Main Births etc
Coordinates: 51°27′54″N 0°13′16″W / 51.4649, -0.2211
Putney station building.JPG
Putney Railway Station

Putney is located in Greater London

 Putney shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ235755
London borough Wandsworth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SW15
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Putney
London Assembly Merton and Wandsworth
List of places: UK • England • London

Putney is a district in south-west London, England, located in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is situated 5.1 miles (8.2 km) south-west of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1]

And thus we take leave of Putney, one of the pleasantest of the London suburbs, as well as the most accessible. The immense increase in the number of houses in late years testifies to its popularity; but there is still an almost unlimited extent of open ground which cannot be covered; and with wood and water, common and hill, there will always be an element of freshness and openness in Putney seldom to be obtained so near London.
—J. C. Geikie, The Fascinations of London, 1903[2]


Putney was an ancient parish in the Brixton hundred of the county of Surrey.[3] In 1855 the parish was included in the area of responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works and was grouped into the Wandsworth District. In 1889 the area was removed from Surrey and became part of the County of London. The Wandsworth District became the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth in 1900. Since 1965 Putney has formed part of the London Borough of Wandsworth in Greater London.

River crossing[]

Putney appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Putelei. It was noted that it was not a manor, but obtained 20 shillings from the ferry or market toll at Putney belonging to Mortlake.[4]

The ferry was mentioned in the household accounts of Edward I (1272–1307): Robert the Ferryman of Putney and other sailors received 3/6d for carrying a great part of the royal family across the Thames and also for taking the king and his family to Westminster.

One famous crossing at Putney was that of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529 upon his 'disgrace' in falling out of favour with Henry VIII and on ceasing to be the holder of the Great Seal of England. As he was riding up Putney Hill he was overtaken by one of the royal chamberlains who presented him with a ring as a token of the continuance of his majesty's favour. When the Cardinal had heard these good words of the king, he quickly lighted from his mule and kneeled down in the dirt upon both knees, holding up his hands for joy, and said "When I consider the joyful news that you have brought to me, I could do no less than greatly rejoice. Every word pierces so my heart, that the sudden joy surmounted my memory, having no regard or respect to the place; but I thought it my duty, that in the same place where I received this comfort, to laud and praise God upon my knees, and most humbly to render unto my sovereign lord my most hearty thanks for the same."[5]

The first bridge of any kind between the two parishes of Fulham and Putney was built during the Civil War: after the Battle of Brentford in 1642, the Parliamentary forces built a bridge of boats between Fulham and Putney. According to an account from the period:

The Lord General hath caused a bridge to be built upon barges and lighters over the Thames between Fulham and Putney, to convey his army and artillery over into Surrey, to follow the king's forces; and he hath ordered that forts shall be erected at each end thereof to guard it; but for the present the seamen, with long boats and shallops full of ordnance and musketeers, lie there upon the river to secure it.[6]

The first permanent bridge between Fulham and Putney was completed in 1729, and was the second bridge to be built across the Thames in London (after London Bridge).

One story runs that "in 1720 Sir Robert Walpole was returning from seeing George I at Kingston and being in a hurry to get to the House of Commons rode together with his servant to Putney to take the ferry across to Fulham. The ferry boat was on the opposite side, however and the waterman, who was drinking in the Swan, ignored the calls of Sir Robert and his servant and they were obliged to take another route. Walpole vowed that a bridge would replace the ferry."[7]

The Prince of Wales apparently "was often inconvenienced by the ferry when returning from hunting in Richmond park and asked Walpole to use his influence by supporting the bridge."[7]

The bridge was a wooden structure and lasted for 150 years, when in 1886 it was replaced by the stone bridge that stands today.

St. Mary's Church[]

The parish church of St Mary The Virgin was the site of the 1647 Putney Debates. Towards the end of the English Civil War, with the Roundheads looking victorious, Oliver Cromwell soldiers' held a minor mutiny, amid fears that a monarchy would be replaced by a new dictatorship. A number, known as the Levellers complained "We were not a mere mercenary army hired to serve any arbitrary power of a state, but called forth … to the defence of the people's just right and liberties". A manifesto was proposed entitled the Agreement of the People and at an open meeting in Putney, the officers of the Army Council heard the argument from private soldiers for a transparent, democratic state, without corruption. This included sovereignty for English citizens, Parliamentary seats distributed according to population rather than property ownership, religion made a free choice, equality before the law, conscription abolished and parliamentary elections held every year. While greatly influential, including inspiring much of the language of the United States Declaration of Independence, Oliver Cromwell would later have the Leveller leaders executed.

