The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1792.
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It is not improbable that the name of this place, which was anciently written Wymbaldon and Wymbeldon, was derived from one of its early proprietors. I have seen ancient records in which the name of Wimbaldus occurs. Dune in the Saxon language signifies a hill.
Wimbledon lies in the western division of Brixton hundred, and is situated about seven miles from Hyde-park-corner, being three miles south of Putney. The parish is bounded by those of Merton, Wandsworth, Putney, and Kingston. In a survey of the manor, dated 1612, this parish is said to contain 1648 acres of cultivated land; its whole extent is now calculated at about 2,800 acres, of which about 800 are arable; 1,000 pasture; 100 meadow; 400 common; and 500 wood. It may be observed, that this calculation includes 800 acres of Lord Spencer's park, of which 600 are pasture and 200 arable. Two hundred acres of the wood are inclosed and regularly cut, the remaining 300 acres constitute part of Wimbledon Common.
The soil of this parish is very various, consisting of gravel; clay; black sand upon a stratum of gravel; black mould upon gravel and clay; sandy loam upon a clay bottom; and strong loam upon the same; the meadows are black moor earth. In several parts of the parish the springs are very near the surface, and the ground swampy (fn. 1). Wimbledon is charged the sum of 471 l. 8 s. to the land-tax, which, in the year 1791, was at the rate of 4s. in the pound.
At the south-west angle of Wimbledon-common is a circular encampment with a single ditch; it includes a surface of about seven acres; the trench is deep and remains very perfect. Camden, who says that this camp was called in his time Bensbury, is of opinion (fn. 2) that this was the site of a battle between Ceaulin King of the West Saxons, and Ethelbert King of Kent, in which the latter was defeated; and which is said to have been fought in the year 568, at a place called Wibandune (fn. 3). In this engagement two of Ethelbert's generals, Oslac and Cnebba, were slain.
In the early part of the present century there were annual races upon this common, which had then a King's plate (fn. 4).
It has been before observed, that in all the very ancient records Wimbledon is described as a grange or farm within the manor of Mortlake, which accounts for its being omitted in the Conqueror's survey. Archbishop Cranmer, whose predecessors had been possessed of this manor from the time of the Conquest (fn. 5), exchanged it for other lands with Henry VIII., who soon afterwards granted it to Thomas Cromwell Earl of Essex (fn. 6). After his attainder it was settled upon Queen Catherine Parr for her life (fn. 7). Queen Mary granted it to Cardinal Pole (fn. 8). Her successor Elizabeth first gave it to Sir Christopher Hatton (fn. 9); and again, in the 32d year of her reign, to Sir Thomas Cecil, afterwards Earl of Exeter, in exchange for an estate in Lincolnshire (fn. 10). His father, Lord Burleigh, had a grant of lands at Wimbledon in the reign of Edward VI. (fn. 11); and it appears from the date of some of his letters, that he resided there when he was Sir William Cecil and secretary of state (fn. 12). It is probable, notwithstanding the grant was made in his son's name, that he lived occasionally at the manor house. In the year 1599 he entertained Queen Elizabeth at his house at Wimbledon for three days (fn. 13). The Earl of Exeter left this estate to his third son Sir Edward Cecil, who was created a peer with the title of Viscount Wimbledon, and Baron Putney. Immediately after his decease, which happened in 1638, the manor was sold by his heirs to Henry Earl of Holland, and others, trustees for Queen Henrietta Maria (fn. 14). The mansion at Wimbledon is mentioned among the houses belonging to the crown in the inventory of Charles the First's jewels and pictures (fn. 15). It is worthy of remark, that this unfortunate monarch was so little aware of the fate preparing for him by his enemies, that a few days before he was brought to trial, he ordered the seeds of some Spanish melons to be planted in his garden at Wimbledon (fn. 16). When the crown lands were put up to sale, this manor, valued at 386 l. 19s. 8d. per annum, was bought by Adam Baynes, Esq. of Knowstrop in the county of York, at 18 years purchase (fn. 17). It is probable that it was sold by him to General Lambert, who was lord of the manor in the year 1656 (fn. 18). "Lambert," says Coke, author of a