21 June 2013

Anthony Beckles Willson: Mr Pope & Others at Cross Deep, Twickenham in the 18th Century (1996)

I've already mentioned Anthony Beckles Willson in the Pope's Grotto post linked below, and indeed some of my information on the grotto and house came from this book. But the scope of this publication is much broader, detailing the people who lived in Cross Deep (formerly also the name of this area just outside Twickenham) before, during, and after Pope lived here between 1719 and his death in 1744.
This is a very well illustrated work, and it has to be so because of the often very confusing changing nature of the properties over time. Pope's Grotto is on the site of the present school Radnor House. One of Pope's neighbours was John Robartes (1686–1757), 4th Earl of Radnor, whose property (now long gone) was also called Radnor House. Robertes also owned a Cold Bath, or Bath House, near the River Thames, part of which has been moved to Radnor Gardens adjoining the present day Radnor House. Robertes was one of the witnesses to Pope's will in December 1943.
Pope erected a large memorial in the form of an obelisk at the bottom of his garden to commemorate his mother, with whom he had lived and who died in 1733. It survived Baroness Howe's ravages and now stands in the grounds of Penn House, Amersham, Bucks, after sailing by coal barge to Gopsall Park in Leicestershire, where it had spent several decades and is a kind of Howe family heirloom.
This large, impressive, informative and engrossing work is self-published and occasionally betrays minor flaws that more assiduous proofreading would have unearthed: for instance, both Robert Shirley and Selina Finch are given two separate ages when they married, and there are a number of rather eccentric uses of the comma: mere quibbles – this is still a fascinating book.
Alexander Pope's Grotto in Twickenham
Alexander Pope in Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire
Alexander Pope in Chiswick

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