A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.
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Before the Conquest the canons of St. Paul's held 5 hides, which in 1086 constituted one manor within the vill of Fulham. (fn. 1) Their lands were divided before 1181, although the two estates of 3 hides and 2 hides were still said to form one manor in 1222. (fn. 2) The division presumably had arisen from the need to maintain the prebendary of Chiswick, first mentioned in 1103-4. (fn. 3)
The larger estate was called by 1181 the manor of SUTTON (fn. 4) and by c. 1537 SUTTON COURT. (fn. 5) In 1502 the bishop ordered that Sutton, with the rectory and advowson of Chiswick, was to be enjoyed by the dean of St. Paul's so long as he should keep residence. Dean Feckenham's right and his annual payments to the chapter were confirmed in 1555, when mediators found that Sutton was not part of the deanery's ancient endowment but had been 'encroached' by his predecessors. (fn. 6) Thereafter Sutton Court, which could not be leased without the dean's consent, (fn. 7) was often known as the dean's manor. (fn. 8) In 1617 some chapter officers and local tenants were found to have withheld profits from the dean, hoping that he would not be able to assert his right to a manor which had been part of the common possessions of St. Paul's. (fn. 9) Nominally the lordship remained with both dean and chapter, except during the Interregnum when it was sequestrated to the corporation of London, (fn. 10) until it passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on the death of Dean Coplestone in 1849. (fn. 11)
The manor probably was always farmed out, as in 1181 to Nicholas, archdeacon of London, and in 1222 to Philip of Hadham. (fn. 12) Sutton may have been held at farm by the ancestors of John de Bray, who acquired land in fee in Chiswick in 1324, 1330, and 1337. (fn. 13) His interest in the manor may have passed, with other lands of his in Chiswick, to Sir William Scrope, who granted them to Richard II. (fn. 14) The Crown held the manor of Sutton by Chiswick in 1431, granting it to the treasurer Ralph, Lord Cromwell, in 1437 and 1442, (fn. 15) and disposed of the revenues in 1457. (fn. 16) It was said to have belonged formerly to Thomas Bray in 1469, when granted to Richard Bury, (fn. 17) and in 1470 Baldwin Bray surrendered his rights to Thomas Coveton and other clerks, who perhaps were acting for St. Paul's. (fn. 18) The dean and chapter leased Sutton in 1524 to Sir Thomas More, on whose attainder in 1535 it passed to the Crown, which granted the remainder of More's term to his widow Alice. John Lane, who denied having bought Alice's interest in Sutton Court in 1535, was granted leases by St. Paul's in 1538, (fn. 19) 1547, (fn. 20) and 1572. (fn. 21)
A 21-years' sublease was granted by Lane, of Twickenham, to John Sheppard in 1573. Under John Sheppard's will, dated 1575, the profits were to be taken during the minority of his two sons by Henry Platt, who further sublet the manor to Sheppard's widow Joan and her second husband Christopher Leyland. By 1589, when Joan was still alive, Sheppard's surviving son Robert had further subleased the manor to Robert Rowe. (fn. 22)
In 1639 the chapter granted Sutton Court for 21 years to Thomas Edgar, whose lease by 1649 had been bought by Chaloner Chute (d. 1659), (fn. 23) afterwards Speaker of the House of Commons. (fn. 24) Chute's widow Dorothy, formerly Lady Dacre, in 1661 was promised compensation for the manor, which had been assigned to her for life in 1653 but which Dr. Matthew Nicholas, on becoming dean of St. Paul's at the Restoration, had granted to his elder brother Sir Edward Nicholas, (fn. 25) the secretary of state. (fn. 26) Leases for 21 years, renewable by fine every 3 years, (fn. 27) thereafter were made by the chapter to Sir Edward in 1668, to William Ashburnham in 1672, to Thomas Belasyse, Viscount (later Earl) Fauconberg (d. 1700) from 1675, and to his widow Mary, a daughter of Oliver Cromwell, who died at Sutton Court in 1713. (fn. 28) From 1713 the lessee was Lord Fauconberg's nephew Sir Thomas Frankland, bt. (d. 1726), (fn. 29) followed briefly by Joseph Ormerod, (fn. 30) from 1728 Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington, from 1756 William Murray, later Lord Mansfield, under Burlington's will, and from 1773 John Heaton. The remainder of Heaton's final term, granted in 1799, was presumably bought by William Cavendish, duke of Devonshire, to whom in 1800 St. Paul's sold all the land but not the manorial rights. (fn. 31)
