Doves Typeface

Above: The northern pier of Hammersmith Bridge. It was from the walkway in the picture that the type was dropped into the Thames.

These days books, newspapers and pamphlets are all printed by creating the text on a computer which communicates with a printing machine that actually puts the ink onto sheets of paper. Until the 1970s, there were no computers and every character to be printed was printed using metal type. Each character was formed in metal, set onto the end of a metal bar about an inch long. The individual letters had to be laboriously set up to create a line of text and the lines combined to form a whole page. It was known as ‘typesetting’ because each character was referred to as ‘type’. The actual style of each character was known as a ‘typeface’.

In the late 1800s what was called the ‘Arts and Crafts Movement’ came into being. The term was first used by T J Cobden-Sanderson at a meeting of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1887, although the principles and style on which it was based had been developing in England for at least twenty years. It was inspired by the ideas of architect Augustus Pugin, writer John Ruskin, and designer William Morris. From these ideas flowed architectural styles, wallpaper designs, pottery designs and also typefaces that were used with other printed artwork.

Many people have heard of William Morris – an English textile designer, skilled craftsman, poet, novelist, and socialist activist – who was associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Born in Walthamstow, he had studios in Central London and at other locations. He also had a house in Upper Mall, Hammersmith, called Kelmscott House, which now has a small museum to Morris beside it. In 1890 Morris set up the Kelmscott Press nearby, along with a colleague called Emery Walker. Morris died in 1896 and the Kelmscott Press ended in 1898.

Cobden-Sanderson was a printer and bookbinder who had founded the Doves Bindery in 1893, at 15 Upper Mall, Hammersmith and, being a friend of William Morris, he bound many of his books. When the Kelmscott Press ended, 1898, Cobden-Sanderson realised the opportunity to found a new press and established the Doves Press in 1900 at No 1 Hammersmith Terrace. The money had been provided by his wife, Anne. The partner at the new press was Emery Walker – who lived at No 7 Hammersmith Terrace. Walker’s house is now a museum but it can only be visited by prior arrangement.

Their press used a specially designed typeface, unique to their business, called ‘Doves typeface’. To Cobden-Sanderson, the mechanical process of typesetting was almost a religious experience and the thought that, one day, his type might be used by another company in ways that were not related to his artistic ideas became too much for him to bear. He feared technological change and wanted his ideas of design to continue without change.

The two men eventually fell out. Walker had other interests which meant that Cobden-Sanderson was left to run the press by himself. It has to be said that Cobden-Sanderson was so obsessed with his printing that even if Walker had taken an interest in the work, his efforts would not have been welcomed by Cobden-Sanderson. In 1906 he asked to sever their partnership but Walker refused the offer of cash, with all rights then passing to Cobden-Sanderson. A compromise was made that Cobden-Sanderson would continue with the press, retaining the sole rights to the type. On his death, the rights would pass to Walker. This was agreed in July 1909 and the partnership ended.

A few year later, unknown to his partner, Cobden-Sanderson – then aged 76 years – decided to carry out a plan to end the use of his Doves typeface for ever. The year was 1916. Every evening he went for a short walk onto Hammersmith Bridge and quietly scattered some of the type into the Thames, hoping that nobody would notice. He had to make many such visits and, over the course of six months – from August 1916 until January 1917 – he dropped over a tonne of metal printing type into the river. Once all the type had been disposed of, Cobden-Sanderson confessed to his friends and also to Walker what he had done. Cobden-Sanderson died in 1922. Walker then sued his widow, Anne, for both the cost of producing the type (£500) and for a portion of the money it might still have earned. The case was settled out of court and it is believed that about £700 was paid to settle the matter. Anne died shortly afterwards – in 1926.

As has already been mentioned, Emery Walker had previously worked with William Morris at the Kelmscott Press. When Walker set up the Doves Press with Cobden-Sanderson another designer worked with them. His name was Edward Johnson who went on to design the typeface that is still in use for signs on London Underground to this day.

