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Richmond & South West London
© Marcus Roberts

Places of interest

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The Queen of Richmond Green - 3 & 4 Maids of Honour Row
Site of the Home of Rachel Levy - Trumpeters' House and the Old Palace Yard
Asgill House, the home of Benjamin Cohen - Cholmondley Walk
Heron Square - the Site of Heron Court
Heron House
Isaac Fernandez Nunes - Hotham House
Bridge House - Bridge Street
Ormond Street - Ormond House
Moses da Paiba and The Hollies - Ormond Street
Hill Rise - no. 30/32 and Holbrooke House
Site of Richmond Spa - Richmond Hill
Spring Grove House (Site) - Sheen Road / Queen's Road
Mr. Neumegen's School for Jews - Richmond Road, Kew
The Franks Home - Isleworth House, Isleworth
Naphtali Franks house, Barnes Terrace - Barnes
The Franks' Burial Place - Parish Church Yard, Mortlake
Benjamin Goldsmid's House - Roehampton
Jew's Row and Jew's House - Wandsworth

1. The Queen of Richmond Green - 3 & 4 Maids of Honour Row

Richmond Green - 3 & 4 Maids of Honour Row, and the Queen of Richmond Green

The south side of Richmond Green, where the stately Georgian terrace of Maids of Honour Row is situated, can be easily reached in 5-10 minutes of walking from the Railway station, being just off the main street (off The Quadrant and George Street via The Green, Brewers lane, or Golden Court).

Richmond Green itself was originally common land for rough grazing. However its gentrification came with the building of the palace in the 14th century and the use of the land for summer tournaments and pageants for the court. The fringes were gradually built on and in the early modern period it was enclosed and used for pleasurable recreation. By the 17th century cricket was played here. Most of the present houses on the green were built from the 1680s to 1725 and others were added up to the late 18th century.

Maids of Honour Row was built in 1724 to give accommodation for the maids of honour for the Princess of Wales, Caroline of Ansbach, whose husband was to become George II. She lived in the lodge at the Old Deer park.

However these earlier residents gave way to other occupants, at no. 3 a Jewish family called the Marks family, were in residence from 1763-79.

No. 4, was the residence of Margaret Levy, known as the The Queen of Richmond Green. She was famous for her wealth and as a center of local high society. She had been preceded by John James Hiedegger, the famous operatic manager and Master of the Revels to George II. He provided her house with its most distinctive decoration - a series of panels painted with views of Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.

2. Site of the Home of Rachel Levy - Trumpeters' House and the Old Palace Yard

Just along from Maids of Honour Row is the surviving ancient gateway to the Old Palace from the green, leading directly to Trumpeters House.

Trumpeters House (built in the 18th century) was home to the Austrian statesman Metternich. Benjamin D'Israeli visited him at his home and was impressed. He wrote in 1849, "I have been to see Metternich. He lives on Richmond Green, in the most charming old house in the world called the Old Palace...I am enchanted with Richmond Green...I should like to let my house and live there. It is still sweet and charming, alike in summer and winter."

Rachel the sister of Judith Levy, lived on the site between Trumpeters House and corner of Palace Lane. However the property was destroyed by bombing.

3. Asgill House, the home of Benjamin Cohen - Cholmondley Walk

By crossing to the far corner of Old Palace Yard and cutting through to Old Palace Lane, and then walking down towards the river, Asgill House is on the junction of the lane and Cholmondley Walk, which is an attractive promenade on the river frontage.
Benjamin Cohen was a notable inhabitant of Asgill House from 1838. The house stands on a small elevation and is an elegant and understated Tuscan villa near the banks of the Thames and still appears much as it did in Cohens' residency. He spent much money, reputedly some £2-3,000, on improvements to the house and the grounds. At the end of the 19th century its grounds were noted for its fine lawns, "...noble elms, the graceful acacia, and drooping willow." There was also a fine specimen of Turkish oak. These all doubtlessly stemmed from the improving flair and taste of Cohen. Sir Moses Montefiori presented his son-in-law with a grand marble fireplace from Milan, which still survives in the dining room. The Cohen coat of arms is still above the front door. The house itself was built around 1760 for Sir Charles Asgill, Lord Mayor of London and designed by Sir Robert Taylor.

