Tag Archives: Edmund Tattersall

Inside Coleherne Court: 1876

Welcome back to Coleherne Court. Come inside. The unknown lady and her dog will be pleased to let you look around.

001 Rear exterior detail

As mentioned last week Coleherne Court (aka Coleherne House) was occupied from 1865 to 1898 by Edmund Tattersall and his family.

002 hall

These pictures date from 1876 just after the end of what is sometimes called the High Victorian period in architecture and design. This was a time of highly decorative interiors, patterned wallpaper, oriental rugs and heavy polished wooden furniture. Also in this case some kind of animal skin hanging from the staircase.

003 drawing room b

In my captions for the images I’ve called this a drawing room. I don’t know how accurate that term is but the impression I get of the room is opulence and excess. Patterned walls, patterned floor, patterned upholstery. A large number of cushions and pictures, and what looks like a beaded curtain.

003 drawing room a

On the other side of the curtain is another room filled with objects and pictures.

Copy of Edmund Tattersall p204

Edmund Tattersall  had become a partner in the family firm of bloodstock auctioneers in 1851 and subsequently head of the business. He married Elizabeth Byers in 1862. They moved into Coleherne Court in 1865 when Edmund was aged 49.  He brought with him a collection of trophies and paintings, particularly of horses and races. You can see some of both in this picture of a dining room:

004 dining room a

I think this is the the room visible beyond:

006 sitting room a

A stag at bay (one of several apparently in Mr Tattersall’s collection) and a portrait of a lady. A writing desk is in the foreground with a flimsy looking chair.

This view is the same room from the opposite direction:

007 sitting room b

More wildlife is on display in the pictures. The light streaming in from the window is a little too much for the camera but gives the impression of summer weather outside.

Is that a violin case perched on the chair? This was a musical household. Mrs Tattersall was well known for hosting musical performances in the house. She played the piano, her daughter Ethel played the violin and her other daughter Violet sang. The two Miss Tattersalls also acted in plays put on at the house “Miss Tattersall’s Lady Stutfield was no less impressive as Miss Tancred’s Lady Windermere…..(she) was at once gay, coy and demure.” as one critic said.

Upstairs, a bedroom with a single bed:

009 bedroom a

It boasts a daybed and its own collection of pictures, portraits mostly.

Once again we have a view of the same room from the opposite direction.

010 bedroom b

You can see that this is still a well-appointed room in which the occupant could while away many hours.

012 another sitting room

This looks like another sitting room, or a small study, again packed with pictures and books.

I’ve assumed the room below is some kind of servant’s room, but I’m open to suggestions. It looks quite comfortable so perhaps it could be a butler or housekeeper’s room.

013 servants room

Now we can go outside again. This OS map of 1865 shows the grounds at the time when Tattersall moved in. You can see that his house and Hereford House look like they are a fair distance from each other.

Copy of Coleherne and Hereford 1865

You can also make out the location of the former fishpond which you could see on one of the maps shown last week. The map also shows the covered walkway into the house from the street and the tennis courts.

The property was described  in Vincent Orchard’s book about Tattersalls as “well-wooded” with “a thick belt of  oaks, elms, acacias and planes” sheltering it from the “obtrusive ugliness of Redcliffe Square”, which is quite a harsh judgement on Redcliffe Square, whose inhabitants at the time would have considered it a perfectly acceptable street in which to live.

Nevertheless inside the walls of the property was a perfect example of a Victorian secret garden.

015 garden

A perfect lawn, secluded places to sit and feel yourself well protected from the growing city outside the walled garden.

016 garden path

There were many paths to meander down on quiet afternoons and lose yourself in thought. Or, like the lady in this final picture relax as best you could in the fashions of the high Victorian era, and imagine yourself in the country setting  of Old Brompton just a few decades before. Forget about the summer in the city.

014 garden - lady in hammock

Just drift away…..


Sorry, I started quoting song titles at the end there. That last picture is an amazing find in itself.

I am enormously grateful to Miss Yvonne Wyatt who donated the album of photographs and some related papers to the Local Studies collection. Also to her late brother Mr Tompkin who lived in the later Coleherne Court. No Local Studies collection can do without the generous donations of people like them.

Forgotten buildings: Coleherne Court and Hereford House

Coleherne Court? Not a forgotten building at all, surely? It’s there today, a fine example of an early twentieth century apartment block. Famous as the London home of Princess Diana when she worked at that nursery and had that photo taken. (Not to mention that she joined the local library just across the road.)

Coleherne Court agents brochure 1906 K66-132

No, not that Coleherne Court. But just a few short years before this advert of 1900 there were two houses on the site, one of which was the original Coleherne Court. The “grounds in the rear” were even more extensive. This OS map of 1894 shows how the houses and gardens were now surrounded by urban development.

OS map 1894 section of X8 featuring Hereford House

The old Coleherne Court had been around when Brompton Lane, later the Old Brompton Road curved through fields, nurseries and market gardens punctuated by cottages and large houses all the way to Brompton Road.

