Aynscombe Path, SW14

Place Name

Like Aynscombe Lane (which was swallowed up by the brewery) this is named after the Aynscombe family who lived at Cromwell House. Lillie Smith Aynscombe (a man), was a director of the Sun Fire Office of insurers from, at the latest, 1754 until his death in 1791. His younger daughter Charlotte Aynscombe was an artist who lived at the new Cromwell House when the old property was demolished in 1854. The path itself has been around since at least 1617 when it was described as “the footeway leadinge from Richmond to the landinge place at Mortelake”. It was once much longer running from Richmond through Cromwell Lane and continuing into Snake Alley. Charles Hailstone in Alleyways of Mortlake and East Sheen writes: “There were attempts to close the route and in November 1841 a public notice in The Times claimed the path was used by the inhabitants of Princes Court as a privy, for the dumping of rubbish, as well as being a runway for making away with plunder. This seems to have meant the river thieves who could have passed up under the tall walls, out along the lane and into the notorious Snake Alley running through the market gardens which afforded cover if pursued.” The application was granted but an appeal saw it overturned as the householders of Princes Court argued that it curtailed their right of passage. More than a century later brewery expansion achieved what the magistrates could not, and the path was partly blocked up. Hailstone, never one to mince his words, continues: “Before the present name gained currency Aynscombe Path was often known as Princes Alley or Princes Lane. Some inhabitants of long standing recalled another name, Shitpot Alley, which could be an echo of its low period.”



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