A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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In 704 Swaefred, King of Essex, and Earl 'Paeogthath' gave to the Bishop of London 30 cassati at Twickenham. The land was bounded on east and south by the Thames and on the north by the Crane, which suggests that the part of the later parish which lies north of the Crane then formed a separate unit, possibly attached to Whitton. (fn. 1) In 793 Offa granted what appears to have been the same estate to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 2) A priest named Werhard (d. 830) held it later, apparently by grant from the archbishop and the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, to whom he returned it by his will. (fn. 3) King Edmund of Wessex 'restored' Twickenham to Christ Church, and this was confirmed by Edred in 948. (fn. 4) How Christ Church lost its rights is unknown, but by 1086 Twickenham had become a part of the manor of Isleworth, in the hands of Walter of St. Valery. (fn. 5) Twickenham remained an integral part of what became the manor of Isleworth Syon, and a substantial part of the parish was still copyhold of the manor in the 19th century. (fn. 6) The medieval park of the manor lay just inside Twickenham, and though this became detached from the manorial estate in 1506, (fn. 7) the lords of the manor continued to hold a good deal of land in the parish until recent times. The manor of Isleworth rectory, which included the rectorial estate of Twickenham, also had demesne lands and tenants in the parish. In 1818 its copyhold included some 24 acres of old inclosure and allotments in Twickenham. (fn. 8)
The estate which in the 15th century was sometimes called the manors of TWICKENHAM, WORTON, and WHITTON, (fn. 9) and later became known as TWICKENHAM, YORK'S, or YORK HOLD, (fn. 10) consisted of lands originally held both of Isleworth manor and of the rectory. Its lords held courts in the 15th century, and in 1650 it had 13 free tenants and 36 copyholders. (fn. 11) In 1818 its copyhold in the parish consisted of some 12 acres of allotments as well as about 26 of old inclosures and a number of houses in the town, mostly between Church Street and the river. There were also a few acres in Isleworth and Heston. (fn. 12) No evidence has been found to support the claims apparently made in the 18th century to include in the manor much of Isleworth Field and parts of Hounslow Heath in Isleworth, Teddington, and Hampton. (fn. 13) No rights at all over waste were recognized at the inclosure. (fn. 14)
The first explicit reference to Twickenham manor occurs in 1445 or 1446, when it belonged to William York. (fn. 15) The earliest reference which has been found to the York family in Twickenham occurs in 1381, when Thomas Postel surrendered to John York in Isleworth manorial court lands which were held according to the custom of the manor. They included 80 acres of land, meadow sufficient for 3 virgates, and a fishery at Petersham Weir. (fn. 16) The earlier history of this holding cannot be precisely ascertained. In 1212 Geoffrey Postel had 1½ virgate and 12 acres of freehold land in Twickenham. (fn. 17) It was probably the same man, then described as of Worton, who held a fishery in Twickenham. (fn. 18) Another Geoffrey Postel held 1½ virgate of free land in Twickenham of Isleworth manor in 1300, but his holding cannot be traced in a rental made later in the 14th century. (fn. 19) Another holding which probably contributed to the later manorial estate was a 100-acre assart which Thomas of St. Valery (d. c. 1219), lord of Isleworth, granted to Gilbert of Whitton. Though this was described as lying in Isleworth, it may have been in Twickenham parish, for it was near Fulwell: it presumably lay on the edge of the heath. Thomas's grant also included an island and water before Twickenham church. (fn. 20) Ralph son of Gilbert of Whitton secured from Thomas a virgate containing 25 acres, lying in three crofts on the heath. These may have been near the Crane south of Whitton. The charter embodying this grant was afterwards altered so that it appeared to convey 4 virgates instead of one. (fn. 21) Ralph's son Matthew granted away 12½ acres in Whitton to be held of himself, (fn. 22) and John son of Matthew held 2 carucates in 1300. (fn. 23) Rather later he apparently held only a virgate in Whitton and 2 acres, which were possibly elsewhere in Isleworth manor. (fn. 24) It may have been the same Matthew of Whitton who was said in the early 15th century to have held a house and 2 virgates at Whitton of the rectory manor in 1239. He was said to have