Epilogue – Part VI – from the hands of John Augustus Beaumont to Lady Augusta Lane
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John Augustus Beaumont died in 1886. Leaving a substantial built and planned legacy having very much shaping the way we see Wandsworth and Wimbledon today.
John Augustus Beaumont was succeeded by his son Seymour Beaumont in the running of the County Fire Office. Curiously little material on John Augustus Beaumont appears in any of the Metropolitan or Wandsworth Archives and nothing very much was said at the time of his death. Which is very strange as he as a considerable force in the development of South West London as well as the insurance world.
His daughter, Augusta Sarah Beaumont was apparently left in charge of the management of the Wimbledon Park Estate.¹ The word ‘apparently’ is used as there is no primary source for this statement. The will isn’t terribly clear on the Wimbledon Park Estate and it is possible that is it what is referred to as the ‘residual part of the estate’ whilst it is very clear on the cash distributions to various parties. Sarah Augusta Beaumont subsequently married Maj.-Gen. Sir Ronald Bertram Lane in 1893 and therefore became Lady Lane.
It is stated¹ that Augusta Sarah Beaumont was more interested in ‘profit from the land than the beauty of it’. This statement neatly ignores the fact that the District Railway had been completed through to Wimbledon, so transport was available for the masses, and that there was a major house building boom as well as these being the only major parcels of developable land in the area that were not spoken for. It is an odd juxtaposition with Keith Bailey’s statement in, Building the Southfields Grid, Wandsworth Historical Society, 2018 where the author states:
“Beaumont’s failure was reinforced by the inaccessibility of the area to those without transport of their own”
We would suggest that the process of mass housebuilding was in fact started under John Augustus Beaumont with the sale of plot the developers such as The United Land Company Ltd and The British Land Company Ltd. Also the Wimbledon Park Estate has, by that time, become a very professional operation, judging from the documentation produced.
Lady Lane then sold Wimbledon Park to Wimbledon Corporation, the forerunner of Merton Council, on 27th December 1915 for the sum of £66,500.² There was a special act of Parliament enabling this transaction – Wimbledon Corporation Act 1914.
Extraordinarily little survives in either the Wandsworth Archives or the Metropolitan Archives about either the West Hill Estate Company or the Wimbledon Park Estate Company.
However, we have pieced together what we have shared here from a number of primary archival sources.
This series of blogs in our From The Archives series is intended as a resource for schools and local residents who are interested in researching local history. We are very happy to help schools with access relevant materials including an appropriate confirmation of licensed use from the relevant archives. However, the images that are reproduced here are copyright of the respective archives and may not be reproduced without license from the archives and commercial use is strictly prohibited.
¹ Wimbledon Park – From Private Park to Residential Suburb, Bernard Rondeau, Wimbldeon Museum, 1995 – the book unfortunately gives no reference(s) for this piece of information.
² H M Land Registry Title Number 215592