Fitzwilliam Avenue, TW9

Place Name

Richard Fitzwilliam (August 1, 1745 – February 4, 1816), 7th Viscount FitzWilliam of Mount Merrion, County Dublin, who inherited FitzWilliam House from his mother Catherine Decker, a daughter and co-heiress of Sir Matthew Decker, a wealthy Dutch-born merchant, who had made his home in Richmond. Although he made frequent visits to Ireland, where he developed much of the City of Dublin, he spent the last 20 years at his English home, where he amassed a huge library and art collection and served as a Member of Parliament for Wilton in Wiltshire, from 1790 until his death. He bequeathed his home to George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, who renamed it Pembroke House, the estate was later developed into Pembroke Villas, five pairs of large semi-detached Victorian villas on the north eastern side of Richmond Green. He left £100,000 and his substantial collection of objets d’art to found the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where he had studied. John Macky in his Journey through England (1722 to 1723), described the Decker estate at Richmond as follows: “The longest, largest, and highest Hedge of Holly I ever saw, is in this garden, with several other Hedges of Ever-Greens, Visto’s cut through Woods, Grotto’s with Fountains, a fine Canal running up from the River. His Duckery, which is an oval Pond brick’d round, and his pretty Summer-House by it to drink a Bottle, his Stove-Houses, which are always kept in an equal heat for his Citrons, and other Indian Plants, with Gardeners brought from foreign Countries to manage them, are very curious and entertaining. The house is also very large a-la-modern, and neatly furnished after the Dutch way.” While Richard Bradley in his General Treatise of Husbandry and Gardening for the Month of July (1723) described the estate as follows: “Tis not long since I was Eye-witness to several fruited Pine Apples at Sir Matthew Decker’s, at Richmond, about Forty in number; some ripening, and others in a promising condition; the least of which Fruit was above four Inches long, and some were as large as any I have seen brought from the West-Indies: I measured one near seven inches long in pure fruit, and near thirteen Inches about… I proceed to give an Account of the method now practis’d at Sir Matthew Decker’s at Richmond, for the production of this excellent Fruit, which Mr Henry Telende his judicious Gardener has render’d so easy and intelligible, that I hope to see the Ananas flourish for the future in many of our English Gardens, to see the honour of the Artist, and the Satisfaction and Pleasure of those who can afford to eat them.” He was buried in the Deckers’ family vault on the north side of the parish church. A friend of both the Horace Walpole and the Selwyn family, this was one of the last roads to be developed out of the Selwyn Court estate, the name was chosen at the request of the family and the librarian Alfred Barkas.


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