conveyed his holding to Thomas Prest, who also acquired two smaller estates held of the rectory manor. (fn. 25) It seems probable, however, that some intervening stages are missed out of this account, and that the Thomas Prest referred to in it was he who seems to have acquired a substantial estate in Whitton as the result of three final concords in the 1350's. These concerned respectively a carucate, 90 acres, and 100 acres of arable, with varying amounts of ancillary lands and the services of 13, 11, and 7 men, all in Whitton, Twickenham, Isleworth, and Heston. (fn. 26) It seems very likely that all three comprised at least in part the same property, and it is possible that this was partly identifiable with the land which John York acquired in 1381 from Thomas Postel. The fact that this transaction, however, as described above, was enrolled in the manorial court of Isleworth suggests that the land concerned was not free, whereas that conveyed by the three final concords was presumably freehold. How Thomas Postel acquired this land is not known, but Thomas Prest was afterwards said to have enfeoffed Thomas Postel and Richard Postel, clerk, with the three rectory manor holdings, which they in turn conveyed to John York. (fn. 27)
By 1410 John York's son, another John, was in possession of his rectory manor holding and also, no doubt, of his other lands. (fn. 28) He died in 1413 and William York who held Twickenham manor in 1445 or 1446 may have been his grandson. (fn. 29) William was a fishmonger of London and a merchant of the staple, and died in 1476 holding 300 acres of arable, together with other land, in Twickenham, Isleworth, and Brentford. (fn. 30) His widow Elizabeth (d. 1497) held his property in Twickenham for her life, added more to it, and spent at least part of her time in Twickenham. (fn. 31) Both of them leased the warren in Twickenham park for many years before Syon Abbey sold it to Henry VII. (fn. 32) Elizabeth was followed by her son William and then by John York (d. 1512), the son of the elder William by an earlier marriage. (fn. 33) Thomas York, the next owner, apparently lived in Ramsbury (Wilts.) where the family also held land, and sold his Twickenham property in 1538 to Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, the later Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector. (fn. 34) In 1541 Hertford exchanged it with the Crown for lands elsewhere. (fn. 35)
It is clear that much of the York family's property in Twickenham and Isleworth lay around Whitton and Worton, (fn. 36) but by 1486 Elizabeth York also held houses and buildings in Twickenham which may have included the sites of both York House beside the church and the vanished manor-house across the road. (fn. 37) Which of these was the original chief house of the property is unknown, though the manor-house held that position very soon after it came to the Crown. Under the Crown, the manorial lands were divided into three main blocks. These centred upon the manor-house, York House, and a farm-house near the later Orleans House, though of course each group included lands scattered through the parish.
The manorial rights, unlike the three main houses and the lands attached to them, do not appear to have been leased before the mid-17th century. The manor was granted to Queen Henrietta Maria as part of her jointure in 1629, and, after being sold by Parliament in 1652, reverted to her at the Restoration. In 1665 she granted the reversion, after an earlier lease for 21 years presumably made since 1660, to the Earl of Clarendon, and his son Lawrence Hyde (created Earl of Rochester in 1682) seems to have been in possession in 1689. (fn. 38) After Henrietta Maria's death the manor was settled on Catherine of Braganza, who granted other reversions, while in 1675 yet another reversion, to take effect after all of these had expired, was granted to John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (d. 1680). (fn. 39) This last interest came into the hands of Lord Bolingbroke, on whose attainder in 1715 it reverted to the Crown. His lease, which was for 41 years, came into effect soon after and was sold in 1723. The three purchasers apparently received not only the manorial rights but some rights in the manor-house and in 67 acres of land. By 1731 their interests were held by Robert Gapper and John Sainsbury. (fn. 40) Robert Gapper's son was still one of the Crown's lessees in 1818, but after the expiry of his lease the Crown sold the manorial rights, without any other property, in 1836. (fn. 41) They were purchased by Charles Osborn, who sold them in 1855 to Thomas Wisden of Broadwater (Suss.). (fn. 42) Three members of Wisden's family were joint lords in 1909. By this time the manor was moribund and with the abolition of copyhold tenure it finally lapsed. (fn. 43)