book called the Detection, "after he had been discarded by Cromwell, betook himself to Wimbledonhouse, where he turned florist, and had the finest tulips and gilliflowers that could be got for love or money; yet in these outward pleasures he nourished the ambition which he entertained before he was cashiered by Cromwell (fn. 19)." General Lambert was not only a cultivator of flowers, but excelled in painting them; some specimens of his skill in that art remained for many years at Wimbledon (fn. 20). After the return of Charles II. this manor was restored to the Queen, of whom it was purchased in the year 1661 by the Earl of Bedford, and others, as trustees for George Digby Earl of Bristol, and his heirs (fn. 21). His Lordship's widow sold it to Thomas Earl of Danby, the lord treasurer, who was afterwards created Duke of Leeds. The Duke, by his will, bearing date Jan. 21, 1711, left this estate in trust to Montagu Earl of Abingdon and others; they, by virtue of a decree in Chancery, sold it in the year 1717 to Sir Theodore Janssen, Bart. who becoming deeply involved in the unfortunate South-Sea adventure, it was again put up to sale, and purchased by Sarah Duchess of Marlborough for 15,000 l. (fn. 22) Her Grace gave it to her grandson John Spencer, Esq. grandfather of the Right Honorable George John Earl Spencer, the present proprietor.
This manor was valued in Edward the Confessor's time at 32 l. per annum (fn. 23); when the survey of Doomsday was taken, at 38 l.; and between those periods, at only 10 l.; in 1291, at 20 l. (fn. 24); in Archbishop Bourchier's time, at 47 l. 17s. 8d. (fn. 25); when the grant was made to Sir Christopher Hatton, at 98 l. 3s. 4¾d. (fn. 26); and when the crownlands were sold, in 1650, at 386 l. 19s. 8d. (fn. 27)
The following customs formerly prevailed in this manor, some of which have now necessarily ceased:—On the first coming of every new archbishop, each customary tenant was obliged to present him with "a gyste called saddle sylver, accustomed to be five marks;" every person who held two yard-lands, or 30 acres, was liable to serve the office of beadle; and those who held three yard-lands, the office of reeve or provost. Upon the death of every freeholder the lord was entitled to "his best horse, saddyl, brydell, spere, sworde, "boots, spores and armure, if he any should have (fn. 28)." Lands in this manor descend to the youngest son.
The manor-house, which was purchased of Sir Christopher Hatton by Sir Thomas Cecil, some years before he obtained a grant of the manerial estate (fn. 29), was rebuilt by him in the year 1588 (fn. 30). It received considerable damage by the accidental blowing up of some gunpowder in the year 1628 (fn. 31). It was upon its being repaired after this accident, perhaps, that the outside was painted in fresco by Francis Cleyne (fn. 32). Fuller calls Wimbledon-house "a daring struc"ture;" and says, that by some it has been thought to equal Nonsuch, if not to exceed it (fn. 33). A very accurate and minute survey of the house and premises was taken by order of parliament in the year 1649, the original of which is deposited in the Augmentation-office. It was read at the Society of Antiquaries in the month of Novembe last, and is now printed in the tenth volume of the Archæologia. The following account of the singular ascent to the north front will be found to correspond with the annexed plate, which is copied from an extremely rare if not an unique print in the possession of Richard Bull, Esq. to whose liberality I am indebted for the use of it (fn. 34). The survey, after mentioning two courts, one lying higher than the other by an ascent of twenty-fix steps, continues thus:—"The scite of this manor-house being placed on the side slipp of a rising ground, renders it to stand of that height that, betwixt the basis of the brick-wall of the sayd lower court, and the hall door of the sayd manor-house, there are five severall assents, consisting of three-score and ten stepps, which are distinguished in a very graceful manner; to witt, from the parke to a payre of rayled gates, set betwixt two large pillers of brick; in the middle of the wall standing on the north side of the sayd lower court is the first assent, consisting of eight stepps, of good freestone, layed in a long square, within which gates, levell with the highest of those eight stepps, is a pavement of freestone, leading to a payr of iron gates rayled on each side thereof with turned ballasters of freestone, within which is a little paved court leading to an