Sandwell Mansions

Sandwell Mansions brochure, West Hampstead
Sandwell Mansions, West Hampstead
Sandwell Mansions, West Hampstead

We know Sandwell Mansions

Sandwell Mansions was built in 1893-4 in the grounds of Sandwell House. Builder David Dakers perfectly captured the mansion block style in what is a hugely impressive, imposing edifice that looks as fine and handsome today as it did a hundred years ago.

But while the exterior looks classically serene, it hides an interior that has many lurid tales to tell! Records reveal a trio of incidents that would be a tabloid headline writer’s dream and it just goes to show that while the age we live in may change, people don’t – the seven deadly sins apply to every generation!

We have Greed. The Times of 14th May 1903 reported the following law case: ‘The two women who were the plaintiffs sought damages against Hubert Thomas Cook for having fraudulently induced them to buy two properties including Sandwell Mansions. In July 1901 his agent showed the plaintiffs particulars of certain blocks of flats with the view to buying the properties subject to the mortgages on them. The plaintiffs bought the equity of Sandwell Mansions for £3,370 in August 1901.

Subsequently the plaintiffs alleged fraud and loss due to the properties being “grossly overvalued” and in the case of Sandwell Mansions the equity being worth nothing as a result of the mortgage on the block. The jury gave judgment for the plaintiffs who received damages.’

Then there’s Wrath. The Times of 21st December 1925 writes of an attempted murder by ‘Clarence Hornby, aged 22 and a traveller, of his wife Josephine, by strangling and cutting her with a razor at 5 Sandwell Mansions. Josephine became “very ill and in a most hysterical condition” as a result of the incident. A witness thought that Clarence Hornby was “either ‘mental’ or there was something very radically wrong with him”.’

And then possibly a mix of Wrath, Pride and Envy! The Times of 23rd July 1970 has a headline saying: ‘Deportment of 3 US students recommended’. The report refers to Sandwell Mansions and continues: ‘Three students, said to have incited violence when they burst into the Senate House of London University last October, were all found guilty in the Old Bailey on 22nd July 1970 of unlawful assembly. They were also convicted of assaulting the clerk of the Senate although they were acquitted of riot. Dr Paul Kenneth Hoch, 27, an American, of Sandwell Mansions, was sentenced to nine months prison and recommended for deportation.’ Not quite the behaviour we expect from your typical mansion block resident!

Thankfully, Sandwell Mansions can also lay claim to fame, rather than just notoriety. It was home to William Anderson, a surgeon who became known for his prowess at illustrating his lectures on anatomy, especially due to his ability to draw on the blackboard simultaneously with both hands! He also built up one of the world’s finest collections of Japanese art, which is now owned by the British Museum.

It was also the residence for a while of well-known music-hall entertainers, James William Tate and Clarice Mabel Tate. Add in Henry MacNaughton-Jones, a celebrated ear, nose and throat specialist as well as President of the British Gynaecological Society (a curious mix!), and it’s clear that Sandwell did have its saints as well as its sinners!

The Property Ombudsman