4. Heron Square - the Site of Heron Court

Modern day Heron Square contains the site and some of the surviving buildings of old Heron Court the focus of Jewish population in 18th century Richmond. It is just west of Bridge Street leading down to Richmond Bridge. Before the bridge was made it had been called Ferry Hill as it had been the site of the ferry across the Thames at Richmond. Heron Court itself was once called Herring Court, but the name was changed for reasons of social grace. Heron Court was approximatly co-extensive with the buildings of the old section of the Royal Hotel

Moses Hart lived in what was the first house to the left from Bridge Street and his house was one of three which formed Royal Terrace. This house is the first identifiable Jewish residence in Richmond, though of course Medina preceded Hart - it is quite probable he lived at Herring Court too. Hart lived there for a period of time up to 1716. This house was later incorporated into the Royal Hotel in 1786, which was made of Harts' house and the adjoining property. The facade of the Royal Hotel over-looking the river survives incorporated into the modern buildings of the mid-1980s, which are in a more sympathetic pastiche style. Hart's house would have been in the general vicinity of the 19th century campanile tower of Tower House close to the bridge.

5. Heron House

Heron House occupies the south-west corner of Heron Square. It was described in 1908 as a "superior family residence" with no less than 22 principal rooms commanding fine views of the river, and with accommodation and facilities for several servants. This included a coach house with "married coachman's quarters", stabling for four horses and four carriages. All are indicative of the sorts of facilities and the upper-class life and privilege of its earlier Jewish residents. While the house did not have any known Jewish occupants it provides an idea of the type of grand housing and life-style that houses like Heron Court provided. Heron Court was nearly identical to Hotham House adjoining, which did have a Jewish history.

6. Isaac Fernandez Nunes - Hotham House

Hotham House lay directly next to and adjoining Heron House away from the bridge. Isaac Fernandez Nunes lived at Hotham House in the 1720s. He was treasurer and warden of Bevis Marks synagogue. In the 1750s the house was occupied by Henry Isaac the proprietor of the Hambro' Synagogue. The house was built in c.1720, in the Queen Anne style and named after Admiral Hotham. It was noted for its painted ceilings and for a remarkable 16th century Italian marble medallion set in its walls. It was demolished in 1960 in very dubious circumstances, the Borough Engineers who occupied it, apparently failed to spot it's imminent collapse. The building had probably been weakened by a bomb falling close by in the war.

7. Bridge House - Bridge Street

Bridge House lay on the other side of Bridge Street, across from Heron Court on what are now public gardens. Moses Medina (nephew of Solomon Medina and three times treasurer of Bevis Marks) lived at Bridge House from the 1720s to 1734, having lived previously at Moses Hart's old house. Abraham Levy lived there from 1737-1753. Levy was a wealthy merchant of Houndsditch. The building was an attractive Queen Anne residence, immediately adjoining the east-side of the Bridge Street. In its later days it became a high-class tea house where terraces of elegantly attired and be-hatted ladies could be seen sipping their tea. It was also a gentlemen's private hotel. In 1930 it was pulled down to make way for a small park with steps leading to the Richmond Landing Stage.

8. Ormond Street - Ormond House

At the top of Bridge Street and across the busy road junction of Hill Street and Hill Rise is Ormond Street. Ormond House lies on the right of Ormond Street the right hand side, at the end of the Georgian terrace before the Unitarian Chapel is reached. The house was also occupied by the well-known "rebel" Victorian painter, Prof. Frederick Brown. It is an early and very roomy Georgian residence with 17 main rooms including an artists' studio, as well as goodly facilities for servants. Once again this would have been a choice residence, including its own stabling, tradesman's entrance, basement kitchens.

Joseph Tallis da Costa lived in Ormond House from c. 1726-1732.

9. Moses da Paiba and The Hollies - Ormond Street

Moses da Paiba lived in the Hollies from 1718 into the majority of the 1720s. The Hollies stands on the left of the street (adjoined to The Rosary, originally part of the Hollies itself) walking away from the main street. It is very pretty indeed, the building is a grade II listed building, a rare example of William and Mary architecture dating from c.1696 and has fan-vaulted Elizabethan cellars from a previous property. The cellars are thought to have been used for bringing fish catches up from the Thames. There are also early frescoes in the building. This would have been a very pleasant and comfortable dwelling in its day. It is likely that da Paiba occupied both the Rosary and Hollies as one dwelling, as it was only shown divided by 1771. Other famous occupants include the Hoflands, Barbara the writer and her husband Thomas the artist in the early 19th century.

10. Hill Rise - no. 30/32 and Holbrooke House

Going back to Hill Rise and going up the hill, no. 30/32 is soon reached on the left of the street. Moses Mendez da Costa lived in no. 30/32 from the 1720s to 1734.

