Parishes: Petersham

A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Parishes: Petersham', in A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3, (London, 1911) pp. 525-532. British History Online [accessed 5 March 2024]

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The modern parish of Petersham is included in the borough of Richmond, and the village, which comprises a large number of good old-fashioned houses, is in fact a pleasant suburb of Richmond. It is between the Thames and the higher part of Richmond Park, which shelters it from the east.

By the 'Richmond, Petersham, and Ham Open Spaces Act, 1902,' Petersham Common and certain meadows and manorial rights in the same were vested in the Richmond Corporation for purposes of public enjoyment. The Lammas lands on the manor were also, by the same Act, taken from the commoners who had enjoyed rights of pasture, and, with Petersham Common, were placed under a Board of Conservators. The river-side, from Petersham to Kingston, has also been put under the Richmond Corporation and the Surrey County Council, in two sections, for enjoyment by the public for ever.

The chief interest of Petersham lies in its old houses, some of which are historically famous.

Ham House, the seat of the Earls of Dysart, was built by Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight-Marshal to James I, traditionally for Henry Prince of Wales. The date 1610, the words Vivat Rex, and the initials T. V. over the door, probably relate to its completion. Owing possibly to the death of the prince it was conveyed to the Earl of Holderness, from whom it seems to have passed to the Murray family. It is mentioned in the Court Rolls of the manor of Petersham in 1634 as a house lately built on customary land by Sir Thomas Vavasour, and surrendered by Robert Lewis (probably a trustee), who was then holding it, to the use of Katherine Murray wife of William Murray. (fn. 1) This was by way of a marriage settlement on the marriage of Elizabeth daughter of William and Katherine with Sir Lionel Tollemache. The heir-general of the Ramsay family, Earls of Holderness, afterwards surrendered all claim in the court baron. (fn. 2) Ham House then followed the descent of the manor of Petersham (q.v.). After the Earl (later Duke) of Lauderdale had married Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart, meetings of the Cabal ministry are said to have been held in the room still called the Cabal Room. (fn. 3) Another name for it is the Queen's room, owing to a tradition that it was fitted up for Catherine of Braganza. In 1688 when William of Orange wished James II to remove from Whitehall he suggested Ham House as his abode ; James objected to it as 'a very ill winter house, damp and unfurnished,' and preferred to stay at Rochester, whence he escaped to France. (fn. 4)

Tollemache, Earl of Dysart. Argent a fret sable.

During the life of the Duches of Lauderdale the place was considered one of the finest near London. Evelyn wrote of it as 'inferior to few of the best villas of Italy itself ; the house furnished like a great prince's ; the parterres, flower gardens, orangeries, groves, avenues, courts, statues, perspectives, fountains, aviaries, and all this at the banks of the sweetest river in the world, must needs be admirable.' (fn. 5) After the death of the duchess in 1698 the place was neglected. The excuse of James II that it was in 1688 ' unfurnished' was scarcely true, for much of the furniture now is of the reign of Charles II, and peculiarly magnificent. But the surroundings of the house were possibly then neglected. When Horace Walpole's niece Charlotte was married to the fifth earl, her uncle wrote, 'I went yesterday to see my niece in her new principality of Ham. It delighted me, and made me peevish. Close to the Thames, in the centre of all rich and verdant beauty, it is so blocked up and barricaded with walls, vast trees, and gates, that you think yourself an hundred miles off, and an hundred years back. The old furniture is so magnificently ancient, dreary, and decayed, that at every step one's spirits sink, and all my passion for antiquity could not keep them up. Every minute I expected to see ghosts sweeping by, ghosts I would not give sixpence to see, Lauderdales, Tollemaches, Maitlands.' Horace Walpole clearly preferred the sham antiquity of Strawberry Hill to the genuine antique. The situation of the house is low-lying; the house stands some way back from the river bank, from which it is screened by a row of elms and other trees.

The original building, erected by Sir Thomas Vavasour in 1610, was of an H-shaped plan, the main portion being about 65 ft. long by 21 ft. broad, and each wing about 74 ft. by 17 ft. The house remained practically unchanged until it came into the possession of the Countess of Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale, who enlarged it considerably and re-arranged the rooms. The first addition appears to have been the erection of the projecting stair-hall in the east wing with the insertion of the carved staircase. The windows in this stair-hall, and the whole outward appearance of it (excepting the rusticated stone quoins at the angles), tally with the style of the original building. After this a great increase was made by the filling in of the space between the wings on the south side, and by the erection of smaller wings against the east and west ends with a frontage to the south. The length of the east face of the south-east wing was ruled by the pre-existing stair-hall, but the south-west wing was made larger to include a secondary stair-hall. The date of this work is uncertain, but it was probably finished by 1680.

Ham House: North Front

The bays on the north ends of the two old wings are obviously of a later date, apparently 18th-century work. The building underwent a complete restoration in 1887; the arches to the porticoes in the two inner angles on the north side have been completely renewed.

