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Brent House Demolition, 1909Howard Webb has provided a scan of this photo, showing Brent House, Upper Butts, New Brentford. The photo shows the part-completed demolition of the property. The original photo was sepia. Janet McNamara has provided two modern (2011) views, the first with a similar vantage point to the 1909 photo, the second taken from further along Brent Road.
So, exactly where was Brent House, when was it built, why was it demolished and how was it used?
With assistance from Janet McNamara, Lorne Gifford's website and some Googling it was possible to piece together a brief history:
Brent House was built around 1694 on a site which today is on the corner of Upper Butts and Brent Road. It had a large garden which extended to the south east towards The Butts. Brent Road was not built at this time.
Janet provided a map drawn in the 18th/early 19th century showing adjoining properties, Brent House and Brent Cottage, with Brent Cottage nearer to the River Brent, Brent House fronting Upper Butts.
Mason's Court Guide & Directory for Brentford, Kew ..., 1853:
The 1851 census includes Harriet C Ackland, Butts. She was 66, a widow and an annuitant, born London; female visitor Lucy Hooper and two live-in servants completed the household.
Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Kent ... , 1855 also includes Mrs Ackland, Brent House, ButtsTop
In 1873 adverts were placed in the London Standard 'A limited number of Young LADIES RECEIVED, to whose care and instruction the Principals devotion...' suggesting Brent House was used as a school or college.
In 1888 the Essex Newsman reported 'William Randolph Lacey, 56, of Brent House Brentford, was charged with unlawfully obtaining credit from John Essex ... without informing him that he was an undischarged bankrupt.'
The 1891 census shows William R Lacey living at Brent Cottage, he was a civil engineer. Next door at Brent House lived Nicholas Luscombe, 'Steward of Club' and his wife Sarah A, 'Stewardess'.
Kelly's Directory of Essex, Herts & Middx, 1894: Brentford Conservative Club (William Lewis, secretary), Brent House, The Butts. The 1894 OS map shows Brent Cottage and an adjoining 'Club' on the Upper Butts and Brent Road corner.
In 1896 the Morning Post reported a fire 'at Brent House, Brentford, one of the well-known residences of Nell Gwynne. The flames were discovered in the billiard-room, and an early alarm being given, the Brentford, Kew, and Richmond Fire Brigades were soon on the spot.' This story appeared in the Leicester Chronicle a couple of days later 'Brent House, Brentford, one of the well-known residences of Nell Gwyn. The house is occupied as a Conservative Club, is situate on the banks of the Brent, and is surrounded by some fine old chestnut trees.'
Janet also remembered hearing of a Nell Gwyn connection.
'Brentford As It Was' (C34) and Fred Turner's 'History and Antiquities of Brentford' both include Fred Turner's photo of Brent House before its demolition.
I think the 1909 photo was taken from Brent Road, Upper Butts not visible and was off to the right.Top
References found in newspapersThe newspaper archives accessible through Findmypast and British Newspaper Archive provide more information about occupants of Brent House and BrentCottage:
Bell's Weekly Messenger 13 October 1816: advertisement starts
In 1838 Brent House and Brent Cottage were put up for sale, at which point they were part of the huge estate of William Crighton Esquire.
Thetford & Watton Times and People's Weekly Journal 04 September 1926
Sussex Agricultural Express 16 March 1934
Published December 2011; updated December 2016