• Letter to the RTT

Sir – The Richmond, Petersham and Ham Open Spaces Act, 1902, is on the council website and in the Local Studies collection. I’ve been right through its 29 pages and checked that its name and the description given on the first page [An Act to confirm agreements for vesting common and other lands in the local authorities of the districts of Richmond, Ham and Kingston as public open spaces] are both accurate and complete. There’s nothing whatever in it about the Middlesex side. So the notion that it has some talismanic power to keep the barge shed out of Orleans Gardens seems to be wishful thinking, a fairy story for grownups.

Also in the Local Studies folder [32/03/30] are the 1902 LCC General Powers Act and a covenant. The Act is a mixed bag of powers, whose ‘Section IV Purchase of the Marble Hill Estate, Twickenham’ allows the LCC to purchase Marble Hill and adjacent land ‘to preserve the view’ – but only by agreement. Also, ominously, to provide boat houses. This power has now passed, via the GLC, to the borough council.

The covenant forbids development of the Haversham Lodge site; the council web site says: ‘a Deed of Covenant was entered into by Richmond and Twickenham Councils and Surrey, Middlesex and London County Councils in 1930. The terms of the deed were designed as far as possible to preserve the view from Richmond Hill by restricting the future development of the land to certain limited areas only. Compensation was paid to the then owners of the land for granting the right to enforce these restrictions.’

The terms of the purchase of the Gardens by the Council in 1926-7 were reported in the Times of October 29 1926. Nothing is said about further covenants for the Gardens but there were to be new ones for the House and Grounds which were to be purchased after the gravel had all been dug up by a ’lady of large means . . for her private use’ – Mrs Ionides of blessed memory – ‘to preserve the view’.

So the only special protection the Gardens have comes from the restrictive covenant imposed by the Cunard executors in 1925, described by Ron Berryman [Letters August 29]. The Council planning committee has to agree that its new barge shed counts as a boat house and is therefore to be permitted, even if it is many times larger and uglier than the Victorian original.

Yours, etc.

Christopher J Squire

Can’t keep out barge [RTT Sep 05 p. 23]

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See also on this website:

‘Orleans Garden is protected from development by Act of Parliament’

• ‘Orleans Garden is protected from development by Act of Parliament’

1902 Act aug09

Not true unfortunately, though most locals believe it! The 1902 Richmond, Petersham & Ham Open Spaces Act related only to a transfer of ownership on the Surrey (Richmond) side of land from the Dysart family to the then council.

However there is also the 1902 LCC General Powers Act, a mixed bag of powers, whose Section IV Purchase of the Marble Hill Estate, Twickenham allows the LCC to purchase Marble Hill and adjacent land ‘to preserve the view’ – but only by agreement.

Also to provide boat houses . . This power has now passed, via the GLC, to LBRuT, I think but this needs checking. The folder for both in the Local Studies Centre at Richmond Old Town Hall  is 32/03/30  #187 centre no. #L337.72:026.

Development of the Haversham Lodge site is forbidden by a covenant:

‘ . . A Deed of Covenant was entered into by Richmond Borough Council, Twickenham Borough Council and Surrey, Middlesex and London County Councils in 1930. The terms of the deed were designed as far as possible to preserve the view from Richmond Hill by restricting the future development of the land to certain limited areas only. Compensation was paid to the then owners of the land for granting the right to enforce these restrictions . . ‘

The right to enforce the covenant now rests, I think – wth LBRuT.

See also: • The History of Orleans Gardens

• History of Orleans Gardens

‘ . . But the greatest shock . . was . . the demolition of yet another of Twickenham’s great houses, Orleans House . . Noel Brady’s efforts to create an Orleans House Committee and to negotiate with the owners all came to nought in March 1926. Thinking he had secured an agreement on a Monday to divide the estate of Orleans House into three for different sets of bargaining, he found on the following Saturday that money had already changed hands, and that the whole property was in the posses­sion of a gravel extraction company which intended to demolish the house immediately. Within three weeks the whole house had disappeared, apart from the Octagon Room designed by James Gibbs.

Ionides jul07

The Hon Mrs Nelly Ionides [formerly Levy]

New pres scheme 1 29.10.26New pres scheme 2 29.10.26

Times October 29 1926

The bargaining had been taken over by the Hon. Mrs Nellie Levy who had recently bought the property next door, Riverside House. It was her generosity that saved the area for public recreation . . Her husband . . had died in 1923 of infections acquired from the war trenches of Flanders. She agreed to subscribe [a quarter of the £10,000 purchase price for] the meadow which bordered the river in order to create a public park that would be an extension of the facilities along the towpath by the side of Marble Hill House. The gravel extraction proceeded on the rest of the property . . ‘ [which she also bought for £5000 when the gravel digging had ended].

from The Making of Modern Twickenham, Ch. 4 Expanding the borough pp. 88-9. J M Lee; London: Historical Publication Ltd. 2005.

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‘ . . the [Orleans] estate [was sold] to the shipping magnate William Cunard in 1882 . .  [and then after ] after WWI to the Crane River Sand and Ballast Company who demolished the house and excavated over 200,000 tons of sand and gravel from the site . . in 1927 what remained of the buildings, including the Octagon, . . were rescued from demolition when the Hon. Mrs Nellie Levy . . purchased the property, pledging that if she decided to sell she would give first refusal to Twickenham Corporation. In 1930 she married her 2nd husband, architect Basil Ionides.

Mrs Ionides also bought the adjacent Riverside House and contributed £2,500 towards the sum of £10,000 needed by the Corporation to buy Orleans Gardens. The riverside prospect of Orleans House had been preserved under a condition of sale of the Cunard executors that prohibited building anything other than a boathouse or greenhouse between the house and river.

In 1956 she made known that she would bequeath Orleans House and Riverside House to Twickenham Borough Council together with her collection of C18th and C19th pictures with the proviso that Orleans House should be used as a public art gallery. After her death in 1962, the building was converted as Orleans House Gallery, which opened in 1972 and housed the Borough art collection, which included the Ionides pictures, the Paton Bequest, and Sir Richard Burton Collection . . ‘

London Gardens Online

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