This unusual story is not quite complete. In 2010 the designer Robert Green, who had first seen the Doves Press type when he was studying at art college, took up the cause of the lost metal type. Green attempted to assemble as much printed material showing the Doves type as possible and then recreated the typeface graphically using a computer. Having established a working design, it suddenly occurred to him that some of the metal type might still be on the bed of the Thames. He worked out the most likely place for the type to be lying and engaged divers from the Port of London Authority. After searching for two days, 150 pieces were recovered. Unfortunately, later repairs to the footings of Hammersmith Bridge probably cover much of the river bed where the type was originally scattered.


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Dove Inn, Hammersmith

Above: Looking west in Doves Place at the Dove Inn.

One of the most attractive pubs anywhere in Inner London is situated at Upper Mall, in Hammersmith. It is called the Dove Inn (sometimes written as ‘Doves Inn’) which is a fairly unusual name for a pub. It is probably derived from the Bible story of Noah’s Ark. Several other pub names come from Bible stories – the Three Kings, the Angel, the Star and the Cross (as in Crucifix).

The building stands between the narrow alleyway called Doves Place and the Thames. Doves Place, no doubt, was also named from the pub. The thoroughfare used to link Upper Mall with High Bridge, in the days before Hammersmith Creek was culverted.

It is claimed that the public house has stood on the site since the 17th century. The structure of the present pub actually dates from the early 18th century and it has been owned by Fullers since 1796. The front bar is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest public bar in the United Kingdom.

Above: View of the Dove Inn from the Thames.

In terms of famous names associated with the Dove Inn, there are several to mention. James Thompson is said to have written the words for the 1740 song ‘Rule Britannia!’ there. The pub appears in the 1930 novel by A P Herbert called ‘The Water Gipsies’, loosely disguised by the fictitious name of ‘The Pigeons’. Bearing in mind that William Morris lived and worked within a very short distance of the Dove Inn, it would be surprising if he did not have a drink there at some time. Since he had many friends, all of them as well-known as he was, it is more than likely that they also had a drink there on more than one occasion. T J Cobden-Sanderson named his nearby Doves Bindery and the Doves Press after the pub.

Above: View from the riverside garden.

As you enter the pub, the bar by the door is really small one, as has already been mentioned. That leads to the upper bar – just a few steps above it – which is also quite cramped. However, this all adds to its charm. To cater for more customers, the pub has had a covered area built onto the back, in the form of a conservatory. There is also a small garden area, which faces onto the river, providing splendid views of the Thames and the craft moored nearby at Hammersmith Pier. The Dove is a Grade II listed public house whose address is 19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith.


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High Bridge, Hammersmith

Above: One of the very few remaining pictures of High Bridge. The view looks west towards the bridge which is seen at the end of Hog Lane. The lane was named after the pub whose sign, showing a substantial hog, can be seen to the right. All trace of the bridge and also of Hog Lane were swept away when Furnivall Gardens were laid out.

High Bridge once spanned Hammersmith Creek to the south of King Street. How long a bridge had been on the site is not known for certain. There was certainly one as early as 1541 because it is mentioned in the Fulham Court Rolls for that year. The local historian Faulkner says that the bridge was rebuilt by Bishop Compton in 1712 and the London historian Thorne – perhaps referring to another reconstruction of the bridge – credits Bishop Sherlock with building it in 1751. Both statements, however, are unsupported by evidence. The bridge was repaired by Bishop Howley in 1820 and again in a very substantial fashion by Bishop Blomfield in 1837.

The creek was culverted in 1936. After a flying bomb devastated the last remnants of the old buildings around the creek in 1944, during the Second World War, all trace of the High Bridge was lost. Its site was across the creek, linking Upper Mall to Lower Mall. The bridge stood 200 feet (61 m) to the north of the present river wall at Furnivall Gardens. The extensive gardens were laid out in 1951, named after Dr Frederick Furnival, founder in 1896 of the Furnivall Sculling Club and co-creator of the Oxford English Dictionary.

