Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cows in Stroud Green

I've been reading Gillian Tindall's new book on the history of Three Houses, Many Lives (a bit misleading as though many individuals are listed from censuses and registers, none are brought biographically 'to life'). One house - Stapleton Hall at the end of Stroud Green - was for 150 years occupied by farmers and cow-keepers, essentially as a dairy farm, the pastures being in nearby fields. 

 Across the junction is a large Old Dairy, now a pub, built in 1890 by the Friern Manor Dairy Company.  Tindall thinks this was unconnected with the Stapleton Hall farmers, but it is surely likely that the site was a cow-byre, milk-yard and possible dairy, already old when sold to Friern Manor Co. (a large dairy business that had previous connections with Stapleton Hall farm, and was consolidated in 1887). 

What's nice is that between stucco pilasters and brick swags on the exterior wall of their new dairy the new commercial owners commissioned  large sgraffito decorations, showing bucolic scenes and up-to-the-minute views of modern butter-making and suburban milk delivery - giving an illustrated history of agricultural development that also acknowledges the pastoral nostalgia for lost rusticity that accompanied Victorian urbanisation, a thread that runs through Tindall's work. 

It's amazing that after 120 years the seven sgraffito panels are still in place and in relatively good shape despite their main bus-route location. They show milkmaids with grazing cows, old-style delivery with pails and yokes, and the interior of a new hygenic dairy.  No-one seems to know who designed or made the panels, though it ought to be possible to find out.

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