Cruchley 1827 Earls Court-Brompton-Little Chelsea

Crutchley’s map of 1827 shows Coleherne House as it had been known originally at the intersection with the main north-south axis of Earls Court Lane and Walnut Tree Lane (now Redcliffe Gardens). You can even see the large fishpond in the grounds behind it. Starling’s parish map of 1822 shows even more detail.

Kensington Parish map 1822 detail

There seems to have been a house on the spot  as far back as the 1600s. Ownership seems to have changed frequently. Among many others the much derided poet and eminent doctor Sir Richard Blackmore lived there in the early 1700s. (Dr Johnson says of Blackmore that  his “lot has been to be much oftener mentioned by enemies rather than friends”)

As far as I am aware no image of the house from its early days exists. The artist of the Red Portfolio painted this watercolour:

Cold Barn House RF2535

The notes on the back of the picture indicate that “Cold Barn House” was now called Colherne. The writing is hard to decipher but the artist refers to the ownership of “Mr Boulton (who) built the large house”.

It was William Boulton who sold the house to a Philip Gilbert. He in turn built a second house in the grounds in 1815 and moved into it. This was Hereford House, a villa with some extensive conservatories on one side.   After 1838 when Gilbert left the house it was occupied by a number of colourful tenants including Dion Boucicault, the actor/playwright and theatrical manager who also held the lease of Coleherne Court. Boucicault bought Hereford House in 1861, and Coleherne Court in 1862. He spent £2,300 furnishing the latter but following his bankruptcy in 1863 was obliged to sell both houses.

Beatrix Potter who lived nearby in Bolton Gardens refers to Hereford House in her journal for 1883: “Papa bought a horse less than a fortnight since for £150…it has gone lame yesterday..only consolation Reynolds could offer is that Seligmann who lives in the red house at the end of the street bought one for £200 which died in two days and the man he bought it from would not even see the gentleman”   (Leopold Seligmann lived at Hereford House from 1872 until later  in the 1880s)

In 1896 it was turned into a ladies cycling club.

Wheel Club clubhouse from lawn

Cycling was one of those  new pastimes in which respectable ladies could now indulge. (Catherine House, which we explored a few weeks ago was also a short-lived cycling club) The Wheel Club seems to have been a pretty high class establishment.

Hereford House - Wheel Club 1896

You can see the ramp which Cycling World describes as  “a miniature Olympian, composed of wood with trellis-work sides.It forms a circle round the grounds, running over two artistic bridges..” On the day of the first cycle races June 13th  “Miss G Fielding easily outpaced her rivals and took three first prizes..due to her admirable pluck, and the business-like manner in which she tackled her opponents at the corners was far superior to anything yet seen at amateur races.”

Another section of the ramp of it is visible in this picture:

Wheel Club Hereford House rearview

The Wheel Club boasted many facilities for members:

1896 Wheel Club entrance hall

The entrance hall, leading to a terrace “overhung with evergreen and complete with electric fairy lights”.

1896 Wheel Club dining hall

The dining room, a reading room, a writing room, a library (all separate?), a smoking room and up a private staircase “one of the best billiard rooms in London”.

Below, the  ladies boudoir “where ladies maids are constantly in attendance”. There were many more facilities.

1896 Wheel Club ladies boudoir

But the most fun was to be had had in the grounds “where members can be instructed in the useful art of wheeling.” And the club band played every afternoon.

Wheel Club

On June 13th there was a competition for decorated bicycles. Below is Lady Emily Cherry’s winning entry with her daughter Gladys.

1896 decorated bicycle

Eugenie G Hawthorne who wrote the article for Cycling World predicted that the Wheel Club would be one of the most popular clubs of the day. Whether or not this proved to be the case the venue was short-lived. Hereford House was demolished less than four years later along with its near neighbour.

Coleherne Court had been in residential occupation for most  of the life of Hereford House, only empty for a couple of years. The landowner James Gunter bought both in 1864. He leased Coleherne Court to Edmund Tattersall  from 1865. Mr Tattersall was then the head of Tattersall’s the bloodstock and horse auctioneers who had a famous auction yard and offices in Knightsbridge. He died in 1898 after falling ill at a Newmarket race meeting.  It is not recorded whether the noisy neighbours were  a problem for him and his family but if you look back to the 1894 map you can see there was some distance between the two properties even if the boundary between them was not clear.

According to  the Survey of London “the only certain view of Coleherne House is a 19th century photograph of the hall”.

I can offer you slightly more than that.

001 Rear exterior

This picture of the rear is from an album of photographs of the interior and gardens recently donated to the Local Studies collection. More of these pictures will be featured next week.

Both Coleherne Court and Hereford House were demolished not long after Tattersall’s death. The new Coleherne Court still had a substantial garden, but the two old houses had been one of the last remnants of that older Brompton.


I could thank them almost any week but this seems a good time to mention the writers of the Kensington volumes of the Survey of London. Their invaluable research makes my work, both blogging and answering enquiries very much easier.


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