As a further point of interest, it is believed that it was around Hammersmith Creek that the hamlet (later to become a village) started to develop.


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Hammersmith Creek

Above: A view in 1920 looking north along Hammersmith Creek.

The Lower and Upper Mall were once separated from one another by Hammersmith Creek, a picturesque inlet of the Thames which contributed to the early riverside life of Hammersmith. The Creek was spanned by a wooden bridge called the High Bridge (the subject of another blog) where four old footpaths or bridle paths once converged. The two on the east side were Lower Mall and Aspen Place. The two on the west side were Upper Mall and Bridge Street. Only Upper Mall remains in its original form although parts of Lower Mall also remain today.

Before the Second World War, the Creek extended northwards from the Thames to the south side of King Street. The Creek was navigable even for Thames sailing barges and the surrounding area was known as Little Wapping. The eastern bank was occupied by wharves and the western bank had malt-houses which formed part of the Town Brewery founded by Joseph Cromwell about the year 1780.

The Creek was the scene of much industry – including lead mills, malt houses and boat builders along the banks of the Creek. Barges used to sail up the Creek to unload at Cromwell Brewery where the Town Hall now stands. Few pictures of the creek remain but the buildings just mentioned formed a picturesque setting beside the water when the Thames reached high tide is high.

The Creek was once the mouth of a stream called Stamford Brook. It is shown clearly on Rocque’s Small Scale Map of 1746. The stream rose some distance north-east of Gunnersbury House and flowed immediately east of the then Duke of Kingston’s well-known mansion – Berrymead Priory, in Acton. Both Gunnersbury and Acton are west of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. After a somewhat devious course, the Brook passed north of the house in Ravenscourt Park, probably having once fed the moat which surrounded Ravenscourt House (originally the manor house of Palingswick). The Brook continued east and joined Hammersmith Creek via a brick culvert.

After the decline of the fishing industry in the Creek in the early 19th century, it was filled in and the water was channelled through an underground culvert in 1936. Many of the buildings in the Creek area were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War and, in 1948, the council created an open space in the area, to be used during the Festival of Britain (held during 1951).

Above: Looking east along the river wall at Hammersmith, with Furnivall Gardens (on the left) and part of Hammersmith Bridge (in the distance on the right). The culvert in the wall is where water from Stamford Brook now discharges into the Thames.

The open space, called Furnivall Gardens, is named after Dr Fredrerick James Furnivall (1825-1910), a distinguished scholar of English literature and an important figure in the development of the sport of rowing. In 1896 he founded the ‘Hammersmith Sculling Club for Girls and Men’, now called the Furnivall Sculling Club, whose premises are in Lower Mall. A walled garden was also constructed on the bombed site of what had, since 1765, been the Friends’ Meeting House and burial ground. Furnival Gardens and the nearby Hammersmith Pier were opened on 5 May 1951. The extensive Furnivall Gardens cover the area which was formerly the mouth of Hammersmith Creek and show the visitor how large the area of the creek must have been.


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Hammersmith Overview

Above: Looking west at the riverside at Hammersmith from near Hammersmith Bridge. Although the centre of Hammersmith is a busy place, with endless traffic on the large roundabout as well as more vehicles on the flyover, the riverside remains as tranquil as in Victorian times.

There have been three uses for the name of Hammersmith over the centuries.

(1) There was a hamlet, with the Thames on the south and extending a short distance inland – an area which is to the NW of today’s Hammersmith Bridge. It was not until 1631 that St Paul was built as a Chapel of Ease to the parish church of Fulham and another 200 years before that chapel was designated a separate parish when, in 1834, the parish of Hammersmith was created from part of the original parish of Fulham. It follows, therefore, that Hammersmith did not become a village until 1834 – one of the last villages to be formed in London. The ‘High Street’ of the old village is King Street.

