A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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In the reign of Edward the Confessor 9½ hides in Stanmore, presumably part of the lands which had been granted by Offa to St. Albans, (fn. 1) were held by Algar, the man of Earl Harold. In 1086 they formed part of the fief of Roger de Rames, who was also lord of Charlton but whose main property lay in Essex. (fn. 2) The lands, which probably included the later manors of both LITTLE STANMORE, sometimes called CANONS, and Edgware, passed to Roger's son William but were divided, with the rest of the Rames barony, between his sons Roger (II) and Robert by c. 1130. Their holdings were separated by the road running north-westward from Stone Grove in Watling Street towards Watford. Part of the Domesday manor east of Watling Street, i.e. most of Edgware, may have passed from the Rames family on the marriage of Adelize, probably Roger's daughter, to Edward of Salisbury. After the rest had been divided between the two brothers, the property north of the old Watford road was treated as part of the vill of Edgware, while that to the south was considered to belong to Stanmore and eventually, since it was smaller than the St. Albans estate, to form Little Stanmore. The reunion of the two Rames estates under Roger's son, Roger (III), made the name Little Stanmore less appropriate, although the northern part was for long described as in Edgware. (fn. 3)
Alienations of the Domesday manor began with gifts to the priory of St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, by Roger (II) and Robert de Rames. In the south Roger (II) gave St. Lawrence's church, with land stretching east to Watling Street and north as far as the Watford road, while in the north-western corner of Edgware Robert gave the church of St. Bartholomew, 'Elstree'. Roger (III) granted half his lands in Edgware and Stanmore, except his dwelling-house, the church and an adjoining meadow, to Adam, son of Ranulph Bucointe, to be held as ½ knight's fee, and pledged 30 a. which the family had retained in Edgware to Humphrey Bucointe. Roger's son William (II), to recover the 30 a., surrendered to Humphrey 120 a. in the northern angle between Watling Street and the old Watford road. William also gave land in the north to St. Bartholomew's and, by 1191, lands to the south along Watling Street to Waleran, the husband or future husband of Lucy, Humphrey Bucointe's daughter. William was succeeded c. 1196 by his son and namesake and in c. 1203 by his grandson, also called William, a minor, who rebelled against King John but was restored in 1217. William de Rames (IV), for £42 and land in Essex, in 1238 released to St. Bartholomew's all his reversionary interest in Little Stanmore which was enjoyed by his mother Gille, although in 1241 the prior sued Gille and her husband, William Hanselin, for despoiling her dower lands. Meanwhile the lands of Adam Bucointe had passed to his son Henry and those of Humphrey Bucointe and of Waleran to the latter's daughter Lucy Waleran. (fn. 4) In 1242–3 the former Rames holding in Little Stanmore, which had constituted one knight's fee in 1210–12, was divided into ½ knight's fee held by Henry Bucointe and two ¼ knight's fees, held by Lucy Waleran and William Hanselin, all held of St. Bartholomew's. (fn. 5)
Within a century of acquiring the remaining interest of William de Rames, St. Bartholomew's had secured most of the lands which his ancestors had granted to the Bucointes. Land in the north-west, extending into Great Stanmore, had been conveyed by Adam Bucointe to the abbot of St. Albans, who incorporated it into Aldenham and so shifted the boundary of the Stanmores and of Middlesex to the south-east, (fn. 6) and Adam's son Henry had granted a house and a croft, with land in Stanmore marsh, to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. (fn. 7) The rest of Henry's property passed in turn to his sons, Henry and Ranulph, the second of whom retained part for his mother Joan and his two daughters but sold the rest to Thomas Esperun, who sold it to Nicholas Longespée. Nicholas gave his lands in Little Stanmore to his daughter Alice on her marriage to Geoffrey de Jarpenville, but by 1277 Jarpenville's lands and those of Ranulph Bucointe's mother and daughters were