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Not Brentford New

Brent House Demolition, 1909

Howard 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.
Part demolished 3 storey detached house
2011 view along Brent Road
2011 view near junction with Brentside
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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:
Mrs Harriet C Ackland, Brent House, Butts
Mr Brereton, Brent House, Butts

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, Butts

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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.

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References found in newspapers

The 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
A CARD- BRENT HOUSE ESTABLISHMENT - Young Ladies are liberally Boarded and Educated by a Lady who has a commodious and highly respectable residence, eligibly situate at Brentford, where every attention is devoted to health, morals, and improvement -
Young Ladies bereft of parental protection will find that deprivation tenderly supplied. Families arriving from the East and West Indies, (or resident there)...

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
Colonel George Francis Addison Cresswell' appointed his son-in-law Joseph Charlton Lane-Clayton, of Brent Cottage, Brentford as one of his executors. The will was written on March 1st 1924, suggesting JC L-C was at this address then. The state was enormous: 108,653 2s 3d and the colonel was of Garden House, Hunstanton, Norfolk.

Sussex Agricultural Express 16 March 1934
Mrs Lane-Claypon of Brent Cottage, Brent-road, sought a girl to train as a betweenmaid, must be churchwoman; the wages were 16 (a year). Further adverts were placed in 1935 and 1936.

Published December 2011; updated December 2016