The building is of three stories with basement and attics, and is built of red brick throughout with stone or cement dressings. The oldest portion has narrow bricks laid in English bond (alternate courses of headers and stretchers), and so also has the large stairhall, which is built with unusually thin walls; in these parts the dressings and string-courses are of stone. The windows on the ground floor (north face) have moulded jambs, mullions, and transoms, and are of two lights with rectangular lead glazing; the first-floor windows were like them, but have lost their mullions below the transom; the second-floor windows are for the most part perfect, like those in the ground story. The main entrance is in the middle of this face; it is flanked by grey marble pillars on square pedestals relieved with oval bosses in strap-work panels, and with Tuscan capitals enriched with egg-and-dart ornament, supporting an entablature with a frieze of triglyphs and lozenges, and a moulded cornice. The doorway proper has a round arch decorated with rosettes alternating with a nail-head ornament; in the crown of the arch is a keystone and ogee-shaped bracket. The spandrels are filled in with ornament in low relief inclosing shields, that in the east spandrel has the Tollemache crest of a winged demi-horse, the other has the arms of Tollemache quartering Murray; the spandrels are surrounded by a band with rose and nail-head ornament. The wood door has a carved and fluted head, below which is the inscription '1610 VIVAT REX.' The porticoes in the angles formed by the north front with the wings have single arches to the north, and two facing inwards, and their back walls are plastered and painted with landscapes. All around the three sides of this front towards the court are oval niches with busts of Roman emperors, &c., and two in the west wing are of Charles I and Charles II. The 18th-century bays in the ends of the wings have plain brick windows with wood sashes, and the bays are not relieved with string-courses like the main house. The walls of the older portion are finished with a moulded cornice with plain modillions running right round the front and either wing until it meets the later work on the east and west. The windows of the projecting stairhall are similar to those on the north front, while those of the small added wing are like those on the south front. In the old wings are bay windows, which appear to be as old as the wings themselves, but are modernized in the lower part; the windows in them have plain Portland stone jambs and wooden sashes. The bays stop at the level of the second floor with a balustraded parapet, the second-floor windows overlooking them having round-headed middle lights and square side lights under a pediment; they are evidently later than the walls in which they are set. The eaves cornice of all the later work is much more elaborate than the other, being enriched by egg-an-ddart ornament and rosettes on the soffit.

The west face agrees with the south face in its southern half; at the north end of the south-west wing is a doorway admitting to the library staircase. The older wing on the north half of this front has a very large chimney-stack, which serves the kitchen fireplace and those over it. The roofs of the house are covered with slates. The main entrance in the middle of the north front opens directly into the north-west corner of the 'Marble Hall,' a fine room 42 ft. by 21 ft. with a black and white marble floor and a slightly raised platform at the east end, which is of wood parquetry. It is lighted by three north windows and has a fireplace of black marble with gilded swags in the lintel, and a white marble shelf on ogee brackets. The walls are panelled in wood painted green and gold, and there are doorways on the south to the diningroom and the passage next to the 'green drawing room,' and on the west to the long passage traversing the west half of the house, while an archway in the east wall gives access to the main staircase. The hall, originally of one story, was opened in the 18th century to the second floor, with a gallery running all round at the old first-floor level. The newels of the staircase are square with carved panels in their sides, and heads carved as wicker baskets filled with fruit and flowers, and the balustrades and wall panels are divided into bays filled with trophies of arms. The stair ascends from the ground to the second floor, the doorways opening on to it having classical busts set in broken pediments over them.

The ground-floor room of the east wing is occupied by the chapel, which is fitted with 18th-century wood panelling and seats, and has an altar table at the north end in the recess formed by the bay; the lights of the bay are, however, closed by the oak panelling, as are the lower halves of the side windows. The ceiling is plastered and has a wood cornice. The space west of the marble hall and north of the passage to the west door is now occupied by offices, and the north end of the west wing contains two apartments lined with oak panelling which were formerly the stillroom and the housekeeper's room. The dining-room is entered from the south-west corner of the marble hall, the doorway being in the middle of its north wall and fitted with a two-leaved door; on either side of it in the same wall are recesses matching the doorway; all with carved architraves. This wall is very thick, consisting of a later wall built against an earlier one. The room is lighted through the south wall by two windows and a middle doorway opening out on to the south terrace; the fireplace in the east wall is a square opening with moulded blue-veined white marble jambs and lintel. The ceiling is plain and has a moulded cornice with a laurel-leaf frieze. The Red Room is a smaller apartment east of the dining-room, from which it is entered. The fireplace in its north wall is of a red marble. The ceiling is plain with the laurel-leaf cornice. A door in the north wall opens into a small stair-hall, formerly called the Volary Room, between this room and the marble hall. The Green Room is next, east of the Red Room, and occupies the south end of the original east wing. It is lighted by a bay window and has a marble fireplace with an old fireback in its east walls and is lined with white and gold raised panelling over which are hung tapestries representing the Flight of Pyrrhus and other subjects; the ceiling is plain. To the north of the room is a narrow passage with a stair at its end. The later south-east small wing is divided into two rooms; the 'card room' is entered from the Green Room; it has a corner fireplace of marble and is panelled in white and gold; the ceiling is coved and painted by Verrio. The other room, north of the card room, is the china closet, filled with valuable old china; this also has a corner fireplace and a painted ceiling. Next to it is a very small staircase to the first floor, approached from the china closet and from the narrow passage next the Green Room which communicates with the marble hall, &c. Lord Dysart's study is west of the diningroom, and to the north of it is a small staircase. Lord Dysart's bedroom (formerly the Duchess of Lauderdale's bedroom) lies west of the study and occupies the south end of the old west wing; it is lighted by a bay window, has a square fireplace of black white-veined marble in its west wall, and on the north side an alcove, the ceiling of which is painted with allegorical figures, flowers, and festoons in an oval panel in which also are the initials E.D.L. The room is lined with brown and gold bolection moulded panelling. Beyond is the Duchess of Lauderdale's dressing-room. The later small west wing contains the valet's room, lavatory, &c. The staircase in the north end of this wing has a moulded oak handrail and turned balusters. A doorway on the first floor opens from this stair-hall into the library (over the valet's room, &c.), which has an ornamental plastered ceiling. It contains many valuable MSS, and books, including no less than fourteen Caxtons. In the same wing to the south is a smaller room through which entrance may be gained into the long gallery which fills the whole of the old west wing and is some 73 ft. 6 in. long with a bay window at each end. The walls are panelled and divided into bays by fluted pilasters with Ionic capitals; the cornice with the laurel frieze is painted brown and gold; the ceiling is plain.

