A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Thames Ditton (fn. 1) is a village on the banks of the Thames, a mile and a half from Kingston, of which it was once a chapelry, separated by Act of Parliament in 1769. The parish measures 3 miles from north to south and about a mile and a half from east to west. It contains 2,964 acres of land and 17 of water. The greater part of the parish is on the gravel, sand, and alluvium of the Thames valley, the southern portion on the London clay. Ditton Marsh (that is March or boundary) is a common partly in the parish on the borders of Esher. The main line of the London and South Western Railway runs through the parish, and the branch line to Hampton Court separates from the main line in it. On this there is a Thames Ditton station.
Considerable finds of bronze implements have been made in the bed of the Thames and in the neighbourhood of the Dittons, but it was not recorded precisely whether they were in Thames Ditton or Long Ditton parish, or in the bed of the river exactly opposite Thames Ditton and Kingston parishes. (fn. 2) The river drift has yielded evidence of considerable population in prehistoric times. A primitive canoe was found in the river a few years ago, but efforts to obtain it for the Kingston Museum have so far failed. Thames Ditton is now, with Esher and Long Ditton, an urban district, formed in 1895. (fn. 3) There is an unusual amount of common land in the parish. The Inclosure Act of 1799 (fn. 4) inclosing Walton and Walton Leigh (see Walton) included land in Ditton Marsh; that for Kingston (fn. 5) and Imber Court Manor inclosed waste and 50 acres of common fields in Thames Ditton.
At Weston Green, south of the village, is the chapel of ease of St. Nicholas, a plain red-brick building constructed in 1901, on a site given by Mr. S. Went. A Congregational chapel was built in 1804, and restored in 1887. Mr. H. Speer of the Manor House erected the drinking fountain in 1879 and the Village Hall in 1887.
Twenty years ago Thames Ditton was a picturesque small village, but the older houses are now rapidly disappearing to make room for small riverside villas and bungalows. There are, however, still some 16th- and 17th-century houses and cottages near the Manor House. The Swan Inn, next to the ferry, is well known to all lovers of the river and remains as it was in the days when the household of George II frequented it. Beyond the 'Swan' is the bronze foundry of Messrs. Hollinshed & Bruton, where the statue of the late Queen Victoria, designed by the Princess Louise and destined for Calcutta, was cast a few years ago, and where the process known as cir perdu was revived. On the opposite side of the ferry is Boyle Farm, formerly the property of Edward Sugden, Lord St. Leonards, a distinguished lawyer and Lord Chancellor of England, and famous for the 19th century law-suit concerning his will. (fn. 6) The estate is gradually being cut up, and the house, which belongs to Mr. H. Mainwaring Robertson, is now unoccupied. The Lodge, a picturesque old house with high surrounding walls by the side of the road leading from the village to the Green, is the property of Sir Guy Campbell, bart., and in the churchyard are the remains, brought from Paris, of his famous ancestress Pamela Fitzgerald. Thames Ditton House also faces the river, but its beautiful sweeping lawns once famous for their smoothness are now only a rough field. It was the property of the late Rt.-Hon. Hume Dick, M.P., who built a picture gallery for his art collection and otherwise altered the house. It afterwards passed to Mr. G. B. Tate. Ditton Lodge retains a small park with some very fine trees which can be seen from the railway. It is now the property of Lord Mexborough. The manor-house belongs to Mr. H. Speer, and is built on the sloping side of the hill which leads from the river to the station: the road branches at the station, one branch going to Imber Court and the other to Weston Green and Esher. Weston House, formerly the property of General Sir John Lambert, K.C.B., and of his son General John Lambert, has lately been pulled down, and the grounds are now the site of an almost entirely new village. Ruxley Lodge is the residence of Lord Foley, Gordon Lodge of Sir Richard D. Awdry, K.C.B. The Green is only divided by a few houses from Esher Common and Weston Green.
Claygate was formed as an ecclesiastical parish from Thames Ditton in 1841. As the name implies, it is upon the London Clay, here capped in places by sand in the southern part of the parish, and was probably traversed by an old road running from Kingston Hill to the ford of the Mole near the square entrenchment in Letherhead parish (q.v.). It is under the same urban council as Thames Ditton. The church, Holy Trinity, is of stone in 14th-century style, with a tower. It was built in 1840, enlarged in 1860, and restored in 1902. A vicarage house was built in 1843. The school was built in 1838 as a Church school, and enlarged in 1849. It was rebuilt by the School Board of Thames Ditton in 1885. There is a Baptist chapel, built in 1861.
