Another in the occasional series on historical sites on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path)  walk …

Cranford was first recorded the Domesday Book of 1086 as Craneford, meaning ford frequented by cranes or herons, and referring  to the point at which the ancient route and track from London to Bath crosses the River Crane (a tributary of the Thames).  Note  that there was evidently at least temporary settlement in the area  in prehistory, and permanent settlement in the so-called Dark Ages.

The manor was recorded in the Domesday Book as having a priest, and presumably therefore also a church (see below).  The manor was divided into two in 1220: Cranford St John coming to be owned by the Knights Templar (later Knights Hospitaller); Cranford Le Mote, by the Abbey of Thame.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII, it was re-united, and conveyed to Andrew, Lord Windsor, in 1540.  The manor was  then  bought by Sir Roger Aston, Barber, Gentleman of the Bedchamber and Keeper of the Great Wardrobe to James I, in 1603;  and in turn by Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley – a relative of Anne Boleyn – in 1618.

It remained in the Berkeley family for over 300 years, until  it was finally sold to the local authority in 1932, and opened to the public as Cranford Park in 1949.  Cranford House was built here in the seventeenth century, extended in the eighteenth, and substantially demolished in the twentieth.

Church of St Dunstan


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The church of St Dunstan was probably originally built by the Knights Templar in the thirteenth century (as a chapel – whence the lack of aisles).  It was subsequently extended in the fifteenth century, when the chancel and the lower part of the tower were built, and again  in the seventeenth, when the upper part of the tower was added; amended in the eighteenth, when the nave was rebuilt; and restored in the nineteenth and again in the twentieth.

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The interior contains a number of surviving Medieval and post-Medieval features, including the remains of a pre-Reformation wall-painting …

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Detail of Aston memorial

… and a memorial  to the aforementioned Sir Roger Aston (d. 1612), …

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… and another to Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley (d. 1635).  The Berkeley memorial  is attributed to Nicholas Stone the Younger, who studied under  Bernini.

In the churchyard  is a  memorial plaque commemorating the comedian Tony Hancock (d. 1968), whose ashes were brought here from Australia, where he had committed suicide, for burial.


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Another in the occasional series on historical sites on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path)  walk …

Kingston was first recorded in an Anglo-Saxon charter of 838 as Cynings tun, meaning the king’s estate or manor, and alluding to the fact that in Saxon times it was owned by the  king.


Seven Saxon kings are reputed to have been crowned here, on a site now occupied by the church of All Saints, including  Athelstan, the first king of the united England, in 924/925.



The nearby Market Place is a Scheduled Conservation area, with some buildings purporting to date back to the  fifteenth or sixteenth centuries.

Church of All Saints


The church of All Saints was originally built in the twelfth century, around 1130, on the site of an earlier, Saxon church dedicated to St Mary, although it has subsequently been much modified, most notably in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.


A surviving part of the wall of the Saxon church  may be seen in the churchyard.


There are a number of interesting surviving Medieval and post-Medieval features in the interior,


including part of a late tenth- or eleventh- century Saxon cross-shaft,


fourteenth-century wall painting of St Blaise,


and the early seventeenth-century tomb of Sir Anthony Benn.

Old Malden

Another in the occasional series on historical sites on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path)  walk …

What is now known as Old Malden  was first founded in Saxon times, although first recorded in the Norman “Domesday Book” of 1086 as Meldone, meaning, in Old English, hill (dun) with a cross or crucifix (mael).  The ancient settlement grew steadily in size through the later Medieval period and into the post-Medieval.  It lies in the modern London Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.

Aside from the church of St John the Baptist (see below), there are a number of other historic buildings of note here, including the “Manor House”, originally built at least as long ago as eleventh century (although subsequently rebuilt in the seventeenth, and extended in the eighteenth), and the “Plough” public house on the green, originally built in the fifteenth century.  Henry VIII is known to have held court in the old “Manor House” in the sixteenth century (and Captain Cook lived in the new one in the eighteenth).



Church of St John the Baptist

The church of St John the Baptist was originally built in the Saxon and/or later Medieval period, and subsequently rebuilt in the post-Medieval, in the early seventeenth century, in around 1611 (and extended in the late nineteenth and again in the early  twenty-first).  Parts of the Lady Chapel survive from the Medieval, and the south part of the nave and the tower from the post-Medieval.  In the interior, some memorials also survive from the post-Medieval, including that to the one-time Lord of the Manor John Goode (d. 1627), who funded the seventeenth-century reconstruction.

Whitehall Palace

The last in the  occasional series on “London Settings for Shakespeare’s Plays” …

Whitehall Palace (Henry VIII)

Whitehall Palace was originally built for the  Archbishops of York in the thirteenth century, circa 1240, when it was known as York Place.  It was subsequently acquired by Henry VIII from the then Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey, in 1529, whence, from Shakespeare’s “King Henry the Eighth”, “You must no more call it York Place: that is past; For since the Cardinal fell that title’s lost.  ‘Tis now the King’s, and called Whitehall”; and extended both by Henry and by James I.


The palace was undamaged in the Great Fire, but substantially burnt down in another fire in 1698.

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Essentially only the Banqueting House, designed by the  Palladian architect Inigo Jones in 1622, and notable as the first Renaissance building in central London, with a ceiling by Rubens, still stands (together with “Henry VIII’s wine cellar” in the nearby Ministry of Defence building in Horse Guards’ Avenue, the site of his tilt-yard in Horse Guards’ Parade, part of his real tennis court in the Cabinet Office building at No. 70 Whitehall, and “Queen Mary’s Stairs”, built in 1691, on the Embankment).


Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House in 1649.