A doorway in the middle of the gallery gives access to the north drawing-room, which is lighted by two windows in the north side and has a white marble fireplace in the south wall; the walls are panelled in white and gold, over which are Mortlake tapestries representing scenes of husbandry, &c.; the ceiling is panelled, the main ribs being enriched with festoons, &c. Next, east of this, is the round gallery or upper part of the marble hall; the gallery, which is octagonal in plan, runs all round the hall, being narrow at the sides and wider at the ends; the ceiling is an enriched one with a large oval centrepiece with fruit and flowers. Also opening out of the north drawing-room is the Miniature Room over the north-west portico; this room has a painted ceiling by Verrio.

Ham House: South Front

The room over the other portico is a dressing-room communicating with the 'Feathers' or 'Prince of Wales's' bedroom in the north end of the west wing, so called because it formerly had the Prince of Wales's feathers above the fireplace and over the bed. The dressing-room has a stone fireplace with a carved lintel and a shield in the middle. The bedroom has a large plain dark grey marble fireplace, and is lighted by a bay window. The round gallery and the 'feathers' bedroom can both be entered from the grand stair-hall. South of the stair-hall is the 'Yellow satin bedroom,' which, as its name implies, is hung with yellow satin brocade; the fireplace is of yellowveined grey marble and has a white marble keystone; the cornice has a deep carved Jacobean frieze, original with the first building; the room is lighted by a bay window. The dressing-room in the later small east wing (east of the bedroom) has an earlier stone fireplace with a four-centred Tudor arch with shields in the spandrels and a carved lintel. The room is lined with painted oak panelling with bolection moulds, and has a plain cornice and ceiling. The small room next to it, over the china closet, has similar brown panelling and a red marble fireplace.

The yellow satin room opens into the small staircase west of it, from which admittance is gained to a small room (with the laurel-frieze cornice), whence is entered the Queen's audience closet. Adjoining it is another small room, richly decorated and with an arched recess at its end containing a tapestry with the arms of the Duke of Lauderdale and having a painted ceiling representing the Rape of Ganymede; the fireplace of this room is of scagliola work, forming a foliage design in the lintel and twisted pillars in the jambs and with the initials E.D.L.; the floor is of inlaid parquetry like the Cabal Room, the window ledge is inlaid marble like the fireplace; opposite the fireplace is a tapestry similar to that in the recess. The Cabal Room, next west, is a large room hung with Mortlake tapestries of the four seasons; the floor is of oak parquetry of plain basket pattern for the greater part, but for a space of 9 ft. 6 in. across the east end of a much more elaborate design in which the monogram E.D.L. again occurs; the dado is of white and gold with egg-and-tongue enrichment. The fireplace is of red marble, and the picture frame over it has gilded festoons about it; the plaster ceiling is ornamented in high relief, the main ribs and the cornice having a laurel-leaf enrichment. The 'Blue and Silver Room' lies between the Cabal Room and the long gallery, and is lined with blue and silver striped tapestry; it has a green and white marble fireplace and an enriched ceiling. The floor is of the basket pattern parquetry. The upper floors of the house are occupied by the bedchambers, &c. The kitchen, servants' rooms, and offices are for the greater part in the basement. An adequate description of the wonderful collection of furniture, china, &c, of which the house is literally full, would far exceed the limits of space here available.