There appears to have been no manor in this parish known exclusively as the manor of Thames Ditton. (fn. 7) The name is applied to a manor in several deeds of the Evelyn family in the 17th century, but it was probably used as an alias for the manor of Claygate, q.v.
The manor of CLAYGATE was given to the Abbot and convent of Westminster by Tosti, (fn. 8) probably the son of Earl Godwin. The monks held it at the time of the Norman Conquest, (fn. 9) and until the dissolution of their house, when it fell into the hands of the king. In 1538 Cuthbert Blakeden obtained a lease of the manor from the Abbot of Westminster which was subsequently assigned to Juliana his widow, who married John Boothe. (fn. 10) In 1553 the reversion of the manor in fee was granted by Edward VI to John Child at a rent of £9 8s. 8d. (fn. 11) and not long after Child sold the estate to David Vincent, who died seised of it in 1565. (fn. 12) From him the manor passed to his son and heir Thomas Vincent, (fn. 13) and afterwards to Thomas's son Sir Francis Vincent. In 1603 George Evelyn died seised of the reversion of the manor after the death of Sir Francis. (fn. 14) Before 1613 the manor was in the hands of the Evelyn family, and in that year Thomas Evelyn, who then held it, settled it on his son Sir Thomas Evelyn and Anne his wife in tail male, with contingent remainders successively to his younger sons George and William. (fn. 15) Thomas Evelyn the elder died in 1617, and was succeeded by his eldest son Sir Thomas. (fn. 16) From him the manor decended to his son Sir Edward Evelyn, kt. and bart., who held it in 1685. (fn. 17) He died in 1692, (fn. 18) and his son George Evelyn having died childless in 1685, (fn. 19) his estates passed to his daughter Sophia Evelyn. She must have conveyed the manor to her sister Lady Penelope Alston, for Sir Joseph Alston, husband of Penelope, held a court. (fn. 20) Joseph Alston their son settled it on his marriage in 1718, but died childless, and his brother Evelyn Alston sold it to Lord King before 1721. (fn. 21) Lord King was in possession of the tithes in 1727. (fn. 22) His lineal descendant, the Earl of Lovelace, is now lord of the manor.
The manor of WESTON in Thames Ditton was held by the abbey of Barking in 1086, and continued part of the property of that house till shortly before the Dissolution, when Henry VIII bought it to add to the honour of Hampton Court. (fn. 23) It was annexed to that honour by Act of Parliament in 1539, (fn. 24) and was leased in the following year to John Baker. (fn. 25) In later times it was usually demised upon lease to the owner of Imber Court, but in 1801 the right of the Crown was sold to William Speer. (fn. 26) Mr. H. Speer, grandson of Mr. William Speer, is now lord of the manor. About the same time that Mr. Speer bought the manor of Weston he bought land belonging to the manors of Claygate and Imber Court, which has since been treated as part of the manor of Weston. (fn. 27)
A curious reminiscence of the ancient lordship of Weston is given by a notice board, which formerly stood on the common, headed 'Manor of Weston otherwise Barking.' The name of Barking Manor, for Weston, appears also in surveys of Imber Court.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Picot held of Richard of Tonbridge, lord of Clare, a piece of land called Limeurde, which Edwin and another homager had held in the time of King Edward. (fn. 28) This land has generally been identified with Imworth, (fn. 29) but the Limeurde of Domesday was situated in Kingston Hundred, (fn. 30) and also the holding afterwards known as the manor of IMWORTH, later IMBER or IMBER COURT must have been separate from any de Clare holding, (fn. 31) for it was held in socage of the king, by the service of paying £3 18s. 3d. yearly to the bailiff of Kingston, (fn. 32) and probably at Domesday formed part of Kingston.
