Selwyn Avenue, TW9

Place Name

The Selwyn family were one of the great local landowners who held  more than 100 acres around Richmond, much of which was later developed. This road was built on the grounds of Pagoda House, renamed Selwyn Court after 1878, which served as the family home between 1810 and 1895, when it was pulled down. The family’s connections with the area stretch back to the early 18thCentury, when Major Charles Selwyn, veteran of the Marlborough Wars moved to the area from Matson, near Gloucester, where his father held a great deal of land. He was a MP under the Walpole administration and found himself within the inner circle of the Prince of Wales – later George II. As a result he took lodgings near the Old Deer Park and married a local heiress Mary Houblon. By 1720 he had begun to buy up land, on which more than 50 new roads were later built – making up some one in five of all of Richmond’s street names. On being forced to give up his seat in the Commons he turned his attention to local government, as a local magistrate he ensured that justice was dispensed, the roads were kept in good repair, and that the Poor Law was administered. For many years the Selwyn estate was kept under the plough, providing a decent income for local farmers, but as the railways spread more food was brought into the City from further afield and prices collapsed. The farmers switched to market gardening providing fruit and vegetables but even this failed to recoup the lost profits from before. By 1895 the estate had passed through a couple of generations and the land was developed. David Blomfield in Kew Past writes: “All that are left off the Selwyns’ stewardship of the land are the names they gave the roads. The origin of some of these remains obscure, but most are emphatically familial. Selwyn and Pagoda mark the extent of their own house and gardens.”


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