arched vault neatly pillowred with brick, conteyning on each side of the pillers a little roome well arched, serving for celleridge of botteled wines; on each side of this vault are a payre of staires of stone stepps, twentie-three stepps in assent, eight foote nine inches broad; meeting an even landing-place in the height thereof, leading from the foresayed gates unto the lower court, and make the second assent; from the height of this assent a pavement of Flanders brickes thirteene foot fix inches broad, leading "to the third assent, which stands on the south side of the lower courte, consisting of a round modell, in the middle whereof is a payre of iron gates rayled as aforesayd, within which is a fountayne fitted with a leaden cesterne sed with a pipe of lead; this round conteynes a payre of stone stayres of 26 stepps in assent, ordered and adorned as the second assent is, and leades into the sayd higher courte, and soe makes the third assent; from the height whereof a pavement of square stone nine foote broad and eightie-seaven foote long leades up to the fowerth assent, which consists of eleven stepps of freestone very well wrought and ordered, leading into a gallery paved with square stone, sixtie-two foote long and eight foote broad; adjoyning to the body of the sayd manor-house towards the south, and rayled with turned ballasters of stone towards the north; in the middle of this gallery, the hall-doore of the sayd manor-house, the fabrick "whereof is of columns of freestone very well wrought, doth stand, "into which hall from the said gallery is an assent of two stepps. "From the forementioned first assent there is a way cut forth of the parke, planted on each side thereof with elmes and other trees, in a very decent order, extending itself in a direct line two hundred thirty-one perches from thence quite through the parke northward unto Putney-common, being a very special ornament to the whole house."
The Survey describes on the ground-floor, "a roome called the Stone Gallery, 108 foote long, feeled over head, pillored and arched with gray marble, waynscotted round with oake waynscott varnished with greene and spotted with starrs of gould, and benched all along the sides and angles thereof;" in the middle was a grottoe wrought in the arch and sides thereof with sundry sorts of shells of great lustre and ornament, formed into the shapes of men, lyons, serpents, antick formes, and other rare devices;" also "fortie sights of seeing-glass sett together in one frame, much adorning and setting forth the splendour of the roome." In the hall was "a table of one intire peece of wood, 21 foote long and 6 inches thick." The cieling was "of fret or parge work, in the very middle whereof was fixed one wellwrought landskip, and round the same in convenient distances seven other pictures in frames, as ornaments to the whole roome; the floor was of black and white marble." In this room was also a sayre and riche payre of organs." The chapel is described as paved with black and white marble, the roof was "a quadrate arch" painted with landscapes, as were also the side-walls above the wainscot. The lower parlour was "waynscotted with oake adorned with starres and cross patees of gould, the ceeling thereof a quadrat arch, in the middle of which (hung) one pinnacle perpendicular, garnished in every angle with coates of armes well-wrought and richly guilt." Near this was the balcony-room, the cieling of which also was "a quadrat arch, garnished and adorned in the angles with variety of several kinds of curious works." On the same, that is, the first floor, were the King's chamber, the Queen's chamber, and several other rooms, in one of which was "a lytle wyndow to looke into the greate kitchen." On this floor was also a stone gallery 62 feet long, on the walls of which were many "compendious sentences." At the east and west end of the house were two staircases 20 feet square, "topped with turrets of a great height, covered with blue slate; in the middle pinnacles whereof (stood) two faier gilded wether-cocks, perspicuous to the countrie round about." The west staircafe contained 82 steps, the east stairs, 33. "These staires," says the Survey, "are adorned with one large picture of Henry the Fourth of France in armes on horseback, set in a large frame; placed at the head thereof, and with landskipps of battayles, anticks, heaven and hell, and other curious works; under the staires is a little compleate room called the "Den of Lyons, paynted round with lyons and leopards." The