Goodwin’s Field
Goodwins Field - a field with a story.

In 1715, Goodwin’s Field was a field owned by a Peter Lavigne, grocer or perfumier of Covent Garden. He bought it from two brothers, John and Thomas Morgan of Marlborough, Wiltshire in 1699. Goodwin’s Field had been inherited in 1699 by the Morgans under the provisions of the will of their brother Charles Morgan (d. 1682), also a grocer of Covent Garden, who had bequeathed his shop there directly to Lavigne, formerly his ’servant’.

Morgan had bought Goodwin’s Field in 1680 from a William Chare who in turn had inherited it, by the custom of the manor of Earl’s Court, as the youngest son of a John Chare.. The latter had bought it in 1641 from mortgagees of Samuel Arnold, one of a family widely propertied in the vicinity of Earl’s Court. Earlier, in the 1530s to 1550s, Goodwin’s Field had been owned by a family called Thatcher.

Goodwin’s Field passed on Lavigne’s death in 1717 to his widow and then in 1719 to their daughter, at that time also a widow, who promptly sold it to Edward Williams, described as of the Customs House, gentleman.

After Williams’s death in 1752 his son, also Edward Williams, of the Inner Temple, leased and then, in the following year, sold Goodwin’s Field to trustees for the banker George Campbell, head of the firm that was to become Courts. Campbell, like subsequent owners of Goodwin’s Field, lived in Coleherne House.

After Campbell’s death in 1760 his trustees, in 1761, sold Goodwin’s Field to the bearer of a name that became locally important — William Boulton, esquire, of Frith Street, Soho. Like the elder Williams he was a public official, being one of the Clerks of the Roads in the Post Office. This was at that time a lucrative situation (by reason of its perks rather than its salary), and Boulton’s nephew, the diarist William Hickey, calls him ’very rich’.

In 1796 William Boulton, the elder Boulton’s son, bought the area to the east of the field, and thus acquired, though only for a short time, the area that still commemorates his name.

Towards the south end of Goodwin’s Field a gravel pit is mentioned in 1753, and the right to excavate gravel was reserved by the ground landlord a few years later. In 1808 land in this vicinity was said to be on lease of recent date for the purpose of extracting gravel.

The field was arable in 1748, and rye grew there in 1808. Other nearby fields in 1746 were variously described as ’planted with Walnut Trees, Mulberry Trees, Apple Trees and other fruit Trees’. The walnut trees in particular were a landmark and presumably account for the name of Walnut Tree Walk, on the line of Redcliffe Gardens, which existed as a ’lane or drove’ in 1639, a ’warple’ in 1753, a ’footpath or bridle way’ in 1797, and a ’bridle or carriage way’ in 1805.

In 1843 the occupants of the land was reported as the market gardener John Poupart, with a name later well known at Covent Garden. He, too, lived here, in the small unpretentious farm-house west of Walnut Tree Walk. It stood near the present No. 2a Redcliffe Gardens and perhaps dated from the late 1780s. Apart from this house, the only buildings of any note in the field in the 1840s seem to have been a cottage at the south-west corner of the field near the present 49 Redcliffe Gardens.

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