Morshead Mansions

Morshead Mansions, Maida Vale
Morshead Mansions, Maida Vale
Morshead Mansions, Maida Vale

We know Morshead Mansions

Morshead Mansions was built in 1899 and occupied by 1901. When it was first built Morshead Mansions was described as ‘of modern construction fitted throughout for modern requirements’.

One of the earliest residents, at 1a Morshead Mansions, was William Henry Pearce, the original owner. Mr William Pearce was one of the builders who developed property within the Maida Vale area. In the 1880s he built houses in Shirland Road and in 1895 he built up Essendine Road with over 60 houses.  

Morshead Mansions made the newspapers early on in its existence. A court case was reported in The Times newspaper in 1902 involving a claim by Miss Charlotte Florence Forsythe, one of the earliest residents of Morshead Mansions, for damages against Dr William Thomas Law for ‘negligent and improper treatment’ by prescribing morphia and other drugs including cocaine. She became addicted to the ‘morphia habit’ and was in danger of losing her mind and her life. She lived for a while in 1901 in a flat at Morshead Mansions where she was ‘reduced to such a state that her life was in grave danger’. Her relations then discovered the state of things and forbade Dr Law to attend to her any further.

In 1914 Morshead Mansions became involved in British politics. A notice appeared in The Times newspaper that 78 Morshead Mansions was one of many places where women – but not it seems men – could sign The British Covenant for Ulster, opposing Irish Home Rule.

Morshead Mansions has seen a wide variety of residents ranging from Sir John Haslam MP, who lived at 18 Morshead Mansions until his death in 1940, to some ‘colourful’ characters. For example, in 1938 The Times reported a court case about gamblers trying to cheat Ladbrokes by sending telegrams after the end of races and changing the time on them to before the races started. Albert Simmond of Morshead Mansions was a witness: he had backed horses for 40 years and in 1936 he ‘did over £30,000 betting by telegram’. The bookies closed his account and he had to use the Tote.

The controversial author David Irving lived at 23 Morshead Mansions in the 1960s. In 1962 he advertised in The Times for wartime PQ.17 Arctic convoy (1942) survivors in the Merchant and Royal Navy for research for a book he was writing.

In 1992 the freehold of Morshead Mansions was transferred to Morshead Mansions Limited and each tenant was offered one share in the company together with a new 999 year lease, in place of the existing 99 year leases, most of which were granted about 1973. (As at 1999 about three-quarters of the new leases were granted.)

The name Morshead comes from Sir John Morshead who married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter and co-heiress of Sir John Frederick of the Frederick family who leased from the Bishops of London much of the land that Maida Vale is built on.

The Property Ombudsman