(2) When Metropolitan London was created, at the end of the 1800s, land essentially running north from the Thames to include the large heath of Wormwood Scrubs and even further north became the Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith.

(3) In 1965 the Metropolitan Boroughs of Fulham and Hammersmith were combined to form a long narrow area of land called the London Borough of Hammersmith (a name that was later changed to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham).

Above: Map of Hammersmith. The pre-1965 boundary between the Metropolitan Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham is shown (with a yellow line). The centre of the old village is shown with a YELLOW dot.

The first Hammersmith Bridge, designed by William Tierney Clark, was opened in 1827. The present one, of similar design, was reopened in 1887.

Standing on the north side of Hammersmith Road is the large exhibition centre called Olympia. It was opened in 1886 with one hall and, over the years, other halls have been added. Most people associate the building with the Ideal Home Exhibition, held annually, but many exhibitions have been held there throughout its long history. The building is now called Olympia London.

Further north of the centre of Hammersmith is Shepherd’s Bush which was once a large village green with Goldhawk Road leading westwards. Today, Shepherd’s Bush is better known for being one of the main entrances to an enormous Westfield Shopping Centre, which opened in October 2008.

Further north again is an area called White City. Land, which had been arable fields until 1908, was used as the site of the Franco-British Exhibition and the 1908 Summer Olympics. In 1909 the exhibition site hosted the Imperial International Exhibition and in 1910, the Japan-British Exhibition. Two further exhibitions to be held there were the Latin-British Exhibition of 1912 and the Anglo-American Exhibition of 1914. During the latter period, it became known as the Great White City due to the white marble cladding used on the exhibition pavilions.

At the extreme north end of the borough is Kensal Green Cemetery which is partly in this borough and partly in the adjacent London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The earliest mention of the place name Hammersmith was as ‘hamersmyth’ in 1294. It was referred to as ‘Hamersmythe’ in 1312. The derivation is uncertain but some authorities believe it could come from ‘ham’ meaning a town and ‘hythe’ meaning a haven. Others believe it was a ‘hammer’ smithy’ – possibly referring to a blacksmith in the area which is a possibility because the Great West Road passed through the settlement.

While Fulham can claim to have had a parish church since at least 1242, it was not until 1834 that the Chapel of Ease at Hammersmith became a separate parish and the hamlet of Hammersmith became a parish called ‘St Paul’. The parish church stands on the original site but it is rather dwarfed by the nearby Hammersmith Flyover which carries the A4 on giant concrete supports just a few yards from the tower of the church. For this reason, any countrified ‘old-world’ charm from the old village has been completely driven away – probably never to return.

What the centre of the village lacks in an ‘atmosphere from the past’ is more than compensated by the pedestrian walk beside the Thames, along Lower Mall and Upper Mall. In these thoroughfares, time seems to stand still. There is relative peace and tranquillity due to the fact that most of the connecting streets do not permit any through traffic. The heavy traffic thundering by on the elevated Hammersmith Flyover is well away from earshot as you take a leisurely stroll beside the river. If you are there on a Saturday in summer you will probably encounter ‘rowing-eights’ preparing their boats for races on the Thames.


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Margravine Cemetery

Above: General view looking west of the cemetery, with the tower block of Charing Cross Hospital to be seen in the distance.

Known in the past as Hammersmith Cemetery, it is situated a short distance from Baron’s Court Underground Station and, in the days before 1965, it was in the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham. Designed by local architect George Saunders, Margravine Cemetery was opened in 1868 on a site previously occupied by market gardens and orchards, known as Fulham Fields. The first burial took place on 3 November 1869. Margravine closed for new burials in 1951 when the 16.5 acres of cemetery land was restored by the Council and designated a ‘Garden of Rest’. It is now a pleasant open space in a heavily built-up area.

