Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places.Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 6
Vauxhall (continued) and Battersea.
Vauxhall (continued) and Battersea.
, it may here be stated, has other interesting associations besides those connected with its defunct Gardens; for, like the Nore, it appears or old to have been the end of the course for small sailing and racing matches on the Thames. Thus Strutt writes, in his
published in :--
It would seem natural that while the chief access to was by the
of the Thames and by the
the owners of and of Astley's should have shown some regard for the river and aquatic amusements; accordingly we learn from the same authority that the proprietors of those places used to give annually a wherry to be rowed for by the
or Thames apprentices, much like Doggett's coat and badge are now the objects of an annual aquatic contest.
We have, at different points of our perambulations round London, spoken of the fortifications which were erected during the Civil Wars; we may mention here that
occurs among the defences of London which were ordered to be set up by the Parliament in .
The late Mr. Loudon, as already stated by us, proposed to make a series of boulevards round London. His line, if carried out, would have come down from to , and thence have passed through the heart of to , and so on through Camberwell to Greenwich.
The Tradescants and Morlands, of whom we have already spoken, were not the only distinguished inhabitants of this locality in former times, for among its residents was the celebrated man of science, the Marquis of Worcester, so well known as the author of the
if not as the inventor of the steam-engine. He lived at for some years after the Restoration, from down to his death in , probably holding the post of superintendent of some works under the Government connected with the army and navy. Here he set up his
which was naturally a great curiosity in those days, when science was at a low ebb. On this he spent nearly , and had to pay the penalty of obloquy and calumny, which always attach to great minds in advance of their age. His thanksgiving to Almighty God for
is of the most touching evidences at once of his humility and his confidence in the wonder-working power of time. To show how little the marquis was known or appreciated in his day, it may be added that, though he died in , it is not certain whether he died here or at the residence of his family, Beaufort House, in .
Near are the large works of the London Gas Company, established in .
|Though situated on the south of the Thames, the company is not wrongly named, for its mains are carried across , and extend over a considerable distance of , which they supply.|
Close by the gas-works is the Elms pier, so called from some lofty trees which formerly grew there, but were cut down before the South-Western Railway marked the spot for its own. As stated by us in a previous chapter, the South-Western Railway originally had its London terminus here, the line not being allowed to be brought direct into London; but upon the extension of the line to the , in the year , the old station was converted into a goods depot. The railway works here cover a vast extent of ground on either side of the main line, and give employment to a large number of hands. Mr. T. Miller, in his
(), writes :--
We have already spoken of the glass-works, which formed of the centres of industry for which was formerly celebrated; another scene of industry in our own time was Messrs. Price's candle factory, which was for many years of the most interesting sights in London. There were formerly establishments in connection with the firm, known as Belmont, at , and Sherwood, in , Battersea; the latter, however, which was by far the largest, alone remains, and the large corrugated iron roofs of the buildings are doubtless well known to the reader who is in the habit of passing frequently up the river. The works cover upwards of acres of ground, of which are under cover, and they give employment to about hands. It may be added that this factory covers the site of old York House, of which we shall have more to say presently. The neighbourhood would appear to have been, at the early part of the present century, pretty well supplied with inns and taverns; at all events, a manuscript list, dated about , enumerates
Battersea, or Patrick's-eye, is said to have taken its name from St. Patrick or St. Peter, because in ancient days it belonged to the Abbey of St. Peter at . In Domesday Book, A.D. , it is recorded that
The manor, with the advowson, was granted by King Stephen to the abbot and convent of ; but at the Dissolution they again reverted into the hands of the Crown. Charles I., however, granted them to Sir Oliver St. John, ancestor of Lord Bolingbroke, from whose family they passed by sale to that of Lord Spencer. By the ancient custom of this manor lands were to descend to younger sons; but if there are no sons, they are divided equally among the daughters.
Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke and Lord St. John of Battersea, died here in . Hughson,
in his |
The above-mentioned mill (see page ) has long been removed, or, at any rate, considerably altered, and a flour-mill now occupies the site. John Timbs, in his
tells us that the mill resembled a gigantic packing-case, which gave rise to an odd story, that
When Sir Richard Phillips took, in , his
he found still standing a small portion of the family mansion in which Lord Bolingbroke had been born, and, like Hughson before him, he tells us that it had been converted into a mill and distillery, though a small oak parlour had been carefully preserved. In this room Pope is said to have written his
and in Bolingbroke's time the house was the constant resort of Swift, Arbuthnot, Thomson, and David Mallet, and all the cotemporary of English society. The oak room was always called
and doubtless was the very identical room which was assigned to the poet whenever he came from London, or from Twickenham, as a guest to Battersea.
Happening to inquire for some ancient inhabitant of the place, Sir Richard was introduced to a chatty and intelligent old woman, a Mrs. Gillard, who told him that she well remembered Lord Bolingbroke's face; that he used to ride out every day in his chariot, and had a black patch on his cheek, with a large wart over of his eyebrows. She was then but a child, but she was taught always to regard him as a great man. As, however, he spent but little in the place, and gave little away, he was not much regarded by the people of Battersea. Sir Richard mentioned to the old dame the names of many of Bolingbroke's friends and associates; but she could remember nothing of any of them except Mallet, whom she used often to see walking about the village, wrapped up in his own thoughts, whilst he was a visitor at
The cedarpanelled room in Bolingbroke House is still very scrupulously preserved; its windows still overlook the Thames, from which the house is separated by a lawn. In of the chambers up-stairs the ceilings are ornamented with stucco-work, and have in their centres oval-shaped oil-paintings on allegorical subjects.
Henry St. John was born at Battersea in , and was educated at Eton, where he became acquainted with Sir Robert Walpole, and where a rivalship was commenced which lasted through life. At an early age he was distinguished for his talents, fascinating manners, and remarkable personal beauty; and he left college only to continue a course of the wildest profligacy. On his elevation to the peerage, in , his father's congratulation on his new honours was something of the oddest:--
years later, having been impeached for high treason, Bolingbroke fled to Calais; and shortly afterwards, by invitation of Charles Stuart, he visited him at Lorraine, and accepted the post of his Secretary of State, which caused his impeachment and attainder. In he was permitted to return home, and his estates were restored to him; but the was still closed against him. In he again visited France, and resided there until the death of his father, when he retired to the family seat here for the rest of his life. He died of a cancer in the face in .
Lord Bolingbroke wrote several works which have handed his name down to posterity. During his life there appeared a
His correspondence, state papers, essays, &c., were subsequently published in a collected form by David Mallet, his lordship's literary legatee.
Lord Marchmont was living with Lord Bolingbroke, at Battersea, when he discovered that Mr. Alien, of Bath, had printed copies of the
from the copy which Bolingbroke had presented to Pope- copies only were printed. Thereupon, we are told, Lord Marchmont sent a man for the whole cargo, and they were brought out in a wagon, and the books burned on the lawn in the presence of Lord Bolingbroke.
The history of Lord Bolingbroke may be read in his epitaph in the parish church close by, which is as follows :--
says Oliver Goldsmith, in his life of this distinguished man,
Of Lord Bolingbroke's genius as a philosopher, the same author observes that
Tindal, the historian, confesses that St. John was occasionally, perhaps, the best political writer that ever appeared in England; whilst Lord Chesterfield tells us that, until he read Bolingbroke's
continues his lordship,
Among the residents of this village was Sir William Batten, the friend of Pepys, who records in his
-, how Lady Batten and his own wife went hence to see the bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw hanged and buried at Tyburn.
[extra_illustrations.6.471.1] , which stood near the water-side, on the spot now occupied by Price's Candle Factory, and is kept in remembrance by , is supposed to have been built about the year by Lawrence Booth, Bishop of Durham, and by him annexed to the see of York, of which he was afterwards archbishop, as a residence for himself and his successors when they had occasion to be near the Court.
Lysons speaks of the house as standing in his time (the end of the last century), and states that it was formerly an occasional residence of the archbishops; but that for more than a century it had been occupied only by tenants.
When Archbishop Holgate was committed to the Tower by Queen Mary, in q, the officers who were employed to apprehend him rifled his house at Battersea, and took away from thence
Holgate was afterwards deprived of the archbishopric of York, to which he was never restored.
