The obvious inspiration for this road name is the nearby hotel on Friars Stile Road – although in fact it is the other way around. Originally known as Rose Cottage Hotel, its name was changed to the Marlborough Hotel sometime in the 1870s, and so it comes at least a decade after the Vestry, a prototype parish council, accepted the present name. Marlborough had been associated with the vicinity for a number of years, the 1851 Census records Marlborough Cottages near the Friars Stile Road end of the present road on land formerly owned by the Selwyn family. At the other end a Marlborough Terrace was so-named in Queens Road. So if not the hotel, perhaps after one of the dukes of Marlborough. As stated the first mention of the Marlborough name only dates from 1851, so too late to be from a contemporary admirer or patriotic developer honouring General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, leader of the Allied armies against France’s Louis XIV from 1701 to 1710, and hero of the battle of Blenheim. And, apart from one cricket match played on Kew Green in 1737 between the Prince of Wales and ten gentleman against a team led by the Duke for a huge wager (the Duke lost), there appears to be little connection with the area. Likewise, the 3rd Duke, grandson of the general, also had no firm connections. But his eldest daughter Lady Diana Beauclerk (nee Lady Diana Spencer, March 24, 1734 – August 1, 1808) did have a proper claim to the area. This first Lady Di, an artist whose designs with used in Wedgwood pottery, resided at Devonshire Lodge in nearby Petersham meadows. HM Cundall in Bygone Richmond wrote: “She was first married to Viscount Bolingbroke, from whom she was divorced August 10th, 1768, and two days later married Topham Beauclerk.” Bolingbroke was notoriously unfaithful, but it was he who sued for divorce. “Lady Diana Beauclerk, generally known as ‘Lady Di,’ and her husband resided at little Marble Hill, which she fitted up with great elegance, and adorned many of her rooms with her own painting. One room in particular, decorated with festoons of lilac, so attracted Horace Walpole, that it inspired him to compose some verses on it. After the death of her husband, Lady Di gave up Little Marble Hill, and moved across the river to the cottage at Petersham. Here she decorated one of her rooms with lilacs and other flowers in the same manner as in her residence at Twickenham. In her day she was famous for the brilliant little circle that gathered round her including Horace Walpole, Joshua Reynolds, and the two sisters Mary and Agnes Berry. From all accounts her widowhood at Petersham was the most peaceful part of her life. Neither of her marriages had been happy ones.” She died at Petersham in 1808, and was buried in Richmond Church.
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