The Meadow

A plot of land bordered by Ross Road, South Norwood Hill and Whitehorse lane was sold by Lord Falkland in 1890 to James Junkison, a leather-dresser from Bermondsey who lived in Lyndhurst Lodge, which shared a boundary with the plot. Junkison therefore added the land to his estate, but when he died it was sold separately from Lyndhurst Lodge in 1909 by his sons to Edwin Evans, a surveyor, auctioneer and land developer from Battersea.

Evans conceived the idea of a garden estate with houses on the three frontages sharing the facilities of a large private garden area at the rear which was to include tennis courts. He then had a variety of houses built over a long period (interrupted by the First World War) and then sold them as freehold properties, with appropriate covenants to ensure their use solely as family homes and to maintain the common rear leisure area for all the residents. It was formally known as the Ross Garden Estate, and surviving records show that the residents formed a committee as early as 1918, before the development was completed. The committee continues in existence to look after the garden estate at the rear.

Edwin Evans was a man with wide interests and engaged in public life to a considerable extent. This led to a knighthood, but he died about a year afterwards. He gave up his interest in the Ross Garden Estate in about 1920, leaving one or two plots undeveloped which were picked up by a later owner. The first development was 4 pairs of semi-detached houses on the South Norwood Hill frontage titled at that time 1-8 Ross Terrace (presumably the numbering of the Hill came later) and now 123-137. Unfortunately a bomb fell opposite in the Second World War and because of the blast damage these houses had to be rebuilt in a different and noticeable later style. But otherwise, apart from a modern pair of houses of a discordant type in Whitehorse Lane, a detached house on the corner of Ross Road built in about 1926 together with a small terrace in Ross Road, the development remains more or less as planned by Edwin Evans.

Although, because of its rear location it is not visible to passers-by, the Ross Garden Estate (now known usually as the Meadow) represents an attempt to get away from the usual arrangement of family houses with gardens side by side and backing onto others of the same type. The Meadow is a large area, and enables football, tennis and cricket and other games to be played, all at the same time. The residents have successfully fought off attempts to demolish properties and build blocks of flats, and will no doubt continue to do so. The Estate represents one man’s vision of bringing something of the countryside to the dense urban sprawl that made up London’s suburbs from the turn of the century.

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