The gardens and terraces are well laid out. In the forecourt inclosed by the north wings are two terrace walks, one above the other, with flights of stone steps leading up to the main doorway. The drive before these terraces is inclosed by side walls brought out with a curved sweep from the wings; in these walls are niches containing busts of Roman emperors, &c., like those in the front of the house. In the middle of the courtyard is a recumbent statue of a river deity representing the Thames. The front of the courtyard (towards the river) is closed by an iron railing with large iron gates. On the south side is a long gravel terrace raised some feet above the large grass lawn; on the other side of the lawn are some ancient Scotch fir-trees said to be the first planted in England, and beyond them an entrance with large iron gates of the late 17th century, now never opened. The ilex-oak walk west of the lawn leads through into another inclosed garden and contains a marble statue of the dancing Bacchus. The kitchen gardens lie to the south and west of this court. North of it are the former orangery buildings, now used as a laundry. The kitchen court is on the west side of the building, having various outbuildings about it, and leading from it; farther west past the laundry is the drive from the road through the stables, which were rebuilt at the end of the 18th century with some of the old material.

In a document dated 1266 mention is made of an ancient hamlet called SUDBROOK. (fn. 6) Later in 1550 there is record of a suit as to the ownership of half a tenement called 'Underhylle' and half a tenement called 'Sudbrooke.' These premises, which were copyhold of the manor of Petersham, included a house and 30 acres of land, meadow, and pasture in Petersham. (fn. 7) At a court held in 1637 a customary cottage in Sudbrook, with a parcel of pasture and part of a close, was surrendered by Thomas Cole and John Yeates to the use of John Hewson and William Bell in payment of certain sums to the poor of Petersham, Ham, and West Sheen. (fn. 8)

The present house, known as Sudbrook Lodge, with its surrounding park, was the residence of John, Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, who died there in 1743. (fn. 9) His mother was Elizabeth, elder daughter of Sir Lionel Tollemache and the Countess of Dysart, and he was born at Ham House. From him it passed to his eldest daughter and co-heir Caroline, created in 1767 Baroness of Greenwich, who married first Francis Scott, Earl of Dalkeith, eldest son and heir apparent of Francis, second Duke of Buccleuch. Lord Dalkeith died in April 1750, before his father, and at his wife's death in 1794 Sudbrook descended to their son Henry, third Duke of Buccleuch. He sold the property to Sir Robert Horton, who sold it to the Crown. The house is now occupied by the Richmond Golf Club. It was erected early in the 18th century, and consists of two square wings connected by a large central hall, on either side of which was a portico with Corinthian columns and balustraded parapet. The south portico was closed in later with brick walls built between the columns, and now serves as a smoking-room. The hall (now the dining-room) extends the height of two stories; it has a marble fireplace with a bevelled mirror, over which are the Duke of Argyll's arms. The walls are divided into panels by fluted Corinthian pilasters with a rich cornice, over which is a cove with circular lights and panels. The doorheads in the hall are carved with trophies of arms. The doorways in the later hall to the north of the large hall also have carved architraves and heads. There are stairs at both ends of the building with twisted balusters, &c. A double flight of stone steps leads up to both main entrances. A later wing, connected to the main house by a long narrow passage, extends to the northwards, east of it.

Another once-famous mansion in Petersham was that known as PETERSHAM LODGE, which was purchased by Charles I of Gregory Cole. (fn. 10) In 1660 Charles II granted the office of keeper of the house or lodge and the walk at Petersham, within the Great Park near Richmond, to Ludowick and John Carlisle, (fn. 11) who in 1662–3 surrendered their right in the same to Thomas Panton and Bernard Grenville; (fn. 12) and in 1671 the same keepership, with an annual pension of £50, was granted for life to Lord St. John and his son Charles Paulet. (fn. 13) In 1686 the mansion-house called Petersham Lodge, with all out-houses, brewhouses, and dove-houses belonging, and the green before the house in the north-west corner of the New Park, containing 15 acres and bounded on the east by the thick covert under the mount called King Henry's Mount, was granted by James II to his nephew Viscount Cornbury. (fn. 14) This mansion in 1721, being then the property of the Earl of Rochester, was entirely destroyed by fire, the damage being computed at between £40,000 and £50,000, and including the destruction of the library of the famous Earl of Clarendon, (fn. 15) grandfather of the Earl of Rochester. It was rebuilt by William, Earl of Harrington, (fn. 16) created in 1742 Viscount Petersham, after a design of the Earl of Burlington; and is alluded to in the lines of the poet Thomson:

'The pendent woods that nodding hang o'er Harrington's retreat.'

In 1783 an Act of Parliament was passed to enable George III to grant the inheritance of the capital messuage or mansion-house called Petersham Lodge to Thomas Pitt, first Baron Camelford, who had purchased it from Charles, Earl of Harrington, (fn. 17) and by whom it was sold in 1790 to the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV, who occasionally lived there. He sold it to Lord Huntingtower, heir apparent of the Earl of Dysart, who predeceased his father in 1833. In 1834 it was sold by the executors of Lord Huntingtower to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, by whom it was entirely destroyed and its grounds incorporated with the park. The site of the house was close to some cedars on the slope of the hill.

