We have been told that the wall between number 22 and its neighbour number 24 ( the house built by the Pitcher family ) is an interesting example of a “spite wall”. The unusual height and shape was said to have been designed for no other purpose than to prevent the people in number 22 from looking at the Pitcher’s property. There are different versions of the story behind the building of this wall, but we can only tell the tale as we recall it being told by Mr Elwyn Pitcher and from facts we have found in censuses.
The censuses from 1871 and 1881 suggest that the Pitcher family originally lived in number 12 and show that Mrs Pitcher (Anna Maria) was a dressmaker. The family then lived for a short while at number 22
We were told that Anna Maria Pitcher, Elwyn’s grandmother, did a little cleaning for the people in a nearby house but one day she failed to turn up. Somebody went past the Pitcher’s house and saw a lady who was obviously a customer trying on a hat or dress before the mirror in the front room. Annoyed that Mrs Pitcher was not “indisposed” as she had claimed, but working at her other job as a dressmaker, this person reported to the landlord that Mrs Pitcher was using her house for business purposes. Apparently this was a problem because it was against the terms of the lease.
Later the Pitcher family had their own house built at number 24 and could carry on whatever businesses they chose. They were determined that their neighbours would never pry into their property again – hence building up the wall.
However we are concerned about the truth of this tale. The deeds of 22 Gloucester Road apparently indicate that the wall belongs to that house. If this is the case, it is hard to say how the Pitcher family who were tenants could have altered the height or shape of a wall that did not belong to them. We have not seen the deeds of either house and so cannot comment on the truth of the story.