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For some years, I worked at 24 Low Pavement when it was a solicitors office. It was a Georgian townhouse, originally the home of the Gawthern family. Abigail Gawthern kept a diary which was published and which I found fascinating reading. She mentions attending dances at The Assembly Rooms which, when I worked on Low Pavement, had become the post office.

 

Underneath number 24 were cellars from which led caves. Our central heating boiler was sited in the cellar which was accessed by a door under the ornate Georgian staircase. Around 1980, a replacement boiler was being installed. At one point, an engineer who was working alone down there came rocketing up the stairs and yelled hysterically that someone kept touching him. He refused to go back into the cellar and someone else replaced him to finish the job.

 

I went down there a couple of times and peered into what remained of the cave entrances which were mainly blocked off.  There was a garden at the rear of number 24 at the bottom of which was a steep drop. I was told this was a cliff face left from the ice age. How true that is I don't know.

 

Incidentally, Gawthorne Street in Nottingham was named after the Gawthern family...misspelled, but the sentiment was there!

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Great post Jill..the city is honeycombed with caves/ tunnels.

Also which we often forget- behind the shop facades lay big gardens.

Behind Hari's News and KFC on Milton St. was a kempt and lovely lawned garden with mature trees.

Behind the Odeon was the same.

When i did a paper round i was often invited in to these grassed areas.

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Next door to number 24 Low Pavement was Willoughby House, occupied by solicitors, Freeth Cartwright & Sketchley. That building was much larger and grander than number 24 but it, too, had a garden at the rear and a building at the bottom of it which had once been a private chapel. I was fascinated by both 24 and Willoughby House where I went fairly regularly to use the fax machine when they first came out because we didn't have one!

 

The grand rooms in both buildings had been partitioned off into offices but the superb marble fireplaces were still there. The servant accommodation in the attics was in stark contrast to the lower floors. I would love to have seen it in its heyday!

 

Just by the boardroom in number 24 was a vertical shaft which housed the hoist on which meals travelled from the kitchen to the dining room on the first floor. Some strange noises issued from there when it was windy!

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Jill Sparrow said:

Next door to number 24 Low Pavement was Willoughby House, occupied by solicitors, Freeth Cartwright & Sketchley. That building was much larger and grander than number 24 but it, too, had a garden at the rear and a building at the bottom of it which had once been a private chapel. 

 

I think this is it - from the rear. Almost impossible to see from any angle apart from being there, or above.

2bbMPmP.jpg

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Yes, that's it, CT. I think 24 and 26 now operate as a restaurant and the interior is probably even more wrecked than it was when I worked there!

 

The former chapel looks to be still there.

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My office at number 24 overlooked the back of the building and, looking directly down from my window, I could see the remains of what had once been a 3 tier stone fountain. The stone basins had been filled in with concrete but Abigail Gawthern mentions the cook placing freshly baked pies on the rim of the fountain, to cool. Elf & Safety wouldn't approve!

 

I was always puzzled by the domestic offices at number 24 as they seemed very small. There was a former pantry which housed our photocopier and had enormously thick walls and what must have been the kitchen. It retained some of the original cupboards and had been partitioned off at the end to create 2 lavatories.

 

At some juncture, certain rooms from number 26 had been incorporated into number 24 above the ground floor so it could be hard to tell where one house ended and the other began. 

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Also noticed jill..in cliffs aerial shot- the rear of those buildings are equally stunning..so the back end when built was'nt obstructed?

Whoever allowed that student block to be built there was nuts!

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4 hours ago, IAN123. said:

Also noticed jill..in cliffs aerial shot- the rear of those buildings are equally stunning..so the back end when built was'nt obstructed?

Whoever allowed that student block to be built there was nuts!

I think you have to be nuts these days to qualify as an architect, Ian! You're not allowed to design anything aesthetically pleasing! It might offend someone.

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101254559-17718-400.jpg

 

This shows Willoughby House with the gable end of 24 Low Pavement on the left. The black doorway was the staff entrance where we went in before the front door was opened at 9am.

 

Interesting to see CTs shot from the rear. I never saw that view when I worked there. Looks like a later addition to the original Georgian building which wasn't visible from the front.

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CT's photo of the back view of 24 Low Pavement has certainly got me thinking! Although, in my day, there were two entrance doors at the front to 24 and 26, there is only one central door at the rear which makes me wonder whether it was originally one house, being split later on?

 

The addition to the left side of the building puzzles me. The staircase ran up the inside of the gable wall and on the first floor, a doorway at the top of the stairs on the right led into the cashier's office. This room then led into an inner office, down some steps, at the end of which was the strongroom. This area must have been built later on, perhaps when the property first became a solicitors office.

 

The odd thing is that I can't see, looking at the building from the front, where that addition actually is. It must also have housed, at ground floor level, the kitchen and toilets.

