The West Hill Estate and The Wimbledon Park Estates – Part I – John Augustus Beaumont

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The West Hill Estate and The Wimbledon Park Estates – Part I – John Augustus Beaumont

One man was largely responsible for the development of most of West Wandsworth and Wimbledon as we know it today. His name was John Augustus Beaumont.

John Barber Beaumont [1774-1841] – father to John Augustus Beaumont, John Thomas Barber was born on 21 December 1774 in the parish of Marylebone in London. He assumed in 1812, for unknown reasons, the additional name of Beaumont (which was retained by his descendants) and was often known as “Barber Beaumont”.

John Barber Beaumont founded The County Fire Office, – an insurance company specialising the in the insurance of country houses. It was built into a very profitable business.

John Barber Beaumont also founded The Beaumont Philosophical Institution in the East End of London. The Institution was administered by the Beaumont Trust. In the longer term the Institution was one of the organisations leading up to the founding of Queen Mary and Westfield [QMW], University of London, which now has a Barber Beaumont Chair of Humanities.

John Augustus Beaumont [1806-1886] was a successful insurance magnate and succeeded his father as the Managing Director of The County Fire Office in 1841. He is often written off, by some authorities, as a ‘property speculator’ but in reality is the master planner for the whole area. It was Beaumont and his team that applied for and set out the shape of the streets and the building plots.

Historically the major local landowner and Lords of various Manors were the Earls Spencer. By the 1820’s George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer was struggling financially and had to take some hard decisions as to what, of the very many large houses he owned, could be retained. This also pertained to lands that needed to be rationalised.

This was conducted as a series of land sales and auctions between June 23rd 1845 [£12,990], 30th October 1835 [£32,250], 16th December 1835 [£23,800], 22nd April 1836 [£23,730], July 1836 [£17,690],  26th August 1836 [£17,440], Sale 7 date unspecified [£8,970], 19th July 1837 [£8,415] giving a total yield of £145,285 excluding the land deals that he was about to do with John Augustus Beaumont. A good selection of the auction catalogues and the account book for the auction receipts is extant in the Northampton County Records Office [SOX 278-1].

By the time the 2nd Earl Spencer died in 1834 he had already made one large sale to John Augustus Beaumont. It fell to John Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer to complete the sale of the entirety of the Wimbledon Park and West Hill, Spencer lands to John Augustus Beaumont.

The Tithe Maps and Books

So, by the time the 1838 Tythe Book for All Saints Wandsworth had been compiled, The Duke of Sutherland owned had purchased substantial tracts of lands closer to the Wandle from the Spencers.

All Saints Wandsworth Tythe Book 1838 - Wandsworth Historic Archives
All Saints Wandsworth – Tythe Book 1838 – Wandsworth Historic Archives



The purchase of the various lands

Having bought all the Spencer lands of Wimbledon Park and West Hill from the Earls Spencer, Beaumont then proceeded to attempt to buy up all of the rest of the lands to allow for his grand plan, including the parcels of lands that had previously been sold by Earl Spencer to The Duke of Sutherland in the 1820’s.

By the time of the Ordnance Survey Map of 1870 which was actually surveyed in 1865-7 we can clearly see considerable development of The Wimbledon Park Estate. Many of the early houses in the Wimbledon Park development had considerable basement excavations, as was common at the time for storage, kitchens or staff quarters.

A good selection of original deeds survives which gives a very good idea of the scale and timing of the transactions.

Progressive development of houses with basement excavations in Wimbldeon Park
1870 Ordnance Survey Map of Wimbledon Park. The actual survey work was carried out 1865-7. The early developments of major houses along Park Side (as it is labelled) is quite clear.
Wimbledon Park Estate 1879
1879 Plan Of The Wimbledon Park Estate – showing areas for sale in green and areas that had already been sold in pink – London Metropolitan Archives – LMA/MBW/26948. Standen Road is highlighted as this was found in the folder concerning the application for permission to form Standen Road. Part of the reason for the interest in the map is that it is such a beautiful printing: it was produced by a very specialist firm Vincent Brooks Day & Son Lith who were the leading printers of the time and who developed a great many of the special processes used themselves.

In a beautiful, 1879 plan, entitled The Plan Of The Wimbledon Park Estate, we can see the full extent of the lands that Beaumont bought up. There is considerable detail shown here including the extent of major tree planting on the site. We can also see Wimbledon Park Lake before it was modified in a series of schemes to enhance local surface water drainage. The lands that formed the later Wimbledon House Estate, complete with its lake, are marked as belonging to Sir H. W. Peek Bart and the lands that formed the Belvedere House Estate of the 1900’s are unfeatured.

Wimbledon Park Road has been created, however The District Line, as we now know it, is yet to be created as is the extension of Sutherland Road, that runs alongside the District Line today.

To the East of the plan it is clear that Beaumont had been less successful with buying up the entirety of the lands and there is clearly a field where Beaumont had ownership of odd strip but by no means that whole area. This may well have been because the Wandle valley was highly industrialised, so Beaumont was less interested in those areas. Beaumont was keen on sweeping views and the, already by then, highly industrialised Wandle Valley was a far cry from that paradigm.

What the 1879 map does make plain is just what an enormous area John Augustus Beaumont had succeeded in buying up. This was by no means, the only area of Wandsworth that he snapped up in the various sales of the 1830-1840’s. Which rather leads to the question ‘where did he get the money to buy all this land so quickly?’

Where did he get the money from? The answer is in Part II of this series.