of the house, and is home to contemporary white cabinetry with integrated appliances. It connects to the dining room to the front of the plan through a doorway set into the room’s panelling. The dining room has a large open hearth, and an oak beam spans the depth of the room, believed to be an architectural trace of the home’s original incarnation as a farmhouse.
The lower-ground floor rooms have a good ceiling height and currently comprise a large utility room, bathroom and bedroom-cum-sitting room. Additionally, there is a large vaulted cellar set slightly below the other rooms on this floor, directly underneath the kitchen. The lower-ground floor’s independent access from the front lightwell is to the utility room.
Ascending the open-well staircase, the first floor has a grand landing space, where wedding doors open to a secondary vestibule that leads to two double bedrooms, a walk-in closet and a shower room. The bedrooms are both panelled, and each have Carrara marble chimney pieces. The principal bedroom is positioned to the rear of this floor, a mirror of the elegant drawing room below, with the same rounded canted bay window and neoclassical chimneypiece.
A second, larger bathroom sits opposite on the landing, and is fully panelled with a bolection chimneypiece surrounding an open hearth. Two sinks are set into a vanity with cupboards below, and there is a contemporary white resin bateau bathtub and separate shower enclosure.
The uppermost storey has three further bedrooms and two bathrooms, with additional examples of excellent original panelling present on the large landing space. There are also four separate loft spaces.
The Great Outdoors
In addition to the gardens at the front of the house, the walled garden at the rear is laid with stone setts and brick pathways. Wonderfully contained and private, it is designed around low buxus hedging in the formal style, with mature trees, shrubs and flowers, including fig and olive trees. Star jasmine winds its way around the double-height three-light curved bay at the rear elevation, and evergreen lonicera along the garden wall to the rear. A gate is set into the wall, offering access to the home’s rear parking spaces.
Out and About
The house is brilliantly positioned, close to an excellent selection of nationwide purveyors and independent suppliers, cafés and restaurants on nearby Bellevue Road and Northcote Road. Also in close proximity is the Southside Wandsworth shopping centre, with shops including a branch of Waitrose, and the newly introduced Ram Quarter along the River Wandle, home to speciality coffee shop Story Coffee, Sambrook’s Brewery and other brilliant restaurants.
Closer to home, nearby Old York Road and The Tonsleys lie to the rear of the house – a lively gauntlet of smaller purveyors, cafés and restaurants with a distinctly village feel. The area has three notable pubs: the Royal Standard, the East Hill and the Alma. The house is also equidistant to the green spaces of Wandsworth Common, Wandsworth Park and King George’s Park, with the towpath from Wandsworth bridge offering a wonderful route for cycling or walking to Battersea Park and the Battersea Power Station complex.
There is an excellent selection of local state and private schools, including nearby Eaton House, Emanuel School, Parkgate School, Thomas’s and L’école de Wix Lycée Français.
Wandsworth Town station is around five minutes’ walk away, with regular rail services to London Waterloo taking just 13 minutes, and further connecting trains at nearby Clapham Junction station for services to the southwest of England and Gatwick Airport. Additionally, East Hill leads directly to the A3, a direct connecting motor route to the southwest of England, and is just over the river from the A4, leading to the M4, Heathrow Airport and the West Country.
Council Tax Band: H
Wandsworth appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Wandesorde and Wendelesorde. This means ‘enclosure of (a man named) Waendel’, whose name is also lent to the River Wandle. To distinguish it from the London Borough of Wandsworth, and historically from the Wandsworth District of the Metropolis and the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth, which all covered larger areas, it is also now known as Wandsworth Town. The manor of Wandsworth was held partly by William, son of Ansculfy, and partly by St Wandrille’s Abbey. Since at least the early 16th century, Wandsworth has offered accommodation to consecutive waves of immigration, from Protestant Dutch metalworkers fleeing persecution in the 1590s, to Huguenots in the 17th century.
The Dutch and Huguenots settled in Wandsworth and were often skilled hatters and dyers; not just silk weavers as were more common in Spitalfields. When the cardinals in Rome began to order hats from them, their industry made Wandsworth famous throughout Europe. The Huguenots settled in Wandsworth because of the purity and power of the River Wandle, which was ideal for the bleaching and dyeing of felt. The Dutch were also renowned for their iron and copper ware, such as brass plates for kettles and frying pans. Dutch Yard (south off Wandsworth High Street) and Coppermill Lane (west off Plough Lane) have names that are reminders of where the Flemish settlers once worked.
Wandsworth grew as a crossing point on the River Wandle, a tributary of the River Thames where originally horse-drawn coaches would ply between central London and the west of England. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Huguenots settled in Wandsworth attracted by its cloth mills on the Wandle and developed a hat industry for which Wandsworth was once famous. The present character of Wandsworth has only really developed over the past two centuries; the enormous growth at the end of the nineteenth century transformed a small hamlet into a town centre.
The first known occupant of this home is recorded (in Vestry Minutes for 1772) as a William Vander Esche, Esquire. In the early C19 it was used as a ‘Boarding School for Young Ladies’. The home is one of the earliest and the best preserved of the middling size houses of the wealthy Huguenot and Dutch immigrant families who lived in Wandsworth and Putney in the early 1700’s. Latterly, the house provided a family home from 1920s till the 1970s of famous cricketer Alf Gover who played for England and ran his famous indoor cricketing school from an industrial shed behind the house from 1938 to 1989. Notable past pupils include Viv Richards, Gary Sobers, Harold Pinter and former Prime Minister John Major.
- A Home with a History: an interiors maven’s Georgian house in Kent
- Singular Appeal: five one-bedroom homes for saleHomes
- A Private View: from beige to beautiful in south-west LondonHomes / Interiors
- Inspiration of the Week: a picture of the simple life, deep in the Welsh countryside
- Inigo Revisits: Charles and Romilly Saumarez Smith’s art-filled 18th-century townhouseHomes / Interiors