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Beckenham Rectory, Beckenham, Kent, designs for a house for the Reverend William Rose, c1788, executed (24)

Signed and dated

  • c1788


The Reverend William Rose (c1751- 2nd April 1829), of the parishes of Beckenham and Carshalton, was the only surviving son of Joseph Rose the elder (c1723- Sept 1780) and his wife Jane. Joseph Rose the elder, celebrated plasterer of decorative interiors and founder of Rose and Co. was a close business associate of Robert and James Adam.

The first recorded instance of Rose and Co. working for Robert and James Adam is for a commission at the Shardeloes, with accounts dating from October 1761 until February 1763. This was the beginning of a lasting relationship between the two firms, as Robert Adam continues to use Rose and Co. almost exclusively throughout the course of his career. Indeed the company’s expert skill, evident in their faithful execution of Adam’s designs, combined with their innovative business model, enabled Rose and Co to dominant the plastering trade in the latter half of the eighteenth century.

Significantly it seems that Rose’s son William, initially at least, assisted with the family business. Beard notes the presence of a William Rose listed in the accounts for Audley End, with payments made to him from 1769-1773.

It is interesting to note that although the execution of Adam designs formed a large part of their commissions, Rose and Co. did not exclusively work for Robert Adam. Indeed after an introduction in 1770, they also worked in part for James and Samuel Wyatt. Adam’s rivalry with James Wyatt does not seem to have prevented the firm from working for both architects. Significantly SM Adam volume 4/201, a preliminary plan for an alternate house for William Rose, is inscribed The Revd Mr Roses plan by J Wyatt / as sketched by Jo Rose. The 1788 date of the Adam scheme eventually produced suggests the Jo Rose referenced here was Joseph Rose the younger. Rowan highlights this as a particular example of the professional rivalries developed by the Adam office. It is possible however that rather than Adam supplanting Wyatt in the commission, Joseph Rose the younger approached both architects on behalf of his cousin, with the Adam scheme proving successful.

William Rose, born in c1751, attended Exeter College, Oxford from May 1769-1773, receiving his M.A. in 1778. On 13 March 1775 he was appointed curate at Aston Abbots but shortly after, on 30 May, he was appointed domestic chaplain to Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland. Joseph Rose the elder had previously worked extensively at both Syon House and Alnwick Castle for Hugh Percy’s father. Beard notes how the 1st Duke of Northumberland had requested Rose specifically for works at Alnwick in a letter to Adam. This appointment for his son William perhaps underlines the development of a strong professional relationship with the Percy family.

In 1776 William Rose took up a post as rector for the parish of Carshalton, a role he would maintain for the next fifty two years. In 1778, following a special dispensation allowing him to hold two parishes simultaneously, he was also appointed the rector of Beckenham. The manor of Beckenham, which had previously held the advowson for the appendage church of St George, was sold by Frederick, Viscount Bolingbroke in 1773. Upon the sale of the manor to John Cator esq. Bolingbroke reserved the right to make appointments to the church, and the patronage was subsequently sold on to Joseph Rose, who promptly appointed his son to the post.

The Reverend William Rose died in April 1829, and following instructions in his will was buried in the family tomb at Carshalton, where his wife Elizabeth Rose, nine of their infant children, and his father and mother were also buried. His estate was subsequently divided between his two surviving daughters, Charlotte and Louisa Jane, and his daughter-in-law Lydia Rose, widow of his son Joseph. On the north wall of the Lady Chapel of All Saints Church, Carshalton there is a monumental tablet dedicated to him and his family.

Bolton, Rowan and King catalogue Beckenham Rectory as one of Adam’s unexecuted schemes. However a contemporary source in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent states of Beckenham that ‘The present rector, Mr. Rose, has new built the parsonage-house on a large scale, and in a very handsome manner.’ This account dates to 1797, just nine years after Adam’s scheme is dated. The rectory at Beckenham was demolished c1930 to make way for a new town hall. However there is photographic evidence of the building preserved in the Bromley Historic Collections, dating from c1880-1927. It is clear from these images that Adam’s scheme for William Rose was indeed executed. Further to this, there is a record of the rectory’s foundation stone, uncovered in March 1931, it is contemporary to the Adam scheme, dating to July 1789. The is also evidence for two Adam-style chimneypieces salvaged from the rectory and reused in the new town hall.

It is interesting to note the striking similarities between Beckenham Rectory and the nearby manor house Beckenham Place. Built for John Cator c1774, Beckenham Place underwent significant alterations with the later construction of its north wing in around 1810. However if we consider the building prior to alteration, Beckenham Rectory appears to all but replicate the design. This is particularly evident in the Rectory plans when compared to Beckenham Place’s 1906 inventory, where significant comparisons between room use can be noted. The footprints for the kitchens with its eastern service courtyard, the housekeeper’s rooms, and libraries bear particular similarities. The south elevation with its central bow front and paired stone staircases leading into the grounds is also faithfully replicated. Adam’s connection to Beckenham Place is uncertain. It possesses two fine ceilings and various plasterwork ornamentation, late 18th century in date and executed in the Adam style. Further to this, the owner John Cator occupied two properties in the Adam Adelphi development. The first, 5 John Street, he acquired in 1776, later moving to 7 Royal Terrace in 1782. This replication of the manor house at Beckenham Rectory almost certainly suggests prior knowledge of its interiors.

Correspondence at Sir John Soane’s Museum dating to February 1975 discusses a further drawing for this scheme held within a private collection.

The last will and testament of Joseph Rose of Queen Anne Street, Marylebone, The National Archives, Kew, Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers, Class: PROB 11, Piece: 1069; The last will and testament William Rose, Clerk Rector of Beckenham and Carshalton, The National Archives; Kew, Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers, Class: PROB 11, Piece: 1756; T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1796, The Environs of London: Volume 4, Counties of Herts, Essex and Kent, pp. 291-306; W. Bristow, 1797, The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume I, pp. 527-550; The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle from January to June 1829, Volume XCIX, Part first the first, p. 474; A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam , 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 3, 57, 86; D. Stillman, 1966, The Decorative Work of Robert Adam, p. 47; G. Beard, 1975, Decorative Plasterwork in Great Britain, pp. 16-7, 20, 74-6, 90, 237-8, 244; G. Beard, 1978, The work of Robert Adam, pp. 22-3; A. Rowan, 1985, Designs for Castles & Country Villas by Robert & James Adam, pp. 66-67; E. Harris, 2001, The Genius of Robert Adam: His Interiors, p. 317; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 80, 122, 137, 247-8, 253, 257, pl.261; A. Murray, 2012, ‘Joseph Rose and Company’, The Georgian Group Journal, Volume XX, pp.103-18; www.beckenhamplaceparkfriends.org.uk; www.carshaltonallsaints.org.uk; www.clergydatabase.org.uk; Beckenham Place Conservation Management Plan, www.lewisham.gov.uk (accessed November 2018)

Anna McAlaney, 2018



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Contents of Beckenham Rectory, Beckenham, Kent, designs for a house for the Reverend William Rose, c1788, executed (24)