Avenue House

Avenue House is a particularly fine Grade II* listed town house which was originally a 16th century timber framed house, re-fronted in 1757. The building has attractive mellow red brick elevations relieved by symmetrical deep sash windows and central doorway with polished brass door furniture with a fine shell hood over. The doorway, with a Queen Anne style shell hood on carved consoles seems to be more consistent with an earlier dating.  A possible explanation is that the doorcase and windows were salvaged from an earlier brick fronting of around 1700. An early print of 1832 shows a building with a similar doorcase and hood further down Newland Street, since demolished. Also above the door there is a fire mark of the Phoenix Insurance Company which was issued in about 1802. It is thought that the property once was the Dower House when the DuCane family lived in The Grove which once stood on the other side of Newland Street.     

 

Lionel Oakley wrote in a Witham & Countryside Society bulletin: ‘in the early part of this century, my father was honoured to be given the job of "house boy" at The Grove after having left school. His brother was later "house boy" at Avenue House. They had to be kitted out in knickerbocker suits and had to report to the parlour maid for a mug of tea and a slice of bread and dripping before starting work, which usually commenced by clearing out the grates. The house had nice sunken gardens and a croquet lawn and a very nice ginko tree brought back from China by Percy Lawrence, owner of The Grove, after his travels. This still stands erect’.

Sources: Cyril Taylor; Strutt & Parker; Witham & Countryside Society; and Maurice Smith.

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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