III—BISHAM HOUSE (SITE) AND ENGLEFIELD HOUSE, NO. 23, HIGH STREET
Ground Landlord, Leaseholder, Etc.
Englefield House, which was originally copyhold of the Manor of
Cantlowes, now enfranchised, is owned by, and is in the occupation of,
Dr. Francis Allen.
General Description and Date of Structure.
Bisham House stood until 1884 south-east of the Gould Charity
property (see Section II), within grounds which at one time included the
present Englefield House, and extended from the High Street to Swain's
Lane (see Plate 3). The house gave their name to Bisham Gardens. A
reference to the plan (Plate 15) will show how Englefield House is interlocked
with its neighbours on each side and the natural inference would be that it filled
the gap between them after they were built. It is, however, probably earlier
than either, since its detail belongs to the first quarter of the 18th century
and its plan may be probably explained by the fact that the adjoining houses
have been rebuilt, those to the east being traceable in the Court Rolls as
early as the middle of the 17th century.
Englefield House has a frontage of close on 30 feet and at the back
it is some 2 feet less, the space lost by the overlapping of the powder closet
in No. 21 being compensated by its own projection on the east beyond
No. 25. The front section of the plan is divided into two equal parts, that on
the left on the ground floor being the entrance hall and on the right a sitting
room, while above are two bedrooms. This leads to an interesting arrangement of the front elevation (Plate 18) which is symmetrical on the first floor
with four windows—two to each room—flanked by recessed brick panels at
each end. On the ground floor the entrance door, with a pedimented head on
brackets and panelled pilasters, is beneath the second window from the left but
appears central since to the left of the door the single upper window is
replaced by a double window separated by a mullion only. This makes it
necessary to omit the left-hand brick panel while retaining that on the right.
The first-floor treatment, however, appears again in the basement.
The door is approached by a flight of seven steps, and the basement
windows are mostly above ground. A chamfered plinth course, a projecting
band of brickwork, with moulded bottom course at first-floor level and a
prominent wood-blocked cornice at the eaves, are the chief features of the
elevation. The cornice returns on itself on the left side. The roof is tiled and
was furnished with two dormers, with flat tops hung with sash windows
now replaced by a continuous range. The main window frames are practically
flush with the brickwork, which has rubbed brick arches and flush quoins.
The chimney on the left has been heightened to master the roof of No. 21.
The garden elevation is similarly treated and has the same eaves
cornice. Its three windows on each floor light one room, to the east of which
is the stair, now masked by a modern projection.
The "powder closet" of No. 21 blocks the light
from a small room adjoining the stairs which on
the first floor has been thrown into the front room
to form a recess.
In the interior the stair (Plates 19a and
21) is of early close-string design with square
newels (with pendants) and turned balusters. The
rooms generally are panelled and many of the
doors are of two-panel type. The back room on
the ground floor is a remarkably fine example
of an early
Georgian interior (Plates
120 and 121).
It has a bold
cornice with dentilled bed mould, and walls
furnished with fielded panels, carved dado
rail and skirting. The fireplace end of
the room is elaborately designed. The
mantelpiece and overmantel are richly
carved with foliage and strings of fruit and
flowers with a seated Cupid in the centre
of the frieze, festooned with draped swags.
All the mouldings are enriched and the
external angles of the chimney breast have
husk ornament. Of little less elaboration
are the doors of the room, which number
four, one on each side of the fireplace
(leading to cupboards), the entrance door
and one communicating with the front
room. They are all of six panel with eggand-leaf mouldings, bold egg-and-tongue
architraves and pedimental overdoors, with
richly carved frieze and mouldings. The
last named has in addition a small bust
within the pediment.
Englefield House, No. 23, High Street, cornice details
Englefield House, No. 23, High Street, cornice details
In one of the bedrooms is a fireplace with a bolection moulded wood
surround of a date not later than the early
part of the 18th century. In the opening
is fitted a magnificent example of a hob
grate of the Adam period, of duck's-nest
pattern enriched with fan-shaped reeding
and husk ornament, the central point being occupied by a sphinx in an
elliptical panel (Plate 19b).
Condition Of Repair.
In the middle of the 16th century Sir Roger Cholmeley, the founder of Highgate School,
owned all the land between High Street and Swain's Lane, southward to the grounds of Lauderdale
House and northward to South Grove (excluding Angel Row and the Angel). The southern portion,
including "Andrew Marvell's Cottage" and what later became the estates of Hertford House and
Fairseat, descended, as described before (p. 16), to William Cholmeley, gentleman, great-grandson
of Jasper Cholmeley, the legatee of Sir Roger.