Next door, Abraham Joseph de Cappidocia lived in Holbrooke house from 1734-41. He was a merchant as well as treasurer and warden of Bevis Marks. He won a lottery of £10,000 pounds in 1740 but had spent £12,000 pounds on tickets!

This was again a large and luxurious property built in c. 1770; in 1887 it is listed as having 18 bed and dressing rooms, lofty drawing rooms and dining rooms and three reception rooms as well as other functionary rooms - in total 38 rooms.

The house was later divided in the 19th century with aristocratic residents and was then used as a school. In the 20th century it was a bicycle manufactory and then a garage - latterly Holbrooke Motors. The building has been mercifully restored by the removal of the motor show-room that had been unkindly imposed on its frontage and it has been put back to its appearance in 1830.

11. Site of Richmond Spa - Richmond Hill

Richmond Hill - the site of Richmond Wells at Terrace Gardens, and The Terrace

Continuing walking up Richmond Hill, the site of the old spa is reached about half way up the hill on the right. The well site is contained in what is now the Terrace Gardens, opposite the junction with Friars Stile Road. The spa was the great attraction of Richmond in the 18th century and was a key attraction for the influx of rich and aristocratic Jews coming to participate in the social opportunities offered by the town.

By continuing walking along the terrace No. 4, The Terrace is reached along with a stunning view from the terrace over the Thames towards Windsor Castle.

No. 4, The Terrace is an elegant house whose raison d'etre has doubtlessly always been the view from the heights of the terrace from which it takes its name. It is still a place of great beauty which once inspired poets and artists. In fact Sir Joshua Reynolds lived across the road in Wick House. With this house it can be safely said that when an Abraham da Paiba took up the house from 1767-1775 he leased it for its prestige and for pre-eminently aesthetic reasons - a fact that may be of some social historical significance. Paiba was a Jew Broker and diamond merchant. Gompertz, a rich merchant, also lived at no.4 in 1780. The house is original though it is erroneously stated to have been burnt down with no.3.

12. Spring Grove House (Site) - Sheen Road / Queen's Road

In 1762-67 a Levy, probably Moses Isaac Levy, who was to become the President of the Board of Deputies in 1789, lived at Spring Grove House, Marshgate. This was essentially an aristocratic stately home or seat, a semi-rural house with a small estate of 72 acres. While it was a family seat, it was in the manner of the time leased out from time to time to people of standing, like Levy.

It was situated opposite Pest House Common (the Pest House being where epidemic victims were required to reside) and was originally called Bachelors Hall. Today Marshgate can be found at the junction of Queens' Road and Sheen Road, near the Black Horse Inn.

The property was originally built by the Marquis of Lothian in the early 18th Century. The status of the house is indicated by its notable residents and indeed their visitors. These included Sir Charles Price, Bart. Sir Charles's father, the first Baronet, brought the property in 1797 and received King George III as a guest there.

The house remained in the hands of the Rugge-Price family into this century, but the whole estate was re-developed between the wars. The name is still retained in the area.

13. Mr. Neumegen's School for Jews - Richmond Road, Kew

Gloucester House, Richmond Road, Kew (now Gloucester Court) - Mr. Neumegen's School for Jews

Mr. and Mrs. Neumegen ran a private school for upper class Jews at former Gloucester House, from 1840 and their school ran as family concern for the larger part of a century. In their time they provided the preparatory education for many Jews who were to rise to fame and high positions.

A local correspondent, H.J. Butcher, wrote in 1939, what he recalled of the place - it turned out that his aunt had been History Mistress there until 1902.

"...In the early Victorian era it was kept as a very high class Jewish boarding school for Boys & Girls,...The scholars were in the main children of wealthy West Indian and Portuguese Jews, e.g. Philip Guedellas was a scholar there is his young days.

It was run by Mr. and Mrs. Neumegen, aristocratic Portuguese Jew,...Mr. Neumegen died many years before his wife, who continued to run the school for girls, and it prospered until the old lady died, when the daughter Ada gradually let it down, and the 1914-18 war killed it."

Butcher did not remember Mr. Neumegen, but he recalled "...a distinct remembrance of Mrs. Neumegen, who had a very grand way with her, and evidently came of a very good family."

Rare Victorian photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Neumegen survive, who appear a kindly older couple. One striking feature of their photographs is that they are smiling - an almost unique occurrence in photographs of the period!

The Neumegens also had three sons - one who lived in Portugal, the other two worked in the wine business in London and Richmond respectively.

