Notes from Irene Burton
I ran across your website about The Vineyard whilst on a photo search recently and
felt I had to get in touch with you.
You mention Prospect House or no's 30 and 32 the vineyard. I bought a lease
on the property that I knew as number 32 which consisted of the old greengrocers shop and the adjoining house
sometime in the mid 1970's, I cannot bring to mind the exact date.
Both house and shop were in a sorry state and needed considerable work,
there was dry rot, wet rot, woodworm and what must have been a splendid curved window in the shop in serious
need of repair. The entrance to the shop was the door between the two shop windows, central on the curved corner of
the building. The shop to the left which I believe was number 30 was a tobacconist and sweet shop, run by a quite
elderly lady who I think was called Mrs Sell although I could be wrong about that. I presume that the flat above
both shops was also no.30, I cannot recall where the entrance to that flat was but recall an elderly lady (possibly
from eastern europe) and her son whom we would now say had learning difficulties living there.
I opened the shop after considerable refitting as a craft shop called
'Leaves' around about 1973 and lived as I said in the adjoining house, which I notice from a photograph now has a
balcony on the first floor. As you entered no.32 you were faced with stairs to the upper two floors, a door to the
left which took you into the shop and a door to the right into what I used as an office come workspace which led
back to a fairly large kitchen with a back door into a small yard which I am sure has a far classier name now, and
another door which led down to a damp but usable cellar (dirt floor!). We also had a room at the top of the house
which would seem to take a bite out of the flat above the shop at the front of the building, on the other hand, the
cellar beneath my shop belonged to the tobacconist. I sold the lease on to a couple of young women who I think
wanted to open a designer/fashion shop around 1979 and after moving away never had cause to return.
We acquired the lease through the Bentalls Property Management Department in
Kingston, the building was in such a bad state of repair that we had it rent free for three months to get the place
in order and there was no money exchanged for the new 15 year lease. My partner and I were living close by in
Onslow Road and regularly shopped there when it was a green grocers and joked that if the shop were to ever became
vacant we would try and get hold of it. It was a couple in their late middle age running the shop, I don't think
they lived in the adjoining house and the closure of the shop was sudden. It had been open on the Saturday, but by
the following Monday the shop was empty, and the next week the lease for sale sign went up. There was local talk of
a death or some trouble in the family but it seemed that no one really knew anything about them. As I recall, we
paid the rent on the lease to Bentalls quarterly and it was only them we ever had any dealings with concerning the
property. I'm afraid any copies I had of the lease are long gone now.
Sorry I can't be of any help as to the actual freeholder of the property,
but the building did have a couple of architectural features that may lead you somewhere if you have time to pursue
them. Firstly the windows in the shops were originally large single curved pains of glass, sadly too prohibitively
expensive to restore when we took on the building. That sort and size of curved window glass was made in very few
places, there may be some information laying about if they were ever replaced before the window frame alterations
were made for four separate and flat panes. Secondly the door to the house at No 32, (Prospect house?), I
would often find students outside making sketches of it, taking photographs, measuring and generally taking a lot
of notice of it! Apparently it was a 'crinoline door' which means it is wider at the bottom than the top to
accomodate the fashions of the day when the house was first built! I just thought it was a rather conveniently wide
door and to be honest it just looked a bit bigger than normal to me.