Dee Road, TW9

Place Name

John Dee (July 13, 1527 – 1608/1609) was a mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, teacher, occultist, and alchemist who lived in Mortlake on a large house neighbouring St Mary, the Virgin Church. He was astronomer for, and advisor to, Elizabeth I, and spent much of his time on alchemy, divination and philosophy. As an antiquarian, he had one of the largest libraries in England at the time – after his suggestion of a national library was rejected by Queen Mary. As a political advisor, he advocated for the founding of English colonies in the New World to form a British Empire, a term he is credited with coining. Elizabeth was a regular visitor to his Mortlake home, as he recorded in one diary entry for September 17: “The Queen’s Majestie cam from Rychemond in her coach, the higher way to Mortlak field, and whan she cam right against the church she turned down toward my howse: and whan she was against my garden in the flede she stood there a good while, and than cam ynto the street at the great gate of the felde, where she espyed me at my door making obeysains to her Majestie; she beckened her hand for me; I cam to her coach side, she very speedily pulled off her glove and gave me her hand to kiss; and to be short, asked me to resort to her court, and to give her to wete (let know) whan I cam there.” He eventually left Elizabeth’s service and went on a quest for new knowledge in the deeper realms of the occult and supernatural. He aligned himself with several individuals who may have been charlatans, travelled through Europe and was accused of spying for the English crown. Upon his return to England, he found his Mortlake home and library vandalised and many of his prized books and instruments stolen. He eventually returned to the Queen’s service, but was turned away when she was succeeded by James I. Dee spent his final years in poverty at Mortlake, forced to sell off various possessions to support himself and his daughter, Katherine, who cared for him until his death in Mortlake late in 1608 or early in 1609 aged 81. Given his local prominence and connections it took some time for Dee to be honoured with a street name, it wasn’t agreed until 1941.


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