great gallery on the second floor was 109 feet 8 inches long, and 21 feet 1 inch broad, "floored with cedar-boards casting a pleasant smell, feeled and bordered with fret-work well-wrought, very well lighted, and waynscotted round with well-wroughte oake 13 foot 6 inches high, garnished with fillets of gould on the pillers, and starrs and cross patees on the panes, in the middle whereof is a very sayre and large chimnie-piece of black and whyte marble ingraved with coates of armes adorned with several curious and well-guilded statues of alablaster, with a foot-pace of black and whyte marble." Near this gallery was a room called the Summer Chamber, 45 feet long and 20 broad, floored also with cedar, "well feeled with fret-work, in the middle whereof (was "fixed) a picture of good workmanship representing a flying angel." On this floor were several other rooms, among which was one called the Duchess's Chamber, another the Countess of Denbigh's Chamber, another the Lord Willoughby's. The whole house is said to have been of excellent good brick, "the angles, window-staunchions and jawmes all of ashler stone." The leads and battlements of the roof are described as having been a great ornament to the whole house. The surveyors valued the house alone at 150l. per annum, and reported the materials to be worth 2,840l. 7s. 11d. The second plate of Wimbledon-house, here annexed, represents the garden front: it is copied from another rare print in the possession of Richard Bull, Esq. (fn. 35)
In the survey of the gardens, &c. "the orangerie" is said to contain 42 orange trees in boxes, valued at 10l. each; "one lem"mon tree bearing greate and very large lemmons," valued at 20l.; "one pomecitron tree," valued at 10l.; "fix pomegranet trees," valued at 3l. each; and 18 young orange-trees, valued at 5l. each. The survey mentions "three great and sayer fig-trees, the branches "whereof by the spreading and dilating of themselves in a very large proporcion, but yet in a most decent manner, (covered) a very "greate part of the walls of the south side of the manor-house." In the several gardens, which consisted of mazes, wildernesses, knots, allies, &c. are mentioned a great variety of fruit trees, and some shrubs; particularly "a faire bay-tree," valued at 1l. and one very fayer tree called "the Irish arbutis, very lovely to looke upon, and "worth 1l. 10s." Above 1000 fruit trees are enumerated, among which is every sort now cultivated except the nectarine. Mention is made of a muskmilion ground, "at the end of the kitchen-garden, trenched, manured, and very well ordered for the growth of musmilions."
Wimbledon-house was pulled down by the Duchess of Marlborough in the early part of the present century, and rebuilt upon or near the site, after a design of the Earl of Pembroke. This house, of which there is a view in the Vitruvius Britannicus (fn. 36), was burnt down by accident upon Easter-Monday, in the year 1785. The ruins were cleared away, and the ground levelled and tursed, so as to leave scarcely a trace of its foundation. Some of the offices which were preserved from the flames have been elegantly sitted up, and are used as an occasional retirement by Lord Spencer's family. The situation is singularly eligible, having a beautiful home prospect of the park, with a fine piece of water towards the north, and an extensive view over the country of Surrey on the south.
John Lynton, at the time of the survey above-mentioned, held certain lands of the lord by the service of rendering annually four horse-shoes (fn. 37).
It appears by a record in the cartulary of the see of Canterbury (fn. 38), that Peter de Eggeblanche, or Equeblank, who was Bishop of Hereford from 1240 to 1269, held a house at Wimbledon under the archbishop.
The church stands near the site of the manor-house, and at a considerable distance from the principal part of the village. A church is mentioned in the Conqueror's survey as within the manor, which must have been that of Wimbledon, as there was no church at Mortlake till the reign of Edward III. (fn. 39) Archbishop Peckham held an ordination at Wimbledon in 1286 (fn. 40). The church has lately been rebuilt with grey-stock bricks, at the expence of about 2,200l. The new church, which was opened July 7, 1788, is sitted up in the Grecian style, and has galleries on the north, west, and south sides. At the west end is a circular projection, on which is a square wooden tower with Gothic pinnacles of artificial stone, and in the centre a taper spire covered with copper.