fraudulently acquired by the moneylender Adam de Stratton. In the meantime the estate of Lucy Waleran, wife of Robert de Paris and later of Andrew Blund and Sir John Garland, passed to her son William de Paris (d. 1271). William's widow Sibyl and her daughters Lucy, wife of John Pypard, and Clarice, wife of Richard de la Grave, all surrendered their rights to Adam de Stratton but regained them on his disgrace in 1290. (fn. 8) Their lands, 1/5 knight's fee held by William Pypard and William de la Grave in 1306, (fn. 9) were acquired by St. Bartholomew's in 1314, when William Pypard was licensed to alienate 182 a. John de Barnville, who presumably had acquired part of Henry Bucointe's former estate, alienated land to the priory in 1316. (fn. 10) More land, which probably formed at least part of that given to the Knights Hospitallers by Henry Bucointe, was acquired by exchange in 1330. John le Blount of Biggleswade (Beds.) conveyed land in 1331 and Henry le Hayward and Roger de Creton, to support a chantry in the priory church, in 1335. (fn. 11) The priory's total acreage in Little Stanmore, 379½ a. in 1306, was thus raised to 957½ a. (fn. 12) Held as one knight's fee in 1353, (fn. 13) it remained the largest single estate of St. Bartholomew's until the Dissolution. (fn. 14)
In the 16th century, if not earlier, the priors leased out many portions of their property in Little Stanmore, normally for at least 30 years. A lease in 1501 of the manor of 'Little Stanmore called Canons' provides the earliest instance of an alternative name being given to the manor, (fn. 15) Canons originally having been the land granted to the priory in 1330. (fn. 16) Thereafter the second name became increasingly common, until it was often used on its own, although a few documents, including a will dated 1693, continued more accurately to refer to the manor of Little Stanmore and the capital message called Canons. (fn. 17) It was as the manor of Canons that the great manor-house and gardens were leased, separately from most of the estate, to William Daunce of Whitchurch in 1535. (fn. 18)
St. Bartholomew's was surrendered in 1539 and Little Stanmore, like Great Stanmore, was granted for life to the last prior, Robert Fuller, in 1540. (fn. 19) It reverted to the Crown on Fuller's death later in that year and in 1543 the manor-house of Canons, as leased to William Daunce, was granted to the sitting tenant Hugh Losse and his heirs. (fn. 20) Losse, a merchant who accumulated much monastic property, obtained more lands formerly of St. Bartholomew's in Little Stanmore in 1544 and 1546, (fn. 21) and bought the rectory and most of the other property once leased out by the priory there in 1552. (fn. 22) He was succeeded in 1556 by his son Robert (fn. 23) and afterwards by Robert's son Hugh, knighted in 1603, who in 1604 sold the manor of Canons otherwise Stanmore the Less to James I's secretary of state, Sir Thomas Lake, and his wife Mary. (fn. 24) In 1630 it passed to Lake's son, Sir Thomas, who in 1641 conveyed it in reversion, on the death of his mother, to Dame Frances Weld, (fn. 25) who in turn transferred it to Sir Thomas's younger brother Lancelot in 1654. (fn. 26) Sir Lancelot, knighted in 1660, was followed in 1680 by his second son, Lancelot, who in 1689 left the manor to Lancelot (III), son of his late elder brother, another Sir Thomas (d. 1673). Lancelot (III) died in 1693, leaving Canons to his father's younger brother Warwick Lake, who in 1709 sold it to James Brydges, husband of Lancelot (III)'s sister Mary. Warwick's death in 1713 gave possession of Canons to Brydges, its most famous resident, soon to succeed as Lord Chandos of Sudeley and to rise through the peerage to become, in 1719, duke of Chandos. (fn. 27)
In the 18th and 19th centuries the manor was normally described as Little Stanmore, to distinguish it from the mansion of Canons. James, duke of Chandos (d. 1744), having made a fortune as paymaster of the duke of Marlborough's armies, had land in several counties. The debts left at his death were not serious but by that time his surviving son Henry had incurred much heavier liabilities. An Act of 1746 accordingly authorized Henry to sell the two Stanmore manors, with Canons and much other property in Middlesex and Hertfordshire. (fn. 28) Despite the break-up of the Canons estate, (fn. 29) the lordship of Little Stanmore, like that of Great Stanmore, remained in the Brydges family and so passed to the duke of Buckingham and Chandos. (fn. 30) In 1838 the duke still owned fields along Marsh Lane and farther north, on the other side of London Road, bordered on the east by the much larger estate of the Plumers, who had acquired Canons. The duke's land, 103 a. in 1838, (fn. 31) had been reunited with Canons by 1887, (fn. 32) although the manor continued to pass through the same hands as Great Stanmore. (fn. 33)
