Sub-Sunk Mortlake

Boat Race

This sketch by Albert Betts shows a cottage with a small front garden squeezed between two taller houses and set back from the road. In the foreground an old man smoking a pipe emerges from the left and a horse drawing a cart waits on the right. The front garden slopes away from the street behind railings so that the cottage stands at a much lower level than its neighbours. This feature gives Albert his rather charming title for the drawing.

The cottage was on the south side of Mortlake High Street, about 100 yards west of St Mary's Church. The drawing also has some just-legible writing: the name "Barton" is visible on the house to the left of the cottage and the part word "Bas..." is decipherable on the shop front to the right with an initial which could be "C". Kelly's directory reveals that on Mortlake High Street between the residence of Mrs Charlotte Bass, who ran a china and glass warehouse, and Alfred Barton, watchmaker, was a residence occupied by Robert Storkey. The 1901 Census records that Robert Storkey was a 53-year-old brewery labourer, born in Bungay, Suffolk, who lived at 72 Mortlake High Street with his wife, Jane, aged 49 who was born in Walworth. They had two children – Maud aged 16 and George, aged 20, who was a brewery carman. The Census confirms that this is the location of the "sub-sunk" cottage because Charlotte Bass resided next door.

There is a further reference to the sub-sunk cottage. In John Eustace Anderson's Rambles through Mortlake, Old Waxam, the Cobbler, and his granddaughter Dora are chatting about Old Poulter the mole catcher, when the old man says "he had a brother who was also a mole catcher, who lived in an old-fashioned cottage on the south side of the High Street, which is so very low and stands back from the pathway next Woods', the clockmaker's former shop (now Barton's)".