Battersea (St. Mary)

BATTERSEA (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Wandsworth and Clapham, partly in the E., but chiefly in the W., division of the hundred of Brixton, E. division of Surrey, 3 miles (S.) from London; containing, with the hamlet of Penge (which see), 6887 inhabitants. This place, in Domesday book called Patricesey or Peters-ey, was so named from having anciently belonged to the abbey of St. Peter at Westminster: it was formerly of much greater extent than it is at present. The family of St. John had a venerable mansion here, which was the favourite resort of Pope, who, when visiting his friend Lord Bolingbroke, usually selected as his study, in which he is said to have composed some of his celebrated works, a parlour wainscoted with cedar, overlooking the Thames. The parish comprises 2108a. 2r. 39p., whereof 390 acres are common or waste; and the village is pleasantly situated on the southern bank of the river, over which is a wooden bridge, connecting it with Chelsea. The neighbourhood has long been celebrated for the production of vegetables for the London market, especially asparagus, which was first cultivated here. There are several manufactories, including chymicalworks, large cement-works, a brewery, malt-house, lime and whitening manufactories, a silk factory, a pottery for crucibles, and Brunel's machinery for sawing veneers; and along the banks of the Thames are some coalwharfs: the manufacture of kid gloves is also carried on very extensively. The London and Southampton railway, for the present, has its commencement at Nine-Elms, in the parish, the offices at which station, fronting the road, exhibit a neat elevation and arcade, and contain all the necessary apartments. Immediately behind is the passengers' shed, extending nearly 300 feet, with four lines of way, and resting on two lines of iron columns twelve feet high; other lines of way lead to the carriage, horse, and locomotive departments, which were unfortunately injured by an accidental fire recently, to the extent of £40,000. The county magistrates hold a meeting at Wandsworth, an adjoining parish, where also the lord of the manor holds a court leet, at which a headborough and constables for Battersea are appointed.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 15. 2½.; net income, £982; patron and impropriator, Earl Spencer. The church, which was handsomely rebuilt of brick, in 1777, has a tower surmounted by a small spire, and, standing on the margin of the river, forms an interesting object viewed from the water. The window over the altar is decorated with portraits of Henry VII., his grandmother Margaret Beauchamp, and Queen Elizabeth, in stained glass; and there are some interesting sepulchral monuments, among which are, one by Roubilliac to the memory of Viscount Bolingbroke and his lady, and one to the memory of Edward Winter, an officer in the service of the East India Company, on which is recorded an account of his having, singly and unarmed, killed a tiger, and on foot defeated sixty Moors on horseback. Collins, author of the Peerage and Baronetage of England; his grandson, David Collins, Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, and author of a History of the English Settlement there; and William Curtis, a distinguished botanical writer, were buried here. St. George's chapel, in Battersea Fields, a neat building in the later style of English architecture, was erected in 1829, partly by a subscription of £2277 among the parishioners, partly by a rate amounting to £1327, and partly by a grant from the Parliamentary Commissioners; the minister is appointed by the vicar, and derives his stipend from a subscription fund of £1450, and from the pew-rents. In the hamlet of Penge is a small chapel capable of accommodating about 200 persons, built by subscription, in 1838. Christ Church, Battersea Fields, was commenced in May, 1847, the foundation-stone being laid by the Hon. Mr. Eden, late incumbent of the parish, recently appointed to the bishopric of Sodor and Man: the cost of the church is estimated at £7000. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyans. A school for the instruction of twenty boys, to which a national school has been united, was founded and endowed by Sir Walter St. John, in 1700, and has an endowment of £85 per annum. Sir Walter and Lady St. John left £300, directing the interest to be applied in apprenticing boys or girls; and there are several other charitable bequests, the principal of which is one by John Parvin, who left £2000 four per cent. bank annuities. Here is a very important training college for masters of national schools. The workhouse for the union, pleasantly situated on St. John's Hill, in the parish, was built in 1838, at an expense of about £16,000.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.