In the chancel, which underwent no alteration at the rebuilding of the church, and which seems to be of the 14th century, are some remains of painted glass, consisting principally of Gothic canopies. In the north window are the figures of St. John the Baptist and St. Christopher, and that of a crusader completely armed. He has a close helmet and a mail gorget; the rest of his armour is partly mail and partly plated. He is represented with whiskers; in his right hand is a spear, with a banner of the most ancient form; and upon his left arm a shield with the cross of St. George. His armour nearly corresponds with that of Sir John Creke, described in the first volume of Gough's Sepulchral Monuments. Sir John died some time in the reign of Edward III. In the east window are the arms and quarterings of Sir Thomas Cecil (fn. 41), afterwards Earl of Exeter; and those of Thomas Osborne, the first Duke of Leeds (fn. 42).
In the north wall is an altar-tomb, under a flat Gothic arch, to the memory of Philip Leweston. A tablet of a much modern date than the tomb is fixed on the wall under the arch, and gives the descending pedigree of Leweston but without dates; it appears, however, that his grand-daughter Catherine married William Walter, Esq. of Thindge in Northamptonshire, who died in 1587, and whose monument adjoins to that of Philip Leweston. It is mentioned in his epitaph that Mr. Walter lived 50 years at Wimbledon, upon the estate which he possessed in right of his wife.
"Hic jacet Richardus Wynn de Gwedir in comitatu Carnarvon Mil. et Baronet. Thesaurarius necnon consiliarius Honoratisse principis Henriettæ Mariæ Reginæ qui lineâ paternali ex illustri illâ familiâ et antiquissimâ stirpe Britannicâ Northwalliæ principum oriundus, denatus 19° die Julii 1649, ætat 61."
Sir Richard Wynne was Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Charles I. and attended him in the romantic journey which he took into Spain to visit his intended consort. Sir Richard drew up an account of his travels, which was printed among other scarce tracts by Mr. Thomas Hearne (fn. 43). He died at Wimbledon, in the manorhouse, which he held as trustee for Queen Henrietta Maria (fn. 44)
Aubrey mentions the tombs of Wm de—, rector of Wimbledon, who died in 1461; Thomas Myllyng, rector, who died in 1540; and Robert Squibb, Esq. who died in 1694, as being in the chancel; of these the last only remains.
On the south side of the chancel is a small chapel or aisle built for the interment of Lord Wimbledon's family, which is kept in repair with a sum of money left for that purpose, by Dorothy Cecil, one of his daughters. In the centre is an altar-tomb of black marble, over which hangs a viscount's coronet suspended by a chain from the cieling. The following inscription occupies the four sides of the tomb and the ledge which surrounds the upper stone.
"Here resteth Sir Edward Cecil, Knight, Lord Cecil and Baron of Putney, Viscount Wimbledon of Wimbledon, third son of Thomas Earl of Exeter and Dorothy Neville, one of the coheyres of the Lord Neville of Latimer, and grandchild of the Lord Trea"surer Burleigh, who followed the warres in the Netherlands five and thirty yeares, and passed the degrees of captaine of foote, and horse; collonell of foote and collonell of the English horse at the "battle of Nieuport in Flanders; who was admiral and lo: marshall, lieutenant-generall, and generall against the King of Spaine and Emperor, in the service of King James and King Charles the First, and at his returne was made counseilor of state and warre and lord lieutenant of this county of Surry, and captain and governour of Portsmouth; and after so many travells returned to this patient and humble mother earth, from whence he came, with assured hope in his Saviour Christ to rise againe to glory everlasting. His first wife was Theodosia Nowell, of the house of the "Lord Nowell and Viscount Campden, by the mother of the house of the Lo: Harrington, who died in Holland and lyeth buried in the cathedral church of Utrecht, by whom he had four daugh"ters here mentioned in this chapell with their husbands. His second wife was Diana Drury, here interred, one of the coheiresses of the house of Drury; and by the mother descended from the ancient family of the Dukes of Bucks and Stafford, and had only one daughter by her, named Cecil."
Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who served with Lord Wimbledon in Flanders, speaks of him as an able and an active general, though he lost some reputation by the miscarriage of the expedition to Cadiz, in which he commanded (fn. 45). He wrote a short defence of his conduct on this occasion, which is extant in print, and two short tracts on military affairs (fn. 46), which remain in MS. in the British Museum. The date of Lord Wimbledon's death is not mentioned on his tomb, nor is it to be found in the parish register; it appears, by his funeral certificate in the Heralds' College, that he died at his house at Wimbledon, Nov. 16, 1638. There is a rare print of him by Simon Pass.
