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Inverness Lodge, Brentford

Sharon Balson, Alan Dear, Chris Pearce, Patsy Langley, Rachel Gardiner-Hill, Terry Burke have all written about Inverness Lodge, 9 Boston Manor Road; their experiences and memories follow with some notes about its history.

If you have any memories of Inverness Lodge, or remember tales of the underground passages, hauntings or occupants, please get in touch.

Sharon Balson

Sharon Balson, 2007: 'I have heard many stories about the place. Down in the cellar there is a door which leads to a well, and various rooms and alley ways and I believe the alley ways lead to Kew, though it is bricked off so you can't get too far.

'Some people say that Henry the 8th had a house in Kew and that Inverness Lodge was his servants head quarters, and some say that it was smugglers who used the alley ways.'

'The place is extremely haunted and some also say that a little girl died in a fire at the top of the house.

'I am so interested in this place but im not sure what it was called before the Inverness Lodge and I think thats why I cant find any history on it!'

Top Alan Dear's father was a secretary to the British Legion Club at Inverness Lodge.

He adds: 'the whole time my aunt and uncle were stewards there ( Joe + Ena PAUL ) I did stay over many nights with my cousin, and it is One CREEPIE place. We converted half the cellar to a private party room and had to clear Tons + Tons of slate shelving out of the area to open it up as one room,dont recall any secret doorways to the river, may have been behind the bricks !!!!!!

Don't know who owns it now, but for those wanting a visit, as far as I know, the current stewards are Brian + Olive TAYLOR, they took over from my uncle. If an official tour is on the books,count me in.

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Chris Pearce

Chris Pearce, 2010: My maternal grandfather Herbert NEWMAN was the steward there from around 1933, and his family, including my mum (who’s now 87), lived there until bomb damage forced them to move during WW2. They then moved to a house called Aldermaston in Boston Manor.

I have grown up with tales of this mysterious and fascinating house, of my mum’s childhood adventures there. The parties they used to have and how there was a “secret” room above the dancehall, closed off due to renovations which raised the hall ceiling and therefore closed off the room above.

My mum told me how they used to try and climb up the side of the building to see into this room. She said the story was that the ceiling was raised into a dome to make a better acoustic environment for the singer Jenny LIND, the Swedish Nightingale (1820 - 1887), some time in the past, but I don’t know if that’s true or just legend.

Another time their cat was lost within the structure of the inner walls of the house and my granddad broke through the flock wallpaper to retrieve it, and there was another story of a child footprints appearing on the upper floor, heading down to and disappearing into where the closed off room now was, which my grandmother scrubbed away, only to have them return the following night!

My mum mentioned that the previous steward’s family refused to stay there as they’d seen the ghost of a woman walk through the wall.

She said the Boy Scouts used to use the basement, and that the underground passages went under the shops.

Re one of the other posts regarding the house belonging to Henry VIII, I think that maybe they’re confusing it with Edward VIII as I remember my mum mentioning that at one time it was owned or at least used by the then Prince of Wales/Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor.

'It’s my wish to contact the current owners of the Lodge to see if they will give us a tour of the premises.'

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Patsy Langley

I was reading about Inverness Lodge, its underground passages and its ghostly girl.

Next door to Inverness Lodge (now an annexe of Brentford Girls School) was a substantial house called Newgrove Mansion. It was this house that burned down with the little girl inside it ... (read more about Newgrove Mansion)

Sharon may be right about the underground passages. The Lodge certainly has a spooky atmosphere to it, even when the place is full of people.

Rachel Gardiner-Hill

Robert Gardiner-Hill, who was believed to be the proprietor of Inverness Lodge when it was a private lunatic asylum, was my husband's great grandfather.

The imprisonment of Rosina Bulwer-Lytton in Inverness Lodge caused a huge public outcry as you may know and forced Robert to leave London because of the trouble it caused including a letter written by Karl Marx to the New York Times about it!

It is a fascinating story - Robert's son, Hugh went on to become another psychiatrist and so it went on to my husband's grandfather, Clive, who grew up in the grounds of Springfield House in Wandsworth, another huge mental hospital founded in the 1840's. I have some fabulous photos of him there as a child, he always said he had an interesting childhood growing up in the company of 'lunatics' - it must have been strange! No wonder people feel Inverness Lodge is haunted because of its past associations with the 'insane', however Robert G-H was a pioneer in mental health treatment as he was one of the first to advocate non-restraint of patients and the freedom to walk outside. See his book on the subject published in 1857.

Robert also used Earls Court House, another famous London house as a private asylum for young ladies of a nervous disposition, see more about Earl's Court House including links to a picture from when it was an asylum.

Terry Burke

In the 1950's, the Western Section of the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) met in Inverness Lodge, Boston Road, Brentford on either the Wednesday or Thursday evenings. Up to 40 to 50 young people attended, and usually about half joined the weekly Sunday Run. It was very lively but never rowdy (responsible cyclists weren't). We had excellent runs into Surrey, Kent, Berks, Bucks and Herfordshire pretty well throughout the year. There were weekend runs, sometimes to Youth Hostels, sometime to Pub B&Bs. I know of one couple who met there and are still alive and married (to the same spouse) 50 odd years later. Elevenses, (morning coffee/tea/pee break), are still part of my life.

