Sunday, February 08, 2015


 Some Homes of the Rafael Sabatini family

After he got married Rafael Sabatini moved to Laleham on Thames, in Surrey, to the address 'Thames Cottage'. The original building was not to be found even in the 1980s, when Jesse Knight searched for it. 

But now there are some photographs, photographed from photographs (yes, that's right) stuck into albums by the Dixon nephews of Ruth Sabatini and made available to Jesse and Dollie in 1986. The negatives have recently been scanned and saved (naturally showing all the wear and tear of time and storage) and the very best of those showing Thames Cottage is reserved for Reading Rafael, the second volume of ROMANTIC PRINCE, because it contains a discovery which even I, fond as I am of Rafael, could not imagine!

In this photograph we can see a number of persons at their ease on what I shall call the front verandah because this dwelling is nearer in size to a bungalow of British India than to my idea of an English cottage. We are reminded that Rafael entertained many friends wherever he stayed.

Because the first London address that Jesse had found for Rafael after he moved to the city dates to 1917 and No 81 Albert Bridge Road, Battersea, it was assumed that this was the first address. Now I have found a letter dated May 1912, to Francis Pryor (remember the dedication of THE SEA-HAWK?) and sent from 32 Cyril Mansions, Battersea Park.

I did not really expect to locate either of these original buildings. They must surely have been destroyed by enemy action in WW II, or by developers, I thought. But these are the images I found online, from estate agents' websites, first Cyril Mansions, then 81 Albert Bridge Road. 

After the wild success of SCARAMOUCHE and CAPTAIN BLOOD the Sabatinis moved to Rafael's own house in Hampstead. It is very well preserved and recent photographs as well as some from the interior (dating to 1926) will be found in Reading Rafael.

Christine Dixon lived at 19 Stanford Court, Cornwall Gardens after her divorce. When Rafael married her it became his town address, too. Once again, this image is from an online estate agent's site.

No 22 Pont Street, to which the Sabatini couple moved after the loss of their son, has been so altered that it would not matter to us what it looks like now.

About addresses connected with Rafael in Liverpool, and about Clock Mill before and after Rafael went to live there, there will be more here on my blog as I find the time.

About Rafael in Porto there is another delightful surprise reserved for Reading Rafael!


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am looking for pictures of Rafaels Hampstead home, but cannnot find the link to Reading Rafael. Please can someone help!

Ruth said...

READING RAFAEL is the second volume of my book on Rafael Sabatini. The book is called ROMANTIC PRINCE. The first volume is SEEKING SABATINI.

Dominic said...

'Thames Cottage' is still there, although it's lost its veranda and its name over the years. It's now 219 Thameside (or Thames Side), Laleham. On satellite image websites its the fourth house (third building) counting north/upstream from the Ferry Lane/Thameside junction. However it's better viewed on a street image sight, such as Google Earth, as the third and fourth houses are conjoined (semi-detached). Viewed from street level, the window arrangement, the front steps and details of the neighbouring property side wall all match your photo.
Would it be possible to obtain copies of any other photos you have of Thames Cottage, for our local collection?
Curator - Laleham Heritage Centre.

Ruth said...

Dominic, This is so good to learn! If only Jesse Knight had been able to find someone to show him what remains of Thames Cottage.
I have two other photographs with the front of the house as setting. One is in my book, READING RAFAEL, so I will not put it online. But if you contact me on e-mail, and if the photographs are not uploaded, and their sources are properly acknowledged (they came to me by a circuitous route), I will be happy to copy them to you.