In the east, west, and south walls of the chapel are small windows with coats of arms painted on glass. In the south windows are the arms of Cecil impaling Noel (fn. 47), and Cecil, with a viscount's coronet, impaling Drury (fn. 48). Underneath are tablets thus inscribed:—"His first wife, who in this tomb is named," and "his second wife." In one of the east windows is a coat of arms (fn. 49), impaling Cecil, underneath which is a tablet inscribed "Mr. James Fines, son and "heyr of the Lo: Viscount Say and Sele, and his wife Frances Cecil." The arms have been removed from the other window, but the tablet remains with the following inscription:— "The Lo: Francis Wil"loughby of Parrom, and his wife Elizabeth Cecil." In one of the west windows are the arms of Cecil only; the tablet underneath which is thus inscribed, "Dorothy Cecil, unmarryed as yet;" in the other the arms of Cecil on the female side, those of the husband having been removed. The following inscription is on the tablet beneath:—"Sir Christopher Wray, Knight, heyer to the "Drurys; and his wife Albinia Cecil."
Upon the floor of Lord Wimbledon's chapel are the tombs of Richard Betenson, son of Sir Richard Betenson, of Scadbury in the county of Kent, who married Albinia, daughter of Sir Christopher Wray, and grand-daughter of Lord Wimbledon; he died in 1677; and that of the honourable Frances Ellis, who died in 1687. She was wife of Andrew Ellis, Esq. of Alrey in the county of Flint; daughter of James Fiennes, Esq. Viscount Say and Sele, and granddaughter of Lord Wimbledon. Upon the walls and in the small niches are placed several pieces of armour.
In the nave of the church are the tombs of Mr. George Morley, who died in 1737; General Joseph Hudson, who died in 1773; his son Colonel Hudson, who died in 1789; and Peter Shaw, M.D. who died in 1763. He was physician to the late King, and to his present Majesty.
At the entrance of the church-yard, on the right hand, is a large columbarium made by Benjamin Bond Hopkins, Esq. for the interment of his family. Within it are inscriptions upon tablets of white marble to the memory of Benjamin Bond, Esq. of Clapham, who died in 1783; his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1787; and Eliza and Alicia, wives of Benjamin Bond Hopkins, Esq. of Painshill, who died in 1771 and 1788.
In the church-yard are tombs of Gilbert Smyth, M.A. of Christ's College, Cambridge, who died in 1674; John Simpson, "a zealous "minister of Christ, who was blessed with the conversion of very many souls in the city of London;" he died in 1662; Thomas Pitt of London, merchant (1699), and several of his family; Henry Canby Gent. (1719); John Tompkins, Gent. (1720); Mary, relict of Richard Savage, Esq. (1726); John Hopkins, Esq. (1732); he was commonly known by the name of Vulture Hopkins, and is remarkable for having accumulated an immense fortune, which he disposed of in such a manner by his will that it might not be enjoyed till the second generation. His intentions, however, were defeated, and his will set aside by the Court of Chancery, which decreed that his fortune should go immediately to the heir at law (fn. 50). To continue the list of tombs,—There are those also of George Brehold, Lieutenant of his Majesty's ship the Portland, who died in 1735; Thomas Walker, Esq. Commissioner of the Customs, and Surveyor-general of his Majesty's Land Revenue, who died in 1748; Sir Theodore Janssen, Bart. one of the directors of the famous South-Sea adventure, who died the same year; James Trymmer, Esq. (1762); John Lawson, Esq. (1764); Mr. David Ker (1770), and Richard Macpheadris, Esq. (1774); Martha, relict of Murthwayte Ivatt, Esq. (1770); Mr. John Paterson (1772); Sir Henry Bankes, Knt. and Alderman of London (1774); the Reverend John Cooksey, late curate of Wimbledon, (1777) (fn. 51); William Wilberforce, Esq. (1777); he was uncle to William Wilberforce, Esq. M.P. who inherited from him a house at Wimbledon; Kemble Whateley, Esq. of Lambeth (1780); Richard Gaire, Esq. (1788); Diana, wife of the Reverend Herbert Randolph, curate of this parish, who died in 1789; and Mary, wife of William Southouse, Esq. who died the same year.