The present Petersham Lodge, a handsome Georgian mansion, has no relation to the original house; it is situated close by the river bank and was purchased in 1902 by Sir Max Waechter to preserve the view from Richmond Hill, and presented to the Richmond Corporation, who leased it at a nominal rent to Queen Mary for a governesses' home.

PETERSHAM HOUSE, next to the church, is a brick structure dating from about 1680, but with later fittings. The entrance, hall was decorated by Verrio, but the painting has been badly restored. The house contains some good marble fireplaces by the Adams, one with marble inlay, and some good white marble reliefs by Flaxman. In the grounds is a curious narrow bridge of brick.

There are several good 18th-century houses in the village, such as Douglas House, once the residence of Lady Caroline Gilt the novelist, who died here in 1857, and Rutland House. Elm Lodge was a favourite summer retreat of Charles Dickens, who there wrote the greater part of Nicholas Nickleby.

At Bute House lived the Earl of Bute, minister of George III. The estate was bought by the late Mrs. Warde of Petersham House as a memorial to her father, in order to preserve the foreground of the view from Richmond Hill. The house has been demolished, the foundations alone being left to show its size and position. There are also several cottages of an early date, as the Farm Lodge with its shaped gables.

The Petersham Institute and Church Room, and the New Church, have been built on the Bute House Estate.

The Petersham Schools (British) were built by Lord John Russell in 1842, when he was living at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park.


The first mention of PETERSHAM occurs in the alleged grant from Frithwold subregulus of Surrey and Bishop Erkenwald to Chertsey Abbey, (fn. 18) which included ten mansae at Petersham. This was confirmed by Athelstan in 933, (fn. 19) by Edgar in 967, (fn. 20) and by Edward the Confessor in 1062. (fn. 21) At the time of the Domesday Survey the Abbot of Chertsey held it in demesne for four hides, though in the time of Edward the Confessor it had been assessed for ten hides. There was a church and a fishery of 1,000 eels and 1,000 lampreys. (fn. 22) In 1324 the abbot was granted protection in his manor in Petersham. (fn. 23) In 1415 the Abbot of Chertsey surrendered this manor to the Crown, together with the advowson of Ewell, (fn. 24) and the lordship of Petersham, annexed to the manor of Sheen (now Richmond), formed part of the jointure of Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV, in 1466. (fn. 25) In 1479–80 the manor was held at farm by Robert Radclyff, (fn. 26) and in 1483–4 by Henry Dain. (fn. 27) In 1518 the custody of the manor, together with Ham and Sheen, was leased by the Crown to Richard Brampton to hold for twenty years at a rental of £23 6s. 4d., (fn. 28) and this grant having been cancelled in 1522, the same manors were in that year leased for thirty years to Massi Villiarde, Serjeant of the king's pleasure water, and Thomas Brampton, (fn. 29) the grant being subsequently renewed for forty years in the name of Sir Nicholas Carew. (fn. 30) In 1541 Henry VIII, on the occasion of his divorce from Anne of Cleves, granted to the latter the manors of Sheen, Petersham, and Ham with the Island of Crowell and Richmond Park to hold for life. (fn. 31) In 1546 Anne granted a lease of these estates at farm to David Vincent, steward of the king in his privy chamber, who in the reign of Edward VI made over the remainder of his interest in the same to Gregory Lovell, who was holding them in 1564. (fn. 32) In 1607 (fn. 33) the same estates were granted at farm to Sir Thomas Gorges, who in 1608 transferred the lease to George Cole. (fn. 34) In 1610 the manor was granted by James I to Henry Prince of Wales, (fn. 35) and after his death to trustees for Prince Charles, (fn. 36) through whom it returned to the Crown. George Cole, the lessee, died at Petersham in 1624, (fn. 37) and in 1629 the name of his widow, Frances Cole, appears on the court rolls as lady of the manor. (fn. 38) In 1635 the court baron and view of frankpledge were held in the name of Gregory Cole, son of the above, who married Jane daughter of William Blighe of Botathan, co. Cornwall, (fn. 39) and in this year conceded to his brother Thomas Cole of the parish of St. Dunstan in the West, London, gentleman, all his capital messuage in Petersham with dovecotes and all tenements held by copy of court roll of the manor of Petersham. (fn. 40) In the next year, however, the court baron was held in the name of William Murray, who had received a lease from Queen Henrietta Maria, to whom Charles I had granted the manor, and to this court came the above-mentioned Gregory, Jane, and Thomas, and having been examined alone and secretly by the steward, surrendered up their tenancy of the above premises in Petersham. (fn. 41)

Cole. Argent a bull passant sable in a border sable bezanty.

