The house is part of a terrace of early eighteenth century houses built by John Hutt, a carpenter, between 1714-20 on the north side of Clapham Common. Although they vary in width and detail the total effect is uniform. This house is distinguished by having very fine railings.
It has an interesting history, as it is now thought that it was here that Marianne Thornton, the wife of Henry Thornton, the banker and philanthropist, educated the young ladies of the African Academy.
In 1790 Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838) had gone to Sierra Leone, to help emancipated slaves from Britain’s former American colonies who had gone to create a new settlement there. He came back some years later on a slave ship to gather facts about conditions for the abolitionist campaign.1 He brought 21 boys and 4 girls with him to be educated by the Clapham Sect in their African Academy.
Between 1799-1805 the boys, all aged 10-17, were taught at St Paul’s Church, Clapham. They were instructed in a range of subjects but the emphasis was on religious instruction. Although many of the academy’s pupils would die of measles, it is now believed that a larger number of pupils survived and returned to Sierra Leone than was formerly supposed. It seems that the girls were first taught at a house in Rectory Grove, but later moved to this house.*
The owner wanted to paint the interior in the manner of the early eighteenth century. Having seen an article that I had written for Country life in the early 1990s, I was asked to advise on the paint colours in each room while the house underwent a major refurbishment.
My company, Papers and Paints supplied the paints, which were specially mixed.
*I was particularly interested in the house and its associations as my father’s antecedents were friends with the Thorntons and had many connections with 18th and 19th century Clapham and lived in houses on the north side of the Common.
1See this very interesting link for more on the abolitionists.
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