The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 36 Lambeth and Battersea


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Vauxhall Station, at the south end of the Albert Embankment and close to the point whence Vauxhall Bridge crosses the river to Pimlico, stands at the divergence of several thoroughfares leading to the south suburbs. We follow Wandsworth Road for a short distance, then diverge to the right by Nine Elms Lane, which, continued by Battersea Park Road, leads to Battersea, a manufacturing district (167,693 inhabitants) on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Chelsea. Mentioned in Domesday Book as Patricsey ('Patrick's' or 'Peter's ey' or isle), a manor belonging to the abbots of Westminster, it came into the possession of the St. John family at the Dissolution and was purchased by Lord Spencer in 1763. In Battersea Park Road is the Home for Lost Dogs and Cats (donation expected from visitors). Animals not claimed or sold are put mercifully to death. In 1925, 34,114 dogs and 4437 cats were received. Farther on is the Battersea Polytechnic, a handsome, well-equipped institution. Battersea Park, to the north of Battersea Park Road, has the Thames as its north boundary. It was laid out in 1852-58 on Battersea Fields, the scene of a duel in 1829 between the Duke of Wellington and the Marquis of Winchelsea. The Sub-Tropical Garden (4 acres), to the west of the boating-lake, is at its best at midsummer. The park is much used for games (cricket, football, lawn tennis, bowls), and contains two small refreshment rooms. At the east end of the park the river is spanned by Chelsea Bridge, at the west end by the Albert Bridge. Farther to the west is Battersea Bridge. From Battersea Bridge Road Church St. leads to St. Mary's, the old parish church, by the river. Though rebuilt in 1776, St. Mary's contains monuments and stained glass from the earlier church. [Verger at 153 Church Road, opposite the church (gratuity).] In the east window is some old stained glass with figures of Henry VII., his grandmother Margaret Beauchamp, and Queen Elizabeth. In the gallery are several monuments of the St. John family, including, in the north gallery, that of Henry St. John, the famous Lord Bolingbroke (1678-1751), and of his second wife, who was a niece of Madame de Maintenon. The monument is by Roubiliac, and the epitaph, written by Bolingbroke himself, announces that he was 'secretary of state under Anne, and in the days of King George I. and King George II. something more and better.' William Blake was married in this church in 1782, and Turner used to sketch from the vestry window. Bolingbroke was born in Bolingbroke Manor House which adjoined the church on the north side, and here in a beautiful cedar-panelled room overlooking the river Pope wrote his Essay on Man. Nothing, however, now remains but the empty shell of the west wing, in the premises of Mayhew's flour mills.