Many thanks to reader Mike Smith for sending me a copy of an article entitled “The Splendour of the Modern Actor” from a weekly newspaper called The Sketch dated August 2nd 1899. The article was about the American actor Nat C. Goodwin and his wife, the actress Maxine Elliot, who lived in Jackwood at the end of the 19th Century and who I mentioned in a previous post about Jackwood. It includes a number of fascinating photographs of Jackwood as it was in 1899. The appearance of the house, shown in the photograph above, is the same as the Old English style mansion that was put up for sale in 1874.
The author of the article describes their journey by horse drawn buggy from Blackheath station up to the mansion in the woods of Shooters Hill. The description of the interior of the house matches that in the sales literature:
The interior is entirely lined with polished pitch-pine, and the great staircase with its open gallery is a triumph of workmanship, while the overmantels are of dark wood handsomely carved, many displaying the Arms of the first tenant, Sir William Plasted Wilde, whose crest and motto decorate the richly moulded ceilings, especially that in the drawing room, which is adorned with heavy pendants.
I think the Sir William Plasted Wilde mentioned should be really be Sir James Plaisted Wilde who became Lord Penzance, of the Mysterious P atop the gate leading into the walled garden in Jack Wood. Some of the details of the drawing room can just about be made out in the photograph below.
Much of the Sketch article is about the lifestyle of the tenants of Jackwood, and the way in which they had decorated the house, for example with Nat’s collection of native American artefacts which included the feathered head-dress of Indian chief Big Mouth and a selection of leather belts, one of which was fringed with a number of human scalps. There is a brief mention of the gardens:
But your hostess is insistent on showing you the grounds before luncheon, for the charming pleasances and the terraced rose gardens, enclosed on one side by a dwarf wall adorned by rounded Kentish gables and copied from Haddon Hall, are amongst the sights at Jackwood. These pleasant walks, paved in places with smooth red tiling, overlook the lawn tennis ground, at one end of which a mighty oak gives agreeable shade to onlookers, while further down the hillside the thistle-grown slopes are the playground of wild rabbits, which emerge from the thick underwood around in the cool of the evening. Through a vista in the forest, a favourite resort of the family, you may watch on Thursday nights Brock’s fireworks at the Crystal Palace far away in the distance.
Parts of the terrace shown in the photograph below are amongst the few remnants of Jackwood that survive today.
A fascinating glimpse into “society” life in Shooters Hill at the end of the nineteenth century. Thanks again Mike.