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Brent House Demolition, 1909
Howard Webb has provided a scan of this photo below, showing Brent House, Upper Butts, New Brentford. Janet McNamara has added two modern (2011) views, the first with a similar vantage point to the 1909 photo, the second taken from further along Brent Road. Then in 2019 Liz Bryant sent a family photo, perhaps taken as it was known Brent House was due to be demolished.
So, exactly where was Brent House, when was it built, why was it demolished and how was it used?
Brent House and Brent Cottage - a brief history
With assistance from Janet McNamara, Lorne Gifford's website, Alan Taylor, newspaper and census (Findmypast), electoral registers (Ancestry) and some Googling it is 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.
Bell's Weekly Messenger 13 October 1816: advertisement starts
Alan Taylor added in December 2018: 'I was researching a letter sent to Brent House in 1827 and came across your website. The letter was sent by a young Quaker boy, George Cruikshank, to his sister. Dated the '2nd Mo 26th' ( 26th of February) it was addressed to 'Elizabeth Wise, Brent house, Brentford' with the sub addressee ' 'Lucy Cruikshank' written on the bottom left corner. As Lucy was probably in her late teens or early 20s at that time it is likely that the school for young ladies advertised in the early 1800s at this address was still active with Elizabeth Wise the Principal.'
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.
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.
Mason's Court Guide & Directory for Brentford, Kew ..., 1853:
Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Kent ... , 1855 also includes Mrs Ackland, Brent House, Butts
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 and the father of Frederick William Lacey, surveyor to Brentford Local Board 1881-1888. 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.
In 1918 Arthur Phillips, actor, lived at Brent Cottage with his wife Isabella Christie Laws. They stayed a few years; the London telephone directory and electoral register for 1921 (Ancestry website) shows Joseph Charlton Lane-Claypon at this address. The census for 1921 provides more information: he was 40, born Wyberton, Lincolnshire and was a solicitor at 12 Lincoln's Inn Fields. His wife Priscilla was 26, born Kings Lynn, Norfolk, and was a retired hospital nurse. They had three domestic servants aged 16 to 21 working for them. A Joseph Charlton Lane-Claypon was 2nd Lieutenant in the Lincolnshire Regiment from 1914-1922 (The National Archives).
Thetford & Watton Times and People's Weekly Journal 04 September 1926
Sussex Agricultural Express 16 March 1934
The 1939 Register records Brent Cottage on Brent Road with occupants:
The above three were recorded at Brent Cottage in the 1951 electoral register along with Joan W Price. The 1956 electoral register has the same four individuals as 1951 plus John F Price.
Published December 2011; last updated April 2023