A Georgian terraced house at 76 Charlotte Street where John Constable lived until his death. Photo taken in 1964 and shows a blue plaque which reads: "John Constable 1776-1837 died here."
Number 76 Charlotte Street in 1964. A Blue plaque placed on the wall by the London County Council (LCC) reads: “John Constable 1776-1837 died here.” Photo: Grant Gibson / Fitzrovia News archive.

The painter John Constable is better known for living in Well Walk in Hampstead but he actually spent the last ten years of his life in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia in a building that sadly no longer exists.

In 1984 one of our readers wrote a letter to us and was kind enough to send us a photo of 76 Charlotte Street which he had taken in 1964.

Grant Gibson had lived in the house in the early 1960s and wrote to say:

“The house was owned by Gwyneth Johnston, a daughter of Augustus John, and she lived there with her mother Nora Beck [sic]*, a mistress of John in the twenties. During my stay there the house was divided into bedsits and flats. The brief and abrupt inscription on the blue plaque gives no indication that number 76 was in fact Constable’s town house where he lived and worked while his wife [Maria Elizabeth Bicknell], who found life in the city unhealthy, stayed in their ‘country’ home in the Vale of Health [Hampstead]. At the back of the house he built a studio and I lived in this lofty room for a short while during my stay.

“In 1966 I left work one evening and passed by 76. The front door had been removed and the demolition contractors were in. My feelings as I wandered gingerly (there were no floorboards left) over the whole house, into every room I had once lived in, are hard to describe. In the heady days of the Swinging Sixties not a whisper or murmur of protest was raised nationally or locally at the destruction of the home of one of our greatest painters, and the fact is not even remembered on the monstrosity erected in its place.”

*Nora Beck (nee Brownsford) has also been referred to as Norah Brownsford and Norah Back.