The famous diarist Samuel Pepys visited St. Mary's Church on several occasions. During one visit on 28 April 1667, he recorded,

"and then back to Putney Church, where I saw the girls of the schools, few of which pretty; and there I come into a pew, and met with little James Pierce, which I was much pleased at, the little rogue being very glad to see me: his master, Reader to the Church. Here was a good sermon and much company, but I sleepy, and a little out of order, for my hat falling down through a hole underneath the pulpit, which, however, after sermon, by a stick, and the help of the clerke, I got up again, and then walked out of the church."[8]

Open spaces and clean air[]

For centuries, Putney was a place where Londoners came for leisure, to enjoy the open spaces and clean air. Londoners came to Putney to play games. According to John Locke, who writes, in 1679: "The sports of England for a curious stranger to see are horse-racing, hawking, hunting, and bowling; at Putney he may see several persons of quality bowling two or three times a week."

One regular visitor was Queen Elizabeth I who frequently visited Putney from 1579–1603, often visiting Mr John Lacy. She was said to "honour Lacy with her company more frequently than any of her subjects", often staying for two to three days.[5]

Putney Heath[]

Charles II reviewed his forces on Putney Heath in 1684; in May, 1767, George III reviewed the Guards, and the Surrey Volunteers at the same spot in 1799.[9] According to Samuel Pepys, Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York used to run horses here.

A stone and brick obelisk was erected on Putney Heath in 1770, marking the 110th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, to coincide with the invention of the Hartley fire plates by David Hartley (the Younger), near a spot where his fireproof house was built. The obelisk, with ornately detailed foundation stone, is still standing and can be accessed via the car park adjacent to The Telegraph public house, off Wildcroft Road, SW15. The lower part of this house was repeatedly set on fire in the presence, among others, of George III and Queen Charlotte, the members of Parliament, the Lord Mayor, and the Aldermen.[10] Since 1955 the obelisk has been a Grade II listed building.[11] The adjacent Wildcroft Manor was formerly in the ownership of publishing magnate George Newnes, builder of Putney library. In 1895 he was created a baronet "of Wildcroft, in the parish of Putney, in the county of London.[12]

Many duels were undertaken on Putney Heath. In May, 1652, George, the third Lord Chandos, and Colonel Henry Compton fought with Compton being killed in the encounter. On a Sunday afternoon in May, 1798 William Pitt, the then Prime Minister, who lived in Bowling-Green House on the heath, fought a bloodless battle with William Tierney, MP. The house derived its name from the bowling-green formerly attached to it, and for more than sixty years (1690-1750) was the most famous green in the neighbourhood of London. The house had large rooms for public breakfasts and assemblies, was a fashionable place of entertainment, and noted for "deep play." Pitt died in the house in 1806. It was later owned by Henry Lewis Doulton, son of Henry Doulton of pottery fame. It was demolished and an art deco style residence rebuilt on the site in 1933. Putney Heath, near the Telegraph pub, was also the venue for the September 1809 duel between Cabinet ministers George Canning and Lord Castlereagh.[13]

Scio House was the last villa on Portsmouth Road abutting the heath: it eventually became a hospital and was known as Scio House Hospital for Officers, Putney.[14] It has since been redveloped as a gated community of 70 neo-Georgian homes divided between two streets.[15]

Putney Heath is around 400 acres in size and sits at approximately 150 feet above sea level. Because of its elevation, from 1796 to 1816 Putney Heath hosted a station in the shutter telegraph chain, which connected the Admiralty in London to its naval ships in Portsmouth. One of 10 signal stations with telescopes making observation of the next station's signal, a message could be sent from the Admiralty to Portsmouth within 15 minutes.[16] This was replaced by a semaphore station, which was part of a semaphore line that operated between 1822 and 1847.[17]

Putney Heath was for many years a noted rendezvous for highwaymen. In 1795, the notorious highwayman Jeremiah Abershaw - also known as Jerry Avershaw - was caught in the Green Man pub (now owned by Wandsworth brewery Young's,[18]) on the northside of the heath where Putney Hill meets Tibbet's Ride. After execution his body was hung in chains on the heath as a warning to others.[19] An ancient wood fence cattle pound is located opposite the Green Man, adjacent to two huge plane trees, near the bus terminus. This simple wood fence structure, used historically to contain lost livestock, has been listed as a Grade II listed structure since 1983.[20]

