From Manea to Monte Carlo

Image: Hôtel Hermitage, Monte Carlo, Monaco.

From the City of London’s Finsbury Circus Draft Character Summary and Management Strategy SPD – July 2015:

“The south-east quadrant is occupied by one building, London Wall Buildings, 1901-2 by Gordon & Gunton. It is a more Baroque interpretation of the time, with pedimented pavilions. The central pavilion roof was destroyed during the Blitz (September 1940 – May 1941). On the first floor there are alternating pediments on low columns, and towards London Wall are smaller-scale motifs of blocked columns and Gibbs surrounds.”

From the Dictionary of Scottish Architects:

“Henry Thomas Gordon began practice in 1870 in London and took Edward J Lowther into partnership five years later. Josiah Gunton was articled to Gordon & Lowther and was taken into partnership in 1885. After the death of Lowther in 1900, the practice continued as Gordon & Gunton. William Henry Gunton joined as partner in 1916 and when Gordon retired, the firm became Gunton & Gunton. Thomas Anderson Moodie joined as partner in 1918. (For subsequent details of firm see under Gunton & Gunton). Josiah Gunton designed many Wesleyan chapels but the firm Gunton & Gunton specialised in commercial buildings after World War I.”

From the blog Running Past – South East London History on Foot:

“Josiah Gunton was born in the tiny Fens village of Manea, about 4 miles north west of Ely in 1862. In the 1871 census he was 9 and living with an elder brother, William, and his father, also Josiah who was a farmer.  His mother died just before the census was carried out.

In the 1881 census, he was lodging with the Collard family in St Phillips Road in Hackney and was listed as an Architectural Assistant.  He isn’t recorded in either the 1891 or 1901 censuses but married Jessie Runchman from Hackney in 1886; it was probably his second marriage as both his children pre-dated the marriage and his staunch Wesleyan Methodist views would have no doubt ‘prevented’ having children outside wedlock.  They probably stayed around East London – he was captain of Walthamstow Cricket club in in the late 1880s.

By 1911 he and Jessie were  living at 23 Orchard Road in Bromley  and had  two children still at home who had been born in Hackney two decades before, along with 3 servants.

Josiah Gunton was articled to the firm Gordon & Lowther and was taken into partnership in 1885. After the death of Lowther in 1900, the practice continued as Gordon & Gunton. William Henry Gunton, Josiah’s son who had been born in 1881 joined as partner in 1916.  

(Dictionary of Scottish Architects: “William Henry Gunton was born in 1881, the son of Josiah Gunton, and was articled to his father’s firm of Gordon & Gunton in 1907, attending classes at King’s College, London. He passed the qualifying exam in 1910 and was admitted ARIBA on 5 December that year, his proposers being Rowland Plumbe, his father’s partner Henry Thomas Gordon, and Edward Blakeway I’Anson.

Gunton was taken into partnership by his father in 1916. In 1918 the partnership was joined by Thomas Anderson Moodie. This partnership lasted until 1938, the elder Gunton having died in 1930.

William Henry Gunton died in 1974.”)

Josiah Gunton designed many Wesleyan chapels but the firm Gunton & Gunton tended to specialise in commercial buildings after World War I.

Gunton was a City of London Alderman, having initially been elected for Coleman ward in 1904.  He was a member of the London County Council for the Municipal Reform Party (allied to Conservatives) from 1928 until his sudden death on 5 March 1930 at Hotel Metropole, Monte Carlo, Monaco. There were suggestions that but for his death he might have been elected as Lord Mayor.

Josiah Gunton’s Methodist Church of Hither Green Lane had an impressive position on the angle of Wellmeadow Road and Hither Green Lane and was part of the St Germans Estate, now generally known as the Corbett Estate. It was one of seven places of worship built on the Estate – although there were no public houses or off-licences.

The church was destroyed during a raid on the night of 11 September 1940, which also caused a fire a few hundred metres up the road at the Park (later Hither Green) Hospital.

It is not clear why some local churches destroyed in WW2 were rebuilt, such as the Good Shepherd in Lee, but others such as Holy Trinity in Glenton Road and Christ Church in Lee Park weren’t – the latter two have both already been covered in Running Past.  Hither Green Methodist church was one of those that were never rebuilt.  The congregation seems to have largely moved to another Methodist church on the Corbett Estate – what was then known as the Benson Memorial Church on Torridon Road…”

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