XXVIII.—SUSSEX HOUSE, Nos. 12 And 14 UPPER MALL
Ground landlord, leaseholder, etc.
The freehold belongs to A. M. Naylor, Esq. The present leaseholder
is Emery Walker, Esq.
General description and date of structure.
Sussex House is a very complete and interesting example of an early
Georgian building, dating from about the year 1726. It took the place of an
earlier house of which there are records as far back as 1628, and may still contain
some parts of the old structure. The house, as will be seen below, was
divided, probably when in course of erection, to accommodate two tenants,
and a second staircase was built to the west which, on reference to the plan
(Plate 61), will be seen to be obviously an afterthought. This necessitated
the making of an arrangement with the owners of the adjoining copyhold
property, and in 1776 a piece of ground in addition to the site of the stair was
acquired, and has since been let with the western house.
The original plan was arranged for four rooms on the ground floor,
with a passage between the two front rooms and a staircase between those
at the back. There are three floors and a basement, and the rooms are
panelled throughout. The original and larger staircase is of good design,
with three balusters to each tread, and good carved brackets to the stair-ends.
It has an inlaid star pattern on the landing.
The front is symmetrically arranged and is built of warm-coloured stock
bricks with pilasters, stringcourses, quoins and window arches of red brick.
As was the usual practice at the period, the front is a 4½-inch veneer of brickwork very insufficiently bonded to the walls, and in consequence it has needed
considerable repair. The central entrance doorway is of excellent design and
proportions; it consists of fluted pilasters supporting a Doric entablature
and curved pediment. The door inserted for the second house has a hood
on shaped brackets, carved with flower and foliage; this door takes the place
of the westernmost window of the south front. The western portion of the
building was called formerly Sussex Cottage, but the two parts are now in use
as one house.
Condition of repair.
The house is in excellent condition.
Historical and biographical notes.
From information contained in the title deeds, and kindly communicated by Mr. A. M.
Naylor, we find that in 1628 Francis Leasy was the owner of the messuage and one rood of land
adjoining, the former being in the tenure of Thomas Greene and Mr. Stortwell. Francis sold
the house to Samuel Leasy in the same year, and in 1645, in a description of the property, the
rood of land is described as an orchard divided from the orchard of Francis Leasy on the east.
In 1683 John Blainthard sold the house to William Reade, and in a deed of mortgage between
Reade and Richard Hughes in 1692 the property is described as late in the occupation of John
Pedder. In 1693 Tertullian Lewis purchased the house from Reade, and left it by will (dated
23rd April, 1699) to his son John Lewis. He sold it to Thomas Cox and Matthew Ailay in 1708,
and they leased it to Jonas Durand. At the same time Thomas Cox purchased 200 gooseberry
bushes from William Pedder, who apparently was till then using the rood of orchard land.
By an indenture dated 21st September, 1726, Jonas Durand and James Brissac agreed to sell
to Nathaniel Bridgewater "all that new built capital messuage as the same was then divided
into two tenements, and the parcel of land thereto belonging, as the same was then divided,"
therein mentioned to contain one rood then in the tenure or occupation of Mr. George Cooke
and Mr. John Senex. This deed gives us the approximate date of the present structure
and also proves that it was divided into two tenements soon after, if not during, erection.
There can be no doubt about the identity of the property referred to in the deed, but it is
puzzling to find the southern boundary described as land and buildings formerly of William
Holden and now or late of Dr. Hutchinson, whereas the present boundary is the footpath
connecting the Upper Mall with the Highbridge. We must either assume that the footway
was not yet formed, or that it was at that time private property, as indeed the bank of the river
along the Mall was also.
We have no further information until 7th January, 1777, when Henry Joseph and John
Durand lease to Roger Thomas and Moses Hadley "two messuages or tenements, one of them
formerly in the tenure of John Senex and the other of George Cooke, heretofore one dwelling
house, except the staircase of the dwelling house formerly of George Cooke, which stair stands
on a piece of copyhold ground purchased by Roger Thomas, (fn. 1) and all that parcel of ground
adjoining containing one rood heretofore in the tenure of Cooke and Senex."
The John Senex may have been the cartographer and engraver of that name who died in
1740. In 1719 he was engaged as a bookseller in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. (fn. 2) He became
a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1728. His neighbour, George Cooke, bore the name of a
family who were also engravers and booksellers.
Sussex House is said to have obtained its name as an occasional residence of Augustus
Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773–1843), but it is more probable that it merely commemorates his
association with the locality. He was a subscriber to Faulkner's work on Hammersmith, in which
we find a reference only to his "Smoking Box" (fn. 3) (No. 17 Upper Mall). There was another
Sussex House near Parr Bridge, (fn. 4) which was no doubt named for a like reason, although it has
also been claimed as a residence of the duke. The Duke of Sussex laid the foundation stone of
Hammersmith Bridge in 1825 "and dined with a numerous company at the Coffee house." (fn. 5)
In the Council's ms. collection are:
(fn. 6) Ground plan and south elevation (measured drawing).
(fn. 6) Entrance doorway and details (measured drawing).
South front (photograph).
North or garden front (photograph).
Entrance doorway (photograph).
Western doorway (photograph).
Another view of same (photograph).
Detail of carved bracket to stair (photograph).