A number of fine homes lined Putney Hill and the north face of the heath, west of the Green Man. All had semi-circular carriageway entrances and exits.[21] These included Grantham House, the residence of Lady Grantham; Ripon House, Ashburton House; Exeter House, occupied by the second Marquis of Exeter. George Cockayne, author of peerage and baronetage publications, died at Exeter House in 1911.[22] Nearby Gifford House was owned by the J. D. Charrington of brewing fame; and Dover House, was the seat originally of Lord Dover, afterwards of Lord Clifden. It was owned at the turn of the 20th century by the famous US financier JP Morgan.[23]

With the development of transport routes for the growing financial sector, the area became highly desirable for City gents in the 1890s and they were initially known as "outsiders".[24] In 1900, social researcher Charles Booth had classified the whole area of Putney Hill and West Hill, leading into Putney Heath, as wealthy or well-to-do. Despite a full array of places of worship, he said it was noted for low church attendance with all denominations "struggling for the souls of pleasure-seeking Putney... the middle class here are as indifferent as the poor elsewhere."[21]

The village green at the corner of Wildcroft and Telegraph roads is used by Roehampton Cricket Club and is one of the oldest cricket teams in London, being established in 1842. The club has played there continuously since 1859 when lord of the manor, Earl Spencer, suggested it as a new site.[25] It has two sides in the highly competitive Fullers Surrey County League and a Sunday side that plays on a more social level. In 1900, a decade after the death of his multimillionaire father Junius Morgan, JP Morgan had already gained a fondness for the sport and was made an honorary member.[26] Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who presided at the club dinner in 1910, allowed his two young children - Raymond and Cecily[27] - to play cowboys and Indians on the cricket green during the week. This groundkeeper's transgression was later believed to have been a privilege of him being an honorary member.[28]

The Chelsea Water Company originally owned the reservoir site and allowed construction of the club pavilion on its property.[29] The reservoir site is now owned by Thames Water. Cricket matches continued during the war although some games started late or were drawn due to late starts or air raid sirens. Four German V-1 flying bombs struck the area in World War II.[16] One destroyed the club's pavilion, opposite the Telegraph pub, in July, 1944, near where the covered water reservoir is located. Wildcroft Road, turning into Portsmouth Road and thus the future A3, was a main thoroughfare into SW London and became a stop-off point for American serviceman who alighted from their jeeps to "taste this crazy cricket game"[30]

On the south side of the reservoir, in the triangle of land between Wildcroft Road, Tibbet's Ride and the Green Man, is a large clearing of land. A funfair is set up on the grounds each October, lasting for one week. Ground rent is paid by the touring company to the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators, as part of the income of the charity.[31]

Local character[]

A local directory of Putney in 1932 listed a high proportion of residents as being professional, including doctors and lawyers. The area also was home to significant numbers of retired naval officers.[32]

In a 2005 New Economics Foundation survey of 27 London high streets, Putney's was deemed the fifth most "cloned", offering identikit shopping with little local character.[33]


The Member of Parliament for Putney is Justine Greening.

Rowing and the Boat Race[]

Putney Bridge at night

Since the second half of the 19th century, Putney has been one of the most significant centres for rowing in the United Kingdom. There were two historic reasons for this.

First, increasing numbers of steam-powered boats (not to mention the growing levels of sewage being discharged into the river) made leisure rowing on the Thames in central London unpleasant if not impossible. There was much less commercial traffic on the river at Putney (partly because the many buttresses of the original Putney Bridge restricted the transit of large river boats) ensuring more suitable water for rowing. The river was also cleaner at Putney.

Secondly, the construction of the London and South Western Railway from Waterloo Station to Putney and the Metropolitan District Railway to Putney Bridge allowed easy commuting.

Putney Bridge

More than twenty rowing clubs are based on the Thames at Putney Embankment; among the largest are London Rowing Club, Thames Rowing Club, Imperial College Boat Club and Vesta Rowing Club. Leander Club owned a boathouse in Putney from 1867 to 1961. The Putney clubs have produced a plethora of Olympic medallists and Henley winners. Putney Town Rowing Club, although retaining Putney's name, has now moved to Kew.

The University Boat Race, first contested in 1829 in Henley-on-Thames, has had Putney as its starting point since 1845. Since 1856, it has been an annual event, beginning at the University Stone, just upstream from Putney Bridge.

Several other important rowing races over the Championship Course also either start or finish at the stone, notably the Head of the River Race.

