Putney is a district of south-west London in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is located 5.1 miles (8.2 km) south-west of Charing Cross, on the southern bank of the River Thames, opposite Fulham.

Putney is a district of south-west London in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is located 5.1 miles (8.2km) south-west of Charing Cross, on the southern bank of the River Thames, opposite Fulham.

At St Mary's Church, Putney in 1647, representatives of the New Model Army held the so-called Putney Debates on the constitutional future of England.

To find a flat or house to rent in Putney, London contact the Black Katz Hammersmith office. Black Katz have flats and houses to rent in Putney and across London. If you are a landlord wishing to rent out your property contact Black Katz.


Putney as a river crossing

Putney appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Putelei. It was noted that it was not a manor, but obtained 20s from the ferry or market toll at Putney belonging to Mortlake.

The ferry was mentioned in the household accounts of Edward I (1272-1307) where Robert the Ferryman of Putney and other sailors were paid 3/6d for carrying a great part of the royal family across the Thames and also taking the king and his family to Westminster.

One famous crossing at Putney was that of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529 upon his 'disgrace' in falling out of favour with Henry VIII and on ceasing to be the holder of the Great Seal of England. As he was riding up Putney Hill he was overtaken by one of the royal chamberlains who presented him with a ring as a token of the continuance of his majesty's favour. When the Cardinal had heard these good words of the king, he quickly lighted from his mule and kneeled down in the dirt upon both knees, holding up his hands for joy, and said "When I consider the joyful news that you have brought to me, I could do no less than greatly rejoice. Every word pierces so my heart, that the sudden joy surmounted my memory, having no regard or respect to the place; but I thought it my duty, that in the same place where I received this comfort, to laud and praise God upon my knees, and most humbly to render unto my sovereign lord my most hearty thanks for the same."

The first bridge of any kind between the two parishes was built during the Civil War after the Battle of Brentford in 1642, the Parliamentary forces built a bridge of boats between Fulham and Putney. According to a newspaper article of the day;

"The Lord General hath caused a bridge to be built upon barges and lighters over the Thames between Fulham and Putney, to convey his army and artillery over into Surrey, to follow the king's forces; and he hath ordered that forts shall be erected at each end thereof to guard it; but for the present the seamen, with long boats and shallops full of ordnance and musketeers, lie there upon the river to secure it."

The first permanent bridge between Fulham and Putney was completed in 1729, and was the second bridge to be built across the Thames in London (after London Bridge).

One story runs that "in 1720 Sir Robert Walpole was returning from seeing George I at Kingston and being in a hurry to get to the House of Commons rode together with his servant to Putney to take the ferry across to Fulham. The ferry boat was on the opposite side, however and the waterman, who was drinking in the Swan, ignored the calls of Sir Robert and his servant and they were obliged to take another route. Walpole vowed that a bridge would replace the ferry."

The Prince of Wales apparently "was often inconvenienced by the ferry when returning from hunting in Richmond park and asked Walpole to use his influence by supporting the bridge."

The bridge was a wooden structure and lasted for 150 years, when in 1886 it was replaced by the stone bridge that stands today.

St. Mary's Church

The parish church of St Mary The Virgin was the site of the 1647 Putney Debates. Towards the end of the English Civil War, with the Roundheads looking victorious, Oliver Cromwell soldiers' held a minor mutiny, amid fears that a monarchy would be replaced by a new dictatorship. A number, known as the Levellers complained "We were not a mere mercenary army hired to serve any arbitrary power of a state, but called forth … to the defence of the people's just right and liberties". A manifesto was proposed entitled the Agreement of the People and at an open meeting in Putney, the officers of the Army Council heard the argument from private soldiers for a transparent, democratic state, without corruption. This included sovereignty for English citizens, Parliamentary seats distributed according to population rather than property ownership, religion made a free choice, equality before the law, conscription abolished and parliamentary elections held every year. While greatly influential, including inspiring much of the language of the United States Declaration of Independence, Oliver Cromwell would later have the Leveller leaders executed.

The famous diarist Samuel Pepys visited St. Mary's Church on several occasions. During one visit on 28th April 1667, he recorded,

"and then back to Putney Church, where I saw the girls of the schools, few of which pretty; and there I come into a pew, and met with little James Pierce, which I was much pleased at, the little rogue being very glad to see me: his master, Reader to the Church. Here was a good sermon and much company, but I sleepy, and a little out of order, for my hat falling down through a hole underneath the pulpit, which, however, after sermon, by a stick, and the help of the clerke, I got up again, and then walked out of the church."

Open spaces and clean air

For centuries, Putney was a place where Londoners came for leisure, to enjoy the open spaces and clean air. Londoners came to Putney to play games. According to John Locke, who writes, in 1679: "The sports of England for a curious stranger to see are horse-racing, hawking, hunting, and bowling; at Putney he may see several persons of quality bowling two or three times a week."

One regular visitor was Queen Elizabeth I who frequently visited Putney from 1579 - 1603, often visiting Mr John Lacy. She was said to "honour Lacy with her company more frequently than any of her subjects", often staying for two to three days.

Putney Heath

Charles II is said to have reviewed his forces on Putney Heath; and in May, 1767, George III reviewed the Guards at the same place. On this occasion upwards of £63 was taken at the bridge, being the largest amount ever known in one day.

According to Samuel Pepys, Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York used to run horses here.

