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Friends of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery and Walpole Park

Local History

With thanks to Paul Fitzmaurice and Walpole Residents Association for these articles. The pictures referred to can be found in the Vintage Postcard section.

How The Lammas Enclosure 'Enclosed' Itself

Many of you will have seen the improvements carried out by Will to Win to the Lammas Enclosure in recent years. This postcard of the Enclosure from the late Edwardian era looking towards Beaconsfield Road shows a very contrasting scene. There are the ladies in their long skirts playing croquet, a picturesque old pavilion and what looks like a refreshments tent with a group of thirsty participants gathered around. Old plans of the Enclosure from that time show a total of 19 tennis courts and 4 croquet lawns.
The Enclosure has a slightly curious status. It is regarded as part of Lammas Park but unusually is separated by a road from the main part of the park. Despite its name the Enclosure is not ‘enclosed’, unlike the main park or indeed Walpole Park it is not fenced in and is not locked at night. So how did this separation occur?
We have to go back to when Lammas Park opened in 1883. The Council had bought fields from six separate landowners to form the park. One of these landowners was the wealthy Wood family who unusually owned just a narrow strip of land where Culmington Road runs today between the park and the enclosure. This incorporated the ancient ‘church fields’ footpath by which people from Ealing Dean would come via Church Lane to St Mary’s church in the village.
What makes this rather strange is that the Wood family owned vast tracts of land north of the Broadway which they leased or sold off in the 19th century to building developers. Their legacy can be seen in the number of roads in that area with the name ‘Wood’ in them – Woodville, Woodfield, Woodgrange; other family names – Boileau, Hamilton; place names from their Shropshire home – Corfton, Craven and in Staffordshire where they owned coal mines – Aston, Madeley.
In 1888 concerns were expressed by local residents when a road began to be built across the park along the line of the church fields footpath. The Middlesex County Times, however, was full of praise for this initiative because an access road was urgently required to link the old village with the West Ealing and Northfields areas which it was anticipated would be developed in the near future. The paper also felt that the road would ‘open up’ Lammas Park which it described as being ‘remote, unfriendly and melancholy’.
This new road which hitherto was going to be called ‘Churchfields Road’ was now called ‘Culmington Road’. Coincidentally the name of the Wood family home in Shropshire was ‘Culmington Manor’. This conundrum now becomes clear. The Wood family had specifically bought the narrow strip of land with the footpath across it to obtain a right of way. They then sold the land to the Council reserving that right of way so the road could be built and link up with the land proposed for building development further north.
As can be seen today the houses further up in Culmington Road are large double fronted detached houses – rather unusual in the immediate neighbourhood which is the start of the Northfields/ West Ealing area. Indeed the houses have a strong resemblance to the houses typically found in the Wood heartlands of North Ealing!
Thus the Lammas Enclosure became separated. The moral to be drawn perhaps is that it is not just today that the landscape is altered due to rapacious developers.

The Peripatetic Urns of Pitzhanger Manor (and Elm Grove)

Have you ever noticed the four urns sitting on top of the war memorial outside Pitzhanger Manor? Something we pass by and scarcely give a moment’s notice to. In fact they have a rather interesting and unusual history.

We have to go back to the mid 1840s when the four unmarried daughters of Spencer Perceval, the assassinated prime minister, came to live at Pitzhanger Manor. At the time of his murder in 1812 Perceval was living at Elm Grove, a large mansion on the south side of Ealing Common, with his wife Jane and twelve children. After his death the family continued to live at Elm Grove, with Jane marrying again within three years to Sir Henry Carr, a son of the vicar of Ealing. After the drama of the assassination the family understandably led uneventful lives, most of the children married and left Elm Grove to have families of their own.

When Jane Carr died in 1844 it was agreed that the remaining four unmarried daughters Frances, Maria, Louisa and Frederica should move to Pitzhanger Manor. This was arranged by Spencer Walpole, later to be Home Secretary, who had married another Perceval sister, Isabella and was living next door in a house called ‘the Hall’ where the F.E. college stands today.

When the Perceval sisters moved from Elm Grove to Pitzhanger Manor they brought with them various furniture, artefacts and statuary including the urns which were placed around the gardens. All the daughters lived on well into their eighties. ‘The Ladies of the Manor House’ as they were known, became very much a feature of Ealing life in the later nineteenth century and were treated almost like royalty by the local people. In fact it was not until 1900 that the youngest daughter Frederica died at the age of 94.

After Frederica’s death Walpole’s son sold Pitzhanger and the park to the Council and Walpole Park was formally opened as a public park in 1901 with many of the old Elm Grove urns remaining in situ in the gardens. The first picture shows the urns at that time near the ornamental fountain. However even in respectable Edwardian Ealing vandalism was prevalent and several of the urns were smashed.

It was not until after the First World War when the war memorial was being planned for the front gates that someone hit upon the idea of putting the urns on top as a decorative feature and more importantly out of harm’s way. The second picture shows the memorial at its opening in 1921 with the urns where they have now remained for nearly 90 years. From Ealing Common to Walpole Park to Ealing Green and ….. almost certainly their final resting place?

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