William Murray had been the whipping-boy of Charles I while Prince of Wales, and continued his friend and favourite and his faithful supporter in his later adversities. In 1639, in consideration of the losses sustained by the inclosure of the New Park, he petitioned that the lease of the manor of Petersham, which had been made out for twenty-seven years, might be exchanged for a grant in perpetuity of the manor. (fn. 42) This request was acceded to, and in 1643 Murray was created Earl of Dysart. In the troubles which followed, however, these estates were sequestered, (fn. 43) and in 1651 Sir Lionel Tollemache and Elizabeth his wife—who, with Katherine, Anne, and Margaret Murray, was one of the four daughters and co-heirs of William and Katherine Murray—begged allowance of their title to Ham and Petersham Manors. (fn. 44) After the Restoration the same ladies were again pleading for a renewal of the grant of these estates at the same rental of £16 9s. at which they had been held by their father, and they pleaded that none had suffered more in the late times than they, having been twice plundered, sequestered, and forced to purchase their lands at an unreasonable rate. (fn. 45) After many renewals of the same petition, 75 acres of land in the manors were granted to them in 1665 at a rent of 4d. per acre, (fn. 46) and in 1666 a lease of the demesne lands, consisting of 289 acres 27 perches, was bestowed for a term of sixty-one years upon Sir Robert Murray, (fn. 47) one of the founders of the Royal Society, extolled by Burnet as 'the worthiest man of the age,' (fn. 48) to hold on behalf of the same persons. Sir Lionel Tollemache died in 1668, and his widow married John, Earl of Lauderdale, who in 1672 obtained a grant of the manors of Petersham and Ham in right of his wife for the same rent of £16 9s., exception being made, however, of the portion granted as above to Sir Lionel Tollemache. (fn. 49) The countess was succeeded by her eldest son Lionel, third Earl of Dysart, and from this date Petersham remained with the Earls of Dysart. Lionel, fifth earl, suffered a recovery of all his estates in Ham and Petersham in 1773, (fn. 50) and, dying without issue in 1799, was succeeded by his brother Wilbraham Tollemache, sixth earl. (fn. 51) On the death of the latter without issue the estate was divided, in accordance with a settlement made by the previous earl, between his sisters, Lady Louisa Manners, (fn. 52) Lady Frances Tollemache, and Lady Jane Halliday. (fn. 53) The manors have been held since 1878 by William John Manners, ninth earl, descendant of Lady Louisa Manners, who was herself Countess of Dysart.

A charter dated 1464 enumerates certain customs as pertaining to the lordships of West Sheen, Petersham, and Ham. These include the holding of an annual court, fines of a minimum of 2d. being imposed on such as failed to attend. On the death of a tenant the inheritance passed by the custom of the manor to his youngest son, or failing such youngest son to his youngest daughter. The quit-rent of the land at Petersham was 4d. per acre and 6d. the houses, and the fine one year's quit-rent. The charter is attested by five tenants: John Hart, William Ballet, John Howe, John Brewtell, and William Thome. (fn. 54) A survey of the manor taken in 1649 gives a list of customs granted to the tenants of Petersham in 1481 by Edward IV and confirmed by divers monarchs; namely, that the lord of the manor might 'sell all wood and waste lands to any man by copy, paying a fine to the lord and a yearly quit-rent to the king.' A court baron for the manor was kept at the will of the lord, and a court leet once a year. The youngest son and youngest daughter inherited as above. There was a little common belonging to the manor called Petersham Common on the west side of Richmond Hill. In a survey taken in 1609 this common is said to contain 200 acres, the tenants having common of pasture there for their cattle, and common of estover. (fn. 55)

In the charter granted by James I to Kingston in 1603 it was enacted that the court leet and view of frankpledge should no longer extend into Petersham, and in 1609 the king is said to hold a court leet for Petersham twice yearly, after Easter and Michaelmas. (fn. 56) Kingston appears subsequently to have claimed court leet in Petersham, however, for in 1628 the bailiffs and freemen of Kingston were confirmed in their former liberties on condition of relinquishing their court leet in Richmond, Petersham, Ham, and Effingham, (fn. 57) and in that year the king appointed Sir Robert Douglas steward of the court leet for the manor of Richmond, at which the tenants of Petersham were to make attendance, the same court to be held twice a year. (fn. 58) In the survey taken in 1649 the courts baron and the courts leet were valued at £35 yearly. (fn. 59)


The church of ST. PETER is of unusual plan, having a chancel 15 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft., nave 28 ft. 2 in. east to west by 62 ft. north to south, and west tower 7 ft. square, with a porch to the west of it and a vestry to the north.

The church is said to have been built in 1505, but a blocked 13th-century lancet window in the north wall of the chancel shows that part at least is of much older date. Originally, as it seems, a plain rectangle 15 ft. 6 in. by 43 ft., it was enlarged early in the 17th century by the addition of a south transept and a west tower of red brick. In 1790 a north transept was added, more than half as long as the church and of a depth nearly as great as its width; the west porch was then added and the upper half of the tower rebuilt. In 1840 the former south transept gave way to a very much larger one, the east wall of which lines with that of the north transept, while its west wall overlaps the tower. Galleries were inserted, various alterations being made in the north transept, which was heightened and had some of its windows blocked up, and an inclosed staircase was built against the west wall. The vestry north of the tower probably dates from 1790.