Manning represents Imworth as having been generally held with Weston since 1539. It was certainly a distinct manor in the time of Henry III, for in 1223 Ralph de Imworth died seised of it, and of the hundred of Elmbridge. (fn. 33) Another Ralph de Imworth, probably a son of the preceding, appears in 1229 conducting a lawsuit against Samson of Molesey about a fishpond in Imworth. (fn. 34) This Ralph in 1252 received a grant of exemption from tallage for himself and his tenants of this manor. (fn. 35) Not long afterwards the king granted to Robert de Bareville the wardship of Reginald, son and heir of Ralph de Imworth. Reginald died seised of the manor about 1280. (fn. 36) Later it came by sale or inheritance to John de Madham. He in 1332 granted the reversion of the manor after the death of his mother Eleanor, then wife of Roger de London, to Roger for life with remainder to Ralph, son of Roger, and Katherine his wife and their heirs. (fn. 37) Roger granted Imworth to Roger Salaman, who is said to have had the manor at his death in 1343, but presumably this can only have been Roger de London's life interest in it, (fn. 38) for later Ralph son of Roger de London conveyed the manor to Thomas de Braose and his wife Beatrice. (fn. 39) By a settlement made in 1361 Thomas and Beatrice granted the manor to John de Braose, brother of Thomas, and his wife Elizabeth and their heirs, failing such to revert to Thomas and his heirs. (fn. 40) Beatrice held the manor at her death in 1383 (fn. 41) (she having survived her husband, who died in 1361), and it then descended (in spite of the settlement) to her son Sir Thomas de Braose, (fn. 42) who died in 1395. At the time of his death he was seised of the manor of Imworth held of the king in socage, and of a certain park lying in the said manor, held of Thomas Earl of Kent, service unknown. He left two infant children, both of whom died within two months of their father's decease, and the manor passed to Elizabeth wife of Sir William Heron, kt., who was the next heir, being the daughter of Beatrice, sister of the said Thomas de Braose. (fn. 43) In 1405 William atte Welle and Joan his wife brought a suit against the feoffees of Thomas de Braose, asserting that the property belonged by right to Joan as the daughter of Thomas, son of Isabel sister of Roger de London, jun. The suit was decided in favour of William and his wife. (fn. 44) In 1406, however, they quitclaimed their right to John Brymmesgrave, clerk, John Holyngbourne and another, (fn. 45) and in 1415 George Braose, son of the above John (brother of Thomas), also made a quitclaim to John Holyngbourne. The latter seems to have conveyed it to John Ardern, who was holding shortly afterwards. (fn. 46) In 1499 Richard Ardern died seised of the manor of Imworth and half the hundred of Elmbridge, held of the men of Kingston. (fn. 47) He left his estates to his half-brother John Holgrave, from whom it seems to have been acquired by John Dudley, afterwards Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. (fn. 48) In a survey of Imber Court, dated 1544, it is stated that Robert Smyth held a lease of Imber Court for thirty years, granted by Dudley in 1530, and this is repeated in a survey of 1608. (fn. 49) Dudley and Joan his wife still held in 1533, when they conveyed it to Lord Wentworth and others, (fn. 50) probably trustees for Thomas Duke of Norfolk. From him the king purchased it in order to annex it to the honour of Hampton Court. (fn. 51) During the reign of Elizabeth the manor was leased to various persons, (fn. 52) ultimately to Sir John Hill, who had a lease for forty years to expire in 1623. (fn. 53) After Hill's death his widow, Lady Hill, sold the remainder of her lease to Sir Dudley Carleton, created Baron Carleton of Imber Court in 1626 and Viscount Dorchester in 1628, to whom the king granted the manor in fee in 1630. He brought lime trees from the Hague to plant in the garden, and also improved the house, where he entertained the king and queen in 1630. (fn. 54) He died in 1632 (fn. 55) and left the manor in his will to his nephew Sir Dudley Carleton. (fn. 56) The latter, who probably built the present house after designs furnished by Inigo Jones for his uncle, conveyed the estate to Edwin Knipe, merchant of London, who held it in 1669, (fn. 57) and conveyed it to Shem Bridges in 1672. (fn. 58) He died about 1711, leaving no issue, and was succeeded by his nephew Henry Bridges, who settled the manor with other estates on his niece Anne Bridges on her marriage with Arthur Onslow. (fn. 59) The latter, who resided at Imber Court, died in 1768, and in 1784 his son Lord Cranley sold the manor to George Porter. In 1791 Francis Ford purchased the estate, (fn. 60) and in 1793 conveyed it to Robert Taylor, (fn. 61) after whose decease in 1823 it passed to Sir Charles Sullivan, bart., in right of his wife, the only daughter of Mr. Taylor. (fn. 62) In 1861 the house and lands were sold to Charles Corbett, (fn. 63) whose widow held them until her death in 1893. Her heirs and executors sold the house and park in 1899. The house is now again for sale; the park is used for trotting races. Mr. Julian Corbett, son of the last lord, presented the manorial documents to the Surrey Archaeological Society.
In the reign of Edward III the manor was described as consisting of 'a capital messuage of no value, 120 acres of arable land, half of which may be sown every year, and is then worth £1 10s.; the other half cannot be sown unless it is well tilled, and when left fallow is worth £1 for the pasturage; 10 acres of meadow, valued at 10s. from the feast of Pentecost to the gule (that is, the first) of August, at other times of no value because it is in common; rents of assize of free tenants, £3 14s. 0½d., 5 acres of wood valued at £1 10s. for the underwood and 3s. 4d. for the pasturage.' (fn. 64) Early in the reign of Charles I a commission was issued for a survey of the manor of Imber. The annual value was rated at £18 6s. 8d., besides some small parcels of woodland worth £1 5s. 3d., and 3 acres not valued. (fn. 65) When Lord Cranley sold the manor it included a capital mansion, other houses, and about 325 acres of land, all tithe-free. (fn. 66) A farm called Chapel Farm formed part of the Imber Court estate in 1632. (fn. 67) Imworth or Imber water-mill is mentioned in the different surveys of the manor.
