The origin of the name Cantlowes (or Cantelowe, or Cantlow, or sometimes Cantlers) is unknown. However, one possibility is William Cantelowe who was Lord Mayor of London in 1466.
Camden Town did not start as a traditional English village centred on a green, such as Hampstead and Highgate. Nor was it a strip development along a main road, such as Kentish Town and Islington. It was, in the words of architectural historian of London, John Summerson, a ‘Georgian suburb’, newly created on fields either side of the River Fleet through permission of an Act of Parliament in 1788.
Early maps show the countryside to the north of London – St Giles, Marylebone, Tottenhall Manor and Pancras (‘Marybone Park’ was the hunting ground of Henry VIII that later became Regent’s Park) – and upwards to the hills of Hampstead and Highgate.
The Roque map of 1746 shows the Fleet, roads and fields. The road from Tottenham Court to Hampstead passes to the northwest. It divides at the Mother Red Caps inn, also called the ‘halfway house’, and crosses the Fleet. Kentish Town is a straggle of houses along the road. Here, the inn and workhouse are identified as red, the River Fleet in blue and the Cantlowes demesne land is outlined in orange.
The Manor of Cantlowes was one of four in the Parish of St Pancras recorded in Domesday. It stretched from Kentish Town to Highgate. At the south end, land of about 220 acres around the Manor house was a ‘demesne’, the land retained by the landlord for private use. St Paul’s Cathedral held the Cantlowes demesne land as a ‘prebend’ – that is, the Cathedral allocated the income from its lease to a non-resident canon, called a prebendary.
The estate is shown as the ‘Demesne Land of Cantlowes’ on this syncretic map produced by the Survey of London /London County Council in the 1930s.
The manor and farm are described in the survey of Church properties by Parliament in 1649. The land was sold to Richard Utber, a City draper who had other properties in Middlesex. It reverted to St Paul’s at the restoration. In 1666 it was sold to Sir George Ent, a physician.
It was bought from Dr Ent by Jeffrey Jeffreys in 1681, who died next year. His executor, Lewis Jeffreys, passed ownership to John Jeffreys, whose money had earlier paid for it.