A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Hampton is a large parish on the banks of the Thames, which forms its southern and western boundaries and divides it from the neighbouring county of Survey. It is a low-lying district, nowhere rising over 50 ft. above the Ordnance datum, and was formerly open country, part of which now remains as Hounslow Heath. The soil is light and gravelly, and there is little indigenous timber. (fn. 1) There is still some pasture land, but most of it has been built over, except in the royal demesne of Hampton Court, which forms a considerable proportion of the parish. (fn. 2) The area, including the ecclesiastical district of Hampton Hill, is about 7,036 acres of land and 62 acres of water. The district called Hampton Wick (fn. 3) on the east, which was made a civil parish in 1831, contains 1,235 acres of land and 69 acres of water. An ancient British canoe made of the trunk of a tree was found in the Thames opposite the palace, and is now in the British Museum. A row of oak piles also found in the river has been considered Roman, but is probably the remains of an old weir of later date.
The main road to Kingston-on-Thames is a branch from the Portsmouth Road, which it leaves at Esher, passes through East Molesey, crosses the river at Hampton Court by an iron bridge erected in 1865, (fn. 4) and proceeds outside the wall of the 'Tilt Yard,' and between the Home Park and Bushey Park to Kingston, whence it continues to Richmond and London. Another road branches from the Kingston road opposite the 'Lion Gates,' to the north of the palace, and goes through the chestnut avenue of Bushey Park to Teddington, Twickenham, and Brentford. (fn. 5) It is well known that these roads and all the district surrounding Hounslow Heath were once infested with thieves and footpads. In 1667 Lord Bridgman's children were robbed going from Teddington to Tunbridge, and the Dowager Lady Portland between Twickenham and Hampton. (fn. 6) The Staines road, which leads north-west from Hampton Court Bridge to Hampton town, following the course of the river, passes several interesting houses; opposite them lie 'the Green' and Bushey Park. At the foot of the bridge is an old hotel, 'The Mitre,' probably the successor of 'The Toy,' (fn. 7) which originally stood on the opposite side of the road, near the 'Trophy Gates' of the palace. It was built in the time of Henry VIII, and is mentioned in 1653 in the Parliamentary Survey of Hampton Court as a 'Victualling house, worth by the yeare seaven pounds.' (fn. 8) This house was famous for the convivial meetings held there by the 'Toy Club,' of which William IV, then Duke of Clarence, was president. The club included many wellknown names among its members. (fn. 9)
The first house on the road to Hampton is said to have been occupied by Sir Andrew Halliday, kt., the famous physician, and the second, known as 'Old Court House,' is that which Sir Christopher Wren rented of the Crown for £10 a year in 1708 and almost entirely rebuilt. (fn. 10) It was originally only of timber and plaster, but is now a solid brick house, and remains very much as it was when the great architect died there in his sleep after dinner on 25 February 1723, in the panelled room on the east side of the house. (fn. 11) There is a garden going down to the river, and the old tree under which Wren used to sit is still there, and so is the tool-house he built. After his death the house became the property of his son and grandson successively, and after passing through many hands (fn. 12) was eventually leased to Mr. James Fletcher, a well-known inhabitant of Hampton Court, who held it for many years and died in 1907.
The next house but one was occupied by Professor Faraday the scientist, to whom it was given in 1858. He died there in 1867, (fn. 13) and the house was afterwards granted to Lady MacGregor, widow of Sir John Atholl Bannatyne MacGregor, bart., and daughter of Sir Thomas Hardy, Nelson's flagcaptain at Trafalgar. (fn. 14) It is now the residence of the Princesses Dhuleep Singh. Several houses on this side of the Green are probably of about the period of Wren, if he was not actually concerned in building them, and they have charming slips of old-fashioned garden going down to the river. They are all Crown property; some are occupied by tenants and some held by 'grace and favour.' A little further up the road, beyond a large new private hotel, is the range of low Tudor buildings surrounding a square courtyard, which constituted the 'Royal Mews,' built by Wolsey and enlarged by Henry VIII. (fn. 15) These buildings, it is said, were at one time used as an inn, called 'The Chequers.' (fn. 16) They are now granted by the king to private individuals; one suite of apartments was occupied by the late Mr. Charles Maude, Assistant Paymaster-General, (fn. 17) others of smaller size being allotted to pensioners of Queen Victoria's household. The adjoining building to the west is Queen Elizabeth's stables, built in 1570. (fn. 18) Some of the remaining stables are made use of by the ladies of the palace. There are one or two more modern houses, and to the right, on the Green, just before the paling of Bushey Park commences, is a square building of the time of William III, now used as supplementary barracks. (fn. 19) From this point the road used to be a pretty one, lying between the river and Bushey Park. The electric tramway now spoils its picturesque appearance. Nearer to Hampton, on the river side, is a large, comparatively modern house called the Cedars, which it appears that David Garrick, the actor, bought and bequeathed to his nephew. (fn. 20) It is now the property of Mr. J. W. Clayton, one of the partners in the firm of Messrs. Day &Martin. (fn. 21) It has a pretty terraced garden on the bank of the river. The next house is a picturesque building called 'St. Albans.' It was originally built for Nell Gwyn by Charles II. The local tradition is that it was occupied at a later period by George Fitzclarence, 1st Earl of Munster, son of William IV, who, with his wife, is buried in Hampton Church. (fn. 22) One of his children, a boy, was drowned by falling into the river from the lawn of St. Albans. Lytton Bulwer, afterwards Lord Lytton, lived there for a time, (fn. 23) and after him Sir William Wightman, (fn. 24) who married a niece of John Beard the singer, (fn. 25) an old resident of Hampton, who is also buried in the church. The present tenant is Mr. Robert Graham.
