sobota, 10 marca 2018

The Tolkiens' House found!
145 St. John Street, London

From a London address book from 1808
Analysis of the maps and help of the British History Online (BHO) website – and here it is! I have found the exact place where John Benjamin Tolkien (1752–1819) and his son George Tolkien (1784–1840) lived and where J.R.R. Tolkien's grandfather, John Benjamin Tolkien was born. I mean 145 Saint John Street, Clerkenwell, London. The house was demolished and new one was built on its place. But first let us see a map of London from 1821 and let us compare our information with the BHO:

1821 plan of the parish of St. Sepulchre by B.H. Gardner;
see 49 and 145 St John Street
As we can see on the right of the building at 145 Saint John Street there is a passage to Mitre Court. If so this house must have lied on the same place as today's 78 Saint John Street. The BHO describes it as follows:
No. 78 was erected in 1891–2 by Alfred Allard, builder, of Pentonville, for William George Bodecker or Boedecker, presumably as a speculation. Bodecker, who briefly appears in the Post Office Directory as a 'builder' with an office in Queen Victoria Street, had acquired the ground as a cleared site. (fn. 27) The architect responsible for the design is not known. The new building was evidently used at one time by the printers Perry Gardner & Co., whose letterhead in the late 1890s carried an engraving showing both No. 78 and—rebuilt to match—No. 80, as 'warehouse and stock rooms'. (No. 80 was not in fact rebuilt.) (fn. 28) Palmer & Co., tyre manufacturers, took up occupation about 1903. (fn. 29) The façade, with a Gothic-style opening spanning three floors, is faced in red wire-cut brick. The ground-floor incorporates the entrance to Mitre Court (Ill. 306).
Ill. 306. On this place there was the Tolkien family house!

What is most interesting, to the left of this Gothic-style house there is a block of houses from the Tolkiens' times! The BHO describes them as follows:
The five houses at Nos 80–88 make up the most substantial Georgian remnant of lower St John Street (Ill. 307). Not all can be dated with much accuracy.

No. 80, though described as 'new erected' in a deed of 1786, seems to be a rebuilding carried out in the early 1770s of a house bought in 1753 by John Watson, distiller. The long plot provided space for stills and stores behind the house. After Watson's death in 1763, his widow Alice and son John carried on the business here in partnership, and about 1772 Mrs Watson appears to have taken up residence in the house adjoining (on the site of No. 78). (fn. 30) Both houses were probably rebuilt at this time as a pair: Tallis, in the late 1830s, shows the next-door house to have been similarly proportioned, though by that date embellished with pilasters and perhaps stuccoed (Ill. 257).
A fragment of blue-and-white trellis-patterned flock wallpaper, dating from the second half of the eighteenth century, was recovered from the first floor in 1992. (fn. 31)
(...)
Nos 82 and 84. These two houses are closely matched in style and probably erected at or about the same time. No. 82 was certainly built in the mid-1750s, replacing half a dozen small buildings comprising 'Marriott's tenements' or Rising Sun Alley. (fn. 32) From about 1768 the house, with a rear workshop and warehouse, was occupied by Edward Jones and Samuel Ware, leather merchants. Ware and his son Richard Cumberlege Ware remained in business here for many years, taking over the present No. 84 and enlarging the workshops and warehousing in Hat & Mitre Court.
The two houses were still occupied by leather-workers in the 1950s. R. C. Ware was the father of the architect Samuel Ware, who trained under James Carr of Clerkenwell.
Though documentary evidence is lacking, it is likely that No. 84 (on the site of an inn called the Goat and Harp) was also rebuilt (or at least modernized and refronted) in the 1750s. Both houses retain wooden chimneypieces, with lugged surrounds and ornamented with fret patterns, and other internal details characteristic of the period (Ill. 309). Externally, the smaller house, No. 84, is distinguished by brickwork laid almost entirely in header bond, in contrast to the conventional Flemish bond of No. 82.

No. 86.
Surviving internal features suggest a 1720s or 30s date, but there is no documentary evidence to support this, and the house has probably been refronted.

No. 88
(formerly 88 and 88a) is an asymmetrical pair of houses, probably built about 1837 when after a rapid succession of tenants, including at least one absconder, both houses (then numbered 150 and 151) were taken by Coats & Brockmer, linen-drapers and silk mercers, John Coats staying for several years. (fn. 33) In 1878 a Home for Working Girls was established here, with 37 beds for girls 'anxious for the comfort and cleanliness of the home'; this had closed by 1886 and the houses reverted to commercial occupancy. (fn. 34) In the early 1900s rear warehousing was erected on the site of old cottages in Hat and Mitre Court for the latest tenants, Gedge & Co., polishers and lacquerers, who were based here until the 1960s. No. 88 was refurbished in 1998 as a bar-restaurant, with a singlestorey glazed rear extension (by Karen Byford of Design Solution, architects), which overlooks the Tudor outer wall of the Charterhouse. (fn. 35)
307. Nos 80–92 St John Street in 2004
So here it is! The puzzle is resolved and we can be sure that the Tolkiens lived at today's 78 St. John Street (old numeration 145 St. John St)!

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