Tag Archives: Nicholas Stone

Cranford

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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Stained-glass window depicting St Dunstan.JPG

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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Detail of Berkeley memorial.JPG

… 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.

Wimbledon

Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Wimbledon was first recorded in c. 950  as Wunemannedune, from the  Old English personal mane Wynnmann and  “dun”, “hill”.  The original church of St Mary  was built here in the Saxo-Norman period.  A manor house, known as the Parsonage House and later the Old Rectory,  was built here in c. 1500; and a second one, known as Wimbledon House or Palace in c. 1588.

The village of Wimbledon grew up around the church and manor houses.

Eagle House, on the High Street, was built for Robert Bell, Master of the Worshipful Company of Girdlers and Co-Founder and  Director of the British East India Company, in either 1613 or 1617 (sources differ).

Rose and Crown

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The Rose and Crown, also on the High Street, was built in the  middle part of the seventeenth  century.

The area only began to become densely built up after the arrival of the railway in 1838.   It is now part of the London Borough of Merton.

Church of St Mary

As noted above, the  original church of St Mary was built during the Saxo-Norman period, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.  It was rebuilt in the later Medieval period, at the end of the thirteenth century, and again in the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries.    The oldest surviving part is the chancel.

The Cecil Chapel contains a stained-glass window dating back to the fifteenth century, and a number of memorials from the seventeenth century, including that  of Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon  (d. 1638), son of Thomas,  and grandson of William.  Elsewhere in the  interior are  memorials to Philip Lewston, who died in 1462, and William Walter, who died in 1587.    And commemorative plaques to the abolitionist William Wilberforce, who lived locally and died in 1833, and who is buried in Westminster Abbey, and to the “Sewer King” Joseph Bazalgette, who also lived locally, and died in  1891, and who is buried in the family vault in the churchyard.

Old Rectory

Old Rectory

What is now known as the Old Rectory was built in c. 1500 for the church, the manor at that time being owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury.  After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the King, Henry VIII, gave it   to Thomas Cromwell, in 1536, and then – after Cromwell’s fall from grace and execution –  to the Queen, Catherine Parr, in 1543.  Henry visited the house in 1546, after being taken ill on a tour of his Surrey palaces, and indeed was so ill he could not make it up the stairs, such that  a bed had to be made up for him in front of the fireplace in the entrance hall.  In 1550, it  became a grace-and-favour home for William Cecil, who went on to become 1st Baron Burghley – and Elizabeth I’s chief adviser. The house still stands to this day, its appearance altered from that in Tudor times essentially only by the demolition of some parts and the restoration of others in the early eighteenth century.  However, it is now carefully screened from public view.

Wimbledon House or Palace

Wimbledon House

Wimbledon House or Palace was built in c. 1588 for William’s son Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter.   It was subsequently rebuilt – by Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone – in 1639,  for King Charles I’s  Queen, Henrietta Maria, taken away from her during the Civil War in 1642, and only given back after the Restoration in 1660, and sold – in a sorry state of repair – in 1661.  It was eventually demolished in 1717.

How “Of Alley” Got its Name

 

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The story may be said to have begun at least as long ago as 1237 or thereabouts, when a house was built on the banks of the Thames for the Bishops of Norwich.  The  house was later handed over by Henry VIII to his brother-in-law Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk,  during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, and then by Queen Mary to the Archbishop of York  in 1556, at which point it  came to be known as “York House”.  York House was then in turn owned or occupied by Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, from 1558; by his son Francis Bacon, from 1617;  by  George Villiers Senior, the First Duke of Buckingham, from 1621; by Villiers’s widow, from 1628;  by General Sir Thomas, Lord Fairfax, during the Civil War; and eventually by Villiers’s son, George Junior, the Second Duke of Buckingham, after the Restoration  (by which time he had married Fairfax’s daughter Mary).  The house  survived the Great Fire of 1666.  However, it was substantially demolished in the 1670s, whereupon Nicholas Barbon re-developed the site, and in deference to its former owner set out new streets named George, Villiers, Duke and Buckingham –  and an alley named Of!

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(Incidentally, of York House, only the Water Gate, believed to have been designed and built by the master-mason Nicholas Stone in 1626, survives to this day, in  Victoria  Embankment Gardens).

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