The record of Eastbury Manor House as presented in these
pages is not merely the eleventh of the Committee's Historical
Monographs,—those responsible for it have a particular object
in view; it is intended to reinforce the very strong appeal that is
being made for funds to purchase and preserve this beautiful building.
When the propriety of continuing its publications during the present
world-conflict was discussed by the Committee, what weighed most
in the balance was the grave danger which even now is threatening
many of our own national and historical memorials. Even when we
are condemning an enemy's ruthless vandalism in France and Belgium
the ancient buildings of our Capital and of Greater London enjoy no
immunity from danger, and to be consistent we must not cease to
combat the forces of destruction at home, although they may proceed
from mere thoughtlessness and ignorance rather than from a considered
policy of evil.
The last year or so has seen the quiet row of early eighteenth-century
houses in Old Queen Street, Westminster, swept away, while Queen
Anne's Gate itself has been threatened. Bolingbroke House, Battersea,
is to be given over to the housebreakers. Even our sacred buildings
are not safe; a direct attack on the mediæval church of St. Olave,
Hart Street—linked so closely with the name of Pepys—was happily
averted only just in time. These considerations and the news of the
sale of Eastbury Manor House—long neglected, but so greatly prized
by all who know its value—determined the Committee to press on
with its work, and the choice of the subject for the present volume
was immediately made.
We are glad to be able to state that the new owner of Eastbury is
quite in sympathy with the scheme which has been formulated for
the repair of the building and its preservation in trust for the nation.
He has offered very generous terms for its purchase, and the Society
for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has undertaken the task of
raising the money in order that the house and grounds may be conveyed to the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or
Natural Beauty. Some £3,000 will be required to purchase and fit
the building for some worthy public object, and now that the opportunity has occurred which all lovers of architecture have desired ever
since W. H. Black wrote his account of the house in 1834, it is of
the utmost importance that the scheme should be carried through
without delay. With judicious repair Eastbury can be saved, and
we hope that everyone who is able, and whom these pages remind
of the value of the object in view, will aid according to his means.
In these days of change every bit of Old England is worthy of preservation,
and it is not often that an opportunity occurs of preserving
for all time so complete and striking an example of a Tudor manor
Pictorial records of Eastbury are fairly numerous, and a list of them
is given in the Bibliography here printed. Thomas Hutchings Clarke
contributed a fine series of measured drawings and views to a book
produced jointly with W. H. Black in 1834. A competition, held
under the auspices of the Royal Institute of British Architects, for
measured drawings illustrating the restoration of Eastbury occurred
in 1871–72, at the instance of Mr. H. W. Peek, M.P. (Hon. Fellow
R.I.B.A.), who offered prizes of £42 and £20. Mr. T. E. C.
Streatfeild won the first prize, and his historical essay was published
in the R.I.B.A. Transactions for 8 April, 1872. Mr. P. J. Marvin
was the second prize winner, and his drawings have since appeared
in the Architectural Association Sketch Book, 1903, 3rd Series, vol. vii.
Medals of merit were awarded to Mr. H. Avern and to the late
Mr. Walter L. Spiers, who was an enthusiastic member of our Committee, and whose recent death we have had to deplore. One of
Mr. Avern's drawings appeared in the Architectural Association
Sketch Book, 1871–72, vol. vi, and Mr. Spiers' original drawings
are preserved in his brother's collection at the Victoria and Albert
Museum, South Kensington. One of our present active members
was also a competitor, Mr. Robert Pearsall, who claims to have been
first on the scene at Eastbury, and who has preserved some interesting
notes of the buildings.
The Committee has been fortunate in obtaining for the purposes of
the present volume a new and complete set of drawings by Mr. Hubert
V. C. Curtis, who has kindly placed them at our disposal for reproduction. Such features as have vanished from the house are here
shown from the drawings of T. H. Clarke, and are reproduced from
the copy of this rare book, which has been lent to the Committee by
Mr. C. J. Dawson, of Barking. For one or two further illustrations
we are indebted to Messrs. B. T. Batsford, who have permitted their
reproduction from Messrs. Garner and Stratton's "Tudor Architecture." Mr. Marvin has lent his plan of the house and garden. The
sincere thanks of the Committee are due to these gentlemen, and also
to the Chairman and Members of the Royal Commission on Historical
Monuments (England) for permission to use a photograph of the
paintings which are still visible on the walls of the room over the old
hall. The bibliography has been prepared by Mr. George Clinch.
It will be easily understood that the production of this volume under
present conditions has not been free from difficulty. We had to find
time and money when our chief energies were absorbed in the great
national effort which the European war calls forth. It will therefore
not be considered out of place if I express my satisfaction at the
unhesitating support which has been received from members of the
Committee. The special fund for the production of the volume
received an immediate and gratifying response from a large number
of our supporters, and the active workers have tried hard to produce
a worthy record. That these efforts shall bear fruit in the permanent
preservation of the building is their earnest wish.
Back-Plate of Wrought-Iron Knocker.