Linden House is a charming four-storey riverside property with elegant south facing façade. Currently used as a sailing and rowing clubhouse, Linden House was purchased in 2001 by the London Corinthian Trust, a registered charity.
History of the immediate area
The area surrounding Linden House was known as Seagreens (also as Seg'nns, Segrymeshaugh
and Segrymmes). Richard Stiler is noted in the Court Rolls of 1384 as being 'admitted
to a messuage' (a dwelling house with outbuildings) and 10 acres of land. Over
time the land was divided into various estates and dwellings such as Seagreens,
Upper Mall House, Linden House and Grafton House were built.
The most famous owner of Seagreens was Louis Weltje, the continental head cook
to the Prince of Wales (later to become George IV). Weltje was an excellent cook
and a shrewd property developer. He purchased Seagreens in 1790 following his
speculative purchase in 1787 of a farm in Brighton, which he subsequently leased
to the Prince for £1,000 a year as the site for the Royal Pavilion. Weltje Road
is located close to the Seagreens property and an old wall in the adjacent Trust
boatyard is worth noting.
Upper Mall House
In 1631 Richard Gurney purchased 'one messuage with appurtenances' known as Upper Mall House and three acres and two rods of land (tenanted by Richard London). Subsequently the land was divided further and approximately two and a half acres were sold in 1733 to Samuel Bever, a woollen draper by trade.
The conveyance to Samuel Bever notes the land has a dwelling house divided into two tenements. It is thought that these properties became known as Linden House and Grafton House
Linden House and Grafton House
Although the exact date of the construction of Linden House and Grafton House may never be known, they are both first recorded as named dwellings in the Rate Books of 1795. A carving dated 1764 in the former basement wine cellar door of Linden House (now lost) was sketched and recorded as recently as 1915.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that a Dutch merchant named Isaac le Gooch (a benefactor of Latymer School charity) may have built the houses as early as 1685.
It is more likely that circa 1733 Linden House and adjoining Grafton House were either constructed as one large house with two tenanted wings or purpose built as a pair of semi-detached dwellings. From the floor plan below, Linden House appears to have the finer front entrance, which would have undoubtedly overlooked the river, adding more credence to the 'one large house' theory.
It is clearly noticeable from the front façade symmetry that Linden House was extended at an early stage. The front is an excellent example of the style of the middle part of the 18th century. The large front door has semicircular-headed windows on each side. These are separated by a pair of Ionic columns and flanked by pilasters which carry frieze and dentil cornice without any architrave.
Although Linden House and Grafton House were extended and used as private dwellings for much of the 18th and 19th centuries the Victorian era brought major changes to the area. Local riverside factories opened adjacent to Linden House and the area became more industrialised (hence adjacent Oil Mill Lane).
By late Victorian times the combined 'house' had become somewhat overextended and sprouted an east wing. It became home to St. Katherine's College for Girls and this occupation lasted until at least the outbreak of the First World War. In 1913 the Directors of the local bakery firm J. Lyons & Co bought Linden House as its sports and social club. Additional land was purchased in 1924 to extend the facilities, which included an indoor rowing tank and a shooting range.
During the Second World War much of riverside Hammersmith was victim to enemy bombing and it is thought that local air raid damage hastened the demise of Grafton House. Linden House was used for various purposes to support the war effort, before reverting back to clubhouse use in 1946. Lyons remained in occupation until at least 1956 and the building subsequently transferred to Council ownership.
With so many different uses over the years, the interior of Linden House is a shadow of its former glory. English Heritage is of the opinion that the only internal original feature to survive the alterations of the 1960s is the fanlight between the hall and the stairs (the staircase probably being an early Victorian replacement, subsequently strengthened in the 1960s).
Linden House 1956 to 1992
During the 1950s the local Council wanted to relocate the London Corinthian Sailing Club (LCSC) from their old damaged clubhouse downstream. Linden House was offered as a replacement property to rent, however the suggestion was not popular at the time as the building required significant upgrading and there were minimal boat storage facilities.
The Council persevered and agreed to undertake major alterations internally to meet the sailor's needs (at the same time as rebuilding the damaged two flank walls). Boat storage facilities were offered by way of purpose built 'undercrofts' to be located on the ground floor of the adjacent planned Council maisonettes of Mylne Close.
It was also agreed by the Council as part of the LCSC relocation that space would be provided to site an elevated and purpose built 'race starting box', thereby providing dinghy race officials with a clear uninterrupted view along the Hammersmith Reach. This race box won a Civic Trust Award in 1964 for its simple and elegant design.
Linden House 1993 - Today
In 1993 the local Council offered the LCSC the opportunity to purchase Linden
House as 'sitting tenant'. The LCSC started fund raising, but were unable to raise
sufficient money until the Sport Lottery Fund came into existence approximately
18 months later. A lottery grant for two thirds of the purchase price and external
refurbishment costs was offered, subject to matching funds being found by the
LCSC. Club members and local supporters donated tens of thousands of pounds to
the funding appeal and the purchase was ready to go ahead in 1997.
By this time the Council was reviewing their ownership policy on all riverside sporting premises and the purchase was in jeopardy. After several years of mounting public pressure the Council re-offered the sale of Linden House at the original price, but on condition that Sons of the Thames Rowing Club should relocate there too. This was agreed and the Council undertook significant alterations to the basement (to accommodate a rowing gymnasium) and to the undercrofts (for rowing boat storage).
At Sport England's suggestion the LCSC formed the London Corinthian Trust to purchase Linden House and to safeguard the building for sports use in perpetuity. The Trust is a registered charity that supports water sports and historic buildings. Donations to further our work are greatly appreciated.