Chiswick had no separate rectory estate: the great tithes were held with Sutton Court by Sir Thomas More (fn. 32) and later lessees, and were purchased in 1800 by the duke of Devonshire. (fn. 33) In 1589-90 the lessee was entitled to all tithes of corn and hay within the parish except from the demesnes of the prebendal manor, which paid only one third of the tithe of corn. (fn. 34) The great tithes were estimated to be worth £55 4s. in 1649, (fn. 35) produced £93 9s. in 1702, (fn. 36) and were commuted for a rent charge of £50 in 1846. (fn. 37)
The manor house known by 1649 as Sutton Court (fn. 38) stood near the centre of the parish, north-east of Sutton Lane. (fn. 39) Roman brickwork and 15th-century pottery were found on its site in 1905. (fn. 40) The dating of letters patent from Chiswick may record visits to Sutton by Henry VI between 1441 and 1443. (fn. 41) Several houses were acquired by John de Bray (fn. 42) but a mansion house was mentioned only in 1589, when it had a gatehouse, malthouse, and farm buildings, all in decay. (fn. 43) The buildings, including a dovecot, had been newly mended a year later, when they stood within orchards and gardens of 3 a. (fn. 44) The main house, with a large hall and with garrets over the upper floor, had grounds of 9 a. in 1649. (fn. 45) It was assessed at 30 hearths in 1664 (fn. 46) and was 'fit to receive tomorrow a family of 40 or 50' in 1674, when there were 12 a. of walled garden. (fn. 47) The gardens were noted in 1691, when Lord Fauconberg possessed a maze and a bowling green, (fn. 48) and in 1725-6. (fn. 49) When part of the estates of Lord Burlington and the dukes of Devonshire, Sutton Court was occupied by undertenants, one of whom, Thomas King, largely rebuilt it before 1795. (fn. 50) Later tenants were Radcliffe Sidebotham in 1816, (fn. 51) Lt.-Col. Henry Cavendish in the 1820s, (fn. 52) Frederick Tappenden, who kept a boarding school there from c. 1845, (fn. 53) and William Compton in 1890. (fn. 54) The house, of two storeys and nine bays, with a balustrade and central pediment, (fn. 55) was demolished in 1896 and replaced c. 1905 by flats called Sutton Court, (fn. 56) which in 1979 stood on the north side of Fauconberg Road.
The prebendal estate, said in 1590 to be held of Sutton, (fn. 57) was often called in the 16th and 17th centuries CHISWICK manor (fn. 58) and from the mid 18th century the PREBEND manor of Chiswick. (fn. 59) Except during the Interregnum (fn. 60) the lordship remained with the prebendaries until the death of John Smith in 1859, whereupon the manor, in reversion on the expiry of under-leases, passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 61)
The prebendaries presumably exploited the estate until Gabriel Goodman, who retained his stall on becoming dean of Westminster, decided to secure his manor house at Chiswick as a retreat, in times of sickness, for Westminster school. The transfer, begun in 1562, was completed in 1570 by a lease of the entire estate for 99 years to Westminster's receiver-general, who then joined Goodman in assigning the property to the chapter, which in 1572 in turn joined Goodman in subletting the lands while reserving the school's house. (fn. 62) Thereafter Westminster held the manor house on long leases, later for 3 lives, (fn. 63) until the remainder of the chapter's last lease was bought by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1865. (fn. 64)