Beyond this house, but on the opposite side of the road, is 'Garrick's Villa,' formerly called 'Hampton House,' which David Garrick bought in 1754 (fn. 26) from Mr. Lacy Primatt. The portico was built on to the original house by Garrick, from a design by Robert Adam. (fn. 27) In the garden is a small brick building with a dome and a porch, supported by four pillars from the Adelphi Theatre. This used to be called the 'Temple of Shakespeare,' and a life-sized statue of the poet by Roubiliac stood in it. (fn. 28) Part of the garden is divided from the house by the road, but can be reached by a passage underground. The river side of the garden, where the 'temple' stands, is well known to frequenters of the Molesey Regatta, which takes place opposite the lawn. Horace Walpole wrote of Garrick's entertainments at the house, and mentioned on one occasion that he met there at dinner the Duke of Grafton, Lord and Lady Rochford, Lady Holderness, 'Crooked' Mostyn, and the Spanish Ambassador. (fn. 29) In the Rambler of 1797 is an account of Garrick's charity and generosity to the poor people of Hampton. On 1 May he always opened his grounds to the children of the parish, and entertained them with 'cake, buns and wine.' Both he and his wife were fond of planting trees about their property ; Mrs. Garrick lived there for many years after her husband's death, until she died at the age of ninety-nine in 1822. Mrs. Hannah More used to visit her there. (fn. 30) All Garrick's collections, furniture, and pictures were sold after Mrs. Garrick's death. (fn. 31) In 1869 the house became the property of Mr. Grove, a retired tradesman, and his widow lived there till 1905, when the place was sold to the London United Electric Tramway Company, and was until recently occupied by Sir E. Clifton Robinson, the manager.
There are several houses in Hampton which claim to have been designed by Wren: among them Walton House, near the church, at present occupied by Colonel George Stevens. Beveree is also a good house of that period standing in a charming garden, occupied by Captain Christie-Crawford, J.P. Castle House is one of the oldest houses in Hampton, the tenant is Colonel Graham, late 16th Lancers. The Elms is another of the Wren houses, now tenanted by Dr. Tristram, K.C., Chancellor of the Diocese of London. Opposite the Elms is one of the largest houses in the parish, Grove House, surrounded by a high wall and with fine trees in the garden, which extends to Bushey Park. It is now the property of Mr. Stretfield. The Manor House (so-called) stands back from the road in wooded grounds, on which small houses have lately begun to encroach. It was the property of the late Mr. James Kitchin, and is now untenanted.
The vicarage is a modern house, built within the last thirty years on the site of an older one ; the present vicar is the Rev. Digby Ram, rural dean and Prebendary of St. Paul's. Hill House, near the station, was originally a private school, at which the late Lord Dufferin and FieldMarshal Earl Roberts were educated ; but it has now been demolished, with other good houses in the district, to make room for the Grand Junction Waterworks, which monopolize a considerable acreage on the road from Hampton to Sunbury. There was a picturesque Tudor building used as an inn, called The Red Lion, almost opposite the church, but it was demolished in 1908.
The district of Hampton Hill contains no houses of any historical interest. Bushey House, Bushey Lodge, the Stud House, the Pavilion, the Banqueting House, and Wilderness House are all in the precincts of Hampton Court, and will be dealt with under 'Parks and Gardens.' (fn. 32) There is one other large house on the north side of the Green called Hampton Court House, overlooking Bushey Park, of which a wing is said to have been designed by Wren. It was at one time the property of the late J. E. Sampson, City editor of the Times, (fn. 33) and at a later period of Mr. James Campbell, who added a large room as a picture gallery. It was afterwards bought by Mr. A. de Wette, and is now for sale. The Ivy House, which is practically in the palace gardens, with a terrace overlooking the Broad Walk, is a picturesque building of uncertain date: part of it is probably old, like the house next to it, which belongs to the King's Arms Hotel. The Ivy House is the property of Colonel Walter Campbell, son of Mr. James Campbell, who formerly owned Hampton Court House. There are various houses, some of them fairly old, and others new and uninteresting, on the Kingston Road looking into the Paddocks and Bushey Park. Most of them are Crown property. In 1707 Steele either rented or built himself a house called The Hovel at Hampton Wick, (fn. 34) to which there are numerous allusions in his letters to his wife, but the house has probably been pulled down, as it is not possible to identify it now. (fn. 35)
Besides the River Thames there is a considerable amount of ornamental water in the parks and gardens of the palace, and the Longford or King's River (now known according to the Ordnance map as the 'Queen's or Cardinal's River') which was cut in the reign of Charles I (fn. 36) for bringing a better water supply to the palace.
