Campion House and its Environs

picture of Campion House

Campion House before Try Homes erected its fence along Thornbury Road

Henry Daniel Davies

Campion House was built 1856 as part of the Davies Estate. Henry Daniel Davies was a member of the legal profession and a speculator in estate development. He bought the Spring Grove Estate, including Spring Grove House in which he then lived, in 1850 after which The Grove was laid out. Davies added a further 228 acres to the Estate (north of Spring Grove, extending to Jersey Road, east to Wood Lane and West towards Lampton).

By 1855 Davies had laid out Osterley Road, Thornbury Road and Eversley Crescent. He planned the estate so that it would consist of large villas and detached dwellings for well-to-do middle class people ("city gentleman, those in professions, and retired army and navy officers"). According to Gillian Morris (History of Spring Grove) there were some 95 private "households" and 29 "traders" on the estate in 1867. We have not been able to verify these figures. The map for 1865 shows around 70 houses on the estate, and the 1894 map shows a few more. It could be that the disparity between these figures arises from the distinction between houses and households.

What we now call Campion House was originally named Thornbury House. Davies moved into the house in 1860 but, after a financial collapse in 1870 he sold it probably along with the rest of the estate. About 29 houses from the Davies era still remain and make a significant contribution to the character of the area.

The Jesuits

After Davies sold the house it changed hands a number of times before finally being acquired in 1911 on behalf of the Society of Jesus by Father Luck, with financal help from Madame Leonie Blumenthal. It was intended to be used for retreats (initially for Catholic working men), once it had beeen refurbished, and was operational by 1912. The Jesuits also renamed the house Campion after the Catholic Martyr Edmund Campion (1540-1581). In time, the house came to be used as a pre-seminary. The Jesuits also bought a significant amount of land and properties in the surrounding area.

The current accomodation block which runs along Thornbury Road was completed in 1963. The Chapel was built in the following year.

The Area

The main building periods/styles in the surrounding area area (1) are mid-Victorian 1850-1870 (Davies era), (2) late-Victorian development (from 1888) followed the coming of the District Line, (3) Edwardian Housing, (4) Arts and Crafts housing (from the Edwardian period until the late 20s).

The housing along Thornbury Road illustrates all these building periods plus some modern developments (1960s onwards). If you walk along Thornbury Road from the A4 to London Road you will see the housing of the periods mentioned above. From the A4 to Kilberry Close there is a range of fine Edwardian and Arts and Crafts Housing plus some modern developments.

Beyond Kilberry Close a number of Davies Era Houses can be seen. These include Clifton House (94) and a recently restored Davies House on the corner of Eversley Crescent. Diagonally opposite there is another good example of a Davies era house.

Beyond Eversley Crescent there is a terrace of late-Victorian semi-detached houses houses on the right hand side. After Spring Grove Road but on the same side of Spring down to the medical centre there is a terrace of Edwardian semi-detached houses leading to Osterley Mansions (a Grade II listed building built in 1860). On the other side of the road there are 4 Davies era houses.

Beyond the medical Centre there are some early-Victorian (pre-Davies era) cottages. One the opposite (east) side of the road there is a fine school house dating from 1856 and then some late-Victorian cottages.

Thornbury Road is thus not only a strong reminder of the original street plan of Henry Davies but its houses provide clear and valuable visual evidence of the main building periods from Davies through to the modern period. The one period that is noticeable only by its almost complete absence is the 1930s (see our Concluding Statement (paragraphs 2.14, 2.15) to the Public Inquiry into the second Try Homes application for more on this).