The school in fact had a number of famous ex-pupils. Philip Guedalla (1889-1944), mentioned already, was a writer said to have been the most popular historian of his time. In earlier times Sir George Jessel (1824-83), (see Dover for more details) first Jewish Master of the Rolls, Lewis Solomon (1848-1928) the synagogue architect, was educated by the Neumegens. George Faudel Philips 1840-1922), later Lord Mayor of London was there too.

Apart from periodic reports of annual excursions and "treats" at the school in the Jewish press, one event that occurred at Neumegens' is of some note - in 1849 HRH the Duke of Cambridge visited the school. This must have been a great occasion for the Neumegens and the pupils.

As for Gloucester House it, "formerly stood in Richmond Road, Kew, about 200 yards past the junction with Mortlake road. Its site is now a block of flats known as Gloucester Court. It was a very rambling old Georgian House, which had a number of additions made to it, standing in its own grounds of 2 to 3 acres." Sanders dates the house to around 1750, and adds that it was so named because it was used as a country resort by the Duke of Gloucester the brother of George III.

14. The Franks Home - Isleworth House, Isleworth

The Aaron Franks ancestral home - Isleworth House, Isleworth

A very fascinating visit can be made across the river to the home of the Franks family at Isleworth. This survives in beautiful order in Old Isleworth and was at the orginal time of research an old peoples' home, Nazareth House, ran by the Sisters of Nazareth nursing order for upwards of a century.

The family acquired the house in 1748 when it was brought by Aaron Franks. The house effectively remained in the family until 1862, though from 1832 the connection was through Lady Isabella Cooper (nee Franks and of Teddington), who was the granddaughter of Bilah Franks, wife of Aaron Franks, and who had married out to Sir William Cooper.

The family in earlier days were reputed for their hospitality and musical ability. Sir Horace Walpole was a regular visitor to the house and appreciated the concerts put on by the family. He wrote, "This morning I was at a very fine concert at old Franks' at Isleworth, and heard Leoni, who pleased me more than anything I have heard these hundred years."

The house is hidden behind high brick walls (the walls built by Priscilla Franks in fact) off the Richmond Road and approached by a long drive way. Despite the apparent lack of open invitation for visitors, the nuns are very likely to gladly show a polite enquirer around the place who calls at a reasonable time at the front door of the main house. On the occasion I called, I was given tea and homemade biscuits in the parlour and given a detailed tour. The Reverend Mother was very interested in the Franks though they had little information about them.

The house has been kept in exceptional condition by the nuns. The main points of interest in the house are the entrance hall and stairs, and the main ground floor reception rooms. These retain considerable elegance and some grandeur. The entrance hall includes marble columns and ornate stair-rails. The stairs sweep from the center of the hall up to either side terminating in a landing into a grand double doorway.

The rooms are mostly very light and airy and those on the upper floors have a beautiful and gracious outlook. Also the grounds are large running down to a picturesque private frontage on a reach of the River Thames and it is worth doing a circuit of the grounds as the rear aspect of the house is the grandest and most attractive.

Architecturally the house is in an elegant villa style and its main aspect is deliberately towards the river. From the rear main aspect of the house the facade is distinguished by two large rounded bays carried up the full height of the house with decorative details across the top of the first floor windows in the classical style as well as decorative baulestrading on the first floor and on the roof line. There is a decorative campanile on the corner of the house and from there a low service wing stretches some distance.

The layout and contemporary engravings show that the family normally arrived at the house by river rather than road and that those who were to admire the house were also river travellers. There was once a prominent path sweeping up to central door of the river-side of the house.

The rear frontage of the house uses the same decorative motifs as the front with the exception of the bays and the campanile, though it does have a main entrance porch projecting from the front.

The one storied service wing behind is in a clean Georgian style and includes an attractive courtyard with stabling and a small clock tower above the carriage house.

It seems that Sir William and Lady Cooper made alterations to the house and grounds. After her husband's death Isabella carried on improving the estate. Interestingly she was visited by King William IV, who greatly admired the view from the house. Apparently he instructed that the Syon Vista in Kew Gardens should be cut to open a view of the pagoda and observatory to the front of the house.

The nuns have made additions to the house and grounds. A very large and attractive red brick chapel has been attached to the house, though it is out of key with the main building. Its size reflects the days when the large annexes in the grounds were used as a large children's home. The nuns also have a neat cemetery for the sisters of their order against the boundary wall near the road. There is also an imitation of the grotto at Lourdes in one corner of the grounds for the spiritual comfort of the old people who are now the only residents of the home. There is little doubt that the nuns provide exceptional and valuable care and love for the old people with them.