Members came from all round, Hayes, Acton, Hounslow, Harrow, NW London etc.

Is there anyone out there who remembers? I have some lovely memories, and one or two photos (somewhere). (Please email if you remember the CTC, I will forward to Terry).

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History of Inverness Lodge

The following is from looking at info. on the Internet.

Inverness Lodge could be over 200 years old. That doesn't take it as far back as Henry VIII but it is possible the building was rebuilt on the site of an earlier building.

It is on a map of Brentford dating from 1894, it shows it set back a little from Boston Manor Road and just about opposite Somerset Road. It was called Inverness Lodge as far back as 1845, may be earlier.

Stephen WOODBRIDGE, a Brentford solicitor lived here. I have looked at some trade directories and they show him living here in 1914 back to 1874. Before he lived here a Henry KENDALL lived here in 1853 and 1855.

In 1845 a Charles JACK of Inverness Lodge, Boston Road (it was called Boston Manor Road later) married in Kensington. In 1851 he was living on Boston Road, presumably in Inverness Lodge.

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There is a possibility that Inverness Lodge was used as a (lunatic) asylum in the late 1850s by Robert Gardiner HILL. That might explain the ghosts but not the tunnels. The asylum information is from a web site, see below:

"...Robert Gardiner Hill was joint proprietor of three London houses: Wyke House, Earls Court House and Inverness Lodge, Brentford Middlesex. ... Dr Hill of Inverness Lodge, Brentford examined Rosina Bulwer-Lytton on 21.6.1858 and she was confined at Inverness Lodge for about two weeks in July, being released on 17th July ... and a letter survives from Robert Gardiner Hill to Rosina's husband, written from Inverness Lodge in 1858.

Rosina described it as "a very fine house in fine grounds which had formerly belonged to the Duke of Cumberland". From her carriage window, when she arrived, she saw about 50 ladies walking in the grounds who were the patients, but who Mr Hill called his "children". They were "picking strawberries".

"Mr H--- sent all his 'children' to his other madhouse farther on the road, so that I had the Palladian Villa all to myself". Rosina also says "after my departure", due to "public indignation" "Brentford became too hot for him, and he removed to London". (Bulwer Lytton, R. 1880 pages 36, 37 + 55)

A John Tattersall took a 21 year lease on Inverness Lodge, Boston Road, Brentford Butts, Ealing from 25.3.1862. Near the junction of Boston Manor Road and Windmill Road there is now Inverness Lodge Social Club Ltd, 9 Boston Manor Road, Brentford, TW8 8DW." (This was taken from a website in 2007, I have not been able to locate it in 2010)

Janet McNamara added ' It's an 18th century house that has been messed about but still has the shape and proportions.' She remembered speaking to a member of the club there 'I THINK I remember him saying that there had been a patio at the back at one time that had been filled in. That would account for a bricked up door.'

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Censuses

1851 census
Charles JACK, 39, Zinc Merchant, born Ireland
Mary J Jack, 30, born London, Middlesex
Mary A Jack, 3, born Ealing, Middlesex
Thomas G Jack, 2, born Ealing, Middlesex
Harriet PURDAY, 28, General Servant, born Axtead, Surrey
Susannah WARD, 35, General Servant, bron Brentford, Middlesex
Mary A FROSTRICK, 20, Servant, born Mistley, Essex

1881 census
Stephen WOODBRIDGE, 46, Solicitor, born Chelsea, Middlesex
Annie Woodbridge, 43, born Bridge, Kent
Louise Woodbridge, 24, born Brentford, Middlesex
Frank Woodbridge, 20, Solicitor's Articled Clerk, born Hounslow, Middlesex
Stephen Woodbridge, 18, Architect's Articled Clerk, born Hounslow, Middlesex
Sarah E TAYLER, 41, Cook, born Brentford, Middlesex
Florence E HENDERSON, 19, Housemaid, born Brentford, Middlesex
Emma PASSINGHAM, 16, Under Housemaid, born Alton, Hampshire

Stephen Woodbridge remained at Inverness Lodge for over 30 years:

1911 census
Stephen WOODBRIDGE, 76, Solicitor, born Chelsea, Middlesex
Stephen Woodbridge, 48, Architect, born Hounslow, Middlesex
Harriet HAZELL, 34, Parlour Maid, born Acton, Middlesex
Maud STAFFORD, 31, Cook, born Poplar, Middlesex
Lily MARRIOTT, 16, Housemaid, born Old Brentford, Middlesex

Stephen senior was a widower, Stephen junior was married. Inverness Lodge had 14 rooms.

If you have any memories of Inverness Lodge, or remember tales of the underground passages, hauntings or occupants, please get in touch.

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Page published August 2010; updated August 2015