Of the structural details of the [extra_illustrations.6.472.1] , dedicated to St. Mary, little or nothing is now known, further than that it is said to have been a
church to that
| of on the opposite side of the river, which it much resembled. The edifice was rebuilt with brick in the middle of the last century, and in a style quite worthy of that era. It is an utterly unecclesiastical and unsightly structure, without aisles or chancel, and almost defies description. A church had stood on the same site for centuries; but the present edifice dates only from , when it was erected at a cost of . The tower is surmounted by a low, heavy-looking octagonal spire, and contains a clock and bells, At the east end is a recess for the communion-table, above which is a central window in divisions. The painted glass in this window, which was replaced from the old church, contains portraits of Henry VII., his grandmother, Margaret Beauchamp, and Queen Elizabeth, together with many enrichments and several coats-of-arms. Most of the old monuments were replaced against the walls of the side galleries. Against the south wall is
[extra_illustrations.6.472.2] , who seems to have outstripped the boldest knights of chivalry by his exploits, if we may take the epitaph literally:--
Among the memorials of the St. Johns is that of Lord Bolingbroke, already mentioned, and of his wife, Mary Clara des Champs de Marcilly, Marchioness de Villette. This monument, which. is of grey and white marble, was executed by Roubiliac. The upper part displays an urn with drapery, surmounted by the viscount's arms, and the lower portion records the characters of the deceased, flanked by their medallions in profile, in bas-relief. Another monument commemorates the descent and preferments of Oliver St. John, Viscount Grandison, who was the of his family that settled at Battersea. He died in . Sir George Wombwell, of Sherwood Lodge, in this parish, who died in ; and Sir John Fleet, Lord Mayor of London in , who died in , are also commemorated by marble tablets. In the churchyard are buried Arthur Collins, editor of the
which bears his name, and William Curtis, the botanist, author of the
The parish register dates from the year . In - the interior of the church underwent a partial restoration, being re-paved and re-seated with open benches, in place of the old-fashioned pews.
Of late years several other churches and chapels have been erected in the parish. , at South Battersea, is an elegant Decorated structure; it was built by subscription, and opened in . St. Mark's, , is of the Geometric Middle-pointed style of architecture; it was built from the designs of Mr. W. White, and was consecrated in . Around the apse is an ambulatory, with steps leading to it from a crypt.
, in Lower , dates its erection from ; it is a large edifice of the Pointed style of architecture in vogue in the century, and was built from the designs of Mr. Blore. It was enlarged and repaired in .
There are National and British and Foreign Schools for boys, girls, and infants. The , in , was founded and endowed for boys in , by Sir Walter St. John, Bart.; it was rebuilt and enlarged in , and now affords instruction to about boys. Schools are neat buildings in the , and were erected at a cost of .
The Normal School of the National Society, known as College--for the training of young men who are intended to become schoolmasters in schools connected with the Church of England-owes its origin to Dr. J. P. Kay and Mr. E. C. Tufnell, assistant Poor-law Commissioners. These gentlemen, with a view of making an effort for the production of a better description of schoolmasters than had hitherto generally been met with, visited Holland, Prussia, Switzerland, Paris, and other places, for the purpose of examining the operations of the establishments projected by Pestalozzi, De Fellenberg, and other enlightened promoters of the education of the poor; and the result of their observations was a desire and hope to establish in this country a Normal School,
With this view, they were led to select
That gentleman offered the use of his village schools in aid of the training schools, as the sphere in which the
students might obtain practice and direction in the art of teaching. Boys were at obtained from the School of Industry at Norwood, and were intended to remain years in training. With these were subsequently associated some young men whose period of residence was
|necessarily limited to year. The institution was put in operation at the commencement of ; and it continued under the direction of Dr. Kay and Mr. Tufnell, supported by their private means, and conducted in its various departments of instruction and industrial labour by tutors and superintendents appointed by them, until the close of the year , when the establishment was put on a foundation of permanency by the directors transferring it into the hands of the National Society. Several Continental modes of instruction had been adopted by Dr. Kay and Mr. Tufnell, such as Mulhauser's method of writing, Wilhelm's method of singing, Dupuis' method of drawing, &c.; and the results of their benevolent experiment were so satisfactory, that a grant of for the extension and improvement of the premises was made to them by the Committee of Council on Education, which grant was transferred to the National Society, and forthwith expended in the requisite alterations. New dormitories, a dininghall, lavatories, &c., were then built; and in the early part of a large new class-room was erected, and filled with every kind of apparatus for the use of the students. The institution is supported by the National Society's special fund for providing schoolmasters for the manufacturing and mining districts. Only young men are now received as students; and the usual term of training is generally year and a half. The general number of scholars is from to .|
Another invaluable institution in Battersea is the Royal Freemasons' Girls' School. This institution was founded in , and was originally located in Fields; but was a few years ago removed to its present site on , . It was established for the purpose of educating and maintaining the daughters of poor or deceased Freemasons. The school, which stands near Clapham Junction Station, and close by the side of the railway, is a red-brick building, of Gothic architecture, and was erected in , from the designs of Mr. Philip Hardwicke; it is chiefly noticeable for its great central clocktower, and watch-towers at the corners.