The need for a cemetery was the result of an Act of Parliament passed in the middle of the 19th century banning any further interments in the churchyards of the Metropolis due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. This may have been an unwelcome law for many authorities and Hammersmith Vestry did not rush into providing a new burial ground. The first thing it did, in fact, was set up the Burial Grounds Committee and it took the Committee fifteen years to open a Burial Ground. In the meantime interments of residents took place in adjoining parishes.

After considering and rejecting sites as far apart as Hampton, Tooting and Leatherhead the Committee which, in 1863, became the Hammersmith Burial Board found a sudden and overdue sense of urgency when, in 1866, there was an outbreak of cholera in the area. In September of that year, the Board purchased nearly ten acres of land in Fulham Fields, land that was to become the first layout of Hammersmith or Margravine Cemetery. The land cost £600 (now about £36,660) an acre and the transaction took 18 months to complete.

The land purchased had been used as market gardens and orchards and the tenants were told to quit after the next year’s harvest. Uprooted tenants must have been followed by uprooted trees as the cemetery took shape. In 1867 plans for the ground and buildings were submitted and on 25 November 1869 the cemetery, which then was reckoned to have space for 12,000 graves, was officially opened. After a fifteen-year delay, there might have been something of a queue at the gates. And it’s worth remembering that the first cremation in London did not take place until 1885.

The cemetery was divided into two unequal parts, the larger part being consecrated for Anglicans, the lesser un-consecrated part for nonconformists, each with its own chapel of rest. There was something of an anti-establishment fuss about this but when the cemetery was extended to the east and later to the west this seemed to ease the situation. It also created another problem. As part of a land-exchange deal with Sir William Palliser, the land-owning knight, he failed to complete his part of the bargain to provide a wall along the eastern boundary. Legal action was threatened and it was still incomplete at his death in 1882.

Above: The old Reception House stands in a corner of the large cemetery.

The cemetery has one unique feature that has disappeared in all the other cemeteries in London – a brick-built Victorian Reception House. It was used to store coffins to stop poor people keeping bodies in their homes. Many Victorian families had to store their loved one in the cramped family dwelling prior to burial. Families, unable to immediately pay for a burial, used to keep dead relatives in their homes, often contributing to outbreaks of disease. The Reception House also addressed people’s fears that their relatives would be buried before they had actually died.

The Reception House has been given protected status as a Grade II listed building. It is a unique survivor in London of the mid-1800s to provide a dignified and peaceful place to house the dead prior to burial. It contains all its original features and is of great architectural interest and richly deserves to be officially listed. News of the listing was announced on Halloween 2016.

The small octagonal building is an example of the facilities proposed by Edwin Chadwick, Secretary to the Poor Law Commission, who led a review of sanitary conditions. The use of reception houses was phased out with the introduction of undertakers in the 1880s and the building is the sole survivor of its kind in the capital, according to Historic England.


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Brandenburgh House, Fulham

Above: A print showing the house from the Thames shortly before it was demolished.

Before we make a start on the history of this house, it may be useful to explain the title ‘Margrave’. It was the hereditary title of some princes of the Holy Roman Empire which was abolished in 1806. In Britain, a ‘margrave’ (or Marquis) ranked below its nation’s equivalent of ‘Duke’. The wife of a Margrave was a Margravine’.

The story starts with farmland, orchards and market gardens owned by the Bishops of London – who were Lords of the Manor of Fulham and whose manor house was Fulham Palace. The large piece of land on which Brandenburgh House was built is a short distance SE of today’s Hammersmith Bridge and is now the site of an enormous residential development of apartments called Fulham Reach.

During the reign of Charles I a residence called ‘The Great House’ was built on the land by Sir Nicholas Crispe, merchant and ardent Royalist, surrounded by very large grounds. The house was unusual at the time because it was not timber-framed but built entirely of brick. The property was later bought by Prince Rupert, a nephew of Charles I and commander of the Royalist cavalry during the English Civil War, who bought it for his mistress.