The church of Wimbledon, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is within the peculiar jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whose predecessors the advowson of the church as well as the manor anciently belonged. Archbishop Cranmer aliened them to King Henry VIII.; who, in the 38th year of his reign, granted the rectory to be appropriated to the dean and chapter of Worcester (fn. 52), out of which the sum of 6l. 13s. 4d. each was to be allowed to the curates of Mortlake and Putney. By a grant of the same date he gave the advowson of the vicarage to Nicholas Heath, Bishop of Worcester, and his successors (fn. 53). Wimbledon and its two chapelries were afterwards put upon the same footing, and the salaries of the curates at each increased to 40l. per annum (fn. 54). In 1550 a letter was written by King Edward VI. to the Dean and Chapter of Worcester, to desire that they would make the like, or rather a better grant to Mr. Cecil, then secretary of state, (of a lease in reversion for 60 years,) than they did to Sir Robert Tyrwhit, whose interest in the old lease Mr. Cecil had purchased (fn. 55). In 1658 it was presented to the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical benefices, that the tithes of this parish were impropriated, and that the impropriators hired curates, and gave them what falaries they thought fit; in consequence of this representation, and the distance of Putney and Mortlake from the motherchurch, they made them separate and distinct rectories, endowing them with the great tithes, which at Wimbledon were then valued at 80l. per annum; those of Mortlake, at 70l.; and those of Putney, at 80l. (fn. 56) This arrangement of course lasted no longer than till the Restoration of Charles II. The rectory was taxed at 60 marks in 1291 (fn. 57). In the King's books it is valued at 63l. 4s. 2d. per annum.
The parsonage-house, which is an ancient structure, stands near the church. In the Survey, taken by order of parliament in the last century, it is described as containing a considerable number of rooms, and having two coach-houses, stabling for 14 horses, and a hawk'smew. One other building is mentioned as adjoining to it, containing two rooms above stairs and two below stairs, wherein, says the Survey, "the minister of Wimbledon and the French gardiner of Wimbledon oringe-garden doe live (fn. 59).
Walter Reynolds, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, was instituted to the rectory of Wimbledon in the year 1298, and quitted it in the year 1308, on being promoted to the see of Worcester (fn. 58).
|Average of Baptisms.||Average of Burials.|
The population of this parish appears to have increased during the last century in a proportion of somewhat more than two to one; and in the century preceding in a proportion of at least 4 to 1. In the year 1617, as it appears by a survey of the manor then taken, there were only 46 houses in this place; there are now nearly 230.
"The thirteenth day of Julie being Satterday, in the yeare of our Lord 1616, about half an hour before 10 of the clocke in the forenoon of the same day at Wimbledon, in the countie of Surrie, was born the lady Georgi-Anna, daughter to the right honorable Thomas Earl of Exeter, and the honorable Lady Frances Countess of Exeter; and the same ladie Georgi-Anna was baptised the thirtieth day of the same moneth of Julie, in the saide yeare 1616, being Tuesdaie in the afternoone of the same daie; Queen Anne and the Earl of Worcester, Lord Privie-Seal, being witnesses; and the Lord Bishop of London administered the baptism."
"Christopher Wraye, Esq. and Albinia Cecill were married the third of August 1633. She was given in marriage by her honorable father Sir Edward Cecill, Knt. and son to the right honorable the Earl of Exeter."
"On the 19th day of September 1678, Charles Earl of Plymouth was married to the Lady Bridget Osborn, daughter to the right honorable Thomas Earl of Danby, Lord High Treasurer of England (fn. 60)."
"Sir John Cotton married to Mrs. Elizabeth Herbert, granddaughter to the Duke of Leeds, in his chapel, on Sunday night, July 4, 1708; the licence being only a common one for the register of the parish church of Wimbledon, between the hours of 8 and 12 as usual."