The manor-house was leased in 1542, very soon after the Crown acquired it, to Robert Bocher, a groom of the chamber, who later also held Isleworth rectory. (fn. 44) The name of Arragon House was not applied to the house until much later (possibly not before the 19th century) and there is no evidence to support the popular tradition that one of Henry VIII's queens was connected with the house or manor. (fn. 45) Certainly none of them owned it, for Bocher remained in possession until his death in 1556. There followed other leases to persons connected with the court. (fn. 46) In 1635 the house was occupied by the widow of Sir John Walter, chief baron of the Exchequer, who had probably himself lived there before his death. (fn. 47) John Browne, clerk of the parliaments, occupied the house by 1645 and had acquired the Crown lease by 1650. In addition to the house and 12 acres behind it, stretching to Oak Lane and Shoe Lane (now Amyand Park Road), (fn. 48) Browne held of the Crown 49 acres scattered about the parish. (fn. 49) The manor-house was sold by parliamentary trustees in 1651 but Browne's leases were extended after the Restoration. (fn. 50) At least for part of the 18th century the house seems to have been held by the lessees of the manor, (fn. 51) but the actual occupants may have held only the lands immediately adjoining it, and in 1837 the Crown sold it with only about 5 acres. (fn. 52) Samuel Scott (d. 1772), the painter, lived in the manor-house for a few years, the parish curate lived there later, and the Crown's purchaser kept a boys' school there. (fn. 53) He sold it in 1853 and Arragon Road and Catherine Road (now Alma Road) were laid out over the grounds. (fn. 54) The house was soon afterwards pulled down, except for a small part, called Arragon Tower, which survived until 1934. (fn. 55) It was said to have been a Tudor building, altered in the time of William and Mary. (fn. 56) In 1650 it was evidently considered to be a fine house in good repair, and John Browne claimed in 1674 that he had spent much money on the house and lands. (fn. 57)
The first recorded lease of York House by the Crown occurs in 1550. It was called York or York's farm and had lands in Twickenham, Whitton, and Isleworth: (fn. 58) in 1604 these, as customarily leased, comprised about 124 acres. (fn. 59) Like the manor-house it was generally leased in the 16th century to court officials who probably sub-let it. (fn. 60) In a map of 1607 a house apparently on the site was marked as belonging to Sir James Pemberton, who was not a Crown lessee. (fn. 61) In 1633 Andrew Pitcairne, groom of the chamber, bought the existing leases, which were valid until 1669, and in the following year he transferred them to Thomas Pitcairne, a Scot who had come to England since 1603, and presumably a relation. (fn. 62) Glover's map of 1635 marks the house, which is shown in scaffolding, as 'Mr. Pecarne's': whether this was Thomas or Andrew is unknown. Thomas was said to be in possession in 1637, (fn. 63) but no other references to him have been found. In 1636 Andrew purchased the freehold reversion of the estate, which had just been sold by the Crown to his vendor. (fn. 64) He died in 1640, and his widow, who held York farm for life, in 1653. (fn. 65) Their son Charles in 1656 sold the house and 6 acres adjoining it to the Earl of Manchester. (fn. 66) He presumably retained the rest of the lands, for he held the lease of the property later called Orleans House and in 1662 apparently lived in Whitton. (fn. 67) In 1661 Manchester sold the house in turn to the Earl of Clarendon. (fn. 68) The Pitcairnes and Manchester used the house themselves, and so did Clarendon before his exile in 1667. (fn. 69) With the manorial rights, it passed to his second son the Earl of Rochester, who is mentioned as visiting or living at Twickenham in the 1680's. (fn. 70) He sold the house in 1689 to Sir Charles Tufton, who had several children baptized or buried at Twickenham between 1690 and 1710. Like other houses in Twickenham, York House had a number of eminent owners in the 19th century, and for some years before 1871 was occupied by the Count of Paris. (fn. 71) In 1924, after the house had been threatened with demolition and the York House Society had been formed to resist this, it was bought by the urban district council to be a council house and offices. (fn. 72) In 1958 it was still used by the borough council for these purposes.