In 1749 the house was purchased by George Bubb Dodington, the eccentric politician and future Lord Melcombe. He named it ‘La Trappe’ after the monastery in France. He spent a fortune on it, repairing and modernising it throughout and building a magnificent gallery.

In 1792 it was bought by the Margrave of Brandenburgh (also known as Marquis of Brandenburg-Anspach) who had married Lady Elizabeth Craven and the property became known as Brandenburgh House. The Margrave had the interior of the house redecorated in sumptuous style. He made it into a popular place for fashionable society to meet. As well as the extensive improvements, a little pseudo-gothic theatre was erected close to the river. The Margravine was an amateur actress and wrote plays for her friends that were performed in the theatre. The Margrave died in 1806 and his widow made it her home until she retired to Naples in 1819.

Before continuing with the history of Brandeburgh House, it is necessary to describe what was going on at Court – concerning the Kings of England – with George III and George IV.

By 1788, the reigning monarch – George III – was possibly suffering from what, today, would be called porphyria. His mental health deteriorated to the extent that his son – George IV – was eventually declared Prince Regent in 1811 and then reigned in place of his father. The Prince Regent – ‘Prinny’ – had developed a life of wild extravagance involving heavy drinking, lavish new buildings and numerous mistresses. In 1794 ‘Prinny’ became engaged to Caroline of Brunswick. The marriage was a disaster from the start. Both parties were immediately repelled by the other. George, upon seeing Caroline for the first time, called for a glass of brandy and was extremely drunk during the wedding ceremony and also on the wedding night. Nevertheless, Caroline gave birth to a girl, Princess Charlotte, on 7 January 1796, nine months after the wedding, although by April 1796 the couple had formally separated. Caroline became increasingly isolated socially and left England to return to her roots in Germany in 1814.

Only six years later ‘Prinny’ became King (on the death of his father, George III) and Caroline returned to Britain to assert her position as Queen. In July 1821, Queen Caroline was barred from the coronation on the orders of the King. On trying to enter Westminster Abbey for the Coronation, Caroline was prevented from entering. A trial of Caroline followed, alleging that she had been unfaithful, which caused a sensation but George was deeply unpopular – being seen as an incompetent drunk – whereas Caroline was viewed as the wronged wife and was so popular with the masses that the Bill was withdrawn by the government.

It was the Margravine’s son, Mr Keppel Craven, who persuaded her to offer Queen Caroline the use of Brandenburgh House once it was realised that the government had no intention of providing the Queen with a royal residence. During the trial, Caroline brought her household to Brandenburgh House. Strong public feeling had been aroused by the King’s refusal to allow her to be crowned and once it was known that she could be reached by boat, she was inundated by deputations and noisy river parties. She suddenly fell ill and died at Brandenburg House, just three weeks after the coronation, on 7 August 1821. Queen Caroline was the last and most illustrious resident of Brandenburgh House – having lived there for about two years.

The Queen’s funeral procession on 14 August 1821 – overseen by the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool – started at Brandenburg House and ended at Harwich where the hearse was taken by ship to Germany, where she was buried

In 1822 Brandenburgh House and all the contents were sold. The house was later demolished. On the site was built the first and largest of the industrial development schemes that were soon to stretch right along the river in Fulham. The Haig Distillery (known as the Hammersmith Distillery) was erected in 1857 on part of the former grounds, and in 1872 Alexander Manbré built his sugar refinery (known as the Manbré Saccharine Works) on the remainder of the site, on the eastern side of the distillery. Both factories closed down and, by the 1990s, the sites were vacated.

The land was acquired to build luxury apartments – called ‘Fulham Reach’ – designed by the development company called ‘St George PLC’. It is situated beside the Thames – between Winslow Road and Chancellor’s Road. The site is just inside what was until 1965 the old boundary of the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham.


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