Notable residents[]

  • J. R. Ackerley, author and literary editor of The Listener lived at Star and Garter Mansions from 1941 until his death in 1967
  • Tony Adams, former Arsenal and England football captain, lived here post-rehab
  • Gerry Anderson and Jim Henson, television puppeteers, at different times leased the same workshop (now demolished) in Rotherwood Road, Putney
  • Clement Attlee, who served as Labour Party leader from 1935 to 1955 (from 1945 to 1951 as prime minister) was born at Putney in 1883.[34]
  • Edvard Beneš, second President of Czechoslovakia, lived in Gwendolen Avenue during his exile in London from October 1938 to the end of World War II
  • Marc Bolan, singer and leader of the band T.Rex lived at 6 Schubert Road, Putney and died in a car crash in Queens Ride, Barnes on the border of Putney
  • Peter Bonetti, Chelsea and Dundee United footballer, was born in Putney
  • Sir Richard Branson, British entrepreneur
  • Peter Brett, American writer
  • Anna Calvi, singer and songwriter
  • Rosa Nouchette Carey, writer of children's novels, died at her home in Keswick Road, Putney in 1909.[35]
  • Christopher Chope, Member of Parliament for Christchurch, was born in Putney
  • Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • Thomas Cromwell, chief minister for Henry VIII and architect of the English Reformation, was born in Putney around 1485
  • Sir Tom Courtenay, actor, films include Flood and The Golden Compass
  • John Deacon, former bass guitarist of Queen, lives in west Putney.
  • Jason Flemyng, actor, born in Putney
  • E. M. Forster, author, lived at 22 Werter Road, Putney
  • Henry Fuseli, Swiss-born British artist, professor of painting and keeper of the Royal Academy[36]
  • Constance Garnett, translator of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, and other Russian literature
  • Edward Gibbon, historian, born in Putney, and gave his name to the local telephone exchange
  • Countess of Guildford, resident of Putney Hill, 1825[36]
  • Kenelm Lee Guinness, racing driver, started the KLG spark plug factory in Putney and lived in Kingston Hill
  • Penny Irving, actress (The Benny Hill Show, Carry On, Are You Being Served?)
  • Leon Jackson, Scottish singer and winner of The X Factor in 2007
  • Robin Knox-Johnston, yachtsman, born in Putney
  • Simon Le Bon, lead singer of pop group Duran Duran, lives on Upper Richmond Road in West Putney with his wife, Yasmin
  • Laurie Lee, author, lived and worked as a building labourer in Putney during the 1930s
  • Commander Charles Lightoller, the most senior officer to survive the Titanic disaster, lived at 60A Upper Richmond Road[32]
  • David Luiz, Chelsea F.C. and Brazilian international footballer
  • James Macpherson, translator and author of the Ossian Poems
  • David McKee, creator of Mr Benn the popular UK television programme for children, first broadcast on BBC1 in the early 1970s. Mr Benn lives in London at 52 Festive Road; David McKee used to live "next door" at 54 Festing Road, where current residents have come together to install an engraved paving slab in his honor. ("I think it was because in the first book I drew myself looking out of the window, and I thought it would be quite nice to have him next door," said McKee.).[37]
  • Bobby Moore, England football world cup winning hero, lived in Putney in his later years
  • JP Morgan, US financier, lived in Dover House, Putney Heath
  • George Newnes, publishing magnate, lived at Putney Heath
  • Lawrence Oates, who uttered the most famous of famous last words ("I am just going outside and may be some time.") on the 1910-13 British Antarctic Expedition, born and grew up in Putney
  • William Pitt the Younger, former Prime Minister, lived and died in Bowling-Green House at Putney Heath[38]
  • Justin Rose, golfer, has a flat in Putney.[39]
  • Sir Ronald Ross, discoverer of malaria transmission by mosquitoes, lived and died at Bath House, Putney Hill.[40]
  • Fred Russell, known as the "The Father of Modern Ventriloquism", remembered by blue plaque, lived in Lower Richmond Road near Putney Bridge
  • Sir Oswald Stoll, Australian-born British theatre and film magnate, 33 Putney Hill[32]
  • Algernon Charles Swinburne, poet and Nobel prize nominee, lived and died at The Pines, at the foot of Putney Hill[41]
  • Emile Heskey, English footballer, currently plays for Aston Villa F.C.
  • Daley Thompson, former decathlete
  • Alan Thornhill, sculptor whose nine large works form the permanent Putney Sculpture Trail along the Thames
  • Theodore Watts-Dunton, who looked after Swinburne
  • Nigel Williams, author
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein, lived in Putney at Layton House in 1839, and White House in 1843
  • Leonard Woolf, husband of Virginia Woolf, grew up in Putney
  • Fernando Torres, Spanish footballer, plays for Chelsea F.C.
  • Lazee, A Swedish rapper, lived in Putney when he was a teenager
  • Taio Cruz, UK RnB singer
  • Stefan Abingdon, of the band The Midnight Beast
  • Ashley Horne, of the band The Midnight Beast

Putney Sculpture Trail[]

Alan Thornhill lived and worked in Putney for many years and his studio still remains. The sculpture Load[42] was presented to Putney[43] on Fools Day and occupies a permanent position near the south west end of Putney Bridge on Lower Richmond Road. A film, launched at Appledore[44] and Chichester Film Festivals in 2008 documents these celebrations. The acquisition of 8 further large works formed a permanent new riverside Putney Sculpture Trail in London's Borough of Wandsworth, officially unveiled in September 2008.

