Jonathan Carr* (1845-1915)

*see post of 29/9/19

On the website of the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society is a personal note by Janet McNamara in memory of Gillian Clegg, who died in February 2012. An extract appears below, followed by one of Gillian’s biographical notes:

“…At that time I think she was writing Chiswick Past and I was a local Heritage Guide researching Brentford history, so when she started on Brentford Past we were exchanging information. As by then she was less mobile I drove her around to meet people, look at places and buildings so she could see things herself and not rely on pictures and maps.

…She was the editor of our Journal for over 10 years. Carolyn Hammond, who took over in 2007, says that Gill would always be available to help her with the complicated or ‘difficult’ articles and could always rewrite things in ‘proper prose’.

…I admired her strength, her determination and her bravery – I understand she was still planning her next book. I’ll always be grateful to her for the chances she gave me over the years to play a small part in producing what was described this week as what will be for a long time her ‘definitive histories’ of our area.”

Gill Clegg wrote:

JONATHAN CARR

Jonathan Thomas Carr (1845-1915), the developer of Bedford Park was a woollen merchant turned property speculator. He was one of a large family from Battersea noted for its artistic inclinations and radical political views. GK Chesterton rather unkindly described Carr as ‘a speculative builder faintly tinged with art’.

In 1873 Carr married Agnes, daughter of Hamilton Fulton who lived in Bedford House, South Parade. Carr acquired Fulton’s grounds and other land on which to build his new development. As a reaction to the ubiquitous Victorian terrace house and inspired by the aesthetic movement of the 1870s, Carr set out to create attractive houses in an informal layout at reasonable rents for middle class Londoners. Bedford Park though was intended as more than just another housing development, it was to be a self-contained community with its own church, club, pub, schools and stores. Carr was heavily involved with all aspects of communal life in Bedford Park. He sat on various committees, gave lectures and was the proprietor of the club.

Carr lived first at 3 Queen Anne’s Gardens moving to the magnificent Tower House, designed for him in 1878 by R Norman Shaw. The Tower House had 16 rooms and large grounds with tennis and badminton courts (the house was demolished in the 1930s and replaced by St Catherine’s Court). Here, Carr lived like the Lord of the Manor, a genial man, dispensing liberal hospitality. ‘His active memory and keen interest in an enormous variety of subjects made him a most interesting companion’, according to his obituary in the Chiswick Times. Carr however was not universally popular; he fell out with his architects, gained a reputation as a poor payer and appears to have become estranged from some members of his family.

With the core of Bedford Park complete, Carr embarked on other building schemes elsewhere in London, including Burlingwick in Grove Park. Unfortunately none of these were successful and Carr lived his latter years in financially straitened circumstances. After the death of his wife he moved from the Tower House in 1905 to live with his son, John Fulton Carr, first at 5 Addison Road and from 1912 at 13 Queen Anne’s Grove. He died poor and obscure and is buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas Church.”

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