|The Lord Mayor's state coach, designed by Sir Robert Taylor |
for Sir Charles Asgill, 1757
Asgill House, Richmond, Surrey
|Asgill House from an engraving of 1781, showing the house largely open to the river.|
A golden stone Palladian villa of great charm and influence which was built in 1761-64 by Sir Robert Taylor as a summer residence for his friend Sir Charles Asgill. The house stands on the site of the brewhouse of the former Richmond Palace, and has admirable views across and along the River Thames. In 1810 a later occupant of the house claimed that it cost between £6,000 and £7,000 to build. The house was known originally as Richmond House or Place and later as Riverside House, before the present name was adopted in the late 19th century.
|Asgill House: garden front from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1767|
|Asgill House: garden front as restored in 1968-69.|
|Asgill House: entrance front and side elevation, 2010. Image: Karen Hearn.|
The whole house has a rusticated ground floor with vermiculation around the central arched doorways at front and back, but the external ornament is otherwise very restrained: there are pediments over the central windows, a deeply modelled eaves conice supported on brackets (perhaps inspired by Inigo Jones' St Paul, Covent Garden), blind balustrades below the first-floor windows, and a continuous string course at their sill level that underlines the classical proportions of the whole.
|Asgill House: plan from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1767|
|Asgill House: staircase landing. Image: A.F. Kersting/Historic England|
The house was altered in the 19th century when an outer hall was added to the entrance front and one of the oval rooms on the ground floor was opened into the passage to make a square inner hall. Between 1832 and 1841 the purity of the external design was also compromised by raising the level of the 18th century wings. By the 1960s the house was derelict and at risk, but fortunately it was saved by Fred Hauptfuhrer, an American journalist who took a lease from the Crown Estate and returned the elevations to their original design in 1969-73 with the assistance of Donald Insall. The interior has been restored with some compromises to make the house practical for 20th and 21st century living, so there is now a tall archway from the hall into the staircase, and the ground floor room north of the octagon has become a kitchen.
Descent: Owned by the Crown Estate but held on lease by Sir Charles Asgill (1714-88), 1st bt.; sold after his death to James Whitshed Keene MP (c.1731-1822); sold by 1820 to Mr. Osbaldeston; sold 1822 to Mrs. Palmer (d. 1832); to General Carpenter (fl. 1838); sold 1838 to Benjamin Cohen (fl. 1838-67); sold 1868 to John Philip Trew (fl. 1868-80); sold to James Bracebridge Hilditch (1843-1920); to widow (fl. 1939); sold during WW2 to Henry Ward and H. Stirling Webb; sold 1968 to Fred Hauptfuhrer.
Asgill family of Asgill House, baronets
Asgill, Sir Charles (1714-88), 1st bt. Third son of Henry Asgill (d. 1714), silk merchant, of London and Barford (Oxon) and his wife Annabella Jordan (d. 1756), baptised the day before the burial of his father, 27 March 1713/4 at St Mary, Whitechapel. Educated at Westminster School; apprenticed to William Pepys, goldsmith & banker, 1729-36, and made a freeman of the Skinners Company in the city of London, 21 June 1737 (Master, 1749). A merchant banker in London, who 'from the position of an out-door collecting clerk' at William Pepys & Co. in Lombard Street 'rose progressively by his merit to the first department in the house'. On his first marriage he received a dowry of £25,000 with which he became a partner in the firm of Vere & Asgill, for whom the first purpose-built banking premises in London were designed by Sir Robert Taylor c.1756. He sold the business in 1783 to the Pelican (later the Pheonix) Assurance Co. According to his obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine, he "was a strong instance of what may be effected even by moderate abilities, when united with strict integrity, industry and irreproachable character." He was a Governor of the Bridewell Royal Hospital, 1743-50, and a Common Councilman, 1744-48 and Alderman of London for Candlewick Ward, 1749-77 (Sheriff 1752; Lord Mayor 1757-58). He was knighted during his shrievalty in 1752 and made a baronet (the first such creation by King George III), 16 April 1761. He married 1st, 16 June 1752 at Leyton (Essex), Elizabeth (d. 1754), daughter of Henry Vanderstegen of London, merchant, and 2nd, 12 December 1755 at St Swithin, London Stone, Sarah Theresa (1729-1816), daughter of Daniel Pratviel, secretary to Sir Benjamin Harris, ambassador to Madrid, and had issue:
(1.1) Annabella Asgill (1754-56), born 11 January and baptised at St Swithin, London Stone, 28 January 1754; buried 2 September 1761 at St Bartholomew by the Exchange, London;
(2.1) Amelia Angelina Asgill (1757?-1825); probably to be identified with the 'Engeltie Maria Asgill' born 3 October and baptised at St Swithin, London Stone, 26 October 1757; married, 12 November 1786 at her father's house in Portman Square, Robert Colville of Hemingstone Hall (Suffolk) and had issue four sons; died 12 July 1825 and was buried at Hemingstone; will proved in the PCC, 4 August 1825;
(2.2) Gen. Sir Charles Asgill (1762-1823), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2.3) (Henrietta/Hariott) Maria Asgill (1767-90), born 30 June and baptised at Westminster, 16 July 1767; died unmarried and was buried at St Marylebone, 6 May 1790, where she was commemorated by a ledger stone installed in May 1791; will proved in PCC, 18 May 1790;
(2.4) Caroline Augusta Asgill (1774-1845), born 5 October and baptised 12 November 1774; married, 5 April 1800 at St Marylebone, Lt-Col. Richard Legge (c.1776-1834) of the Royal Irish Artillery and later of Ninnage Lodge, Westbury-on-Severn (Glos) and had issue; buried at Westbury-on-Severn (Glos), 4 June 1845.
Sir Robert Taylor designed his banking house in Lombard St., London c.1756, a new Lord Mayor's coach for his mayoralty in 1757-58 (the one still in use) and Asgill House in 1761-64. Asgill also occupied 15 St James's Square from 1768-73, which had been altered by Taylor for Peter du Cane; in 1786 his London house was in Portman Square. After his death, Asgill House was sold and the proceeds divided between his widow and children.
He died 15 September and was buried at St. Bartholomew by the Exchange, London, 21 September 1788; his will was proved 20 September 1788 and his wealth at death was assessed as 'upwards of £160,000'. His first wife died 6 February and was buried at the same church, 13 February 1754. His widow died 6 June and was buried at St Marylebone (Middx), 13 June 1816; her will was proved 21 June 1816.
|Gen. Sir Charles Asgill, 2nd bt.|
(X1) Charles Childs (1816-84), born before 6 May 1816; lived with his mother; married, probably by 1848, Elizabeth (1823-95), daughter of George Hayward of Cranbrook (Kent) and had issue four sons and seven daughters; died in the lunatic asylum at Barming Heath, near Maidstone (Kent), 6 May 1884, and was buried with his mother at Loose (Kent), 12 May 1884.
He lived in London, and was at 29 Old Burlington St., London, 1778-85 and made his will at York St., St. James' Square, London.
He died 23 July 1823, when the baronetcy became extinct, and was buried at St James, Piccadilly, 1 August 1823; his will was proved 9 August 1823. His widow was also buried at St James, Piccadilly, 5 June 1819; administration of her goods was granted May 1824.
Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 2nd edn., 1841, pp. 14-15; G.E. Cokayne, Complete baronetage, vol. 5, 1906, pp. 120-21; B. Cherry & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 2, South, 1983, pp. 524-6; M. Binney, Sir Robert Taylor, 1984, passim; A. Ammundsen, 'Saving Captain Asgill', History Today, December 2011, pp. 38-43; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on Sir Charles Asgill, 2nd bt.
Location of archives
No significant archive is known to survive.
Coat of arms
Per fess Argent and Vert a pale counter-changed, in each piece of the first a lion head erased Gules
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 2 December 2015 and updated 28 August 2016 and 8-9 August 2018. I am most grateful to Andrew Morrison and Anne Ammundsen for additional information.