The ferry from the Surrey side of the river to Hampton Court (fn. 37) used to be an important holding, farmed out on lease with the ferry opposite Hampton Church. The office of ferryman was looked upon as a lucrative appointment, though 10s. a quarter for ferrying over all the workmen and labourers to the palace does not seem a great sum ; (fn. 38) but the 'fines due (to the king) for leasing the manor of East Molesey, Surrey, the two ferries called Hampton Court ferry and Hampton ferry and the fishing in Cobham River,' amounted in the 17th century to £448. (fn. 39) It was not till 1750 that a petition was presented to the House of Commons for permission to build a bridge across the Thames at Hampton Court. A Bill was passed in April 1750, (fn. 40) and the bridge was built and opened for the use of the public in December 1753. (fn. 41) There are two prints, published in 1753 and 1754, which show the picturesque structure of the first bridge, composed of seven wooden arches, but it seems to have been extremely defective and unpractical, and in 1778 it was replaced by a more solid though equally picturesque erection which consisted of eleven arches, (fn. 42) also of wood, standing on piles and surmounted by a low parapet. It remained till 1865, when it was removed, and the present inartistic iron bridge was erected in its place. (fn. 43) The tolls levied were on an exorbitant scale, and brought the owners a yearly income of about £3,000. In 1876 the Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the bridge for £50,000, and on 8 July 1876 it was declared 'free for ever.'
Hampton Court Station (London and South Western Railway) is on the Surrey side of the river near the bridge, in the parish of East Molesey. Hampton Station (Thames Valley line) is on the west side of the parish, beyond Hampton Church. There is also a station at Hampton Wick (London and South Western Railway branch line).
HONOUR OF HAMPTON COURT.
-In 1539 Hampton Court was created an 'Honour' by Act of Parliament. (fn. 44) It was among the 'statutory' as opposed to 'feudal' honours (fn. 45) created by Henry VIII. (fn. 46) The lands annexed to Hampton Court were partly confiscated monastic property, but some of them were obtained by purchase or attaint.
The following are the manors and lands annexed to the manor of Hampton Court by the Act creating the honour. In Surrey the manors of Walton on Thames, Walton Leghe, Oatlands (with lands in Weybridge, Walton, and Chertsey); the manors of Byfleet and Weybridge (with lands and tenements in Walton); East Molesey, West Molesey, Sandown, Weston, Imworth (or Imber Court), and Esher ; (fn. 47) lands at Heywood and the fee-farm of the borough of Kingston-on-Thames. In Middlesex the manors of Hanworth and Kempton, Feltham, and Teddington, with the parks of Hanworth and Kempton, and lands in Hampton, Kempton, Feltham, and Teddington. (fn. 48)
In the following year further manors were attached to the honour, i.e. Nonsuch, Ewell, East and West Cheam with lands in Coddington, Ewell, and Maldon ; the manors of Banstead, Walton on the Hill, Sutton, Epsom, Beddington and Coulsdon, Wimbledon with its members, Dunsford, Balham, Wandsworth, and Battersea, all in Surrey ; and in Middlesex, Haliford, Ashford, Laleham, Isleworth with its members, the site of the late monastery of Syon, and other lands in Hampton, Sunbury, Walton, Hanworth, Shepperton, Feltham, Kingston on Thames, Brentford, Hounslow, and Hanworth. (fn. 49) At later dates additional manors and lands were annexed, such as Norbury Manor in Croydon, (fn. 50) Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire, (fn. 51) the manor of Billets in Laleham. (fn. 52) There is also mention of a mill called 'Stentemyll,' and a ferry over the Thames to Hampton Court from East Molesey. (fn. 53)
The original statute creating the honour provided also for the making of a new forest or chase for the king, to be called 'Hampton Court Chase,' 'for the nourishing, generation, and feeding of beasts of venery and fowls of warren,' in which the king was to have 'free chase and warren.' (fn. 54) It was also enacted that the same liberties, jurisdictions, privileges and laws, that belonged to the ancient forests of the kingdom, should also apply to this 'the newest forest in England.' (fn. 55) The limits of the chase were clearly defined in the Act, and were to extend from the River Thames on the south side of the manor of Hampton Court to Cobham and Weybridge, thus including all the Surrey lands originally annexed to the honour. (fn. 56) The chase was to be surrounded by a wooden fence, and there is an early grant of £600 to Sir Anthony Browne, for 'paling, ditching, and quicksetting of the King's chase of Hampton Court,' (fn. 57) besides payments for stocking the chase with deer, (fn. 58) and precautions to be taken for preserving them there. (fn. 59)
