Bullseye Cottage of Hither Green Lane

One of the stranger looking houses in Victorian Hither Green was Bullseye Cottage which stood on what is now the corner of Harvard Road and Hither Green Lane.  The Bullseye name came from its rather distinctive circular windows. It was latterly known as Japes Cottage after its final inhabitant, William Japes.

unknown artist; Jape's Cottage, Hither Green Lane

See note on painting at end

There is a surviving painting of the cottage by an unknown artist dates from around 1860 and is looking roughly south-west – Crystal Palace (and its adjacent water tower), moved to Anerley Hill in 1854 is visible across the largely open countryside.

William Japes was gardener at Laurel Cottage, see below (source), which was a large house around 200 metres further south along Hither Green Lane , almost opposite Mountsfield Close, between Lanier and Theodore Roads.

japes cottage3

Laurel Cottage dated back until at least the early 19th century, it was advertised for letting in 1835 (1), and described as a ‘detached‘ Gothic Villa’.  Great play was made of one of its previous occupants having been Sir John McMahon, who was ‘Keeper of the Privy Purse’ from 1812 until his death in 1817.  The ‘gardener’s cottage’ mentioned was presumably Bullseye Cottage.

japes cottage2

William Japes hailed from Cambridgeshire – seemingly from Willingham, a village mid-way between Cambridge and Huntingdon.  He married Louisa from Lewisham around 1832 so he must have moved to the area before then.  Whether he was already working at Laurel Cottage at that stage is unclear; the first reference to him at Bullseye Cottage was in the 1851 census – in addition to Louisa, the were five children living there, along with a visitor.

While the children moved on from Bullseye Cottage, William and Louisa seem to have remained – they were still as living on Hither Green Lane in 1871, although the house wasn’t given a name or number.  William was still listed as a gardener in the census (no mention of ‘retired’), although they had a couple of lodgers living there too.  Development was afoot though Harvard Road seems to have been laid out around 1871 (2).

image

William died in Lewisham in 1874 and if Bullseye Cottage was still there at that stage, it seems that the cottage was demolished soon after to make way for the shop fronts now there.  As for Laurel Cottage, that survived around another 20 years or so until it too succumbed to urbanisation, Theodore Road dates from 1897 (3).  The shop fronts below are on its former site.

image

Little can be found of Laurel Cottage’s occupants other than there was a steady flow of inhabitants noted by the deaths, marriages, auctions and servant advertisements reported in the press.  As late as 1883 there were some elements of farming going on from the land associated with the ‘cottage’ – the auction particulars included  an Alderney cow and several head of chicken (4).  The marriage of the younger daughter of a W J Seward warranted an advertisement in The Times in 1887 (5).

Laurel Cottage seems to have been renamed as The Laurels in the early 1890s; its last inhabitant was probably the then renowned mathematician William Burnside, an academic at the Royal Naval Cottage.

Notes

  1. The Morning Post (London, England), Wednesday, March 25, 1835; pg. [1]; Issue 20061
  2. Joan Read (1990) ‘Lewisham Street Names & Their Origins’, p26
  3. Ibid p54
  4. The Times (London, England), Friday, Mar 23, 1883; pg. 12; Issue 30775.
  5. The Times (London, England), Thursday, Oct 06, 1887; pg. 1; Issue 32196.

Picture Credit

The painting is owned by Lewisham Archives and made available on the Art UK website, reproduction is allowed for the non-commercial research purposes, such as this post.

The census and related data, other than where ‘linked’ comes from Find My Past.

 

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3 thoughts on “Bullseye Cottage of Hither Green Lane

  1. Nick Fielding

    Re Laurel Cottage. I have a document from the Manchester Archives that notes that Thomas Witlam Atkinson was the architect – at least for a major refurbishment at the beginning of the 1830s. Atkinson submitted a drawing of his plan to the Manchester Royal Institution for exhibition in 1833, described as “: Laurel Cottage, Hither Green Kent erected for F Atkinson Esq.” Although he has the same name as the architect I know nothing about Francis Atkinson other than he was a grower of Tulips. You mention above that William Japes was the gardener at Laurel Cottage, so perhaps that makes sense too. Anything more on this would be of great interest, as I am researching a biography of Thomas Atkinson, who besides being an architect, went on to become one of the greatest nineteenth century explorers of Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia. You can read more about him on my blog Siberian Steppes https://siberiansteppes.com.

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      That’s fascinating – there were quite a few nurseries in the Hither Green area around that time. I hadn’t heard the name Atkinson in relation to them but will look a bit more at him when I get chance. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      Reply

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