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Description: Ivy House
Date Listed: 19 March 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 201369
OS Grid Reference: TQ2863987356
OS Grid Coordinates: 528639, 187356
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5704, -0.1453
800/40/81 HIGHGATE HILL N19
02-JUL-03 (North side)
HIGHGATE HILL N19
Pair of houses. Post 1664.
MATERIALS: The houses are of narrow brick, mostly Flemish bond to front but a mixed bond to side; moulded and rubbed brickwork to cornice and voussoirs. Basement to Ivy House roughcast rendered and scored. Steep-pitched roof is of hand-made clay tiles, incorporating dormers; clustered brick stacks with tall pots, one to each property, and a spectacular painted bracketed cornice to front and back.
PLAN: Double-pile plan with the chimneys rising through the centre of each house with fireplaces on each side and stairs adjacent. Northgate House has a small single-bay side wing to rear only.
EXTERIOR: A roughly symmetrical frontage of three storeys plus attic plus basement; the roof is half-hipped to right. The sloping site exposes the basement only to Ivy House whose main entrance is to side. (Unaltered brickwork shows there never was a front entrance to Ivy House.) Altogether a 6-window wide range of horned sashes with exposed frames, three to each house: 6-panes to second floor, 12-pane to first and ground floor; 4-pane casements to the dormers which are flat-roofed to front, hipped to rear, only two to Northgate House front. Much old glass retained. The cornice is very deep with boarded soffit and elaborate carved wood console brackets with acanthus and anthemion motifs, painted white; below is a projecting brick eaves band, the main moulded brick cornice above first floor. At left the doorway to Northgate House has pilasters with entablature: an open pediment with dentil moulding, round-arched doorway with keystone, fanlight with intersecting tracery, panelled reveals and flush-panelled door. A yellow-brick patching adjacent suggests a possible former pentice or verandah. Central painted lead hopper and downpipe at the property division. Front steps down to basement at right corner of Ivy House; adjacent is the added brick bay with panelled door and overlight giving access to an arcaded cloister-type walkway to the side door which has a sliding 'peephole'.
Rear elevation is similar to front though the ground and first floor windows have cambered heads; simpler mouldings to eaves cornice. Most notable is the retention of cross-framing to the windows of Northgate House. The rear side wing (making a 7-window range here) to Northgate House has a slender iron-framed first floor verandah with very delicate columns and swept lead canopy. Ground floor doorway (at the end of cross passage from front) has fluted pilasters and rectangular overlight with intersecting tracery. Ivy House's rear entrance is enclosed by a porch. Side elevation visible only to Ivy House has a 3-window range, first floor rear blocked; full length window at first floor front with small iron balcony; metal ties. Attached are the double boarded gates to the former coach-entrance with cobbled surface and adjacent high brick boundary wall. Front brick garden walls have stone saddleback coping. N side elevation to Northgate House also retains cross-framed windows.
INTERIOR: Although Northgate House has a front entrance and through passage to rear and Ivy House has a rear entrance , the interior layout of each is based round the staircase rising from the hall at the centre of the house through the core of the building and adjacent to the chimney, thus allowing for large rooms across each frontage with connecting lobbies round the far side of the chimney on each floor. The early C18 staircases have wreathed and ramped handrails, open-string with decorative tread ends (more elaborate to Ivy House), slender turned balusters (similarly proportioned but different designs in each house), in each painted white with dark handrail. At ground floor there is a wreathed and balustered return at the foot against the stair wall, which has a matching ramped handrail; at higher level the stairs are remarkably steep and twisting, virtually spiral. The flat high structural beams for each floor create a characteristic ceiling arrangement for the main rooms, dividing them into two. In some places the beams remain simply plastered, or exposed, but in others, notably the first floor drawing room of Ivy House, a plaster cornice has been created to border each panel; in Northgate House the cornice is wood. Generally, the cornices in both are fairly plain. Both houses originally had wall panelling: with quite shallow square fielded panels, and in places incorporating a dado rail. Much of this survives in Northgate House; that inside Ivy House is less evident although more may exist under later coverings. Extensive basements.
