The Gables, Hervines Road by Jane Barker and Alison Bailey
The architect John Harold Kennard published the design of the Gables in the Academy Architecture & Architectural Review, The 1910 Studio Year-Book of Decorative Art and The Building News & Engineering Journal of 25 February 1910. We know that this design was also built in Bushey, although this house was demolished in 2013.
Plans of The Gables published in the Academy Architecture and Architectural Review, 1909
Harold Kennard built most of the older properties on Hervines Road and moved his family here around 1922. Kennard’s family house was the first house on the south of Hervines when coming from Chesham Road. It was originally called Rosemarie which was the name they had used at their earlier house in Chiltern Road. The house was later renamed Garden Court. The Davises used it as a dentist’s surgery, and it was demolished for new houses c 2010. Like Elm Close it was built with concrete blocks and it illustrates Kennard’s move away from the earlier Arts and Crafts style which he used in his design of The Gables.
Kennard may have built The Gables speculatively but more likely it was commissioned by an elderly optician, George Culver as a country house for his wife.
1911 -1921 The house is owned by a very successful businessman and optician George Culver. He is already 74 in 1911 and his wife Hannah is 70. George is living at their London home at the time of the 1911 census while Hannah lives at the Gables with three of her daughters who are in the 30’s and 40’s. Hannah is not well and in addition to servants there is a nurse in residence . Hannah dies the following year in 1912 and her daughter Ethel in 1915, at the age of 44. George and Hannah had 10 children between 1860 and 1881. George comes from Islington, north London and was already a successful optician when he married Hannah at the age of 22 in 1859. The family initially move out to Naphill in the 1880’s but retain their London home as well.
George is credited with patenting the Sutcliffe-Micro-Keratometer (Revised Split-crossed-cylinder system) New No 4 Model which was designed to be a combination of corneal microscope and Keratometer(a device for assessing astigmatism). He and his son Edward establish The Culver Group of optical manufacturing and prescribing which became a well-known optician brand in the 20th century with branches in Edinburgh, Nottingham, Oxford, Bristol, Plymouth, Southampton and Brighton. Both he and his son G Edward are granted Freedom of the City of London in the 1890’s and admitted to the Company of Spectaclemakers.
1921-39 The house passes to the Taylor Family. Initially William and his father Joseph live in the house and they are joined in 1922 by Grace, after her marriage to William. The family are socially upwardly mobile; William was born in 1876 and came from West Bromwich and moved to Walthamstow with his father where he worked as a warehouseman. He must have met Grace in Walthamstow where she was born in 1884 and worked as a telephone clerk. They were 46 and 38 when they married in Amersham but had two children while living at The Gables – Brian and Donald. By 1939 William is a managing Director of a textile company (possibly Williams and Sons, a wholesale distributer of haberdashery and crafts). They moved within Amersham but stayed in the town for the rest of their lives. Their later houses, Charsley, Copperkins Lane and Cape Lodge, Chesham Road were probably both Kennard Houses so they must have been fans of his designs. Grace died in 1952 and William died in 1963, aged 87.
1939 During WWII Tudor & Co., a firm of Lloyds Insurance Brokers were evacuated to The Gables for the duration of the war. The director, Leslie Legg and 14 staff members are listed as living at the Gables in 1939.
Kennard built a house to the same design called Haydon Ridge, Merry Hill Road, Bushey. This was demolished in 2013.