Emery Walker’s House: Who Lived Here?
A snapshot of some of the characters who made 7 Hammersmith Terrace their home.
Philip James de Loutherbourg RA
De Loutherbourg (1740 - 1812) was an 18th century landscape and maritime painter admired by Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough.
He also created elaborate set designs for London theatres and became a scenic designer for Garrick at Drury Lane at a retainer of the staggering sum of £500 per year.
De Loutherbourg developed what has been described as the earliest form of cinema in the Eidophusikon. This was a presentation of scenes with painted screens, water and light effects accompanied by music, depicting anything from dawn at Greenwich to Satan beside the fiery lake in Paradise Lost.
In 1789 Loutherbourg temporarily gave up painting in order to pursue an interest in alchemy and the supernatural. He and his wife took up faith-healing and a pamphlet called “A List of a Few Cures performed by Mr and Mrs De Loutherbourg, of Hammersmith Terrace, without Medicine” (published 1789) was written by a follower named Mary Pratt.
Not everyone was so impressed. Crowds of dissatisfied customers mobbed Hammersmith Terrace demanding their money back, not entirely surprisingly, as Walpole alleged his cures consisted mainly of barley water!
De Loutherbourg died in 1812 and is buried in St Nicholas churchyard nearby.
T. J. Cobden-Sanderson
Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson (1840 -1922) was an artist and bookbinder associated with the Arts & Crafts Movement and lived at No. 7 before the Walkers.
He was married to Annie Cobden, a socialist and suffragette, with the couple both taking the surname ‘Cobden-Sanderson.’ Encouraged to become a bookbinder by Jane Morris, he set up the Doves Bindery in Hammersmith in 1893.
By 1900, he had established the Doves Press, with Emery Walker becoming a partner. Cobden-Sanderson’s partnership with Emery Walker ended acrimoniously, before he died in 1922. You can read more about that here.
Mary Grace Walker
Relatively little is known about Mary Grace Walker (1849 -1920), nee Jones, Emery's wife. Originally from Sligo, Ireland, she was a keen poet, with many examples of her poetry being held in The Sir Emery Walker Trust Archive. The Walker family moved in to 7 Hammersmith Terrace in 1903, yet few of Mary Grace’s belongings remain in the house as she spent most of her time in the country, due to ill health. Mary Grace’s interests such as cooking and needlework are reflected in a selection of her books, including, for example, one on vegetarian cooking, (probably acquired to satisfy the needs of George Bernard Shaw, who was a regular visitor to the Walker's previous home at 3 Hammersmith Terrace in the 1890s). As well as many handwritten manuscript copies of her poetry, The Emery Walker Trust also holds a number of letters from her to Emery, one sent from Mogador (Essaouira) in Morocco, where she and Dorothy spent several months in 1912.
Due to the lengthy absences of Mary Grace Walker, it was Dorothy (1878 -1963), the only child of Mary Grace and Emery, who was the main female presence at 7 Hammersmith Terrace. Dorothy was an accomplished needlewoman and The Emery Walker Trust holds, amongst other items she created, a sewing bag of hers with an unfinished glove of fine wool on the needles. Dorothy looked after the garden at 7 Hammersmith Terrace and the Trust holds a selection of books, letters, catalogues, and gardening notebooks belonging to her.
At the turn of the 20th century, Dorothy became a student at the Slade School of Art, as well as travelling quite extensively for a woman born in 1878. She spent a year in France around 1898, travelled to the United States in 1909, and to Russia in 1913. She also accompanied her mother to Morocco in 1912, returning there with Elizabeth de Haas in 1959.
Elizabeth de Haas
Elizabeth de Haas (1918 -1999) came from Arnhem, the Netherlands. She answered an advertisement from Dorothy Walker in The Lady seeking a companion to help her look after the house in 1948, when Dorothy was 70 years old. Despite having never met each other, she arrived at Victoria station to take the job. Prior to her arrival in London, Elizabeth had been caught up in the Battle of Arnhem, with her and her family helping some of the British servicemen who were pinned down with the civilians by German shelling.
Elizabeth was bewitched by the stories of Emery Walker, William Morris, and the Arts & Crafts Movement, and after Dorothy's death, devoted herself to maintaining 7 Hammersmith Terrace, just as Dorothy had done before her. She also established friendships with the surviving Arts & Crafts people – notably with Norman Jewson who lived into the 1970s. She got to know Edward Barnsley, whose uncle Ernest had been a close friend of Emery Walker’s since 1899. She made new Arts & Crafts friendships too – with Robin Tanner the Cotswold printmaker, for instance. There are many examples of his work, done specifically for Elizabeth, at 7 Hammersmith Terrace. Elizabeth acquired new books about Emery Walker as they were published, often from grateful authors who had been shown around the house. It is thanks to her that The Emery Walker Trust was set up to care for the house in 1999.