The chancel is plastered and has diagonal eastern buttresses; the small blocked lancet in the north wall is rebated and chamfered, and the east and the south windows are each of two lights with wood frames. All the nave windows are round-headed except on the north, where they have been blocked by the gallery and replaced with smaller segmental-headed lights; there was formerly a north doorway in the middle of the wall. The outer arch of the west porch is round, but the doorways through the tower are square-headed. The ceilings are flat and plastered.

The altar-table and font are modern; and a modern screen spans the entrance to the chancel, within which are two large box-pews. The nave is also filled with box-pews, and there are north, west and south galleries. In the chancel on the north side is a large monument erected by Gregory Cole in 1624 to his father and his son, both named George. It formerly stood in the old south transept, which was probably built to contain it. The elder George married Frances Preston and had eight sons and five daughters, and Gregory married Jane Blighe and had three sons, George, buried in this tomb, Thomas, and Robert. The effigies of George and Frances Cole lie under a round arch flanked by Corinthian columns, and in a small niche in the base is the figure of their grandson. Above are the arms of Cole quartering Argent three bends in a border engrailed gules. In the east spandrel of the arch are the arms of Preston: Argent two bars gules and a quarter gules with a cinquefoil or thereon; and in the west spandrel Preston impaled by Cole. On the frieze are two other shields, one with the quartered coat of Cole and the other: Argent a fesse between two roundels sable in the chief and a martlet in the foot sable, a molet gules for difference impaling Cole, which records the marriage of Henry Lee of London with Elizabeth daughter of George and Frances Cole. On the south wall is a monument to Sir Thomas Jenner, kt., justice of the Common Pleas, 1706–7; and to Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale, 1697. There is one bell, by Brian Eldridge, 1620.

The communion plate comprises a silver-gilt cup of 1562, and silver cup and cover paten of 1570, two silver-gilt patens of 1663 and 1696, a silver paten of 1760, and a silver flagon 1740.

The registers begin in 1570, the first book (without its first leaf, which only survives as a copy) containing entries from 1574 to 1681, the second continuing to 1716; the third is a copy of the other two made in 1698 and continued to 1786 for baptisms and burials, and 1756 for marriages. In the third book are entries that the church was built on the 'south side of the abbey' (i.e. probably a house belonging to Chertsey) in 1505, and that the 'chapell' was 'new repaired and whitened and glazed in 1668.' The fourth book has marriages from 1756 to 1786, and the fifth marriages 1807 to 1812, the register of marriages between 1786 and 1807 appearing to be lost; the sixth has baptisms from 1786 to 1812, and the seventh burials for the same period.

In the vestry is a photograph of a certificate, dated 30 July 1664, by Henry Bignell, minister, of the marriage of Prince Rupert to Lady Francesca Bard; but the register contains no entry of such marriage.

The church stands to the north of the road below Richmond Hill, and is approached by a narrow passage.

On a site in the grounds of the former Bute House is the new church of ALL SAINTS, completed in 1909. It is a red brick and terra-cotta building of a Romanesque style, consisting of an apsidal chancel, nave with aisles, octagonal north baptistery, and a tall south-west tower with a pyramidal roof crowned by a figure of Christ. The altar is raised to a considerable height above the floor of the nave, and has a tall reredos and rood, and the baptistery has a tank for total immersion.


A church existed at Petersham at the time of the Domesday Survey, and in 1266 was appropriated to Merton Priory as a chapelry of Kingston. In this year an assignment was made for the endowment of a chaplain to celebrate divine service three times a week in the said chapel, namely, on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and freely dispense there the sacrament of baptism, the prior and convent allowing him two quarters of white wheat, one quarter of barley, and one of oats, to be paid on the feast of All Saints, and saving the rights of the mother-church of Kingston; whilst the parishioners of Petersham conceded, for the sustentation of the same chaplain, one bushel of wheat for every 10 acres, the whole amounting to 25½ bushels from 255 acres. (fn. 60)

In 1553 David Vincent, a groom of the privy chamber (see manor), had a grant of land and tithes, including the site of the chapel of Petersham, with 13 quarters of wheat pertaining thereto. (fn. 61) The appointment of the curate was found in 1658 to be in the hands of the vicar of Kingston; (fn. 62) but from a note in the parish registers it appears that when the Rev. Henry Walker intimated his appointment by the vicar to the Countess of Dysart in 1667, she claimed it as her right. She was, however, content to approve of Mr. Walker as curate.

The commissioners of 1658 recommended the union of Petersham with Ham and Hatch as a separate parish, but it was not done. Bishop Willis's Visitation Returns, 1725, (fn. 63) say that Petersham chapel had been 'partly endowed' by a Mr. Hatton and his family, probably the Mr. William Hatton of East Molesey who left an endowment to Thames Ditton (q.v.) in 1703. A Robert Hatton had also been Recorder of Kingston in 1638.

In 1769 Petersham was separated from Kingston by Act of Parliament and joined to Kew (q.v.), (fn. 64) to which it remained attached until 1891, when, in accordance with the Kew and Petersham Vicarage Acts, it was separated therefrom. It is now a vicarage in the gift of the Crown. The rectorial tithe is held by the Earl of Dysart.