From 1572 the demesne lands of the Prebend manor, except the school's house, were leased out by the chapter of Westminster, (fn. 65) at first for 21 years (fn. 66) and by the early 18th century for 3 lives. (fn. 67) Leases were made to Thomas Childe in 1572, the judge Thomas Owen (d. 1598) in 1591, William Smeeth, to whom Owen had previously sublet the property, between 1592 and 1626, Henry Fryer in 1628, and the civilian Dr. (later Sir Arthur) Duck (1580-1648) between 1633 and 1640. (fn. 68) Duck's son Richard was in occupation in 1649, (fn. 69) when the manor, the school's house being reserved, was sold by parliamentary commissioners to William Angier and Edward Raddon of London. (fn. 70) The restored chapter leased the same property to Thomas Kendall and others in 1663 (fn. 71) and Kendall's interest was bought by Sir Stephen Fox, already a substantial copyholder, (fn. 72) in 1684-5. (fn. 73)
After Fox's death in 1716 the manor was held by trustees under his will, (fn. 74) then by his son Stephen (later earl of Ilchester) in 1726, by Dr. Michael Hutchinson, minister of Hammersmith, from 1727, by Mrs. Mary Daniel and Joseph Ashton from 1737, by Gauntlett Fry in 1745, by Miss Susanna Sharp from 1746, and by James Fry from 1768. Alexander Weatherstone held it from 1770 to 1783, followed by his widow Ann until 1795 and by the guardians of their son Henry. In 1803 Henry Weatherstone, of Lower Halliford in Shepperton, sold the lease to Benjamin Welstead of Kimbolton (Hunts.) in trust for George Richards (d. 1805) of Marylebone, who left it to his nephew the Revd. Harry Welstead (d. 1819) of Stoneley Hall, Kimbolton. (fn. 75) It passed to Harry's mother Ann Welstead (d. 1827), to her younger son Charles (d. 1850), and to Charles's executors Charles Marion Welstead and Charles Holt in trust for Mary Hayton, who in 1869 was granted administration of Harry's estate. The Welsteads' final lease, which had been renewed in 1837, was acquired by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1882.
The house reserved for Westminster, in 1649 first called College House, (fn. 76) was an extension of the prebendal manor house which stood east of the church (fn. 77) and which has tentatively been identified with the vicarage house mentioned in 1297. (fn. 78) Possibly Gabriel Goodman's predecessors had allowed Westminister to use the prebendal house, since Abbot John Feckenham was at Chiswick in 1558, when he employed workmen there. (fn. 79) In 1570 Goodman stipulated that his house be extended in order to accommodate the prebendary, the master and usher of Westminster grammar school, and 40 children. (fn. 80) Medieval stonework from the west part of the old manor house, previously its kitchen quarters, was used in Goodman's building, where by 1582 the entire school apparently could be lodged during an epidemic. (fn. 81) Scholars still retired to Chiswick under Dr. Richard Busby, whose premises were assessed at 24 hearths in 1664. (fn. 82) By 1705 the school's building had been divided among poor families (fn. 83) but soon afterwards was evidently repaired, being occupied by the headmaster in 1725 and intermittently by his successors until the time of William Markham, headmaster 1753-65, who used the prebendary's lodgings, (fn. 84) as did the writer James Ralph, who died there in 1762. (fn. 85) A few pupils apparently also stayed at Chiswick, since the dormitory was repaired in 1763. (fn. 86) Meanwhile the older manorial building to the east had apparently been sublet c. 1650 and later by Sir Stephen Fox. (fn. 87) It had fallen into decay in 1710 and been replaced by a brick house, which from 1770 was the childhood home of the writer Mary Berry and her sister Agnes, later friends of Horace Walpole. (fn. 88) In 1788 the chapter of Westminster leased out its mansion house, presumably the entire range of building, for 21 years to Martin Cole, a timber merchant, (fn. 89) who in 1806 had sublet College House as a ladies' school. (fn. 90) Charles Whittingham the elder moved his Chiswick Press in 1818 from High House to College House, (fn. 91) where the printing office adjoined a two-storeyed dwelling house, with domestic offices to the east. (fn. 92) After 1852 the building was leased by the year and used as a lecture hall until its demolition in 1875, when it was replaced by the existing Suffolk House, Staithe House, the Hollies, and Thames Bank. (fn. 93)
