Maids of Honour in Richmond

Patrick Baty, paint historian, wrote on his website on 26.1.11:

“Maids of Honour Row is ‘an excellent, entirely uniform, terrace’ of four three story houses each five windows wide with a parapet hiding the roof. They have distinctive pink “rubbed” brick dressings to the windows, set off by white-painted sash windows, keystones and cornices. The Row was built on the site of Henry VII’s Palace at Richmond, just beside the entrance gate.
It appears that the four houses were built as a speculative development by Thomas Honour, a carpenter, and that they were occupied by 1719. Two of them were rented by the Prince of Wales (the future George II) for his wife’s Maids of Honour.
It is further understood that ‘The poor rate books survive from 1726, when the Maids of Honour were first recorded as paying rates’ and that rates continued to be charged until 1737 when it was noticed that they [the Maids of Honour] occupied the two middle houses.
The maids received a stipend of £200 per year in addition to their board and lodgings in these houses. The rate books of 1780 and 1790 show that No 1 was occupied by Dr John Worgan (1724-90), organist of Vauxhall Gardens and of several London churches. Colonel Joseph Burton was a sub-tenant of that house in 1831, when his son Richard Burton, the explorer, attended Dr Delafosse’s school on Richmond Green.

In Charles Dickens‘ Great Expectations Estella came to London to be introduced to aristocratic society by a Mrs Brandley who lived here.
No 1 was one of my first projects. I was asked to provide advice on the use of paint and colour for the interior.

Recently I had the pleasure of being asked to help a subsequent owner with paint colours in this house. Although I had only a dim memory of the main rooms it was wonderful to see the house again.”

From Wikipedia:

“Maids of Honour tart (also known as Maids of Honour cake and Richmond Maids of Honor) is a traditional English baked tart consisting of a puff pastry shell filled with cheese curds. A variation is to add jam or almonds and nutmeg. Traditionally the tart was a puff pastry filled with sweetened milk curds.
The tart is said to date back to King Henry VIII when he witnessed some of the Queen’s Maids of honour eating some cakes and demanded to taste one. He found them delicious and named them after the maids. There are ideas that go even further, citing that the maid who made the tarts was imprisoned and had to produce them solely for the King. However, there is another theory that they were named after Anne Boleyn, a maid of honour at the time, who made the cakes for Henry VIII.
A tea room in Kew in Surrey, “The Original Maids of Honour”, dates back to the 18th Century and was set up specifically to sell these tarts.”

From the website of The Original Maids of Honour:

“The first Original Maids of Honour shop was on the corner of Hill Street in Richmond under the ownership of Mr John Billet and can be traced back to the early 18th century. Here a young lad called Robert Newens served an apprenticeship and went on to open his own premises, first in King Street and later at No 3 George Street, and so the tradition of making and selling Maids of Honour in Richmond continued.

Robert Newens’ family helped build the business and in 1850, his son Alfred Nashbar Newens opened a brand new establishment on the Kew Road – exactly where we are today.

Alfred Newens died in 1927 leaving his business to be carried on by his son John and daughter Kathleen. But during World War II (1939-1945), the elegant early Victorian building that housed the bakery, shop and dining room suffered severe bomb damage and the future looked bleak.

A surveyor’s report from 1947 describes the site of the bakery as “little more than a pile of rubble, the baker’s oven a charred and blackened hulk at its centre”…

…John Newens’ son Peter left the army and with his family, set work to get the business back on its feet…though it’s no longer run by the Newens family, little else has changed…”

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