The site of the three houses to-day belonging to the Gould Charity, Nos. 17, 19 and 21,
High Street, also descended, as we have seen (p. 19), to William Cholmeley, but the remainder of
Sir Roger's land, northward of the present Waterlow Park, was conveyed by him to Richard Hodges,
one of the Foundation Governors of his school. The frontage of this land is now occupied by houses
numbered 3 to 15 (odd) and 23 to 33 (odd). In 1553 Sir Roger conveyed to Richard Hodges of
Highgate, gentleman, (ref. 28) a messuage, barn, garden and half an acre of land adjoining the messuage.
Twelve years later Richard Hodges and Joan his wife obtained from Sir Roger (ref. 28) a cottage late in the
occupation of Margaret Wilkinson, widow, and 1 acre 34 perches called "powles," abutting on the
said cottage and barnyard east, on Swain's Lane west, on a close in the occupation of Sir Roger
Cholmeley south, one head abutting on the common highway called the Green (South Grove).
Richard Hodges remained a Governor of the Grammar School from his first appointment
on 7th June, 1565, until his death on 10th October, 1572. Another Governor was William Hodges
of Highgate, gentleman, from 16th June, 1581, until his death on 9th January, 1581–2. The land
of Richard Hodges came to his niece, Ann Grant, in 1599, (ref. 28) when she was the widow of Thomas
Widmore of Hughendon, Bucks, gentleman, who died on 20th May, 1586, leaving two sons,
Richard Widmore and Nicholas aged 17. (ref. 37) In 1610 Anne Widmore, widow, and Nicholas Widmore
took out a licence to lease a tenement to Thomas Russell, yeoman, for 21 years, afterwards converted
by him into four tenements. There was also another house, occupied by John Glover, which he
leased in 1635 from Nicholas Widmore, after the death of Anne Widmore. This was Bisham House,
or its predecessor on the same site.
Nicholas Widmore lived at Old Thame, in Oxfordshire. In 1641 he conveyed his land
to Sir Robert Payne on condition that if Sir Robert failed to pay him £100 a year for the remainder
of his life, the land should revert to Widmore. In 1654 Sir Robert Payne mortgaged the estate to
Robert Holt, along with Dorchester House, which he also owned (see p. 88). In the account of Sir
Robert Payne under Arundel House (see p. 51) it will be seen that he died in embarrassed
circumstances, which may account for his falling into arrear with his payments to Nicholas Widmore,
with the result that Widmore proceeded to claim possession. (ref. 38) This endangered the interests of the
mortgagees, and Robert Holt's daughter, Sara, with her husband, William Roberts (both under age),
had to enter an action in Chancery, alleging that the £100 a year had been paid for 17 years and
was now only three-quarters of a year in arrear, which they were willing to pay to Widmore for
Sir Robert Payne. They got judgment in July, 1658, (ref. 39) to stay the forfeiture on condition they
paid into court or to Widmore the £75 owing. The parties evidently came to terms, Widmore
foreclosed, and surrendered his rights to William Roberts and Sara his wife in the next year.
As stated before, the occupier of Bisham House after 1635 was John Glover. He must have
been the John Glover mentioned as Steward of the manor of Cantlowes in 1648, when Alderman
John Warner, Mayor of the City of London, was lord of that manor. Richard Gower succeeded
Glover as lessee, obtaining a lease for 31 years from Robert Holte in 1657 (ref. 28) and acquiring the
ownership of the estate from William Roberts and his wife in 1661. His father was Colonel
Thomas Gower of Highgate, a Governor of the Grammar School from 1st October, 1658, until
his death in 1676, when he was buried at Highgate. Other burials there, as recorded in the Register,
are those of Susan, daughter of Mr. Richard Gower, 9th July, 1670; Penelope, daughter of the
same, 28th August, 1670; Thomas, son of the same, 25th April, 1671; Mrs. Anne Gower, wife
of Richard Gower, esquire, 10th May, 1687; and Richard Gower, esquire, 14th December,
1688. The hearth tax assessed on this house in 1665 was on 11 hearths and was payable by
Richard Gower was succeeded by Edward Gould of London, merchant (afterwards
Sir Edward), in right of his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Gower, whom he married at
Highgate on 17th September, 1683 (see p. 20). In St. Michael's Church, Highgate, is a memorial
cartouche to Sir Edward Gould removed from the old chapel. It is described on p. 55. In addition
to this estate in St. Pancras Sir Edward, in 1709, acquired the "Duke's Head" on the Hornsey
side of the High Street and 16 acres of land behind it, which, on 11th August, 1713, he settled on
himself and Frances Monoux his "wife designate." In her will, proved 5th April, 1738, Dame
Frances Gould of Gloucester Street, St. George the Martyr, Middlesex, gave to Edward Gould
(the eldest son of Mrs. Jane Gould) "all my goods in the inventory belonging to my house at
Highgate that is now let to Mrs. Decostey, and two hundred pounds." The house referred to was
in Hornsey, on the 16 acres of land mentioned before.
