Page images

as in 1567 there is an entry, "Pa to Thos. King for making a bridge at the east side of the churchyard, and for taking down and sawing the May Pole, 6s."

The year 1665 was a very mournful one in Wandsworth, for the plague appears to have raged very badly here, and numerous are the entries, both in the churchwardens' accounts and Registers, of the death of the inhabitants from that dread disease, the establishing of pesthouses, and the digging of plague-pits. One of these pits was situated upon the East Hill, and another was dug in the upper Richmond Road, close by the new Railway Station.

One item repeatedly met with in these accounts, even down to the early years of this century, reads curiously now-a-days. It is a payment for the destruction of hedgehogs, weasels, and other vermin. Another item is a payment for repairing the parish umbrella. This I take to have been the umbrella kept for the purpose of sheltering the parson when reading the Burial Service beside the grave. There was one kept in like manner at Bromley Church, Kent.

One of the vicars of this parish in the time of Henry VIII, together with his chaplain, a curate, and two other persons, were hanged and quartered at St. Thomas à Waterings on July 8th, 1539. It is supposed for denying the King's supremacy. He is said to have left his dying curse upon everything ecclesiastical connected with the parish.

Wandsworth is rich in historical associations. Situated as it is upon the highroad to the old royal Palace of Sheen, to Kingston, Guildford, and Portsmouth, it has often witnessed the passage of royalty. In 1388 Richard II and his Queen passed through on their way to London, upon which occasion a large body of the citizens rode out as far as Wandsworth to meet their Majesties. Henry VII, in 1507, paid several visits to Wandsworth. Queen Elizabeth was here more than once, and is said to have resided for a short time at the old houses now known as "The Gables", facing Wandsworth Common. To Queen Elizabeth Wandsworth owes its first bridge over the river Wandle, which was built at her expense in 1602. It could, however, only have been a slight con

struction of wood, as it only took a few days to erect. Aubrey mentions it, under date 1673, in terms not too complimentary, calling it, indeed, "the sink of the country”. Wandsworth is also associated with such celebrated historical names as Cardinal Wolsey, who rode out, and here met the Ambassador from the Emperor's court, with tidings of interest to him, in 1516. Thomas Cromwell, the famous Earl of Essex (reputed to have been born at Putney, the son of a blacksmith), is said to have fallen in love with a Wandsworth girl; who, however, jilted him; upon which he went abroad, I believe, to Antwerp, and returning some years afterwards he found her a widow; whereupon he married her, and they are said to have lived in a house which formerly stood upon the site of the present Wandsworth Railway Station.

As you are already aware, Wandsworth is very intimately connected with the Huguenots. They settled here in considerable numbers, and appear to have been amicably received by the inhabitants, and several of the trades and manufactures still carried on were introduced by them. It was here that the first steps were taken to establish a Presbyterian Church, in 1572, which was endorsed by the name of the "Orders of Wandsworth". An old engraving in the possession of a friend illustrates the formation of this assembly, and an old press-cutting attached to it, which records this curious doctrine, "that it was lawful to assassinate any man who opposed the Gospel"; which one Burchet endeavoured to carry out by assassinating Sir Christopher Hatton, who was believed to be no friend to the Puritans. He stabs another man in mistake, however, for which he was executed; and a proclamation was issued, by which they were frightened, and restrained from carrying such practices any further.1

Flemish refugees also settled here, and established the trade or "mystery" of frying-pan making, Dutch Yard to this day preserving in its name the memory of these settlers.

Wandsworth was also noted for the manufacture of hats, and Stow mentions that many of these French

1 Hist. Collections, p. 310; also Heylyns, Hist. of Presbytery; see Hone upon Stow, p. 741.

refugees were engaged in that trade, and Weiss relates that the Cardinals of Rome had their hats from Wandsworth from the sixteenth to the middle of the last century. In connection with hat and cap making there is a curious ordinance of the Fullers' Company, quoted in Memorials of London Life in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries, by Thomas Riley, dated the 50th Edward III (1376), to the effect that "whereas the hurers of the said city are wont to full their caps in the mills at Wandlesworth, Old Ford, Stratford, and Enfield, where the said fullers full their cloths, it may please your very benign lordships that the said hurers shall not be allowed from henceforth to full in the same mills",1 etc.


