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MARKET TOWNS OF SURREY (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Battersea in 1835

BATTERSEA, a parish in the county of Surrey, situated four miles south-west of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and forming one of the suburbs of the metropolis. In Domesday Book it is called Patricesy, and as the same survey mentions that it belonged to the abbey of St. Peter, Westminster, this probably indicates the true etymology of the name. The parish comprehends an area of 3,020 acres, pretty equally divided between arable land and pasture. Much of the former is occupied by market-gardeners, Battersea being specially noted for the quantity of vegetable produce which it raises for the London market. The manor of Battersea was given by the Conqueror to Westminster Abbey in exchange for Windsor ; after the dissolution of monasteries the manor passed through various hands, and in the year 1627 it was granted by the king to Oliver St. John, Viscount Grandison, from whom it descended to the celebrated St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, and in 1763 was purchased of the St. John family in trust for John Viscount Spencer, and is now the property of the present Earl Spencer.

A church is mentioned in Domesday Book, but the existing parish church is a modern structure, opened in 1777. It is situated on the banks of the Thames, and is of brick, with a tower and small conical spire. It has neither aisles nor chancel. A new church has recently been erected by the commissioners for building churches. The living of Battersea is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester, rated in the king’s books at £13,15 shillings, 2 pence. The tithes which accrue from the gardens render the living one of the most valuable in the neighbourhood of London. Battersea lies too low on the Thames to be one of the most agreeable suburbs of London for residence ; it nevertheless contains a large number of respectable houses and neat villas. Lord Bolingbroke was born and died in the family mansion at Battersea, of which Pope was a frequent inmate. The house was very large, having forty rooms on a floor ; but it has long since been taken down and the site otherwise appropriated. The village possesses a free school, which was endowed by Sir Walter St. John, in 1700, for twenty boys ; and both he and his lady afterwards left further sums for apprenticing some of the number. Battersea is connected with Chelsea by a wooden bridge across the Thames, erected in 1771. The population of this extensive parish was 5,540 in 1831, of whom 3,021 were females.