What are the special architectural features of our street?
With thanks to four kind experts at Historic England for their friendly, unofficial comments on the lovely and interesting bits of Jeffreys St.
All our houses still have Georgian cast iron balconies in a variety of geometric and intersecting circle designs. Some with wave motif and antheniums – a nice classical detail. The balcony at no 23 had been lost but was replaced in the 70s with a very fine example, bought in a more affluent part of town.
There are pretty brick flat arches over the upper windows, which Georgian bricklayers would have taken great care and pride in producing – some are now replaced by flat, painted lintels as the exteriors of some upper floors have been re-built on both sides of the street. On the re-build you can see the use of bricks previously blackened by chimneys dotted amongst those still-clean golden yellow London bricks, possibly originally baked in the Georgian brick kilns of St Pancras.
Upper windows are a classic ‘six over six’ Georgian sash, some are even still flat along the base of the upper sash (without downward protruding wooden ‘horns’ that were invented later by Victorians to provide more stability)
Beautiful examples still exist at 6, 12, 14 and 20 of the intersecting pointed arches on the main ground floor window. All ten south-side houses would have had these windows once. On the north side, each arched window was of the classic London rounded arch with divided lights, with glass spandrels on the interior. Many windows and fanlights on the street have had modestly in-keeping replacements. Anecdotally we know that the bomb that landed at the end of the street blew out most windows. Those with originals are very lucky.
Intersecting pointed arches on the south side, classic London rounded arch on the north and original mid-Victorian window and matching fanlight on the later south side
The intricate intersecting pointed arches, once over all the doors on the south side up to 20, are also picked up as an architectural theme on no 1 on the corner. On the north side 11-33 all very likely had the pattern displayed at numbers 25 and 27. The fine houses 21 and 23 that mark the grand stuccoed centre point of the original terrace (that spans from fully stuccoed nos 11 to 33) still have a matching pair of beautiful sunburst fanlights.
Door architraves still exist, though some have been replaced – fluted for 2-20 and reeded for 11-33.
Nearly all front doors seem to be replacements from the 19th and 20th centuries. Original doors could well have been a modest six-panel door with hardly any raised moulding or embellishment, or more likely had two simple vertical panels with recessed half round mouldings. These were de rigour in the new Kentish Town at the time and nice examples can still be seen around Bartholomew Villas and Rochester Terrace.
Each house had a kitchen in the basement , an outside privy, a sitting room for entertaining on the first floor and, as we know, a lot of stairs to the bedrooms.
Foundations are fairly shallow and built before damp courses. Before modern treatments, the basement kitchen often acted as a barrier to protect the rest of the house and its occupants from damp. As happened all over London, the earth from the basements was dug out and heaped up to form the road. The real ground level can be seen in the back gardens. That’s why everything is at different levels from the front to the back.
The late 1840s houses on the south-side had efficient Victorian horseshoe-shape fireplaces but the Georgian fireplaces in the 1816 or the 1820s houses were quite different. These were a square shape with a simple geometric regency design. A raised basket in the centre simply dropped ash onto the hearth to be swept up later. A small hatch in the back let most of the smoke up the chimney. These fireplaces are beautiful but were not as warm and didn’t draw smoke away as well as the Victorian ones. The Victorians really cracked engineering.
Doors could be six-panel on important floors and four-panel on floors for staff such as the kitchen. Each door is not the same size. Those for higher status rooms are very subtly larger than others.
Many houses still have original architrave around their doors and have kindly lent the profile of this to neighbours for restoration work.
What’s special about a terrace?
The main terraces of Jeffreys St are typically three stories high plus basement and with parapets. Each house is two bays wide with an offset front door. They have rusticated stuccoed ground floors, to look like stone, and steps up to the front door with areas (the light well by each basement).
Jeffreys St was one of the first terraces of town houses in Kentish Town. Like Grove Terrace and those on Kentish Town Rd, ours was one of the first to be built to look like town houses “rather than aspiring to be a Gothic cottage, picturesque retreat or villa fit for a retired Roman General”. (Gillian Tindall, The Fields Beneath)
A very English way of living
From Gillian Tindall's The Fields Beneath:
“This peculiarly English type of house, (is) found nowhere else in the world except in places to which the English exported it”. Each house might be no more than about 16 feet wide but with space at the back on a garden that could be 80 or 100 feet.
“Louis Simond produced a memorable image: ‘The small houses in London are very narrow and high with a number of small storeys, one for eating, one for sleeping, a third for entertaining company, a fourth underground for the kitchen, and a fifth right at the top for the servants. The speed, agility and ease with which the whole family hops up and down between these different floors makes me think of a bird cage with its perches’.”
You can hear your neighbours cough
“Louis Simond, visiting in 1812, wrote of the new-built houses stretching out of London: ‘- the walls are so thin that you tremble for them … One feels that the leases… must stipulate that no dancing is to take place there.”
The north side: a listed terrace
The main part of the north side of Jeffreys St was grade II listed in the 1970s. Grade II buildings are considered to be nationally important, having special architectural and historic interest. 92 per cent of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.
These days list descriptions are very full, however in the 70s our list description was fairly simple. It reads:
Jeffrey's Street (North side)
Nos 11-33 (odd) And attached railings
Terrace of 12 houses. Early C19. End houses (nos 11 & 33) and centre houses (21 & 23) stucco with rusticated ground floors; other houses yellow stock brick (upper floors mostly refaced) with stucco ground floors and 1st floor band. 3 storeys and basements. 2 windows each except end and centre houses with one window each. Round-arched ground floor openings except windows of end and centre houses being segmental-arched sashes.
Doorways with reeded surrounds, radial or patterned fanlights and mostly panelled doors. Ground floor sashes mostly with margin glazing. End and centre houses upper floors with segmental-arched tripartite sashes; 1st floors with cast-iron balconies. Other houses with gauged brick flat arches to recessed casements with cast-iron balconies on 1st floors; 2nd floors, segmental-arched recessed sashes. Parapets; centre houses with blocking course.
Interiors not inspected. Subsidiary features; attaches cast-iron railings with urn finials to areas.
The age-range of listed buildings
Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important. Just 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I. Grade II* buildings are of more than special interest. 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade II*.
Any listed building is considered listed inside and out, including garden walls in the curtilage. Listed building consent must be granted by the Council before structural changes.
Turn-around time for an application for listed building consent can be expected to be a maximum of 6-8 weeks but 90% of applications are approved.
The Conservation Area statement notes Jeffreys Street's coal holes, railings, granite channels, bootscrapers and the trees at west end junction with Kentish Town Road.