10 April 2014

Pitt's last residence: John Eamer's Bowling Green House

Fig 1: Lady Jane Dundas, Viscountess Melville, by Mackensie after Hoppner (1804)

On June 9th 1804, John Eamer wrote from his house on Putney Heath to William Pitt. A month before, Pitt had become Prime Minister for the second time, and he needed to find a house to rent that was within easy reach of London. He was very familiar with the local area of Wimbledon and Putney from having spent so much time at Wilberforce's Wimbledon villa in the early to mid-1780s, as well the years of frequent overnight visits to Henry Dundas's Warren House on Wimbledon Common. Pitt had also briefly occupied a house on Putney Hill between 1784 and 1785. 

It seems the search was on to find Pitt a suitable country retreat during his second ministry. Holwood was no longer an option as it was sold several years earlier. Lady Jane Dundas (Viscountess Melville), Henry Dundas's wife, seems to have applied to Mr. Eamer on Pitt's behalf. Regarding the house on Putney Heath, Eamer writes:

“...by a note the Application her Ladyship [Lady Melville] made about my house was for you [Pitt]. The situation is Admirable and Healthy - any thing I can contribute to your Comfort or Health will give me real pleasure if it suits you. You shall have it on your Own Terms - if you can call and see it I will be at home any hour and day you Mention or I will wait upon you.” [1]

It is certain that Lady Melville made the application to Eamer as he specifically mentions her name earlier in the letter. Eamer's residence was called Bowling Green House. When Pitt went to visit the property he must have felt it was adequate. By July 1804 Pitt was renting the property. Sadly, it was also the location where Pitt died in January 1806. 


1. British Library. Add Ms 89036/1/12, f. 48, June 1804.

Image Credit:

Figure 1: Lady Jane Dundas, Viscountess Melville, by Mackensie after John Hoppner. Published in 1804. NPG number: NPG D15694.

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