The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1792.
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This parish lies in the hundred of Kingston, at the distance of about nine miles from Hyde-park-corner. It is bounded by the river Thames, and by the parishes of Kingston and Richmond. It includes a part of Richmond-park. The land is principally pasture and meadow; and the soil for the most part sand. The parish is assessed the sum of 126l. 16s. to the land-tax, which is at the rate of 4s. in the pound.
The manor at the time of the Conquest belonged to the Abbey of St. Peter at Chertsey, from which circumstance, no doubt, the place derived its name (fn. 1). The Abbot of Chertsey having given it to Henry V. (fn. 2) it continued for a considerable time in the hands of the crown. It was settled among other lands upon Ann of Cleve, who surrendered it to Edward VI. (fn. 3) James. I. leased it to George Cole, Esq. (fn. 4) and it has since undergone the same alienations as the manor of Ham, being now the property of Lionel Earl of Dyfart.
James II. granted a lease of a mansion here to Viscount Cornbury (fn. 5). This house, being then the property of the Earl of Rochester, was burnt down by accident on the first of October 1721. William the first Earl of Harrington re-built it, after a design of the Earl of Burlington. On the death of the late Earl, it was sold to Lord Camelford, who in the year 1784 purchased the fee-simple of the crown, an act of parliament being procured for that purpose. His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence bought it of Lord Camelford in the year 1790, and resides there during the summer season. The pleasure-grounds are spacious and beautiful, extending to Richmond Park, a small part of which has lately been added to them by a grant from his Majesty, including the Mount; where, as tradition says, Henry the VIIIth stood to see the signal for Ann Bullen's execution.
Sudbrook, an ancient hamlet (fn. 6) in this parish, is now a single house, the property and residence of Lady Greenwich, as it was of her father John Duke of Argyle, the celebrated statesman.
There was a church at Petersham at the time of the Conquest. The present structure was erected in the year 1505, as appears by a note in the parish register, which adds, I presume, on the authority of tradition only, that it was built on the south-side of the abbey. I have met with no account or record of a religious house at Petersham. The church belonged to Merton Abbey, as the manor did to that of Chertsey. The present church is a brick building in the form of a cross; it consists of a nave, chancel, and two transepts; on the west-side is a low tower.
In the chancel is the monument of George Cole, Esq. who died in 1624. Under an arch lies his effigy habited in a black robe and a ruff. Within the rails of the communion table are the tombs of his son and grandson. On the north wall is a tablet to the memory of Thomas Gilbert, Esq. who died in 1766. In the nave is the tomb of Robert Scott, Esq. of Horsley-Hill, Colonel of the 6th regiment of foot, who died in 1770. In the south transept is the monument of Sir Thomas Jenner, Knt. successively Baron of the Exchequer and Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, who died in 1707, and the tomb of Henry Green, who died in 1654. In the north transept is a monument to the memory of Jane, daughter of James Long, Esq. of Draycott, who died in 1651, and the tombs of Colonel William Duckett, who died in 1749; Nathaniel Scott, Esq. who died in 1770, and Mary, wife of Sir James Cockburn, Bart. who died in 1766.
In the church-yard are the tombs of the following personss:—Samuel Bugby, merchant, who died in 1710, and Bartholomew Hammond, Esq. who died in 1777; Peter, son of Claudius Fonnereau, LL.D. who died in 1759; John Marke, Esq. who died in 1763; John Gray, Esq. who died in 1769; Nicholas Sprimont, Esq. who died in 1771; Elizabeth, wife of Richard Hay, Esq. who died in 1774; Rebecca, wife of John Bristow, Esq. who died in 1775; John Crockatt, Esq. who died in 1777; the Reverend George Tilson, M.A. who died in 1778; and Anna Maria, wife of John Bulley, Esq. who died in 1790.
The church of Petersham is dedicated to St. Peter, and is in the diocese of Winchester and the deanery of Ewell. It was a chapel of ease to Kingston upon Thames till the year 1769, when by act of parliament it was separated from the mother-church; and being consolidated with Kew they were made one vicarage, as mentioned in the account of that parish. In the year 1266 divine service having been discontinued in the chapel of Petersham, an agreement was made between the Prior of Merton and the inhabitants of this parish, that a chaplain should officiate there every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, on the following terms:—That the Prior and Convent should allow him a certain portion of grain annually out of the tithes; and that the parishioners, on their part, should give him a bushel of rye for every virgate, or ten acres of land (fn. 7). In the year 1658 it was presented to the commissioners appointed by Cromwell to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical benefices, that Petersham was a small chapel dependant on Kingston; that the tithes were worth about 5l. per annum; and that it was without a settled curate. It was determined therefore, that Petersham should be made a separate and distinct parish; that the hamlets of Ham and Hacche should be annexed to it; and that all the tithes should be appropriated to the maintenance of the minister (fn. 8). The present incumbent is the Reverend William Foster.
The increase of population may be ascertained in some measure by the average of baptisms; that of burials is a very uncertain criterion, as in some years more than two-thirds of the latter are brought from neighbouring parishes.
"The ryght honorable John Earl of Lauderdale (fn. 8). was married to the ryght honorable Elizabeth Countesse of Desert, by the Reverend Father in God (Walter) Lord Bishop of Worcester, in the church of Petersham, on the 17th day of Februarie 1671–2, publiquely in the time of reading the common-prayer; and gave the carpet, pulpit-cloth, and cushion."