If there is not time or opportunity to visit the house itself access to the back corner of the grounds can be gained from a gated section of the tow path just to the north. By going through the gates (which give the impression of private property even though there is a right of way) and walking to the boundary of the house a small bank can be climbed which gives a good vista of the house - as good in some respects as can be gained from inside the grounds themselves.

15. Naphtali Franks house, Barnes Terrace - Barnes

Naphtali Franks was a warden of the Great Synagogue and a leading business man. He came to live in Barnes as it was an exclusive river side location, described gushingly in its day as, "a small watering place known to and visited by the elite only of London society." The row was also habituated with a small colony of French Émigres. His house has been identified as one of five spacious Georgian houses in Barnes Terrace near Barnes railway bridge - houses that had uninterrupted views of the river and excellent yatching and rowing in the summer months. These houses date from the general era of the 1770s and were even painted by Turner in 1826. They are also infamous for the murder of Compte D'Antraigues' during the French Revolution.

16. The Franks' Burial Place - Parish Church Yard, Mortlake

The burial place of Charlotte, Rebecca and Abigail Franks - Mortlake Parish Church Yard, Mortlake

Naphtali Franks children, Abigail and Charlotte all assimilated and converted. They are all buried at Mortlake churchyard, along with their cousin Rebecca. Abigail having left money in her will to convert Jews! Their burial site and memorial still survive, just to the right (i.e. east) of the South door of the parish church, next to the Partridge chest-tomb (he, coincidentally, was noted as an astrologer and almanac maker and his tomb is the oldest memorial in the church yard).

This consists of an upright memorial to Charlotte (died, 1793?, aged 84) and Rebecca (died, 1803, aged 75 and had been married to Sir Henry Johnson, Bt.). The memorial has an interesting feature of, in that Charlottes name is repeated twice by the mason as he could not fit the final "s" of her name on the first line and thus had to repeat it in full on the line below!

Abigail was buried, by special request in her will (dated 28 December, 1814), close to her "aunts" in a specially made vault, that was apparently an enlargement of her close female relations existing grave site; an alteration that required special permission from the vestry. It must be stated that there are apparent confusions in the Franks pedigree, perhaps they were confused about it themselves? Rebecca was, according to Malcolm Brown's genealogy, more probably the cousin of Abigail than an aunt and Charlotte is listed as the sister of Abigail in the family tree produced by Rachel Daiches-Dubens. Genealogists be warned!

17. Benjamin Goldsmid's House - Roehampton

Remains of Goldsmid's House are still to be found at Roehampton of Roehampton Lane. Goldsmid came to Roehampton in 1798 and lived in an aristocratic residence and surrounds. These included an estate of 150 acres. Since Roehampton Lane cut across it and he could not get it diverted, he had a tunnel built under the lane to allow uninterrupted access to the estate. The estate also included an artificial lake, and small farm. Goldsmid also produced food for the Chief Rabbi as he grew the corn to make the Chief Rabbi's Passover Matzah!

After Goldsmids' death in 1808, his widow converted along with her children (though Lionel married Eliza Campbell, daughter of David Franks) and the house was sold in 1810.

The remains of the house and estate belong to the Convent of the Sacred Heart now also part of Digby-Stuart College at Roehampton Institute of Education. The remains of the house are the back wall of the old house - the rest was destroyed by bombing in the last war. The tunnel constructed by Goldsmid can still be found just a few yards up from the main entrance and is under the pelican crossing on the main road. It is in the form of a rustic grotto and leads under the road to the local primary school and is still used by the school to conduct the children across the road. There are a few landscape features, such as the ornamental lakes, surviving in the grounds that may date back to Goldsmid's time.

It may be added that Alexander Lindo, another Sephardic Jew, built himself a house on the corner of Goldsmid's estate called "Putney Spot".

18. Jew's Row and Jew's House - Wandsworth

On the north side of Wandsworth Station, and just west off the end of Wandsworth Bridge and Bridgeend Road, is 'Jew's Row', one of several 'Jew's Row's' in London. These appear to be largely 18th century in origin and probably relate (unsurprisingly) to Jewish inhabitants of the period, when the presence of a local Jew in an otherwise Christian area might have been deemed noteworthy.

North west of the junction of Jew's Row with York Road, stood the 'Jew's House' occupied by Jacob and Rachel Da Costa in the 18th century. They purchased it in 1729, they died in 1760. Their presence was probably cause of the appellation 'Jew's Row'. The house, later called 'Bridgefield House', was once property of Sarah Duchess of Marlborough and was said to have been designed by Sir Cristopher Wren and was demolished in c. 1865.

A local person also mentioned that post-war there may have been a Jewish reclamation business on river side.

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