Finchley's Nether Court: An Edwardian winter wonderland118 years ago, Finchley's Golf Club wasn't a golf club, but a wintry Edwardian manor. Here, its history is uncovered
This idyllic snow-covered scene is Nether Court, Finchley in 1904, three years into the reign of King Edward VII, and ten years before World War One.
Some of you may be familiar with this grand building as the clubhouse of Finchley Golf Club, but in 1904 it was the home of Henry Thomas Tubbs. Tubbs had made his wealth from textile manufacture and property speculation. His company Tubbs Lewis & Co had been established with partner Joseph Lewis, in London in 1854, manufacturing boot elastic, (similar to the elastic you would get in a Chelsea boot).
Henry Tubbs was born in London, the son of a shoemaker. Leaving school, he became an apprentice to a haberdashery company, and then set up his own business with Lewis. Tubbs Lewis & Co became very successful, with the elasticated cloth finding its way into other products, in particular undergarments, or ‘knicker elastic’, in modern parlance. The two partners also invested their money into property and made considerable fortunes.
Tubbs decided to have a private mansion built on land purchased just off Frith Lane. The building was designed by architect Percy Stone, and construction started in 1880 and finished three years later. It was very much the aspirational home for a man who had done rather well for himself, (Tubbs also served as a local Justice of the Peace), with fifteen bedrooms, an entrance lodge, and a coach house, with its own accommodation above. The grounds had formal gardens with a fountain, a lake with an island, a walled kitchen garden and a nursery garden.
Tubbs lived at Nether Court until his death in 1917. The house and grounds were purchased by Hendon Urban District Council and then sold to Finchley Golf Club in 1929. It survives as the largest, and best-preserved Victorian property in the London Borough of Barnet. Many of the original features remain, including the dining room, saloon, hall and main staircase with its stained-glass windows. The six windows include the H.T.T. and M.L.T. monograms for Tubbs and his wife on either side of the Tubbs heraldic arms. The three windows below portray scenes of a farm labourer and his family. The Finchley Club still uses a variant of the coat of arms used by Henry Thomas Tubbs and his motto “Per Deum et Industriam obtinui”, which translated means, “What I have I obtained through God and hard work”.
Looking at the wintry scene in the 1904 photograph one can only imagine how deep the snow was or just how cold it was, however, judging by the number of chimneys the grand house has, it was almost certainly nice and warm inside!