Then & Now

Elmdene – Then & Now

Elmdene – Then & Now

This Then & Now comparison, of the long demolished house known as Elmdene, comes courtesy of Joanna Illingworth. Elmdene was a Victorian house that was once on the site of what is now Tulip Tree Avenue.

The position of Elmdene can be seen on the following side-by-side map comparison of the OS 25-inch 1892-1914 map here. By the looks of the position of the orangery and bay window in the ‘then’ image, the precise location of the ‘then’ photographer’s vantagepoint would today be within one of the houses on the eastern side of Sunningdale Avenue. Hence, Joanna’s position for the ‘now’ image, on Tulip Tree Avenue itself, is about as close as it would be possible to get the original vantagepoint, save perhaps for this view from Sunningdale Avenue.

According to the excellent A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street-Names (Rookfield Publications, 2015) by Robin D. Leach & Geoff Hilton, this was the second house given the name Elmdene. The original Elmdene, fronting onto Whitemoor Road, survives today, now known as Five Gables. Robin & Geoff’s book tells us that it was William Henry Mitchell who built our ‘new’ Elmdene house (pictured above) in 1897 – 1898.

Nearby Elmdene Road and Sunningdale Avenue had been built in 1956, by developer Thomas Bates – the former being named after Elmdene House, of course. Tulip Tree Avenue was then built in 1960, which explains why its course exactly follows the existing line of the house’s drive, as Elmdene house would still have existed amongst the new Tulip Tree Avenue development for some years afterwards.

Robin & Geoff also correct an earlier assertion by Harry Sunley in Kenilworth – A Chronology (Odibourne Press, 1989) that William Henry Mitchell was a member of the Mitchell & Butler brewery family, stating that he was, in fact, an unrelated “fancy paper manufacturer”. They do, however, confirm Harry’s demolition date of the ‘new’ Elmdene as 1976.

Specifically, the site is now occupied by the maisonettes known as Tulip Tree Court, shown in in Joanna’s ‘now’ picture above.

Many thanks to Joanna Illingworth for providing these pictures.

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