Vernon Road, SW14

Place Name

Admiral Edward Vernon (November 12, 1684 – October 30, 1757) nicknamed Old Grog. He was one of the great naval heroes of the Georgian era. It was as a Vice-Admiral in 1739 that he won much acclaim by capturing the then Spanish colonial possession of Porto Bello (now called Portobelo and located in modern Panama) during the War of Jenkins’ Ear. This nine year long conflict was sparked after Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship sailing the Caribbean Sea, had his ear severed by Spanish sailors who boarded his ship at a time of peace. Vernon’s victory was the cause of much celebration across the country and explains how Portobello Road got its name. Vernon was also known among the men in his naval squadron as Old Grog, probably not as a term of affection. For it was Vernon who is said to have introduced grog, rum diluted with water. The term evidently coming from his wearing coats made of grogram cloth. Vice-Admiral Perry Mayne built Portobello House on nearby Howgate Road.Vanished Houses of Barnes, Mortlake and East Sheen by the Barnes and Mortlake History Society describes it as: “One of the largest and most imposing of the Mortlake houses this was the first incursion into the common field of Butts or Short Furlong, It was built by Vice-Admiral Perry Mayne, probably about 1750, taking the name from the naval action at Portobello in 1739 in which he took part. The grounds of about three acres and the fine gardens are now covered by Howgate and Vernon Roads. The entrance was in Worple Way with a turning space for carriages.” The house was demolished in 1893 and the road was built in 1899.


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