"George John, son of John Spencer, Esq. and Georgiana his wife, was born September the first, and baptised October the 16th, 1758; his Majesty and Earl Cowper being godfathers; the Duchess of Marlborough and Lady Dowager Bateman godmothers. It is remarkable that his Majesty King George II. was godfather not only to this young gentleman, but to his mother, daughter of the Hon. Stephen Poyntz, Esq. and to his grand-mother, daughter of the right honorable the Earl of Granville."
Dorothy Cecil, daughter of Lord Wimbledon, by a deed of gift bearing date 1651, which she afterwards confirmed by her will, gave to this parish the sum of 25l. per annum, issuing out of an estate called Missleden and Newlands, in the parish of Putney. After deducting the sum of 8l. to be expended annually, if necessary, upon the repairs of her father's tomb, the remainder was to be thus appropriated:—Five pounds to educate children, and 12l. to bind them apprentices. This benefaction not having been regularly received, through the neglect of appointing proper trustees, application was made some years ago to the Court of Chancery, when Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, by a decree bearing date Feb. 11, 1744, ordered, that seven of the principal inhabitants of the parish should be appointed trustees, and that the number should be filled up whenever they were reduced to three. This rent-charge is liable to the payment of the land-tax, which occasions a deduction of 2l. 17s. 6d.
A charity-school for boys and girls was built in the year 1773, upon a piece of ground given by Lord Spencer. It is supported by an annual contribution of the inhabitants; about 80 children are educated there.
The Survey of 1649 mentions an iron-plate mill (fn. 61) at Wimbledon. There are now three manufactories in this parish, which are situated at a considerable distance from the village, on the banks of the Wandle, viz. Messrs. Henckell's copper-mills; Mr. Coleman's calicoprinting manufacture, and Messrs. Walls' manufacture of Japan ware.
On the side of the Common are several handsome villas, some of which deserve particular notice; the most striking is that which lately belonged to Mons. de Calonne, who made considerable additions to the house soon after he had purchased it of Benjamin Bond Hopkins, Esq. the present proprietor of Painshill. It had been, some years before, the property of Sir Henry Bankes, Knt. alderman of London. The pleasure-grounds, which are spacious and beautiful, adjoin to Lord Spencer's park. This villa was lately purchased by the Right Hon. Earl Gower.
I find nothing remarkable relating to the ancient house where the Reverend Mr. Lancaster now keeps an academy. It was built about the beginning of the last century; the Survey of 1617 calls it "a fair new house belonging to Mr. Bell." Before it was purchased by Mr. Lancaster it was successively in the occupation of the present Marquis of Bath and Lord Grenville.
The house, which now belongs to Michael Bray, Esq. was the
residence of William Benson, auditor of the imprests; who died there
in 1754. He was son of Sir William Benson, sheriff of London.
In the reign of Queen Ann he published a Letter to Sir Jacob Banks
upon the Miseries of the Swedes, since they had submitted to arbitrary power; in which he lamented the progress it was then making
in England. It is said that 100,000 copies of this Letter were sold.
The author was prosecuted by the Attorney-general; but it does not
appear that he was punished. In the next reign he became a courtier.
Sir Christopher Wren was displaced, to make room for him as surveyor-general of the board of works; and he attended the King to
Hanover, where he planned the famous water-works at Herenhausen. Mr. Benson was a great patron of literary men; he paid
the debts of Elisha Smith, author of the Cure of Deism; gave Dobson 100l. for translating Paradise Lost; and as a farther proof of his
respect for Milton, erected a monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey. He himself was author of an Essay on Virgil's Georgics,
two of which he translated; he wrote also some Letters on Poetical
Translations; and published an edition of Arthur Johnston's translation of the Psalms, which he preferred to Buchanan's (fn. 62). Pope has
introduced Benson more than once in the Dunciad: alluding to what
he had done in compliment to Milton and Johnston, he says:
"On two unequal crutches propp'd, be came;
"Milton's on this, on that one—Johnston's name."
A house, which belonged to the late Mr. Rush, and which is now pulled down, was remarkable for having been the residence of the late worthy and much-respected Marquis of Rockingham, who died there in 1782. The year after his death the Right Honourable Charles James Fox resided there whilst Secretary of State.