The manor-house in 1535 was to be kept in repair by the tenant, William Daunce, who had to reserve four chambers for the use of the prior. (fn. 34) The building which passed to Brydges in 1713, traditionally ascribed to John Thorpe (fl. 1570–1610), presumably had been designed for the first Sir Thomas Lake. (fn. 35) Something is known of it from two plans of c. 1606, one of them inscribed 'Canons, my Lady Lake's house', (fn. 36) and it was evidently of brick, since Brydges before deciding to rebuild merely contemplated alterations, including a new brick façade. Work began on outlying offices as early as 1713, under William Talman, but Brydges, increasingly ambitious yet often indecisive and cheeseparing, turned to a series of architects whose individual contributions cannot now be distinguished. John James, from 1714 to 1715, and James Gibbs, from 1716 to 1719, received the largest sums, but advice was also sought from Sir John Vanbrugh and Robert Benson, Lord Bingley. Gibbs, who claimed to have been the architect, at least modified the external design, whereas it is unlikely that more than the final touches were put by John Price, named as architect on engravings of the south and east elevations. The engravings, the only depictions of that time to survive, are dated 1720. (fn. 37) By that year the outside was probably finished, although work on some of the rooms continued until 1723.
Chandos's mansion was almost square, with a central courtyard, built on an axis north-north-west to south-south-east. A chapel, at a right angle to a projecting wing of offices, probably jutted out from the north-east corner (fn. 38) and a second wing may have projected north from the north-west corner. The great entrance hall was in the centre of what may be called the south range, with the saloon overhead; the second or main floor also boasted the largest room, the library, which filled the centre of the north range. (fn. 39) The entire building, stone-faced and contained in an Ionic order, may have appeared monotonous, for it lacked the stamp of one man's genius. Measuring 146 ft. × 124 ft., it was not enormous by the standards of its age. The interior, thanks to Chandos's obsession with opulent detail, was more remarkable: rare woods and marbles vied with ceilings painted by Thornhill, Kent, Belucci, and Laguerre, with Gobelins tapestries, and with art treasures which included cartoons by Raphael. The grounds too were outstanding, with their sculpture and wrought iron, their canals and parterres, their 87 a. of pleasure garden, the hothouses, the aviary, and the lines and clumps of elms. After the closure of the road from Edgware to Watford, avenues radiated from the house northward to London Road, westward to Marsh Lane in Great Stanmore, south to St. Lawrence's church, and south-east to Edgware. Most visitors presumably used the third avenue, 1,300 yards long, and so, by approaching at an angle, glimpsed two fronts totalling 270 ft., as did the enraptured Defoe. (fn. 40) Pope, who, despite his denials, was widely believed to have pilloried Canons as Timon's Villa, scorned such a setting, where
The suffring eye inverted Nature sees,
Trees cut to statues, statues thick as trees. (fn. 41)
His invective, and the easy journey for gaping tourists from London, helped to make Canons a byword for ostentation. So too did the style of living of 'princely Chandos', who maintained a corps of Chelsea pensioners, lodged in pairs of houses at the three main gates, as well as his famous private orchestra, (fn. 42) and whose collecting mania led agents to scour the known world for exotic birds, animals, and plants. Popular interest, attracted on so many counts, was afterwards gratified by reflections on the transience of Canons's glory.