Historic links to sculpture and sculptors[]

Sir Jacob Epstein was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery on 24 August 1959.[45]

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska had a studio in Putney in the last year of his life after moving from 454a Fulham Road. Sydney Schiff went to visit Gaudier there in 1914 to purchase the 'Dancer' which was later presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Gaudier-Brzeska was killed in France in June 1915.[46]

Nearest places[]


Putney Railway Station's four platforms as viewed from the east

Putney is serviced by mainline trains to Waterloo Station from Putney Station and by London Underground from East Putney. The far west of Putney is also served by Barnes Station, a few hundred yards across the boundary in Barnes, while Putney Bridge tube station is across the river in Fulham. Services to Waterloo are every 5 to 10 minutes making it a popular location for professionals commuting into central London.

Train journey times are between 14 and 19 minutes depending on the number of stops and time of day. Trains are especially crowded at peak times (especially in the morning rush hour between 7.45am and 9am, where in some cases the train is full before all passengers can board). The last train from Waterloo to Putney is at 00.18 hrs.

Putney is served by bus routes 14, 22, 37, 39, 74, 85, 93, 220, 265, 270, 337, 424 mon-sat, 430 and 485 mon-sat and night buses 14, N22, 37, N74, 85, 93. The 14 transports revellers from the West End every 5–10 minutes, with a journey time of approximately 45 minutes.

Nearest tube stations[]

  • East Putney tube station
  • Putney Bridge tube station

Nearest railway station[]

  • Putney railway station
  • Barnes railway station

Nearest places[]


  1. ^ Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. 
  2. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, p.94.
  3. ^
  4. ^, Surrey Domesday Book
  5. ^ a b, Putney, British History Online
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b The Predecessor of Putney Bridge - Fulham Bridge 1729-1886 by George & Michael Dewe (1986)
  8. ^ Diary of Samuel Pepys/1667/April
  9. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, p.85.
  10. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, p.84.
  11. ^ Hartley Memorial Obelisk (north East of Wildcroft Manor), Putney
  12. ^ London Gazette: no. 26598, p. 911, 15 February 1895.
  13. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, pp.84-86.
  14. ^ "Voluntary Hospitals, London". UK Parliament. 25 March 1948. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Welcome". Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Wandsworth Council Putney Heath Appraisal & Management Strategy (2008), p.13
  17. ^ History - The Telegraph country pub in London
  18. ^ "Green Man -". 
  19. ^ "Lewis Jeremiah 'Jerry' Abershaw at Findagrave". 
  20. ^ Village Pound, Putney
  21. ^ a b Bailey, Keith. Old Ordnance Survey Maps, Putney 1913. South Shields: Godfrey Maps
  22. ^ George E Cockayne Complete Baronetage Vol 1 (1900)
  23. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, p83.
  24. ^ Roehampton Cricket Club Towards the Second Century (1951), p.6
  25. ^
  26. ^ Roehampton Cricket Club Towards the Second Century (1951), p.11
  27. ^
  28. ^ Roehampton Cricket Club Towards the Second Century (1951), p.4
  29. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, p84.
  30. ^ Roehampton Cricket Club Towards the Second Century (1951), p.16
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b c The Putney Society (2010). The Bulletin, December. p2.
  33. ^ Elliot, Valerie (6 June 2005). "Its so wonderful to be here in Exeter Or is this Clapham". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  34. ^
  35. ^, Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^ "Street pays tribute to Mr Benn". BBC News. 26 November 2009. 
  38. ^ Geikie, J. C. (1903). The Fascination of London: Hammersmith, Fulham and Putney. London: A & C Black, pp.85.
  39. ^ Mair, Lewine (14 December 2006). "Rose now wedded to success". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ Deaths England and Wales 1837-1983
  42. ^
  43. ^ Spirit in Mass: Journey into Sculpture - Alan Thornhill (2007) UK Documentary film (PG)
  44. ^ Appledore Arts - Film
  45. ^ Epstein; Stephen Gardiner (1993) Flamingo Books ISBN 0-00-654598-X
  46. ^ Savage Messiah; H.S. Ede (1979) Gordon Frazer Gallery London SBN 900406151 first published Heinemann 1931

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