At , which forms the north-western extremity of Clapham Common, many pleasant villas and superior houses have been built; this being
Here the Lord Auckland had a suburban villa, where he used to entertain his political friends, Pitt, Wilberforce, and others.
writes Robert Chambers, in his
Mr. Death has long since submitted to his mighty namesake; the
is gone, and the very place where the merry undertakers regaled themselves can scarcely be distinguished among the spreading streets which now occupy this part of the environs of the metropolis.
bridges communicate across the river with : the is a handsome structure, built on the suspension principle, and called the Victoria Bridge. It connects the , on the east side of Battersea Park, with and , and has been already described by us. The next is also a [extra_illustrations.6.474.1] , known as the Albert, built about , and uniting the roadway, on the west side of the park, with and , close by Cadogan Pier. The bridge is the venerable wooden structure known as [extra_illustrations.6.474.2] , which connects the older portion of the parish with the oldest part of . For more than a century prior to -when certain
| alterations were effected upon it by its new proprietors, the Albert Bridge Company-this ancient timber obstruction, by custom and courtesy called a bridge, had been an object almost of dread to all who were in the habit of navigating the abovebridge portion of the |
The history of the bridge stretches away considerably into the past, and taken in connection with the ferry which it was built to supersede, and which belonged to the original proprietors of the bridge, it is directly traceable to the commencement of the century. As a rule, river bridges have generally been preceded by ferries, and to this rule forms no exception. A ferry which preceded it was in full operation when James I. came to the throne, and presumably belonged to the Crown, inasmuch as by royal
letters patent, and for the sum of , the king gave |
Some adjacent lands were included in the grants, and the grantees had the power to convey their rights to
The Earl of Lincoln was the owner of Sir Thomas More's house in , he having purchased it from Sir Robert Cecil. In the earl sold the ferry to William Blake, who also had a local interest in , inasmuch as he owned Park, which had once belonged to Sir Thomas More, and was at time known as the Sand Hills. This
|park was sold by Blake to the Earl of Middlesex in .|
When the ferry changed hands is not quite certain, but in it belonged to Bartholomew Nutt. The ferry appears to have been rated in the Parish books in at per annum. It afterwards came into the possession of Sir Walter St. John, who, as we have seen, owned the manor of Battersea and other estates in Surrey. He died in , and the ferry, with the rest of the property, went to his son Henry, who died in , having left it to his son, Henry, the famous Viscount Bolingbroke, who died childless in , bequeathing his estates to his nephew, Frederick. In the year the nephew obtained an Act of Parliament, under which he sold the manorial property to the trustees of John, Earl Spencer. In Earl Spencer obtained an Act of Parliament which empowered him to build the present bridge at his own expense at the ferry, and to secure land for the approaches. The tolls named in the Act are halfpenny for footpassengers, as at the present time, and fourpence for a cart drawn by horse, or double the toll now charged. The framers of the Act appear to have contemplated the possibility of the bridge
being only a fragile structure, as special powers are granted to the earl to sue watermen injuring it by boat or vessel. Provision is also made on behalf of the public by a clause which enacts that in the event of a tempest or unforeseen accident rendering the bridge |
the earl shall provide a convenient ferry, charging the same tolls as on the bridge. The bridge, however, was not constructed until several years after the Act of Parliament had been obtained, and between the years and it is on record that the ferry produced an average rental of per annum. In the latter year Lord Spencer associated with himself gentlemen, each of whom was to pay as a consideration for the share in the ferry, and all the advantages conferred on the earl by the Act of . They were also made responsible for a further payment of each towards the construction of a bridge. A contract was entered into with Messrs. Phillips and
|Holland to build the bridge for . The works were at once commenced, and by the end of it was opened for foot passengers, and in the following year it was available for carriage traffic. Money had to be laid out in the formation of approach roads, so that at the end of the total amount expended was .|
For many years the proprietors realised only a small return upon their capital, repairs and improvements absorbing nearly all the receipts. In the severe winter of considerable damage was done to the bridge by reason of the accumulated ice becoming attached to the piles, and drawing them on the rise of the tide; and in the last years of the eighteenth century no dividends were distributed. In side of the bridge was lighted with oil lamps, and it was the only wooden bridge across the Thames which at that time possessed such accommodation. In the dangerous wooden railing was replaced by a handrail of iron; and in the bridge was lighted with gas, the pipes being brought over from , although Battersea remained unlighted by gas for several years afterwards.