The north wall of the chancel dates from the beginning of the 13th century, and part of a late12th-century pillar piscina is evidence of earlier work. The north chapel was probably a 15thcentury addition, and the north arcade of the nave is perhaps late 16th-century work. The broad and low tower is apparently of the 13th century, but all the rest of the church is modern, the nave having been widened on the south side.
The east window of the chancel is modern, of three trefoiled lights with geometrical tracery of late 13thcentury design, and is set within the opening of an old window apparently of 14th-century date. On the north side of the chancel is a low four-centred arch of 15th-century date continuously moulded with two hollows, opening to the north chapel and designed to contain a tomb and perhaps to serve for the Easter sepulchre. Above this is a small lancet light, c. 1200, with a wide internal splay and semicircular rear arch and an external rebate. To the west is a two-centred arch of one slightly chamfered order, under which stands a fine but mutilated 15th-century monument.
On the south are two bays of modern arcading opening to the south chapel. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the inner dying into flat responds; it appears to be of no great age.
The north chapel has on the east a modern two-light window of similar design to the east window of the chancel, and like it set in an old opening. On the north is a modern door to the vestry and on the west the opening to the north aisle. The vestry is entirely modern and has two two-light windows, to east and north, and an external door on the north.
The south chapel is also quite modern and has a three-light window to the east, and two of two lights to the south, all of similar design to the chancel east window. On the west is a plain arch to the aisle.
The nave is of three bays. The arcade on the north, of 16th-century date, has no responds, the low three-centred arches of two chamfered orders dying into the surface of the east and west walls of the nave. The columns are octagonal with moulded capitals of slight projection and very plain bases. The south arcade is quite modern with octagonal columns, moulded capitals, and four-centred arches of two chamfered orders. The tower arch is plain 15thcentury work of the full width of the tower, dying into the walls at the springing.
The north aisle is built of brick and has three large two-light stone-dressed untraceried windows to the north, with a similar one to the west. At the east is a door leading into a vestibule which has an external door and a staircase leading to a gallery running round two sides of the aisle.
The south aisle has two windows to the south, of three lights with tracery of late 13th-century detail, and the south door and the entrance of the south porch are designed in a style harmonizing with the windows, with shafted jambs and moulded two-centred heads. In the porch is a small door opening on to a stair, contained in a quarter-octagonal staircase, which leads to a gallery over the west of the aisle. In the west wall are two single trefoiled lights, above which, lighting the gallery, is a circular traceried window.
The tower is of three stages, the upper being of wood, weather boarded, on which is a small spire covered with lead. In the second and ground stages are small lights of 13th-century date with circular rear arches and wide internal splays. Externally the jambs and head have been replaced with brick, forming square-headed openings with wooden frames. The west door has been similarly treated.
The font is of early 12th-century date and is in the form of a modified cushion capital. The inverted lunettes of the faces are edged with a cable mould and have panels, in one of which occurs an Agnus Dei and in another a goat. The third has a star, and the fourth a cross with expanded arms and stem. At the angles are small projecting heads, two of which have been defaced. The circular stem has been recut and the base is modern. Under the two-centred arch between the chancel and the north chapel is a curious late 15th-century monument designed to contain two kneeling effigies. It is of two bays, with four-centred openings below a heavy panelled and embattled cornice, and has engaged shafts at the angles and middle of each side. At the north-east angle is the return of a panelled screen, or perhaps doorway, which formed part of the original design, but as the monument is clearly not in position nothing can be said of it. The carved details of leaves and flowers are good, but there is nothing to give a clue to the persons whom it commemorates.
