Site Unseen: Malplaquet House

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

This building and its restoration is truly a
hidden gem and if Caroline Shenton in her recent ’Grill` hadn’t mentioned its existence it would certainly have remained unknown to this writer.

[R]ecently put on the market for close to £3 million Malplaquet House is situated on the Mile End Road near Stepney Green, it has to be said, in not one of London’s most desirable areas. Nor has it been treated with care or respect since being built over 270 years ago, in fact it lain empty for 126 years.

Built in 1742 by Mile End bricklayer Thomas Andrews and named after a long forgotten conflict, the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709.

Between 1778 and 1827 Henry Charrington – a director of the brewery that takes his name – modernised the property but upon his death in 1833 the house fell into decline.

By 1857 the inevitable happened when it was divided into lodgings. A further indignity was having two shops built upon its frontage.

The last residents moved out in 1895 and thereafter the upper floors of the 5-storey property were used as storage.

Salvation came in 1997 from The Spitalfields Trust who acquired the house and its neighbour next door.

For five years Tim Knox director of Sir John Soane Museum and landscape gardener Todd Longstaffe-Gowan who brought Malplaquet House in 1998 from The Spitalfields Trust and have patiently restored this Georgian gem.

The two shops: F. W. Woodruff & Co. Ltd., Printers Engineers and Instant Typewriter Repairs were removed, much of the building’s fabric restored or re-built (the upper floor had sustained bomb damage in World War II), their attention to detail can be seen here. Even reproducing the Regency dining room of Henry Charrington is painted in arsenic green.

The pair are now seeking to house their eclectic collection in larger premises away from London and have put the property on the market. At the present time the house is under offer. One can only hope the new owners lavish as much care and love on the property as Tim Know and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan.

Feature image: Malplaquet House, May 1998, before the shop fronts came down © SpitalfieldsLife/Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

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