Sir Edward Gould was succeeded by his great-nephew Edward Gould of Mansfield
Woodhouse, Notts (1703–75), son of Edward Gould of Highgate (1677–1721), son of James Gould,
China merchant (1641–80), brother of Sir Edward. Edward Gould of Highgate in 1701 married
Jane, daughter of Sir Francis Pemberton of Grove House (see p. 93). He died on board the
Montague in the East Indies, leaving a widow aged 41 and a son aged 18. Mrs. Edward Gould was
buried at Highgate on 7th March, 1746–7. (ref. 40)
Edward Thoroton Gould of Mansfield Woodhouse, only son of Edward Gould, was the
last of the family to own this estate. Three years after the death of his father he sold to Robert
Mendham, esquire, a messuage formerly in the occupation of Richard Gower, esquire, afterwards
of Sir Edward Gould and now of Robert Mendham, with 1 acre 2 roods 26 perches of land. It
will be observed that this area very closely corresponds with the amount of land conveyed by Sir
Roger Cholmeley to Richard Hodges, namely a garden and ½ acre plus 1 acre 34 perches, together
1 acre 2 roods 34 perches. Included in Hodges' land was a small area on the north-west, now
occupied by Church House, No. 10, South Grove (see p. 34), and the site of Nos. 23–33, High
Street, on the north-east.
Robert Mendham, a merchant in Walbrook, was elected a Governor of the Grammar
School on 10th April, 1796, and died on 7th April, 1810, aged 77, leaving a son, John Mendham,
who conveyed the estate in 1813 to John Pennell (the owner-occupier of Hertford House), who
immediately conveyed it to Charles William Hick, who was a hatter, of Cheapside, and also owned
property in Southwood Lane, north of the Baptist Chapel there.
Charles William Hick and Rebecca his wife, who had occupied the house, in 1817 conveyed
it to Peter Heywood of the Royal Navy. He was a midshipman on board H.M.S. Bounty when the
crew mutinied against Captain Bligh. His aunt, Mary (daughter of Thomas Heywood, esquire,
a Deemster of the Isle of Man), married Admiral Thomas Pasley (1734–1808), who was created a
baronet for his gallant conduct on the First of June, 1794, when he commanded a division of the fleet.
In his will Captain Heywood mentions the portraits of his parents and of his uncle, Sir Thomas
Pasley. In Highgate Cemetery is the following monumental inscription: "In memory of/ Frances
Heywood, / widow of Capn Peter Heywood, R.N. / She died Octr 28th, 1863, aged 81. / Also of/
Capn Peter Heywood, R.N. / One of the Midshipmen on board / H.M.S. ' Bounty,' Capn
Bligh. / He died February 10th, 1831, aged 58. / His remains are deposited in the vaults / Under
the Old Church, Highgate. / Requiescat in pace /." Captain Heywood bequeathed the house to
his wife. (ref. 41)
In 1832 Joseph Gardiner, esquire, leased the house from Mrs. Heywood and ten years
later became the owner. He died on 2nd August, 1853, leaving it to his wife, Harriet Gardiner.
This house was conveyed by Edward Thoroton Gould to William Pilton of Piccadilly, wireworker, in 1783, as a messuage late in the tenure (amongst other premises) of Mrs.
Terry, and "now of — a schoolmaster," with a garden. The "other premises" referred to were a
small messuage, coachhouse and stable, occupied in 1879 by Mr. Charles Sparrow, now No. 29, a
house at the end of the yard which is entered by a passage between No. 27 and No. 31.
The "schoolmaster" mentioned as tenant in 1783 was John Rosier, who was still the
occupier in 1794 when Mrs. Anne Pilton succeeded on the death of her husband. In 1799 she sold
the house to Thomas Ensor and it continued in the ownership of his descendants until purchased
in 1884 by the late Thomas Horsley of South Grove, baker.
On the death of Thomas Ensor in 1820 it came to his son, James Ensor, who was of
Brill Terrace, Somers Town, in 1808, of College Street, Camden Town, in 1813, of Totteridge
in 1823 and of Hammersmith when he died on 18th January, 1868, in his 80th year. (ref. 25)
Thomas Ensor appears to have occupied the house from 1794 to 1819 and was followed
successively by William Addison, schoolmaster (from 1821), Mrs. Millington and Miss Millington,
the last mentioned being the occupier in 1884.