Wednesday 9 June 2010

Walmer Castle, Seymour Place W1

This blue plaque is something of a mystery - why would a woman and a philanthropist live above a pub in a not particularly nice area of London?
The answer is that Emma Cons was not a philanthropist and the Walmer Castle was not a pub.
Cons had no money of her own, but she had a huge talent for prising the stuff out of those that had. When she lived in Marylebone she was working as a rent collector in the flats for the deserving poor built by the enormously wealthy Octavia Hill. Later, she moved to Lambeth where she established the South London Dwellings Company, also founding Morley College with funding from Bristol millionaire Samuel Morley.
As a single lady, Cons would never have lodged above a common beer house, but the Walmer Castle was built as a Coffee Tavern, a place that would have the same facilities and social function as a pub but without the liquor. It later became a Temperance Hotel.
I love the depiction of Walmer Castle, which bears only a passing resemblance to the real thing. It is as if the carver had never seen it himself, but got a friend who had been there on his hols to describe it to him.

1 comment:

Ron Combo said...

Just discovered your blog CP, excellent stuff. Thank you.