Priory Road, TW9

Place Name

Named after the substantial neo-Gothic house, Priory Lodge, known today as Cecil House, which was the property of devout Roman Catholic, Miss Elizabeth Doughty. So devout was she that she would allow no man into The Priory except for the priest. Miss Doughty died in 1826 leaving extensive estates including Snarford Hall in Lincolnshire and Doughty Street in  Bloomsbury. In 1809 Robert Thoroton sold the estate which had been known as the Ware Ground – this being a variation of the word weir, and a name originally applied only to the eastern part which was granted, together with fishery rights, to Merton Abbey by King Henry III – to Miss Doughty. It was here she had the Priory built for her in 1812. The architect was most likely John Buonarotti Papworth who made some alterations for her in 1823.  It was essentially a summer retreat although it consisted of a gothic chapel, a room for refreshments, and a library. Behind the main building was a house for the bailiff and his wife. When Elizabeth died the buildings were leased out by her heirs. The estate comprised something like 16 to 24 acres, stretching from Mortlake Road to the River Thames. David Blomfield in Kew Past writes: “The Priory consists merely of a chapel, beautifully situated on a lawn, with a room for refreshments, and a library. It was built for the wealthy Miss Doughty of Richmond Hill, for a change of scene in the long afternoons of the summer season. In view of its use merely as a summerhouse, it is strange to hear that it also has a capacious pheasantry, an aviary and extensive stables. However, it certainly has space for them. This was the old Ware Ground of Kew, owned in medieval days by the Priory of Merton. Its monks no doubt look down kindly on its unexpected occupation by a Catholic chapel.” For a time after her death the estate was tied up with the Tichborne case, Edward Tichborne should have inherited her property, but he went missing at sea. His distraught mother put out adverts in the hope of finding him and was overjoyed when a claimant, a butcher from Wagga Wagga in Australia stepped forward. His claim, that he had washed ashore and had to rebuild his life, was greeted with suspicion by the other heirs. Following a long court case he was found to be lying – he was in fact suspected of growing up in Wapping before moving to Australia – and given a prison sentence. In 1875 the estate was finally sold. By 1886 the developers had moved in on the grounds and began to lay out new roads including Forest Road, Maze Road and this one. Blomfield adds: “These mew houses were specifically with commuters in mind. They had come to Kew to escape from the smoke of London and to enjoy the convenience of a railway on the doorstep. Garden space was a feature, but there was little demand for horses and carriages.”


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