 

Thinking back, I did once see the area behind the entrance door to 26 Low Pavement and there was no grand Georgian staircase, so perhaps the two were originally one house. There was another staircase which ran up the gable wall of number 26 but this was very plain and would have been used by the servants.

 

I often think about the place and try to work out how it would have been before it was hacked about. It must have been very grand but, sadly, will never see those days again.

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3 hours ago, Jill Sparrow said:

CT's photo of the back view of 24 Low Pavement has certainly got me thinking! Although, in my day, there were two entrance doors at the front to 24 and 26, there is only one central door at the rear which makes me wonder whether it was originally one house, being split later on?

 

Yes, I believe it was, and I'm trying to find something I once read about it. Meanwhile, here's a plan from the 1870s which shows the layout of the buildings.

wDlRCnF.jpg

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SueC, sometime contributor on Nottstalgia, worked at No 26 with Freeth Cartwright.   Will mention this thread to her and she may have more information. 

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Loving this topic..looking at corballing and general 'standing' of the building..i'd say a single dwelling.

I can't see the brick bond up close..but the upper eaves section looks to have been re-done.

Cliffs layout plan suggests dwelling and office.

Keep it up!

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1 hour ago, Cliff Ton said:

Yes, I believe it was, and I'm trying to find something I once read about it. Meanwhile, here's a plan from the 1870s which shows the layout of the buildings.

 

Ah, CT has yet again come up with interesting info. In 1870, there are two houses, or offices, 24 and 26. I assume the split may have occurred in the mid 1800s but am not sure. Warren & Allen was an old firm. By the time I worked there, no one could remember who Warren was...although clients sometimes asked to see him!...and the Allen family were represented by Percival Allen, his two sons Christopher and Peter. All three are, I believe, now deceased but the original Allen was Percival's grandfather. This would certainly take the firm back into the 1850s or earlier, although I'm not sure whether they operated from other, smaller, premises before number 24.

 

Edited to add...just read an old article in the Law Society Gazette which announces the closure of the firm. It was founded in 1897, so not as old as I thought.

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1 minute ago, Jill Sparrow said:

SueC, sometime contributor on Nottstalgia, worked at No 26 with Freeth Cartwright.   Will mention this thread to her and she may have more information. 

Freeths was a much grander building and less knocked about inside. It had two staircases, the main stairs and what would have been the back stairs for the servants. Both were lavishly carpeted. The stairs at number 24 had no carpet at all!

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Been speaking to a friend and former colleague from Warren & Allen. She, too, was fascinated by the building and its history. She is also a former Manning girl!

 

She informed me that the firm was started by Percival Allen's father in 1897. Mr Warren, apparently, had a son who was meant to come into the firm but was killed during The Great War, hence the severed Warren connection.

 

It was Christine who had a copy of the Gawthern diary and allowed me to borrow it. Its contents brought the house to life for me. 

 

I was also reminded that Percival Allen, as a very young child, had attended a party at the house where he would later be Senior Partner. I think that must have been number 26, as number 24 was, by then, offices.

 

 

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Warren and Allen closed some years ago due to”discord” amongst the partners as to the future direction of the  firm. I used to attend their splendid offices when I sat on an advisory committee where the secretary was based.

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Yes, it was many years after I left that W&A closed down. A shame because it was a nice firm to work for but it grew too big and dissent arose.

 

I remember the tax meetings, although I wasn't involved in them. I believe they were held in the boardroom which was one of the few rooms in the building still in its original state. I think Christopher Allen presided at tax meetings. Nice chap, 6 foot plus with a good sense of humour and a booming voice. Articled clerks were scared of him but he was always ok with me.

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Yes, it was the tax commissioners’ meetings I attended. I was on the the advisory committee under Sir Andrew Buchanan and Christopher Allen was the secretary. Always an excellent lunch followed. Sounds rather grand doesn’t it? They were all very nice blokes actually!

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Lacemarket Hotel or Harts. I often used to be seated between the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff so I felt rather outranked! :biggrin:

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16 minutes ago, philmayfield said:

Yes, it was the tax commissioners’ meetings I attended. I was on the the advisory committee under Sir Andrew Buchanan and Christopher Allen was the secretary. Always an excellent lunch followed. Sounds rather grand doesn’t it? They were all very nice blokes actually!

Oh yes, I remember the smell of lunch which used to waft upstairs. They got outside caterers in but I'm not sure this was for tax commissioner meetings as at one point they started inviting local business owners round for lunch. Trying to drum up business, no doubt! Always loads of garlic involved!

 

I think my friend, Christine, used to attend the meetings as she was Christopher Allen's clerk. We used to call him Big C! Affectionately so. Always had a drawer full of Kit Kats which he wasn't supposed to eat!

 

Christopher's father, Percival, was clerk to the governors of The Bluecoat School and Christine attended with him at meetings. She always returned a bit shaken up because Perks insisted on driving. His eyesight wasn't very good but if he saw a girl in a short skirt, he'd have 2 wheels on the pavement! A real character was Perks!

