The two-storey brick building with the fancy entrance at the corner of Walthamstow’s Pretoria Avenue and Mission Grove is barely recognisable as the grand residence it once was.

Known as Clock House, it was built in 1813 by Thomas Courtenay Warner, possibly upon the site of an earlier house named Black House, from which Blackhouse (Blackhorse) Lane took its name. The attractive white Suffolk stone Georgian house, with fine stone steps and columns, was set in large spacious grounds covering six acres, and included landscaped gardens and stabling. Impressive ornamental gates and a lodge house on Marsh Street (now High Street) marked the entrance to a sweeping driveway.

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East and rear elevations of the building. Picture: Jay Garrett

Members of the Warner family were residents of the house for several decades. Following Thomas Courtenay Warner’s death there in December 1823, his brother Edward moved in with his wife Ann Mary and their children, although by 1841 only their daughter, also Ann Mary, remained with them. Edward died in 1847, followed by Ann Mary a few years later in 1850, leaving the younger Ann Mary at the house, although she was joined by her brother and sister-in-law Thomas and Elizabeth Warner. Tragically, Ann Mary died a year after her mother, aged just 30, at Higham House, Woodford, her brother Edward’s residence.

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An angled view of the front of Clock House. Picture: Jay Garrett

This period witnessed the start of Walthamstow’s transformation from rural to urban, following the arrival of the railway at Lea Bridge in 1840 and subsequent building development, firstly at South Grove near St. James's chapel, and at Markhouse and Church commons from the 1850s. As the area was developed with new streets and houses, so the area became less desirable for inhabitants of the area’s mansion houses, and many sold up to developers and moved away. Eventually, the grounds of Clock House too were earmarked for development, ironically, by Thomas Courtenay Theydon Warner, grandson and namesake of Clock House’s first owner.

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An Ordnance Survey map of the area in 1863

The Clock House estate was developed from the 1880s, including Pretoria Avenue, which was built right up to the east side of the house, and terraced houses built directly to the south, where Mission Grove would later be laid out. T.C.T. Warner became one of the largest landowners in Walthamstow, and his legacy was the expansive Warner Estate, incorporated as The Warner Estate Co. Ltd. in 1891.

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Clock House in c1905. Picture: Vestry House Museum

Astonishingly, the house survived wholesale demolition, and went on to play a significant role within the building development happening all around it. By the 1890s it was the home and business premises of builders Bosley & Son, who built and leased a substantial amount of property in the area, especially around St James Street. By the early 1900s the building had become one of the Warner Estate’s housing offices, along with premises at Brettenham Road and Forest Road.

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The impressive stone steps and columns. Picture: Jay Garrett

A further change in use came with its conversion to use by the bakery department of the London Co-operative Society, in operation there by the 1920s, and it was later used by a private company to store goods. Clock House was granted Grade II listed status in 1986 and has since been renovated and converted to residential status once more, as several flats.

Karen Averby is a seaside-loving historian and research consultant specialising in researching histories and stories of buildings, people and places. She researches house histories for private clients and collaborates in community heritage projects ( She is also director of Archangel Heritage Ltd, an historical research consultancy providing research services for the commercial heritage sector ( Also found on Twitter @karenaverby and @archaheritage