Vanbrugh Castle School

Tenants of Vanbrugh Castle

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Tenants of Vanbrugh Castle
Maze Hill, Greenwich, London

Researched by Lisa Taylor

1719-1726 Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726)
-1727 Lady Vanbrugh (1693-1776). After Sir John’s death she moved to their house in Whitehall but, eventually, moved to The Nunnery (one of Vanbrugh’s houses)
1728-1733: John Brownson, Viscount Tyrconnell (of the 2nd creation) (1690-1754)
Member of Parliament for Grantham (1713-15)
Lincoln (1715-22)
Grantham (1722-41)
Married his cousin Eleanor (1691-1730), then married Elizabeth Cartwright (d 1780) in January 1732.
Early in 1730 Lady Tyrconnell gave a masquerade at The Castle. Attended by Lady Vanbrugh who hired a waistcoat for 12/6 for the occasion.
1734-1743 Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701-1750). Previously lived in a house on Maze Hill.
1743 Newspaper advertisement: “A house to be LEFT and enter upon Lady Day next. A house commonly called The Castle now be let to his Grace, The Duke of Richmond, situated upon the top of Maze Hill, at Greenwich. Likewise, a small house, now in possession of the Mr Alderman Hoare, White Tower North (part of the Vanbrugh estate), upon Maize Green; also any part of the said Green to be let on a building lease for a term of 75 years. Enquire of Mr Jones at Lady Vanbrugh, in Whitehall.”
1743-1744 Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore (1699-1751) Descendant of the Baltimore family who had rights on many of the British Colonies in America. Largely lost through the profligacy and incompetence of the 4th and 5th Earls. Carlyle (1795-1881) referred to the above as “something of a fool to judge by the face of him in portraits, and by same of his doings in the world.”
1745-1750 Empty in the rate record and Lady Vanbrugh’s account book shows no obvious tenant.
1750-1756 James O’Hara, 2nd Baron Tyrawley (1690-1773) Governor of Minorca and Gibraltar. Distinguished soldier and diplomat and notoriously licentious.
Alleged to have returned from Portugal with “3 wives and 14 children” (Walpole). His natural son Charles (1740-1802) enjoyed distinction as a soldier, particularly in the American War of Independence. Lady Vanbrugh leased the Castle to O’Hara at Christmas 1750 and sold him the remains of the head lease for £1000 in March 1752.
1755-1766 Miss O’Hara Natural daughter of the above.
1767-1772 Sir John Savile, 1st Earl of Mexborough KB (1719-1778) Whig member for Heydon (1747-1754) and Shoreham (1761-1768)
Elevated to the Peerage of Ireland in 1753.
Created Viscount Pollington and Earl of Mexborough, of Lifford, in County Donegal in February 1766.
Married, Sarah, daughter of Francis Blake, in 1760. She died in August 1821.
1772 During this year Messers Christie sold the remain of the lease acquired by Lord Tyrawley and his “neat household furniture.”
1774-1792 Charles Brett (d. 1799) Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. MP for Sandwich in 1776 and 1784. Previously lived at The Manor House, Crooms Hill.
1792-1804 Henry Goodwyn (d. 1824) A brewer who had lived at Cambridge House, The Groove, before moving to The Castle. Spent his last 11 years at No 6 The Paragon.
1805-1812 Robert Holford
1813-1817 Sarah Fossett
1817-1819 Matthew Boyd In 1819 Boyd was granted a new 21 year lease from Lady Day 1817 at £100 p.a This was assigned to Browne.
1820-1832 Robert Browne. From at least 1823-1827 Mrs Browne conducted a girl’s school called Vanbrugh House Academy. For 1 year Browne also held the Red House next door.
1823 the local watch committee urged Mrs Browne to clean out the cesspools under The Castle as they were overflowing down maze Hill.
1833 Empty in the rate record.
1834-1837 John Holmes (fl. 1790-1842) High Bailiff of the Borough of Southwark.
1814 Holmes was appointed Deputy Bailiff to the City of London Bailiwick of Southwark as deputy to Sir Walter Lewes.
1824 he became High Bailiff until his death in 1842. Additionally he was Principle Clerk to the City Court of Requests and Clerk to the Gun makers’ Company.
November 1837 Holmes distributed “a Liberal allowance of Barclay and Perkins ‘heavy’ for the poor” on occasion of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s visit to the City.
1838-1844 Dr Lawrence Holker Potts MD (1789-1850).
Trained as a surgeon but earned distinction as a construction engineer and inventor. Vanbrugh Castle became his Institution for Spinal Diseases.
His workshop at The Castle was used for making orthopaedic appliances of his own invention.
May 1845 Sale of the Castle lease and contents by auction. Many of the lots were medical and scientific instruments. The first sale, for the lease (which must have been new) had no bidders. The second sale was for ‘curious birds and old china’. The third sale was for books and furniture. The fourth was for ‘machinery and scarce woods”
1846-1867 Mrs Mary Hart (widow) and her daughters Anna, Charlotte, Maria and Louisa Hart, from Bath. Conducted a girl’s school at the castle. In 1861 the household consisted of 5 teachers, 23 pupils aged between 9-20 years and 6 servants.
In March 1848 the drain stench was “positively intolerable to persons passing down the Hill”.
1868-1883 The Misses Henrietta, Martha and Ellen Nicholson took over the Hart School.
In 1871 there were a French teacher, 17 pupils aged between 12-19 years and 7 servants. By 1881 the staff included French, German and English governesses, 21 boarders aged 10-18 years and 5 servants.
1884 Mrs William Ogden. A boarding school.
1885-1886 Madame Russell Roberts. Vanbrugh High School.
1887-1892 Blackheath Centre School (member of the Graduated County School Association.) Conducted by Miss Kate Gale and Miss Mary St Clare Shaw LLA. This school moved to No 13 Vanbrugh Park in 1892 and closed down in July 1896.
1893-1906 Between these dates the Castle was empty. Alterations were made in 1895 to the gateways and walls but it wasn’t until 1907 that any proper repairs were carried out. These repairs were the result of the grant of a new lease, to run for 99 years from June 1906, to the Duckham family.
1907-1920 Sir Arthur McDougall Duckham GBE KCB (1879-1932).
Arthur Duckham was the son of Frederic Eliot Duckham (1832-1819) and the brother of Alexander Duckham. He lived at The Red House, Dartmouth Grove and was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School.
He was an engineer with a special interest and expertise in the construction of plant for the gas, chemical and engineering industries. He invented a continuous carbonization process for converting coal. During World War 1 he was the Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Supply and, later Director General of Aircraft Production. Also, the President of the Federation of British Industries. He married Maud, the daughter of A.D Peppercorn, of Crooms Hill, in 1903.
In 1921 Duckham transferred the Castle on trust to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund for use as a boarding home for the sons airmen.
1921-1976 Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund School.
Initially, the Castle was a boarding house and the boys attended local schools. In 1950 consent was granted to use the building as a school. In 1976 the RAF school closed and merged with the Woolpit School, Ewhurst, Sussex.
March 1977 Sold to the Blackheath Preservation Trust and converted into 4 separate dwellings.