A copyhold house with 2 a. of garden was sold in 1663 by Henry Broad, (fn. 94) a Chiswick resident in 1654, (fn. 95) to Sir Stephen Fox, who between 1682 and 1684 replaced it with a house designed by Hugh May, Comptroller of the King's works, (fn. 96) before erecting another seat on land acquired in 1691. (fn. 97) Fox's lease of the Prebend manor from 1684 probably explains why his house of 1682-4 has sometimes wrongly been called the manor house (fn. 98) and why the second, with which it has been confused, came to be named Manor Farm House. (fn. 99)
Fox's first house was assessed at 18 hearths in 1664 (fn. 100) and, after rebuilding, was partly shown on Knyff's view of Lord Burlington's seat. (fn. 101) Evelyn in 1682 thought that its cramped garden did not justify the expense of its layout, (fn. 102) although it was presumably that house, rather than Fox's later one, whose garden won praise in 1691. (fn. 103) It was sold by Fox's executors to Mary, dowager countess of Northampton (d. 1719), whose son George Compton, earl of Northampton (d. 1727) had married Fox's youngest daughter Jane. Mary's heir, according to manorial custom, was her youngest son Spencer Compton (d. 1743), (fn. 104) later earl of Wilmington and First Lord of the Treasury. (fn. 105) Lord Wilmington, who also acquired Turret House in 1722 from the Wardour family, (fn. 106) was succeeded by his nephew James Compton, earl of Northampton (d. 1754), (fn. 107) whose daughter and heir was Charlotte, suo jure Baroness Ferrers (d. 1770), wife of George Townshend, later Marquess Townshend (d. 1807). (fn. 108) Charlotte and her husband in 1758 surrendered most of Lord Wilmington's property to Sir John Heathcote, bt., of Normanton (Rutland) (d. 1759), (fn. 109) whose youngest son John surrendered it to the Hon. James Douglas in 1780. Perhaps the Douglases already lived there, since the house was sometimes called Morton House: (fn. 110) James Douglas, earl of Morton, had died at Chiswick in 1768 (fn. 111) and the countess of Morton paid rates in 1774-5. (fn. 112) Douglas conveyed the mansion with 7 a. of garden to Robert Stevenson in 1783 (fn. 113) and the site of Turret House to William Cock, a market gardener, in 1791. Stevenson conveyed his house in 1807 to Lady Mary Coke, (fn. 114) who died there in 1811. (fn. 115) Meanwhile some land retained by Lady Ferrers, including a little in Sutton Court manor, had passed to her younger son Charles Townshend (d. 1796) and then to his brother Frederick. (fn. 116) The entire property passed to the dukes of Devonshire by purchases from Lady Mary Coke's executors, from William Cock's son William in 1814, and from Frederick Townshend's nephews George, Marquess Townshend, and the Revd. George Osborne Townshend, in 1838. (fn. 117) The mansion, of seven bays with a central pediment in Stevenson's time, (fn. 118) was demolished in 1812 and replaced by the existing great conservatory of Chiswick House. (fn. 119)
Manor Farm House, (fn. 120) itself sometimes called Manor House in the 19th century, was built by Fox on the west side of Chiswick Lane. The house was probably the house admired by William III, where the new style of architecture was extolled by Bowack and where Fox's sons Stephen, later earl of Ilchester (1704-76), (fn. 121) and Henry, later Lord Holland (1705-74), (fn. 122) were born. Eighteenth-century lessees of the Prebend manor apparently sublet the house, which c. 1786-1810 was a school under the Revd. Thomas Horne (fn. 123) and by 1849 an asylum under Dr. Thomas Harrington Tuke. (fn. 124) The building was two-storeyed and of red brick with stone dressings, with dormers in a high slate roof; the main garden front had nine bays c. 1850, when there was also an extension. Panelling was bought by the art-dealer Joseph Duveen in 1896, when the asylum moved to Chiswick House under Dr. Thomas Seymour Tuke (fn. 125) and Manor Farm House made way for Balfern Grove and neighbouring roads.