Montague Road, TW10

Place Name

George Montagu (July 26, 1712 – May 23, 1790) was 1st Duke of Montagu having, confusingly, been given the title that once belonged to his father-in-law the 2nd Duke of Montagu. He was also styled Lord Brudenell until 1732 and known as The Earl of Cardigan between 1732 and 1766. Montagu had a property, later Buccleuch House, in Richmond on the banks of the River Thames. In the second half of the 1760s, he began to buy up land around his Richmond residence including Terrace Gardens which he landscaped as his own pleasure grounds. His work saved the grounds since for much of the century they had been mined for their rich clay deposits, resulting in several serious subsidences. In 1766 the King had put a stop to this illegal digging and a year later closed down the tile kilns that had been erected. It was around this time he sold the land to Montagu who promptly set about closing it off for his own enjoyment. In 1777, however, this private playground came under threat when a new act authorised the City of London, which managed the Thames up to Staines, to build a new towpath for horses from Kew to Water Lane. John Cloake in Richmond Past writes: “This was not popular, but in July 1779, despite protest and obstructions from riverside landowners, the City authorities began that construction of a towpath from Water Lane to the Ham Walks. This was done by building the new path on the river bank, outside the boundaries of the private property, but the new piles were cut down by protesters and George Coleman of Bath House went as far as to engage a gang of ‘coalheavers, watermen etc, armed with axes and saws’ to attack the City’s labourers. It took the intervention of City Marshals and a file of soldiers to suppress the trouble and arrest the delinquents.” Coleman took a new course of action and sued in the courts but lost the case. The path continued but was halted at the Duke’s property, considerably more influential than Coleman, he succeeded in stopping the work. As Cloake observes: “Though the riverside gardens of Buccleuch House were added to the public domain in 1938, there is still no direct path by the riverside through into Petersham Meadows and on to Ham.” Aside from his local property, he was Governor to the Prince of Wales and Prince Frederick between 1776 and 1780 and held various roles, appointed a Privy Counsellor; he was Master of the Horse between 1780 and 1790; and later appointed Fellow, Society of Antiquaries. He also held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire from 1789 to 1790. According to Horace Walpole, he was “one of the weakest and most ignorant men living.”

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