The Holbein Gate, built in 1532 and notable as the probable place of the clandestine marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1533, survived the fires of  1666 and 1698, but was demolished in 1759.


Another in the occasional series on historical sites  on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path)  walk …

Ewell in Surrey was first recorded as such in the Medieval period, in the thirteenth century, having earlier been recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Etwelle (note, though, that the site  was almost certainly  settled at least as long ago as Roman times, lying on the Roman road from Chichester in Sussex to London, and note  also that much evidence of prehistoric activity has been unearthed hereabouts).  It takes its name from the Old English aewell, meaning “spring”.


The church of St Mary the Virgin was originally built  in the thirteenth century, with records of incumbents dating back to  1239.   It was subsequently substantially demolished and rebuilt in 1848.


Only a  bell-tower of around 1450 survives of the structure of the Medieval church, and the pulpit, font and chancel screen of the fitments.

The  Domesday Book of 1086 records 52 tenants, presumably tenant-farmers; and a later survey or custumal of 1290,    68,  including   Ralph the Chapman, William the Tanner, Richard the Mason and Thomas the Carter  (Harte, 2012, Scenes from Medieval Life in Epsom, Ewell and Cuddington … ).  Later inhabitants of  what at the time would evidently have been a largish village died in the “Third Plague” of 1369; and still others were caught up in the “Peasants’ Revolt” of 1381.  A  water-mill had been built on the Hogsmill, a tributary of the Thames, by 1408, as indicated in the rental of that year.  The trade in wool lay at the centre of the Medieval village’s economy, with sheep being  reared in surrounding farmland  (around 5 to the  acre).

By the  post-Medieval period, the population of Ewell  had become  polarised into farmers who had land, and labourers who did not, as evidenced by  the manorial survey of 1577.   The Lord of the Manor, Henry Lloyd, was granted licence to hold a market here  in 1618.  Samuel Pepys visited the village a number of times in the later seventeenth century, between 1663-5.

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Bourne Hall was built here in 1770, although of the original building only the so-called “Dog Gate” survives to this day; Ewell Castle, in 1814.

Henry VIII built Nonsuch Palace nearby in the post-Medieval period, demolishing the Medieval settlement of Cuddington in the process    (see July 21st posting).


Westminster Abbey

Another  in the  occasional series on “London Settings for Shakespeare’s Plays” …

Westminster Abbey (Henry IV Part II; Henry VI Part I)

Westminster Abbey was originally founded, as the Benedictine Monastery of St Peter, by the Bishop of London, Dunstan, under the Saxon King Edgar, in 960, on what was then Thorney Island (according to legend, on the site of a church founded under Sebert in 604 – the same year that St Paul’s was founded).

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It was rebuilt as an Abbey under Edward “The Confessor”, in the years up to 1065 …

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… and rebuilt again, in the Early Gothic style, under Henry III, in the mid thirteenth century …

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… and extended, in the Late Gothic style, under a succession of kings in the late fourteenth to early sixteenth, in part by the master mason Henry Yevele; and refounded as a Cathedral after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540 (becoming a “Royal Peculiar” in 1556).   The present structure is essentially surviving thirteenth- to sixteenth- century …

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… although with some eighteenth-century additions in the form of  the west towers,  by Hawksmoor, and some twentieth-century  additions and restorations.

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Henry VII’s Lady Chapel, built between 1503-08,  almost certainly under the supervision of the master mason Robert Jannings, is at  the very pinnacle of the Perpendicular Gothic: in its time, it was referred to as “orbis miraculum” (“the wonder of the world”).

There are a great many important monuments in the interior of the abbey, including those of no fewer than seventeen monarchs.  An equally large number of important state occasions have been held here, including all of the Coronations since that of the first Norman King, William I, in 1066.  The first  “King’s Great Council”, the fore-runner of Parliament, was held in the  Chapter House here in 1257.

Nonsuch Palace

Another in the occasional series on historical sites  on the “London Loop” (London Outer Orbital Path)  walk …


Nonsuch Palace, near Ewell in Surrey, was originally built – although not completed – by Henry VIII between 1538-47, as an English Renaissance  rival to Francis I of France’s Chateau de Chambord, begun in 1519 (the Medieval settlement of Cuddington being demolished in the process).   In  1556, Mary I sold it to Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel.  And in 1580, on FitzAlan’s death, it passed to his son-in-law John Lumley, 1st Baron Lumley (*), who in 1592 remitted possession to Elizabeth I, who is known to have stayed there on a number of occasions.  Subsequently,    in 1603, on Elizabeth’s death, it passed to James I, who granted it to his Queen, Anne of Denmark; and in 1625, on James’s death, to Charles I, who in turn granted it to his Queen, Henrietta Maria (only to see it temporarily seized by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War).  Eventually, the then-surviving buildings were  substantially demolished by Charles II’s mistress Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine, in 1682-83 – the proceeds of the sale of  salvaged building materials used by her to settle her gambling debts!



Archaeological excavations undertaken by A.W.G. Lowther in 1930 and Professor Martin Biddle in 1959-60 unearthed the remains of the Palace’s Banqueting House, situated in a prime elevated position overlooking the erstwhile deer park, now Nonsuch Park.   The remains consisted of an understorey and the lower part of the raised ground floor, with an external  brick wall that had been partially rebuilt in the nineteenth century (using some bricks salvaged from the original Tudor building).

(*) Lumley (d. 1609) is buried  in the sumptuous Lumley Chapel in the church of St Dunstan in nearby Cheam, alongside his wives Jane (nee Fitzalan) (d. 1579) and Elizabeth (nee Darcy) (d. 1617).