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 – 1887 – listing in Probate Register

John Augustus Beaumont’s Will – March 1886

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.

The Wimbledon Park Land Company Limited

Lady Lane seemingly agreed to sell a portion of  The Wimbledon Park Estate to a newly formed company The Wimbledon Park Land Company Limited [Board of Trade Registration N0 32099]. The memorandum of agreement to the company still exists. Unfortunately the deed plan, which it mentions, has gone astray. However, the plots of land are named as being the whole of the two plots  being The Twenty Seven Acre Field, Harrodsfield and part of three parcels of land being Ride in Twenty Seven Acres, Wood and Belt in Harrodsfield and the third parcel curious unnamed. The hand writing in the deed is, in places, hard to make out.

Wimbledon Park Developments
18th July 1890 Memorandum of Agreement forming The Wimbledon House Land Company Limited No 32099. TNA BT 31/4840/32099

This seemed quite the puzzle but fortunately the field names are similar to those identified in the the agreement for sale by Earl Spencer to John Augustus Beaumont in 1845 and we also have various copies of the beautifully preserved numbered deed plan which identifies the plots.

Spencer Beaumont agree to sale of Wimbledon Park
Extract from Articles of an Agreement between Earl Spencer and John Augustus Beaumont dated 18th June 1845 or the sale of Wimbledon Park itemising the parcels of lands and buildings. By kind permission of Northamptonshire County Archives. SOX 142

The Twenty Seven Acre Field [plot 21], Harrodsfield [plot 27], Ride in 27 acres [plot 22] and Wood and Belt in Harrodsfield [plot 11]. Plots 21 & 27 are readily identifiable on the map. Plot 22 is the tree belt between plots 21 & 27 and plot 11 is possibly the tiny corner plot at the intersection of the plots 21, 27 & 22 – close to where Clay Pit Shot is marked on the deed plan.

Deed Plan from the sale by Earl Spencer to John Augustus Beaumont of Wimbledon Park dated 12th February 1846. Northamptonshire County Archives SOX142

This was not to be as Turner vs Lane [docket number 4826] kicked off in The Chancery Division of The High Court in 1897. The litigants attempting to force Lady Lane to honour John Augustus Beaumont’s promises and covenants as to their views of greenery and the lake.

This probably lead to the liquidation of The Wimbledon Park Land Company Limited in June 1898. It is pure speculation but Lady Lane probably felt that she could not proceed with or had to reverse the sale of the lands so as not to prejudice the ongoing proceedings. There is no evidence that company ever meaningfully traded.

The Wimbledon House Land Company Limited Liquidation 1898
10th June 1898 Notice of Special Resolution of Liquidation for The Wimbledon House Land Company Limited No 32099. TNA BT 31/4840/32099

The action was ultimately was settled by the production of a restrictive covenant, dated 31st December 1900, that prevented and further developments on what became Wimbledon Park [Wandsworth] and Wimbledon Park Golf Course [Merton]. There is a curiosity in the the wording of the covenant, “The benefits of the restriction mentioned in the First Schedule hereto shall run with the lands coloured yellow blue and brown on the said plan so that every owner of any part of the said lands coloured yellow, blue and brown on the said plans may enforce the same.” [The yellow, blue and brown areas seemingly cover the entirety of the 1200 acres  of the Wimbledon Park Estate].

The covenant goes on to state “The restriction herein before contained shall not prevent the land coloured blue on the plan from being used for the purposed the Wimbledon Sports Club Limited or for another there Club constituted on similar lines including Golf, Skating, Cricket, Tennis, Shooting, Hockey, Football, Archery, Fishing, Boating, Cycling, Polo……..but this Clause shall not authorise the use of the land……or create nuisance or annoyance to the residents of the Estate.”

Part 2.3 appears to specifically rule out one of the objectives of the The Wimbledon Park Land Company Limited “No part of the said land coloured Brown nor any building, shop or other erection thereon shall be used as a factory, infirmary, hospital, sewerage farm, cemetery, cremation furnace, rubbish destruction, workhouse, prison, lunatic asylum or any public institution which may likely relate an annoyance to the residents in the locality.”

Sale of Wimbledon Park to Wimbledon Corporation

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.

Wimbledon Basement Conversions
Extract from Wimbledon Corporation Act of 1914 enabling the purchase of Wimbledon Park from Lady Augusta Lane for £66,500

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.

Continue Reading – Wimbledon Park into the AELTC era with aerial photos from 1923 onwards


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