Vauxhall and South Lambeth: The demesne lands

Pages 59-61

Survey of London: Volume 26, Lambeth: Southern Area. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1956.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section


It is not known when the Prior and Convent began to let the demesnes of the Manor. A small piece of land between the Thames and the King's highway was demised in 1387, (fn. 23) but the earliest record of a lease of the whole Manor with all arable lands, feedings, pastures and rents, farms, fines, etc., occurs in 1449, when it was demised to Thomas del Rowe and Peter Pope, citizens of London, for twenty years at an annual rent of £20. (fn. 24) But even this rent was not enough to maintain the chantry which the Black Prince had founded, for in 1472 Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to the King complaining that the Manor was scarcely worth £20, whereas the chantry expenses amounted to almost £40 a year. He suggested that application should be made to Rome for the Manor to be “delyu'yd unto the chantry prestes they to make it as good as they kan and fynde them self ther with and repayr ther place we beynge only bownd to fynde the seid chantry prestes bothe wex & brede and wyne and reparacion of vestmentes perteynyng to the Autyr nothyng reserving unto us of the seid maner of Fawkyshall“. (fn. 25)

Though the Archbishop's attempt to shift this burden failed, there is evidence that the leasing of the whole Manor was discontinued about this time and that it was let more profitably in separate parcels. (fn. 22) After the Reformation, however, the demesne lands in South Lambeth were let in such a muddled fashion that they became the subject of a Chancery suit. (fn. 26) The successful plaintiff, Laurence Palmer, subsequently obtained a lease of all the demesnes in South Lambeth, (fn. 27) which continued to be let together until the beginning of the 19th century. In 1590, the date of Palmer's lease, they are described as Barrlands in South Lambeth Field (fig. 19, plot 21); a meadow near Our Lady's Acre in Clapham (plot 1); a meadow near “Faux well” (fn. n1) (plots 4 and 5); and a meadow on the south side of the highway (plots 13 and 15); these lands were all held by Sir John Leigh at the beginning of the 16th century; (fn. 5) two closes called Claylands (plots 34, 41 and 42), which were on lease to Peter Palmer in 1475; (fn. 32) a close and parcel of land at “Cockesbridge”, a croft at Lambeth Cross and a meadow near the Thames (plots 8, 9 and 10). The lease also included Vauxhall Barn and the Court Lodge adjoining it. Apart from the fact that these buildings stood near the Thames, nothing is known about them after this date. Palmer covenanted to maintain the barn and to provide meat, drink and lodging for the officers of the Dean and Chapter and their servants, and stabling for their horses, for one day and one night twice a year. He was able to compound for this hospitality by payment of 40s. to the Dean and 20s. to the Receiver, Surveyor or Auditor, when they visited the Manor. In addition, Palmer was required to provide for the Steward when the latter held courts. These covenants were still included in leases made at the end of the 18th century (fn. 33) when the demesnes were in the tenure of Sir Joseph Mawbey, senior, who first took a lease of them in 1767. (fn. 34) Mawbey died in 1798 (see page 37), and the property was put up for auction in 1800 to settle his debts. (fn. 35) Barrlands, also spelt Berelandes, Berlondes, Bearlands, etc. (plot 21), the seven acres (plot 1), the fourteen acres, then divided into two pieces called Rushy Mead (plot 4) and Vauxhall or Vauxwell Mead (plot 5), and the seven acres (plots 13 and 15), were assigned to John Suter and Mr. Phillips, who appear to have purchased the fee simple of these lands from the Dean and Chapter shortly afterwards. (fn. 36) The subsequent development of the land was consequently carried out by private individuals.

Claylands or Clayfields were also sold by the Dean and Chapter at this time. John Daniel of The Lawn purchased plots 34 and 42 in 1801, and sold a piece of land adjoining Carroun House and grounds to Sir Charles Blicke (see page 67) and another piece to John Fentiman, senior, (fn. 35) who also purchased plot 41. (fn. 36) According to Brayley, (fn. 37) Fentiman drained Claylands at his own expense, the land being very marshy, with stagnant pools, and built himself a “handsome mansion”. This house stood south of the Oval opposite the end of Claylands Road, (fn. 38) which commemorates the name of the field on which it was built. Fentiman Road was laid out about 1838 (see page 67).