York House in its present (1958) form consists of a central, three-storied block flanked by lower wings at each side. The central block is a symmetrical red brick house probably of the very late 17th century, with stone dressings and a hipped roof. Several of the rooms have original panelling and fireplaces. The staircase and basement contain earlier work and perhaps survive from the house Andrew or Thomas Pitcairne was building in 1635. (fn. 73) Side wings had been added by 1818, and further additions have been made since. (fn. 74)
The third main block of Crown lands in Twickenham was said in 1669 to be called the Queen's farm. (fn. 75) From the mid-16th century the leases included a house in Twickenham, which seems to have stood in the Mount Lebanon-Orleans House area, and 53 acres, of which about 20 lay behind and around the house, 10 lay just across the parish boundary in Teddington, and the rest were in Twickenham and Whitton fields. (fn. 76) Like the other Crown property it was leased to royal officials and others. (fn. 77) By 1592 the tenant in possession was one (perhaps Christopher) Rythe of Twickenham. (fn. 78) In a map of 1607, however, a fairly large house in this area was marked, like York House, as belonging to Sir James Pemberton, and in 1635 Glover attributed it to Lady Falkland. (fn. 79) In 1669 it was said that Theophilus Rythe had held the farm, with other lands of his own, and that his son Solomon had sold it to Andrew Pitcairne. (fn. 80) The date of this sale is unknown, but in 1638 Pitcairne, who already held York House, secured a reversion (for 1652-67) of the then current lease of this farm. In 1650 his widow Charity held the lease. (fn. 81) The house was evidently a fine one with well-stocked gardens, (fn. 82) but Richard Webb, who bought it from Charity Pitcairne or her son before 1660, seems to have built another house close by. (fn. 83) It seems possible that the original farm-house stood on the site of Mount Lebanon or Riverside, while Webb's was almost certainly on the site of Orleans House. Parliament had sold the property in 1651 to Captain Richard Ell, (fn. 84) who after the Restoration continued to hold land on its western boundary, (fn. 85) and a conveyance of 1697 expressly excluded both a house formerly built on part of the property by Richard Ell and a house formerly in possession of Solomon Rythe and later of Richard Ell: (fn. 86) one of these was possibly on the site of Mount Lebanon and the other of Riverside House. (fn. 87) Richard Webb, meanwhile, sold his interests in the whole property, presumably including both his new house and the older one, in 1661. In 1670 it came to Jane Davies, who secured further extensions of the leases to 1720. (fn. 88) In 1694 she lent the house to the later Queen Anne whose son the Duke of Gloucester exercised his regiment of boys on the ait (since joined to the mainland) (fn. 89) opposite the house. (fn. 90) In 1697, after Jane Davies's death, the house was sold to Lord Poulett, probably on behalf of his son-in-law James Johnston (d. 1737), secretary of state for Scotland, was living there by 1702. (fn. 91) This deed excluded about 20 acres of the appurtenant lands as well as the two houses mentioned above. Johnston was reputed to have here one of the finest gardens in England and to produce good wines from his vineyard. (fn. 92) In 1710 he had the house rebuilt by John James, and in 1720 James Gibbs added a detached octagonal room, according to tradition for the entertainment of Queen Caroline (then Princess of Wales). (fn. 93) Many of the later tenants of the house were eminent in some way. They included Louis Philippe, during his first exile as Duke of Orleans, and his son the Duke of Aumale from 1852 to 1871. (fn. 94) In between their tenancies, the Crown finally sold the freehold outright. (fn. 95) One of the owners at this time was the Earl of Kilmorey, who had earlier owned Cross Deep House and later moved farther down the river to Gordon House in Isleworth. (fn. 96) From 1877 to 1882 Orleans House, as it was by now known, was used as a kind of country club. (fn. 97) In 1926 it was largely demolished, except for the Octagon. This was bought by the Hon. Mrs. Ionides of Riverside House next door and survives as one of the architectural treasures of Twickenham. (fn. 98) The grounds were excavated for gravel and afterwards acquired by the urban district as public gardens. (fn. 99)
Manor Road, off the Staines Road, takes its name from a 19th-century house which was not in fact connected with any manor. (fn. 100) The site of the so-called Manor House on the Isleworth boundary at Whitton had long been occupied by a fair-sized house, but it was not a manor-house, nor was it called one until modern times. (fn. 101)