Further structural improvements were made from time to time, of which consisted of laying the bridge with a flooring of cast-iron plates, on which the metal of the roadway rests. At various times, too, the proprietors have expended considerable sums of money in making a road on Wandsworth Common, and, in conjunction with Battersea parish, in improving ways of approach to the bridge. The proprietors, moreover, have often expressed their willingness to contribute towards some alteration of the water-way of the bridge for the benefit of the public. In this, however, it was but reasonable that they should expect to be joined by the Conservators of the Thames, or others interested in the improvement. This expectation not being realised, they declined to bear the whole cost. Until the bridge remained in the hands of the descendants or friends of the original proprietors. In that year, however, the bridge came into the possession of the Albert Bridge Company, under their Act of Incorporation; and it was by this company, as stated above, that the recent improvements were carried out, the same being made obligatory by that Act.
The extreme length of the bridge is feet, and its width feet, including the pathways. It originally consisted of openings, varying from feet in the centre to feet at the ends, the piers being formed of groups of timber piles. There is a clear headway of feet under the centre span at Trinity highwater. The bridge does not cross the river in a direct line, but is built upon a slight curve in plan --the convexity being on the upper or western side. The alterations above mentioned comprise the widening of the water-way at points in the bridge, for which purpose of the spans have been converted into . The centre opening is now feet wide, with the same headway as before. The other widening of the water-way is at a point near the northern or end. By these alterations greater facilities for river traffic have been afforded, while the old bridge has been considerably strengthened by means of the iron girders and extra piles which have been added to it.
A quarter of a century ago the locality then known as Battersea Fields was of the darkest and dreariest spots in the suburbs of London. A flat and unbroken wilderness of some acres, it was the resort of costermongers and
and those prowling vagabonds who call themselves
The week-day scenes here were bad enough; but on Sundays they were positively disgraceful, and to a great extent the police were powerless, for the place was a sort of
on which ruffianism claimed to riot uncontrolled by any other authority than its own will. Pugilistic encounters, dog-fights, and the rabble coarseness of a country fair in its worst aspect were
But at length the
interfered, and the weekly
--if such it might be called--was abolished by the magistrates in .
Duels have sometimes been fought in Battersea Fields, the lonely character of the neighbourhood causing it to be selected for this special purpose. of the most noted of these
took place in . In that year the Duke of Wellington got into
for the part he had taken in the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill. Abuse fell upon him fast and furious; and the young Earl of Winchilsea- of the leaders of the anti-Catholic party-went so far as to publish a violent attack on his personal character. The duke having vainly endeavoured to induce the earl to retract his charges, sent him a challenge, and the combatants met in Battersea Fields on the , but fortunately separated without injury to either. Lord Winchilsea, after escaping the duke's shot, fired in the air, and then tendered the apology which ought to have been made at the outset.
