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 village lies low, but the surrounding scenery is extremely
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. 1) 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. 2) James. I. leased it to George Cole,
Esq. (fn. 3) 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. 4) . 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
Sudbrook, an ancient hamlet (fn. 5) 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.
Various tombs in the churchyard.
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. 6) . 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. 7) . The present incumbent is the
Reverend William Foster.
The parish register begins in 1570; but the early part is very
Comparative state of population.
||Average of Baptisms.
||Average of Burials.
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 present number of houses is 53.
The following entry of the marriage of the Duke and Duchess
of Lauderdale seems worth recording:
Marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale.
"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."
The Duchess of Lauderdale was buried in the church of Petersham June 16, 1696. There is no monument to her memory.
Instance of longevity.
The following instance of longevity occurs in the register:
Mr. Hugh Sims, aged 100, was buried Dec. 10, 1789.
Mr. Henry Smith left the sum of 4l. per annum to the poor
of this parish.