Claremont, 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9NZ
ClaremontJ.D. Heaton's home, 1856-80
Dr Heaton and Fanny Heaton outside Claremont, courtesy of the YAS The drawing room at Claremont, courtesy of the YAS

Dr Heaton bought this Georgian villa in 1856, after Fanny took rather too seriously a comment that he would be prepared to offer her brother-in-law John William Atkinson £2,500 for it (Payne and Payne, 1980, pp. 7-8).  He immediately embarked on a number of ‘improvements’, employing the architect George Corson.  His fatherly pride is reflected in the external details around the front windows which include the initials of his children.  Claremont reflected Heaton’s growing status and influence in Leeds.  Its size meant that he could be involved more fully in the social life of the local elite.  The building is now the headquarters of the Thoresby Society and the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, the latter being the current custodians of Heaton’s journals.  Originally the grounds were much more extensive, but were sold off for development after Heaton’s death, so it is now crowded by late-Victorian terraces.

Not surprisingly, Claremont features centrally in the journals.  It was from two platforms in the grounds that Heaton, his family and 120 guests witnessed the Queen and Prince Albert processing to Woodsley House the day before the opening of the Town Hall.  Afterwards  they provided ‘an elegant meal of tea & coffee, cakes & hot house fruit; - and party guests of the inferior rank, servants and all the Bruncliffe tenantry – for whom we provided a good tea in the Octagon, and cheese & bread and beer and ginger beer’ (Journal, i. 193).

In 1862, Claremont was the venue for the annual soirées of the Leeds Conversation Club, made up of the twelve ‘leading men’ of the town, of course including Heaton.  On these occasions, held annually in strict rotation, the houses of the members were opened up to members of the town’s leading families, who could come to look at the latest art-works and even watch scientific experiments.  Among other things on display were some of Ellen Heaton’s paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, plans of buildings in progress in Leeds, and ‘Fanny’s piece of needlwork, St Ann teaching the Virgin Mary, which had been commenced for Exhibition in the International Exhibition’ in London (Journal, i.).

Claremont remained in the hand of Heaton’s descendents until 1894, when it was sold to architect James Charles.  The land was largely given over to development, but Charles’s son John remained in residence until 1907, after which it became a nursing home.  The house was purchased by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in 1968. (Payne and Payne, pp. 9-10).

The images on this page show Dr Heaton and his wife Fanny outside Claremont, and a view of the drawing room.

 Further Reading:
 Payne, D. and Payne, B (1980), Claremont: Leeds. Leeds: Privately Printed.