As late as 1731 it was hoped to extend the southern avenue for 2½ miles beyond St. Lawrence's church. Other expenses, however, were being pruned and Henry, duke of Chandos, could reside only briefly at Canons after his father's death there. The first sale, of books and pictures, took place early in 1747, followed by auctions of furniture in the following year. The mansion itself, denuded, had been pulled down by 1753, when the site and everything left on it were bought by William Hallett, a cabinet-maker of Long Acre who himself had worked for Chandos. Much of the land also went to Hallett or to a Col. Fitzroy, the purchases not being completed until at least 1754. Relics of Canons which perished later included the marble staircase, taken to Lord Chesterfield's London house, (fn. 43) and a figure of George I in Leicester Square. Surviving treasures include an equestrian statue of George II in Golden Square (Westminster), two wrought iron side-gates and some railings bought for St. John's churchyard, Hampstead, another gate at the Durdans, near Epsom (Surr.), and a panel by Grinling Gibbons from the library, the Stoning of St. Stephen, which eventually reached the Victoria and Albert Museum. Much has been rescued from the chapel, which was dedicated in 1720 and demolished in 1748: its windows and the centre of Belucci's ceiling, with papier-mâché mouldings of Bagutti's stucco-work, are now at St. Michael's church, Great Witley (Worcs.), (fn. 44) the organ is at Holy Trinity, Gosport (Hants), and the pulpit, altar, and some panelling are at Fawley (Berks.). It is no longer thought likely that Canons supplied railings for New College, Oxford, or the outsize portico at Hendon Hall. (fn. 45)
William Hallett (d. 1781) (fn. 46) built a villa on the same site. The bulk of his estate had been enfranchised and evidently followed the same succession as some copyhold property which included the coach-house of North Lodge. (fn. 47) Hallett's grandson William, the young man in Gainsborough's 'The Morning Walk', (fn. 48) sold the copyhold in 1786 or 1787 (fn. 49) to Col. Dennis O'Kelly (d. 1787), (fn. 50) a racehorse owner enriched by his stallion Eclipse. (fn. 51) Philip O'Kelly was admitted as the colonel's brother and heir in 1790 and was succeeded in 1811 by his son Andrew. In the following years Andrew O'Kelly conveyed his copyhold property (fn. 52) to Sir Thomas Plumer (d. 1824), later vice-chancellor of England and Master of the Rolls. (fn. 53) His son, Thomas Hall Plumer (d. 1852), (fn. 54) owned more than 450 a. of farmland in 1838, when he was the largest landowner. (fn. 55) Soon after Lady Plumer's death there in 1857 Canons was offered by her grandson Hall Plumer to a German speculator, one Strousberg, and finally sold in 1860 to Dr. David Begg. Begg died at Canons in 1868 and his widow in 1887, whereupon the estate was offered for sale in nine lots by trustees. (fn. 56) At that date the land stretched from Whitchurch Lane north beyond London Road, and from Edgware Road westward to Marsh Lane. Apart from the mansion it contained the farm-house which had belonged to Marsh farm, North and South lodges, at the Edgware gates, and Stone Grove House, Lodge, and Cottage, along Edgware Road; there were also four 'superior' houses at the corner of Dennis Lane and London Road (fn. 57) and fields at the corner of Marsh Lane and London Road which in 1838 had belonged to the duke of Buckingham and Chandos. (fn. 58) Morris Jenks bought the entire estate, amounting to some 479 a., and sold it in 1896 to the Canons Park Estate Co., (fn. 59) which in 1898 issued a prospectus of its plans for development. (fn. 60) Arthur du Cros, founder of the Dunlop Rubber Co. and later a baronet, bought the mansion but in 1905 sold part of the estate. In 1919 he formed a trust, the Pards Estate, and in 1920 Canons itself was offered for sale, with lands that