There are a number of brasses. On the west wall of the north chapel is a plate with an arched head bearing the kneeling figures of a man in armour, his wife, six sons in civilian dress, and twelve daughters. The inscription begins: 'Here resten the bodyes of Erasm' fforde Esquyer sone and heyre of Walter fforde sometyme tresorer to Kynge Edward the iiijth in his warres at ye wynnyng of Barwyke' &c. The inscription gives the date of his death as 1533 and is also in memory of his wife 'Julyan' (Salford), who died in 1559. The arms are: Three lions rampant crowned; quartering parted fessewise a lion rampant fretty. A second shield shows the same coat impaling a fesse engrailed with three boars' heads thereon between three talbots, and beneath it 'Fforde and Salford,' and a third has the same impaling a cross engrailed within a border, and beneath it 'fforde and Legh.' On the north wall of the chancel is a brass to Robert Smyth, 1539, and Katherine (Blounte) his wife, 1549, who had four sons and three daughters. The arms are a fesse with three martlets thereon between three leopards' heads. Below is a brass to William Notte, 1576, and Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of the above Robert Smyth, 1587. The figures of the father, mother, and of fourteen sons and five daughters are shown. On the east wall of the nave is a brass to John Polsted, 1540, and his wife Anne Wheeler, who had four daughters, Anne, Jane, Elizabeth, and Julian, the last of whom erected the monument in 1582. The kneeling figures of the father, mother and children are shown, with two shields, one being Polsted, a bend between two molets with three trefoils on the bend and a chief with a pelican wounding itself between two trefoils; and the second Polsted impaling a camel between three demi-catherine wheels, and on a chief a catherine wheel (for Wheeler). There is also a brass to the above Julian, 1586, and her two husbands, on the north wall of the north chapel; the first was Cuthbert Blakeden, 1540, 'while he lyved Serjeant of the Confectionary to king Henry Theight,' by whom she had four daughters and two sons, the second, John Booth [ob. 1548], 'one of the ordynary gentleman ushers as well to the said King Henry theight; as to his sonne Kyng Edward the vi,' by whom she had four daughters and one son. The figures are shown standing and the arms are: Ermine three lions rampant in a border engrailed (for Blakeden); and three boars' heads razed palewise (for Booth); also Polsted impaling Wheeler. Another brass on the east wall of the north aisle is to John Cheke, 1590, and his wife Isabel Seilearde, with the standing figures of the father, mother, and six sons. The arms are a cock, impaling (1) a chief ermine; (2) a cross with a label of five points; (3) three lions rampant; (4) a lion rampant with a crescent for difference. There is also an inscription to Anne daughter of William Childe of East Sheen in the parish of Mortlake and county of Surrey, 1607; another (in Latin) is to Elizabeth (Hatton), 1608, wife of William Leygh. On the north wall of the north chapel is a marble monument and bust of Colonel Sidney Godolphin, Governor of Scilly and Auditor of Wales, 1732.
The church plate consists of a chalice and cover paten of 1637, a paten of 1715 inscribed 'Ex dono Henrici Bridges, 1716,' a large flagon and almsdish made and dedicated to the church service in 1724, spoon strainer of 1807, and a modern almsdish.
The first book of registers contains mixed entries between 1663 and 1695, a second book has entries 1753 to 1778, a third appears to be a duplicate extending 1765 to 1773. There is a marriage book to 1781 and a printed marriage book, 1781 to 1812, also a book containing baptisms and burials 1781 to 1812.
The date of the foundation of Thames Ditton Church is unknown. It was formerly one of the chapels belonging to Kingston parish, and was granted together with the advowson of Kingston to Merton Priory by Gilbert Norman, Sheriff of Surrey, founder of that house. (fn. 68) The canons retained the patronage till 1538. (fn. 69) After the Dissolution the advowson passed into private patronage till 1786, when it was bought by the Provost and Fellows of King's College, Cambridge, in whom it is still vested. William Speer, lord of the manor of Weston, presented in 1835. (fn. 70) Thames Ditton was separated from Kingston and made a perpetual curacy by Act of Parliament in 1769. (fn. 71)
The great tithes belonged to Kingston rectory; but were afterwards separated, for they were sold by Mr. Bridges to Mr. Onslow with Imber Court. Lord Onslow sold them in 1786. A part of them was ultimately bought by Mr. Taylor of Imber Court and passed with the manor. (fn. 72)
In 1720 Henry Bridges built 'six handsome brick houses' and endowed them with £30 a year for poor old men and women. (fn. 73) Married couples are now allowed to occupy them. In 1670 Miss Elizabeth Hill left four others for widows or widowers, which were rebuilt in 1873 by subscriptions, and there are two others, founded by the Rt. Hon. W. W. F. Hume Dick and Helen his wife in 1873.
Smith's Charity is distributed as in other Surrey parishes. In 1703 William Hatton left a 'rugg' every year for the poor wanting bedclothes (see Molesey), and in the same year he left £20 a year for the minister if approved by the inhabitants. In 1710 John Wicker left £2 a year for the poor in bread, and in 1735 Anne Whitfield left £3; in 1773 Mary Funge left £3, in 1776 Thomas Funge left £3, and in 1784 Josias Mitchener left £9 annually for the same object.