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No Jill, the Tax Commissioners used to lunch off site. I’ve never eaten in the splendid surroundings of the boardroom. I think our lunches came out of the Lord Lieutenant’s allowance but I do recollect having a whip round to pay the bill at Hart’s. He had a chauffeur, we had to be careful to drink in moderation!

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On 03/03/2018 at 1:20 PM, Jill Sparrow said:

For some years, I worked at 24 Low Pavement when it was a solicitors office. It was a Georgian townhouse, originally the home of the Gawthern family. Abigail Gawthern kept a diary which was published and which I found fascinating reading.

 

This is from a document produced by English Heritage a few years ago. The numbering doesn't exactly line up with Jill Sparrow's numbering, but the building is the same.

 

Abigail Gawthern’s House, No. 26, Low Pavement  is one of a pair of houses originally built by her husband’s father, Francis Gawthern in 1733. According to Charles Deering, writing in 1751,  On the West side stood an house formerly called Vout [or Vault] Hall, once the Mansion House of the Family of the Plumptre’s, after in the Possession of Alderman Drury, whose eldest Son Mr William Drury, sold it to Mr. Gawthorn, the present Proprietor.  In fact Alderman William Drury purchased the property in 1645 for £103 21s and it was resold to William Gawthern in 1733 for £500. Both these houses survive today as Nos. 24 and 26, Low Pavement. They are sited on the south side of the street, and they have a long garden at the rear with dramatic views to the south across the valley of the river Trent. Abigail Gawthern lived at No. 26 in the late eighteenth century and No. 24 was let to a Mr Neville.

The façade of this pair of three storey houses has eight windows arranged symmetrically. It is of brick and it is dominated by its large sash windows all set flush with the front wall. All these windows have brick lintels with painted ashlar keystones. Both houses have fine carved doorcases with Doric half- columns supporting open pediments, and the round headed doorways within have panelled doors and original fanlights. Even the wrought iron railings with their lantern overthrows survive around their narrow front yards. Though on this side these houses are divided equally with four windows each, on the south side No. 24 has only three windows. No. 24 retains its original gabled

garden front, if somewhat hidden by low nineteenth century additions. Internally too this house retains much of its original decoration including a small main staircase with two turned balusters per tread, and a number of rooms with at least some of their raised and fielded panelling still intact. No. 26 was obviously a larger house, with five windows on its garden façade, and it became even larger when a whole new garden range was constructed by the architect William Stretton and the builder, Mr Taylor for Abigail Gawthern.

 

Her Diary entries for 1792 give us a rare glimpse of the detailed progress of a major building project on a townhouse from the patrons viewpoint.

May 7,   Sent to Stretton & Taylor about the house;
May 11,   began removing furniture from the back rooms to the front, and several things down to Pepper Street;
May 16,   the workmen began to pull down the garden front of the house;
June 1,   the new foundation began to be made;
June 2,   Frank [her son, then six years old] laid the first stone,
August 25,   the roof was reared; I gave the men three guineas to drink; Mr Neville fired a pistol three times on the occasion, and Sally displayed a flag with blue ribbons...;
Sep 14,   the roof was finished covering in,
Nov 12.   The front parlour windows were taken out, and new ones put in by Mr Taylor, also the hall window; the whole front was new sashed in the course of a week.

Dec 31,   a door broke through into the lodging rooms, and in the drawing room.
Jan 4.   Our drawing room was opened with a ball, 15 couples; Mr Wylde and myself danced down the first dance; supped in the dining room.

June 17.   We breakfasted in our new drawing room for the first time; very pleasant.

 

This dramatic new rear wing was taller, an extra storey higher than the front wing, and it transformed Abigail Gawthern’s House from a middle sized townhouse into one comparable with the grander houses included in this report. This plain four storey, five window garden façade is simply decorated with a first floor sill band and a wooden cornice, plus that newly fashionable architectural feature the decorated stucco lintel. All these lintels have a central oval patera and a curved hood of a type found on a number of other late-eighteenth century houses in the town. The central doorcase is of a fairly common type, with scroll brackets supporting an open pediment. Internally this house too retains original features of 1733 in the front range, including a number of rooms complete with their raised and fielded panelling. The rooms in the new wing are larger, some with decorative plasterwork and richly carved chimney-pieces. The largest and main room on the first floor retains its decorative plaster dado rail and moulded cornice with a decorative Neo-classical frieze. It was almost certainly in this room that Abigail quite unknowingly entertained by far her most famous visitor. For her diary records that in 1798;

August 21, Lord Byron, the two Miss Parkyns [of Bunny Hall], and the two Master Smiths from Wilford [Hall] spent the day here; Miss Edwards drank tea with us.

Both these houses were used as offices for most of the twentieth century, and some of the rooms were subdivided. Recently they have been sensitively converted into a furniture store, and many of the later partition walls have been removed.

 

 

 

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