Almshouses for six persons were built in 1867 by Madame Tildesley de Bosset, who endowed them by will. George Cole in 1624 gave a small benefaction charged on land in Sudbrook Park for the poor, which was returned in 1894 as not paid since 1859.

Dr. Triplet's benefaction of 1668 for apprenticing children is partly shared by Petersham. The Poor's land or the Poor's Half-acre, a house, and some cottages, the rent of which is applied for general purposes of poor relief, were also given by him at the same date.

Smith's Charity is distributed as in other Surrey parishes. The whole are under one management by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners. (fn. 65)


  • 1. Brayley, Hist. of Surr. iii, 117 ; Ct. R. portf. 205, no. 1.
  • 2. Ibid.; Cal. Com. for Compounding, 2553.
  • 3. When Aubrey says of Ham House, 'where the court for the king is met' he is referring to the courts leet of Richmond and Ham. Vide infra.
  • 4. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vii, 227b.
  • 5. Evelyn, Diary, 27 Aug. 1678.
  • 6. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surr. i, 439.
  • 7. Star Chamb. Proc. Hen. VIII, bdle. 22, no. 224, 218.
  • 8. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surr. i, 440.
  • 9. A news letter of 1714 (see Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. iii, 460) says that the Duke of Argyll had lately purchased Ham House of the Earl of Dysart. This is probably a confusion with Sudbrook.
  • 10. Orig. R. pt. ii, 2 Jas. II, rot. 44; Ct. R. (P.R.O.), portf. 205, no. 1.
  • 11. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1660–1, p. 282.
  • 12. Ibid. 1663–4, pp. 75, 95.
  • 13. Ibid. 1671, p. 590.
  • 14. Pat. 2 Jas. II, pt. viii, no. 16.
  • 15. Lysons, Environs of London, i, 399, Supp. 57.
  • 16. Ibid.
  • 17. Private Act, 23 Geo. III, cap. 13.
  • 18. Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 64; Kemble, Cod. Dipl. 988.
  • 19. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. 363.
  • 20. Ibid. 802; Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 469.
  • 21. Kemble, Cod. Dipl. 812.
  • 22. V.C.H. Surr. i, 308.
  • 23. Cal. Pat. 1324–7, p. 53.
  • 24. Close, 3 Hen. V, m. 31 d.
  • 25. Cal. Pat. 1461–7, p. 525; 1467–77, p. 64.
  • 26. Mins. Accts. (Gen. Ser.), bdle. 1904, no. 5.
  • 27. Mins. Accts. Duchy of Lanc. bdle. 41, no. 799.
  • 28. Pat. 14 Hen. VIII, pt. i, m. 5.
  • 29. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iii (2), p. 1134; Pat. 14 Hen. VIII, pt. i, m. 5.
  • 30. Add. Chart. 22631.
  • 31. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 717.
  • 32. Memo. R. Mich. 6 Eliz. rot. 96.
  • 33. Pat. 5 Jas. i, pt. xxvi, m. 20.
  • 34. Parl. Surv. Surr. no. 31.
  • 35. Pat. 8 Jas. I, pt. xli, m. 2.
  • 36. Pat. 14 Jas. I, pt. xx, m. 2.
  • 37. Mon. Inscr. Petersham Church; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccvi, 56.
  • 38. Manning and Bray, Hist. of Surr. i, 439.
  • 39. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccvi, 56.
  • 40. Ct. R. portf. 205, no. 1.
  • 41. Ibid.
  • 42. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1630–9, p. 609.
  • 43. Cal. of Com. for Compounding, 2552.
  • 44. Ibid. 2553.
  • 45. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1661–2, p. 34.
  • 46. Ibid. 1664–5, p. 492; 1665–6, pp. 10, 315.
  • 47. Pat. 17 Chas. II, pt. iii, no. 5; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1665–6, p. 315.
  • 48. Burnet, Hist. of His Own Time, ii, 20.
  • 49. Pat. 23 Chas. II, pt. x; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1671–2, pp. 225, 312.
  • 50. Recov. R. Mich. 11 Geo. III, rot. 35.
  • 51. See Recov. R. Hil. 40 Geo. III, rot. 229.
  • 52. See Feet of F. Trin. 51 Geo. III.
  • 53. Will P.C.C. 348 Howe.
  • 54. Petersham Parish Notes (1886).
  • 55. Parl. Surv. Surr. no. 45.
  • 56. Land Rev. Misc. Bks. vol. 197, fol. 99a.
  • 57. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1628–9, pp. 325, 350, 399.
  • 58. Ibid. 329, 350.
  • 59. Parl. Surv. no. 45.
  • 60. Cott. MSS. Cleop. C. vii.
  • 61. Acts of P.C. 1552–4, p. 288.
  • 62. Lambeth MS. Certificate, fol. N. 6. (vol. 21).
  • 63. Farnham MSS.
  • 64. Stat. 9 Geo. III, cap. 65.
  • 65. Ret. to Surr. Co. Council (1894).