The remainder of the demesne land was also sold off by the Dean and Chapter before their estates came under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Plots 8, 9 and the part of 10 on which the Cumberland Tea Gardens stood, are now occupied by the works of the South Eastern Gas Board.

Methodist Church, Fentiman Road

Fig. 19, plot 34

This church was erected in 1900–1 for the congregation of a chapel in Miles Street which was founded in 1854. The architects were George and Reginald P. Baines, and the builder was J. O. Richardson. (fn. 39) The church is a red brick building with Perpendicular stone tracery to the windows. It has a short battlemented tower, banded with stone, and a spirelet at the south-west corner. There are projecting entrance lobbies in the middle of the Fentiman Road front and set splay-wise at the south-west corner of the tower. Renovations were carried out in 1954. The ancillary buildings are similarly designed and of the same materials as the church.

Claylands Congregational Church, Claylands Road

Fig. 19, plot 41

In 1836 John Fentiman granted a lease of a piece of land on the north side of Claylands Road (fn. 40) for the erection of a new chapel to accommodate the seceding part of the congregation of Holland Chapel under the ministry of Dr. John Styles (see page 118). The building was opened as a Congregational church on June 29, 1836, and Styles continued as minister until 1844. (fn. 41) The church is now disused. It is a plain stock brick building with a Classical pedimented front (Plate 25b). In the centre of the front there are three entrance doors divided by stucco pilasters with a cornice and blocking course above. All the windows are round-arched with recessed rectangular panels beneath. The foundation stone at the south-west corner was laid by the Rev. John Styles, D.D., on January 1, 1836. The Sunday schools at the rear were built in 1899 by Messrs. Rice and Son, with W. E. Davis as architect. (fn. 39)

Ashmole Primary School, Ashmole Street

Fig. 19, plot 41

This school was built by the London School Board to accommodate 800 children and was opened on September 23, 1879. The architect was E. R. Robson and the contractors were Higgs and Hill, whose tender was for £7,667. (fn. 42) The school is a tall three-storey building built in yellow stock brick. It is approximately square in plan and has an entrance wing on the west side.


  • n1. In a lease of 1510 this meadow was said to lie “next a well called Fauxwell”. The spring was situated roughly at the point where the ditch or stream dividing the meadow met Wandsworth Road. The well was still in use in 1856 when Dr. Young said it was “noted for the purity of its water”. In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a water-colour of the steps leading to the well.
  • 5. C.L.C., Miscellaneous Accounts, vol. 31, f. 39V.
  • 22. Ibid. The volumes of accounts already cited records payments made by tenants for various closes.
  • 23. C.L.C., Cartae Antiquae F 53.
  • 24. Ibid., F 54.
  • 25. C.L.C., Register N, f. 239b.
  • 26. C.C., Deed 70432.
  • 27. C.L.C., Register W, f. 33.
  • 28. Ibid., Cartae Antiquae L 141.
  • 29. L.C.C. Members' Library, May JLA 2387, 1824.
  • 30. Ibid., MS. copy of lectures delivered by Dr. James F. Young, 1856–1857, on the history of Lambeth; first lecture, p. 72.
  • 31. Victoria and Albert Museum, Print Collection, D 134.
  • 32. C.L.C., Bedells Rolls, Fauxhall, Mich. 15Mich. 16Edward IV.
  • 33. C.C., Deed 70308, f. 23.
  • 34. Ibid., Deed 73736.
  • 35. L.B.C., Vauxhall Park Deeds.
  • 36. C.L.C., Box 16, Mawbey Papers.
  • 37. Brayley, vol. 111, part 11, p. 363.
  • 38. L.C.C. Member's Library, Map FN 474, 1840.
  • 39. Foundation stones.
  • 40. P.R.O., C54/14001, No. 8.
  • 41. The Story of Congregationalism in Surrey, by E. E. Cleal and T. G. Crippen, 1908, pp. 276–283.
  • 42. L.S.B. Minutes, Oct. 23, 1878, p. 526.