Evidence for a a pre-18th century building at Bugsby’s Hole

Why do we think there might have been something worth investigating on the riverside at Bugsby’s Hole?

1. 1802  – House on site.

A house existed on the site from c.1802.  It is assumed that this is part of the estate built with the Tide Mill, Ceylon Place and The Pilot.

These buildings are all included in a Chancery property assessment of 1807.  Note. This assessment implies that there may have been another house – i.e. ambivalent at one point whether ‘house’ means pub or not.   The assessment gives no construction date but it is known the Tide Mill and cottages were on site by 1801-3.


before that –

The estate was owned by George Russell. There is a 1796 newspaper report, which describes a robbery at Mr. Russell’s house in which the thieves escaped by boat.

Russell’s workforce had been digging brick earth on the site and nearby for some years before 1800.

The Bugsby’s Hole causeway was licensed to Russell in 1801.

Or was there another building?

east lodge drawing
East Lodge – the riverside house which once stood at the end of Riverway (now under CPL – the Bellway block). The drawing probably dates from c.1890 the work of one of the Davies sisters.

It is also worth noting that this is the area in which pirates were said to have been gibbeted.  There were often attempts to recover gibbeted bodies – would these have therefore been guarded?  There are reports of the military guard from the gunpowder depot ‘tramping about all over the place’.

Was there an older house – and the one which was later pictured was built in the 1840s.?

The house is said to have been let to a Mr. Hewes (or Hughes) who acted very strangely. There is both contemporary and reminiscence evidence for this.  The house was later said to have been built by him as a ‘pleasure house’.  Therefore  it is  possible that the house in the 1802 assessment was older and that there was some rebuilding later.

The style of the house in pictures is more 1840s than 1800s

Why is it called ‘East Lodge’ – i.e. was there a West Lodge?

2. After the 1840s

The whole estate was bought for Frank Hills in the early 1840s.  In due course his manager, Thomas Davies, moved into the house with his family.   There are some Davies family reminiscences in the form of a contemporary family newsletter and later newspaper interviews.

In the 1880s  Davies’ daughters described: … ‘the little hillock at the further end (of the garden) from which one could see all up and down the river.’.. ‘the little hillock of which George Macdonald said that it was an ideal place to write a story. The summer house… the old kitchen with its arched window .. ‘ the big square hall.. The staircase leading to the upper hall.. The massive front door’

In  1932 one of the sisters recalled:

“The hall was paved with large squares of black and white marble ands its ceiling was painted by Sir James Thornhill (he whole canvas of this ceiling came down bodily.) The house was built on piles, and under it were brick arched cellars perfectly dry like those in the College’


Return to Bugsby’s Hole some background


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