had been greatly reduced in the north, west, and south-east. Canons Park, formerly Marsh, farm-house and the other houses had been sold and 150 a. remained, almost corresponding to the present open space but still stretching eastward, along the north of the avenue, to reach as far as Edgware Road. In 1926 George Cross bought 85 a. and in 1928 the remainder was bought by Canons Ltd. and, on the west, by Harrow U.D.C. as a park. The mansion and 10 a. were sold in 1929 to the North London Collegiate school. More land was acquired by the school in 1936 and by the county council for playing fields, which were lent to the school. (fn. 61)
Some of Chandos's materials were used for the new Canons. The third duke, on a visit in the 1780s, thought the result elegant but rather modest for the grounds, whose richness defied description. (fn. 62) Humphry Repton landscaped the gardens for Sir Thomas Plumer (fn. 63) and by 1887 evergreens had been planted along the south-eastern avenue to replace trees which had been felled by Dr. Begg. (fn. 64) Sir Arthur du Cros heightened and brought forward the third, attic, storey, and added a new entrance forecourt to the east, with a kitchen wing to the north balanced by a screen to the south; beyond the screen, and also on the northern side, paved gardens were laid out. (fn. 65) Hallett's stone house, so extended, remains the core of the school buildings, although large brick additions, of the same height, have been made to the north. (fn. 66)
The manor of STANMORE CHENDUIT, so described in 1276–7, (fn. 67) originated in the land settled by Nicholas Longespée on his daughter Alice and her prospective husband, Geoffrey de Jarpenville, (fn. 68) in 1260–1. The property comprised a house and one carucate in the south-east of Little Stanmore and lands in Colmans Dean, which lay in Kingsbury. (fn. 69) In 1272–3 Geoffrey and his wife gave a messuage, land, and rents in Little Stanmore, with land in Edgware, to Stephen Chenduit, in exchange for an estate at Langley Chenduit or Shendish, (fn. 70) his manor in Kings Langley (Herts.). (fn. 71) All that Stephen Chenduit had received from the Jarpenvilles was conveyed in 1274–5 to Adam de Stratton. (fn. 72) In 1276–7 Stanmore Chenduit contained a 'court' and 396 a., of which a field called Wimborough comprised 120 a., marshland 94 a., and Colmans Dean 70 a. (fn. 73) The manor is not recorded again and in the 14th century was presumably merged in the other lands of St. Bartholomew's.
The reputed manor of WIMBOROUGH was so called in 1540, when it was granted for life to Robert Fuller. (fn. 74) Wimborough, possibly Wina's hill, a fieldname in 1276–7, (fn. 75) had become a separate estate by 1528, when the tenant was Geoffrey Chamber's father-in-law Nicholas Burgh. (fn. 76) In 1534 it was again leased out by St. Bartholomew's, to Richard Warde. Warde's sons Christopher and John sold their respective interests to John Franklin and William Hawtrey, who in turn sold them to Robert Losse. (fn. 77) Although the lands granted to Fuller were said to include the manors of Little Stanmore, Canons, and Wimborough, in the late 16th and 17th centuries the last two names were often used to denote the manor of Little Stanmore. It is not clear, when both names occur, which parcels belonged to Canons and which to Wimborough: in the 17th century Wimborough was apparently the larger, whereas its profits had accounted for only £6 out of the priory's income of £19 19s. 4½d. from Little Stanmore at the Dissolution. (fn. 78) Sometimes only Canons was named, as in 1641 when it was said to include two parcels called Lower Wimborough, two called Wimborough hill, and Wimborough house field (perhaps the Wimborough Wicks of 40 years later). (fn. 79) Wimborough was reputed a manor between 1691 and 1753, after which the name died out, (fn. 80) until its revival for the modern Wemborough Road.