A short while ago, I was asked to research a family home for sale with Chesterton Humberts in South West London known locally as ‘one of the captains houses’. The house is located amongst a group of homes built in a late Georgian style, completed during the 1860s along Upper Richmond Road. However, there appeared to be no reason for the link with a Captain or Captains? It truly was a mystery, with the Putney Society and the Wandsworth Heritage Service having no reference to ‘the Captains houses’. After further digging, I soon discovered that this was another case of history becoming confused over time and for some reason the name had corrupted to Captain from ‘Nelson houses’.
The name of ‘Nelson houses’ originated from the landowner, Robert Pettiward, who developed the land for building in the 19th century. In 1855, Robert Pettiward married Francis Bolton, daughter of Thomas Nelson, 2nd Earl Nelson and great niece of Lord Admiral, Horatio Nelson. Pettiward wanted to honour the illustrious connections of his new bride and named the new homes built on Upper Richmond Road, ‘the Nelson houses’.
To confuse things just that little bit more, when the houses were first completed, they were given individual names to match the aspirations of the increasingly wealthy middle classes who were moving in. No. 340 Upper Richmond Road was first known as Rokeby Villa – villa being a popular choice during the Victorian period, inspiring the idea of the ideal home in the country.
Rokeby Villa was completed in 1869 and the first resident, Mr. Henry Lawes and his family, moved into the house shortly afterwards. Mr. Lawes was recorded in the 1871 census as a wholesale draper, aged 60, living in the house with his wife, Rosa and their three daughters, along with three live-in servants. However, the Lawes family did not remain long and by the late 1870s, the house had become the home of commercial clerk, Daniel Harries and his family.
The late 1880s brought further change, as not only did the Harries family move out of the house, but the house was renumbered, No.232. By the time of the 1891 census, the house was home to retired silk manufacturer, Charles Norris, aged 57, his wife, Ellen, as well as a cook and housemaid. The Norris’s remained at the house until the turn of the 20th century, when it became the home of Mr. Henry Attridge. It was also at this time that the house was renumbered again and officially became No.340 Upper Richmond Road.
During the years of World War II, the house became the home of a physician and surgeon, Maurice Robinson and his wife, Muriel. The Robinson’s son, Michael was a Flight Lieutenant serving in the Royal Air Force at this time. The Robinson family remained at No.340 Upper Richmond Road until the 1960s, when it became the home of Derrick and Patricia Roberts, who remained in the house with their family for the next 40 years.
* More information about No.340 Upper Richmond Road.
* See the full history of the house.