Of the old houses of Wandsworth very few are now left. On the site of the present Police Station, on West Hill, there formerly stood a very quaint old place, traditionally said to have been frequented by Charles II when on hunting expeditions in the neighbourhood. It was afterwards known as "The Sword House", because the then owner, who had been an officer in the army, erected before it a kind of chevaux de frise of claymores and pikes which he had brought as trophies from the field of Culloden in 1745.

The Manor House of Allfarthing was taken down many years ago, and the houses on St. Ann's Hill built upon the gardens. In its later days it was used as a boardingschool, kept by a Mr. Wilkinson, the uncle of Sir Gardner Wilkinson, and here he received his education.

There formerly existed a picturesque old house, near Wandsworth Station, known as "The Jews' House", and "Jews' Row" is still a local address.

A celebrity, whose name has found a place in the history of the reigns of two Kings, Edward IV and Henry VII, Jane Shore, is said to have lived in a house on Wandsworth Plain, the site of which is now known as 'Armoury Yard"; so called from the store-house of the arms of the Wandsworth Volunteers in 1794.2

1 The hurers were makers of hures or shaggy fur caps.

2 Some few years ago I was exploring in the tower of the church when I discovered, hidden away in a cupboard formed out of what

In the old coaching days Wandsworth was noted for its inns, and for the many coaches which passed through the town. In this connection it is interesting to read in Carey's Itinerary, under date 1668, "the Portsmouth Machine left London by way of Vauxhall, Battersea, and Wandsworth, and so on to Putney Heath."

One fine old mansion, until quite recently existing on St. John's Hill, known as "The Manor House", has excited considerable attention from time to time, owing to several letters and articles in the papers respecting it, which led to a visit being paid to it by the Surrey Archæological Society in June 1889, when Mr. S. W. Kershaw read an exhaustive paper upon its history. There appears to be considerable doubt as to the original builder or owner of the house; but tradition relates that it was built by Charles II, and given by him to his niece, Anne, upon her marriage with Prince George of Denmark. It is also related that Sir Christopher Wren designed the house. Of this, however, Mr. Kershaw was unable to discover any documentary evidence to support the suggestion. The house was of the date of the latter part of the seventeenth century. Mr. Kershaw remarks that Princess Anne and her husband resided here for eighteen years previous to her accession to the throne. In one of the rooms, called "Queen Anne's Boudoir", there was a portrait on the ceiling of the Princess receiving a letter; and on one of the panels a likeness of her mother, Anne Hyde, the first wife of James II. The house has recently been despoiled of all its fine old wood-carving and staircase. The carving is said to be the work of Grinling Gibbons, but to my mind it is not sufficiently refined for his work. The house was purchased by a land-speculator for pulling down, and building upon the site and grounds of about 6 acres.

With a passing reference to the hamlet of Garrett, celebrated in the last century for the mock election and mock mayor (which subject Foote, the actor, dramatised

remains of the old turret-staircase, the original silken banners of the old Wandsworth Volunteers. These are now, I am glad to say, under the care of our accomplished Librarian, Mr. Cecil Davis, who has very carefully cleaned them, and they are now on view at the Public Library, preserved under glass.

under the title of The Mayor of Garrett), I will just notice, in conclusion, one or two eminent names which are associated with Wandsworth. Voltaire resided at Wandsworth for two years; Francis Grose, the antiquary, also resided at Mulberry Cottage on Wandsworth Common; and in a house on Wandsworth Common it is said David Garrick resided, and designed a music-room. Dibdin also is said to have resided in a house called "Cedar Cottage"; and coming down to more recent days, it was at Holly Lodge, Southfields, that George Eliot wrote Adam Bede.

My best thanks are due to Mr. Cecil Davis, the Librarian of the Public Library, for having kindly furnished me with several interesting items of information in the history of Wandsworth.

« PreviousContinue »