Ivy House interior has plain grey marble fireplaces with cast-iron grates to main ground and first floor reception rooms; simpler above, one with Adam-style motifs, white-painted. Plaster round-arched lobby-alcove with imposts and keyblock to first floor drawing room. Throughout, panelled reveals, shutters, 6-panelled doors (4-panelled above), dado rail and remains of wood panelling eg on stairs (and possibly elsewhere concealed). Wide stairs down to basement with quarry tiled floor; rear door with rectangular overlight.
Northgate House interior retains full panelling with dado rail to hall - incorporating fittings for a long-case clock at rear; decorative round-arch with keystone, and side recess with roof-light with radial glazing. This was created c1900 from a former small courtyard with well, which is still beneath the room. Rectangular panelling to ground floor front reception room, plaster cornice with corner paterae. Small open brick fireplace. All the rear and side rooms retain cross-framed windows, the mullions moulded. Wide door with glazed upper panels with extant wooden panels to cover glass, possibly C17. First floor drawing room has panelling incorporating dado similar to hall. The cross beam has been enclosed in wooden panels, lightly moulded cornice. Dado and wall-panelling to stairs; the top two flights are original C17 with straight closed string embellished with an architrave, heavier turned vase balusters and orb finials and pendants. In the attic principal rafters are incorporated into the steeply pitched ceiling. Floor levels of the side wing are stepped down. Many interesting surviving early fittings, including door chains, locks, and hinges. Throughout are shutters, panelled reveals, 6-panelled doors- some wide, surrounds, window seats, wide floorboards. Flag floor to basement and in the absence of exterior steps, two chutes to front. Roof drainage through wooded lead-lined gutters, accessed at centre valley.
HISTORY: The building was constructed as a pair of houses in the 1660s for Jeremiah Richardson. It is speculated that he was the chemist of that name from Aldersgate Street Without, recorded as a citizen of London in a contemporary survey, who bought 8 acres and a parcel of waste in 1664; his City home and chemist premises may have been destroyed in the Fire of London. There are extant records of inheritance by his daughter, Miss Mary Richardson (Mrs Pryor), of both houses in 1678. These houses are only a short distance from the Grade I-listed brick mansion of Cromwell House built 1638: together, they demonstrate that by the mid-C17 Highgate Hill was an increasingly popular place of suburban retreat for aristocrats and City men. The houses were refitted in early C18: Northgate House retaining some C17 features such as cross-framed windows and upper part of staircase. There were further alterations in later C18 and early C19 particularly to windows and fireplaces - Northgate House has a late C18 cast iron fireplace by Carron of Falkirk. Later C19 re-arrangements - many 4-panelled upper doors - include a c1900 enclosing of the former well courtyard at Northgate House, whilst Ivy House was given a cloistered side entrance in Art and Crafts style and upper gable end rebuilt. In C19 Ivy House was inhabited by George Crawshay, ironmaster of South Wales, who donated clock and bell to St Michael's church and afterwards by Charles Knight, author and publisher of popular historical accounts of London, d 1873; it was subsequently leased for school dormitory accommodation. The gardens to rear suggest a former rectangular formal garden at lower level belonging to the houses with remains of former gateway. The walls dividing and surrounding the properties probably mostly date from the C17 and C18; that to right of Ivy House appearing on all early maps as a boundary to a drive. The houses are fine examples of their type and are particularly unusual survivors in the context of Greater London.
References: RCHM, Middlesex, 1937;
VCH Middlesex vol VI 1980 p 127;
Survey of London vol 17, Village of Highgate, 1936;
First Edition Ordnance Survey, 1873;
Cherry B and Pevsner N, Buildings of England series, London N vol 4, 1998, p 407;
Cruickshank D and Burton N, Life in the Georgian City, 1990;
Richardson J, Highgate Past, 1989;
Information and further record references from Dr Benton owner Northgate House.
Listing NGR: TQ2864487355
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.