Studies: What the Victorians did for me

For the last two months I have been painstakingly drawing my entire flat. Every. Single. Detail. This is the last project in the penultimate module of my KLC course. (It’s actually the first in the module but I always seem to do them backwards, something I live to regret.)

Building construction

This project is a beast. I’ve so far drawn twenty six pages of an estimated forty. I’ve drawn cornices and cupboards, stairs and skirtings, doors and windows, floors and ceilings. I still have all the services to go and hopefully may be able to get to the bottom of the confounding plumbing and ventilation that snakes around our flat. Definitely a situation where I am thankful that I live in a two bedroom flat and not a capacious house.

Building construction

I couldn’t have done this project well without my awesome Light Pad which is hands down the best piece of interior design equipment I’ve ever purchased. I love it even more than I love my Prismacolor pencils and that is not something I write lightly.

Building construction

The devil is in the investigation, rather than in the drawing and documenting. It is hard, laborious work. It’s dull but interesting, frustrating but satisfying. Sourcing the information is a nightmare and without the Collins Complete DIY Manual and some help from my dad I would still be stuck trying to work out exactly why my walls are 360mm thick. The internet has been largely useless, as my dad says, it used to be great for research, now it is just full of things to buy and I’m inclined to agree with him.

Building construction

The upside is that I’ve learnt a lot about our house. I’ve learnt that it is in the Elsworthy Conservation Area and that it was built in 1860 by Samuel Cummings, a property developer from Devon who also constructed Primrose Hill Road.

The area was built on estate land owned by Eton College since the fifteenth century (Eton still has some weird access rights over our property). Building started in the 1830s with the opening of the Primrose Hill tunnel which served the new London-Birmingham railway line. Once Avenue Road and Adelaide Roads were built, Primrose Hill itself was acquired for public recreation and the rapid residential development began.

It’s hard to believe that less than hundred years ago this entire area, which is only in zone two, was still open countryside. The expanse of urban housing created by the Victorians is phenomenal and an incredible one third of the housing stock in this country is Victorian. 

All this has made me love my small, shabby flat all the more, I’ve had to think about what it was like when it was new, who might have lived there and how the area must have looked when it was essentially a new-build housing estate.

But daydreaming aside, this week it’s head down, all eyes on coursework, to get it finished so I can relax and celebrate my big birthday next week and finish planning our wedding next month.

If you are a bit of a geek like me and happen to live in the area, you can find out more about the development of the area from Camden Council’s report on the Elsworthy Conservation Area.

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  1. This was the first project of your coursework? That seems like an enormous undertaking (so many tiny pieces you have to investigate and include!) to kick things off. Good to know you’re getting your money’s worth though, they certainly aren’t taking it easy with their modules. I love research like this. We had something in high school where we were assigned a street and asked to find its history: who it was named after, what they did, what it looked like when it was first established. I loved pouring through the city archives. It looks like you’re almost done! I love all your sketches! When you turn this one in will you be totally complete? How exciting!
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    • No it is the first of the fourth module. Nearly there. They aren’t taking it easy at all, and to think some people think it’s all cushions and curtains!
      Oh that’s a great school project. It’s amazing what you can find out isn’t it?
      Hoping next week but may be end of the month… then four more projects to go :)

  2. Oh wow! How cool that you could find out all that stuff about your flat and your neighborhood. I would love to be able to do that. I probably could, and have been able to glean bits and pieces but not a ton. It would make me love my home all the more as well.

    I think I’d be just like you, I’m afraid. I have a bit of trouble with task initiation anyway, and something as meticulous as that would send me running for the hills! Good on you for getting through it. You’re almost there!

    And I agree with you guys on the internet, by the way! XO

    • The report was an accidental find on google and it helped enormously. It’s really hard to get started and I procrastinate forever but then when I start I’m pretty good at being single minded about it. My overriding motivation in life is to get things off my to-do list.

  3. How fascinating, and your project looks very impressive. I read heaps of Victorian novels and books about Victorian times and it always astounds me how small London used to be, must have been zone one only. Clapham was out of town, Ealing even further and Richmond and Finchley were completely remote county side areas.

    My neighbourhood used to be the UK’s equivalent to Hollywood in the 1930’s and even though it’s the Kingston council residents of my street insisted on a Putney postcode so Harrods would deliver their food for free! I love chatting to my old neighbours, they have so many interesting stories to tell.
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  4. Annie, I’m in awe of you. You are so talented. Your attention to detail and drawings …I definitely don’t have your patience. It is wonderful that you are discovering and connecting with your flat. Your modules do seem tough but great admiration to you. Hope we can properly meet some time, are you on the vine yet? :) xx
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  5. Oh my, now I’m really nervous about tackling this project! You have done a great job, your drawings are amazing and I do love your hand labeling.

    Must be really interesting to find out the history of your flat, a nice bonus to all the hard work xx

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