Friday, November 22, 2013

A bit of local history

I don't want to turn this into a local history blog, but since nothing much else is happening at the moment. By coincidence the latest issue of the William Morris Society Newsletter just out has an article on "Susan Minet -- Saviour of Kelmscott Manor?" Apparently she made a substantial donation which prevented Kelmscott Manor having to be sold off. The name "Minet" rings a bell as there's a "Minet Library" in Knatchbull Road. It is the same family.

According to the article, the Minet family were Huguenot refugees from Catholic France who made their money by buying freehold land in Camberwell (and elsewhere) in the 18th which soared in value as London expanded. This enabled the Minet family to be philanthropists and they build a model estate in Camberwell (this part of Vassall ward has an SE5 postcode). The article quotes a report from the 1890s when they were built describing some of the buildings on this estate:
two five-storey blocks of apartmentss which have decorative steeped gables and exotic fluted chimneys. Richly clad with invy, they appear freshingly human compared with others of the period outside the Estate and are democratically given a prime location overlooking the parks.
These are the buildings on Cormont Road facing Myatt's Fields park. They were sold to Lambeth Council in 1968.

The article says of the buildings that "Morris would surely have approved!" Actually, he surely wouldn't have as they're the sort of ornate mock-Gothic buildings he used to rail against. Our objection is different: they don't have any outside letterboxes and the 230 or so residents have still not received our leaflet.

While on local history, not far away is Burton Road where John Major, the new champion of the "genteel poor" (from which he came)and scourge of the toffs who make up most of the Tory cabinet ministers, used to live. But there's no blue plaque there to mark the house.

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