On the river-side the monotony of blackguardism was somewhat relieved by a glaring tavern, known
| as the |
--but more frequently called by cockneys the
as every reader of
will remember--in the grounds of which pigeon-shooting was carried on by the cream of society till superseded by the more fashionable Hurlingham. In Colburn's
(), we read that
has been the winning-post of many a boat-race. In the
of , we read that, on the in the previous year,
gave a prize wherry, which was
The other heats, too, all ended here; and the Calendar adds that, though was crowded with spectators, the
and describes the fun of the afternoon and evening in amusing terms.
It is said that about yards west of this spot Caesar crossed the Thames, following the retreating Britons; but the fact is questioned. Nevertheless, Sir Richard Phillips, in his
tells us that he had more than once surveyed the ford, from the
to the opposite bank, near the site of Ranelagh.
As lately as Battersea Fields formed, as we have said, a dreary waste of open country. A
of that year speaks of them as
The fact is, the disgraceful scenes to be witnessed here had become such a glaring scandal that urgent measures had long been in contemplation for its suppression. Happily, just then the demand for open spaces in the outskirts of the metropolis had taken firm hold of public attention, and about this time these fields, instead of being handed over to speculative builders, were devoted to the purposes of a public park. The
with its shooting-grounds and adjacent premises, was purchased by the Government for ; and, under the Metropolitan Board of Works, in the course of a few years, the wilderness was converted into a pleasant garden, and now Battersea Park ranks among the very of those health and pleasure resorts which Londoners prize so highly and justly. It is now of the prettiest of London parks, and every year adds charms to its many attractions, the choicest of which, perhaps, is the Acclimatisation Garden, which may be said to flourish here not far from the heart of the metropolis. In Battersea Park palm-trees actually grow in the open air--not under glass cases, as at Kew: indeed, this park is no mean or contemptible rival to Kew Gardens.
The park, which was opened to the public in , contains about acres ornamentally laid out with trees, shrubs, flower-plots, and a sheet of water. For the land was paid, and the laying-out made the total cost amount to . is of the principal features, and forms the chief promenade of the park. The trees are English elms.
observes a writer,
Here the visitor may see, on a small scale, the flora of the Alpine region as well as of the tropics. These and the other beauties of the park are thus described with minute accuracy in
Close by the park are some blocks of houses, erected by the Victoria Dwellings' Association as homes for the working classes. The buildings, which were opened in , were intended as models of the dwellings for artisans and labourers, to replace the habitations condemned in various parts of the metropolis under the Act of .
At a short distance eastward of the park are the reservoirs and engine-house of the and Company. The reservoirs cover nearly eighteen acres of ground; and the steam-engines have sufficient power to force the
|water through perpendicular iron tubes to the height of feet, by which means it is raised sufficiently to supply the inhabitants of Brixton and other elevated places.|
Some portion of the ground immediately contiguous to the park is still cultivated as marketgardens; but before the formation of the park, and the recent railway extensions near Clapham Junction Station, some hundreds of acres were devoted to that purpose. here were long noted for producing the earliest and best asparagus in the neighbourhood of London. Indeed, that this parish at time enjoyed the reputation of being a place for early fruit and vegetables is shown by the following satirical lines on air-balloons, from the for :
The produce of these gardens was likewise referred to in the addresses of the candidates at the mock elections of the
in the neighbouring parish of Wandsworth, as we shall presently see.
In the and eighteenth centuries, whilst its neighbour was acquiring fame in consequence of the glass manufactured there, Battersea was celebrated for its enamelled ware, which still fetches good prices, although the manufacture has died out.
But Battersea has other claims to immortality: in spite of the claims of Burton and Edinburgh, there can be little doubt, if Fuller is a trustworthy historian, that of the ozier-beds of the riverside here was the cradle of bottled ale. The story is thus circumstantially told in
 See Vol. V., p. 257.
 See Vol. III., p. 101.
 This was the case also with the North-Western Railway, the London terminus of which was originally at Chalk Farm; see Vol. V., p. 350.
[extra_illustrations.6.471.1] York House
[extra_illustrations.6.472.1] ancient parish church of Battersea
[extra_illustrations.6.472.2] a monument to an heroic person, Sir Edward Wynter
 See ante, p. 350.
 See Vol. V., p. 41.
[extra_illustrations.6.474.1] suspension bridge
[extra_illustrations.6.474.2] Battersea Bridge
 See Vol. V., p. 53.
[extra_illustrations.6.477.1] Battersea Reach