Introduction

I came across the journal in 1964 in Thorps second hand book shop at the top of Guildford High Street. It was in a large pile of books in the corridor waiting to be sorted out. It cost me 7/6d.

To begin with the journal was a bit of a puzzle, the feather pen script was difficult to read, but eventually, over a period of time I managed to decipher it and the clue to where it came from was the in title on the cover, Ravenscourt.

The journal (Number V) covered a period from December 1843 to August 1844 and belonged to a young lady called Jessy Emma Scott. She lived with her family in an estate near Hammersmith, London called Ravenscourt. When the family eventually sold the estate to the local council in 1887, the grounds, became Ravenscourt park and the house became Hammersmith's first public library (until it was destroyed by bombing in the second world war).

Jessy's father, George Scott, a local brick-maker bought the Ravenscourt estate in 1812. Then marriage to the daughter of the market gardener Harry Stoe brought Scott a large area of land between King Street and the river.

Scott and the Bishop of London promoted a private Act of Parliament to enable the extension of copyhold leases beyond 21 years; this allowed the area to be developed for speculative building. Scott gave the land on which was built St Peter’s Church in 1829 and promoted the building of St Peter’s Square and the nearby roads – Black Lion Lane, St Peter’s Grove and St Peter’s Road. He imposed stringent controls on his development, building to a very high standard; in some cases the houses were built as carcases with the tenants left to arrange the insides. He went on to build around the outside of the estate north of King Street.