Sir Anthony Browne was the first 'Lieutenant and Keeper of the Chase,' an office held always with that of 'Chief Steward of the Honour and Manor of Hampton Court and Feodary of the Honour.' (fn. 60) With these offices were also generally held that of Housekeeper of the Palace and the rangerships of Bushey Park, the Middle Park, and the Hare-Warren Park. The rangership of the 'House' or 'Home' Park was usually separate. The last holder of that appointment was the Duke of Gloucester. (fn. 61) Sir Anthony Browne (fn. 62) died in 1548, and was succeeded by Sir Michael Stanhope, who was also Keeper of Windsor Forest and Lieutenant of Kingston on Hull. He was implicated in the affairs of the Protector Somerset, and was beheaded in 1552. (fn. 63) Successive holders of the office were William Parr, Marquis of Northampton; (fn. 64) Charles, the famous Lord Howard of Effingham, afterwards Earl of Nottingham ; (fn. 65) James, second Marquis of Hamilton ; (fn. 66) George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, (fn. 67) the favourite of both James I and Charles I ; and Christopher Villiers, first Earl of Anglesey. (fn. 68) During the Commonwealth the office appears to have been in abeyance, but on Cromwell's death in 1658 George Monk, afterwards first Duke of Albemarle, the celebrated Parliamentarian general, (fn. 69) was appointed, and his appointment was confirmed by Charles II on his restoration. Monk held it till his death, and in April 1677 the stewardship of Hampton Court and rangership of Bushey Park were given to Barbara Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland, (fn. 70) who held them for her life in the name of her trustee, William Young.
In June 1709 Charles Montague first Earl of Halifax (fn. 71) was made keeper, and was afterwards succeeded by his nephew George Montague, also Earl of Halifax (fn. 72) by a later creation, and his son George Montague Dank second earl of the later creation. (fn. 73) On his death Anne, Lady North, afterwards Countess of Guildford, (fn. 74) was granted the offices, which she held for her life. In 1797 they were granted to H.R.H. William, Duke of Clarence, (fn. 75) and from the time of his accession to the throne in 1830 they have remained in abeyance. (fn. 76)
The chase seems to have been very unpopular from the beginning, and as early as September 1545, the 'men of Molsey and other towns in the chace of Hampton Court' were emboldened to lay a complaint before the Privy Council when it met at Oatlands, asking for redress on account of damage done by the deer, and other losses incurred by commons and pastures being inclosed. (fn. 77) Their petition was referred to Sir Nicholas Hare, (fn. 78) witnesses were allowed to appear before the Council, and were 'generally examined of their losses,' but no reparation seems to have been made at the time. In 1548, soon after the death of Henry VIII, a further petition was brought before the Lord Protector and Council, by 'many poor men' of the parishes of Walton, Weybridge, East and West Molesey, Cobham, Esher, Byfleet, Thames Ditton, Wisley, Chesham and Shepperton, complaining that 'their commons, meadowes and pastures be taken in, and that all the said parishes are overlayd with the deer now increasing largely upon them, very many Households of the same Parishes be lett fall down, the Families decayed, and the King's liege people much diminished, the country thereabout in manner made desolate, over and besides that his Majesty loseth yearly, diminished in his Yearly Revenues and Rents to a great Summe.'
The Lord Protector and Council examined twenty-four men of the parishes, and they were also interrogated by Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the Horse and Chief Keeper of the Chase, and it was decided that after Michaelmas that year the deer should be put into the Forest of Windsor, the pale round the chase taken away, and the land restored to the old tenants, to pay again their former rents. (fn. 79) A proviso was however entered 'that if it shall please his Majesty to use the same as a chase again,' the order was not to be taken as prejudicial to the sovereign's rights. These lands are therefore still technically a royal chase, and the paramount authority over all game within its limits is vested in the Crown.
In 1639 Charles I appears to have wished to make a new 'forest' by inclosing a tract of about 10 miles of country between Hampton Court and Richmond as a 'hunting ground for red as well as fallow deer.' (fn. 80) He even began building the wall to make this inclosure, but so much indignation was aroused among the people at the idea of their commons and pasture lands being taken from them that Archbishop Laud is said to have dissuaded the king ; and a new 'Hampton Court Chase' was not made. (fn. 81)