Putney Heath was for many years a noted rendezvous for highwaymen. The notorious highwayman Jerry Avershaw was caught in the Green Man pub on the Heath, and was hanged on Putney Heath with his body left to dangle in the wind.

The heath has also been from time to time the scene of many bloodless, and also of some bloody, private, and also political, duels. Here, in 1652, an encounter took place between George, third Lord Chandos, and Colonel Henry Compton, which resulted in the latter being killed. It was also on the Heath that William Pitt, when Prime Minister exchanged shots on a Sunday in May 1798 with George Tierney MP, the exchange ending without bloodshed.

In 1809 the Cabinet ministers George Canning and Lord Castlereagh fought a duel on Putney Heath. Canning, who had never fired a pistol before, missed, but Castlereagh succeeded in wounding Canning in the thigh. The resulting scandal forced both men to resign from office, and formed a lasting rivalry between them that lasted until Castlereagh's suicide in 1822.

To find a flat or house to rent in Putney, London contact the Black Katz Hammersmith office. Black Katz have flats and houses to rent in Putney and across London. If you are a landlord wishing to rent out your property contact Black Katz.

Rowing and the Boat Race

Since the second half of the 19th century, Putney has been one of the most significant centres for rowing in the United Kingdom. There were two historic reasons for this.

Firstly, increasing numbers of steam-powered boats (not to mention the growing levels of sewage being discharged into the river) made leisure rowing on the Thames in central London unpleasant if not impossible. There was much less commercial traffic on the river at Putney (partly because the many buttresses of the original Putney Bridge restricted the transit of large river boats) ensuring more suitable water for rowing. The river was also cleaner at Putney.

Second, the construction of the London and South Western Railway from Waterloo Station to Putney and the Metropolitan District Railway to Putney Bridge allowed easy commuting.

More than twenty rowing clubs are based on the Thames at Putney Embankment; among the largest are London Rowing Club (the oldest, being established in 1856), Thames Rowing Club, Imperial College Boat Club and Vesta Rowing Club. Leander Club owned a boathouse in Putney from 1867 to 1961. The Putney clubs have produced a plethora of Olympic medallists and Henley winners. Putney Town Rowing Club although having putney's name has now moved to Kew

The University Boat Race, first contested in 1829 in Henley-on-Thames, has had Putney as its starting point since 1845. Since 1856 it has been an annual event, beginning at the University Stone, just upstream from Putney Bridge.

Several other important rowing races over the Championship Course also either start or finish at the stone, notably the Head of the River Race.

Famous residents

  • J. R. Ackerley, author and literary editor of The Listener lived at Star and Garter Mansions from 1941 until his death until 1967.
  • Gerry Anderson and Jim Henson, television puppeteers, at different times leased the same workshop (now demolished) in Rotherwood Road, Putney.
  • Clement Attlee, the former British Prime Minister was born, brought up and cremated in Putney.
  • Edvard Beneš, the second President of Czechoslovakia, lived in Gwendolen Avenue during his exile in London from October 1938 to the end of World War II.
  • Marc Bolan, singer and leader of the band T. Rex lived at 6 Schubert Road, Putney and died in a car crash in Queens Ride, Barnes on the border of Putney.
  • Peter Bonetti, Chelsea and Dundee United footballer, was born in Putney.
  • Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur.
  • Christopher Chope, Member of Parliament for Christchurch was born in Putney.
  • Nick Clegg leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • Thomas Cromwell, chief minster for Henry VIII and architect of the English Reformation, was born here around 1485, the son of an ale house keeper.
  • John Deacon, bass guitar player for the rock group Queen lives in west Putney.
  • Jason Flemyng, actor was born in Putney.
  • E.M. Forster, author, lived at 22 Werter Road, Putney.
  • Constance Garnett, translator of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, and other Russian literature.
  • Edward Gibbon, historian, was born in Putney, and gave his name to the local telephone exchange.
  • Kenelm Lee Guinness, racing driver, started the KLG spark plug factory in Putney and lived in Kingston Hill.
  • Leon Jackson, Scottish X Factor 2007 winner.
  • Simon Le Bon, lead singer of pop group Duran Duran, lives on Upper Richmond Road in West Putney with his wife Yasmin.
  • Laurie Lee, author, lived and worked as a building labourer in Putney during the 1930s.
  • David McKee, creator of Mr Benn the popular UK television programme for children. Mr Benn lives in London at 52 Festive Road, which was inspired by Festing Road in Putney where David McKee used to live.
  • Robin Knox-Johnston, yachtsman, was born in Putney.
  • Bobby Moore, England football world cup winning hero, lived in Putney in his later years.
  • Lawrence Oates, who uttered the most famous of famous last words ("I'm going out now. I may be some time") on the 1910-13 British Antarctic Expedition, was born and grew up in Putney.
  • Pitt the Younger, former Prime Minister, is alleged to have lived on the Lower Richmond Road, Putney.
  • Justin Rose, golfer, has a flat in Putney. [6]
  • Sinitta, popstar, actress, Singer. Daughter of disco diva and actress Miquel Brown.
  • Algernon Swinburne, poet
  • Daley Thompson, former decathlete
  • Alan Thornhill Sculptor whose 9 large works form the permanent Putney Sculpture Trail along the Thames at Putney
  • Theodore Watts-Dunton, who looked after Swinburne
  • Nigel Williams (author)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author of Frankenstein, lived in Putney at Layton House in 1839, and White House in 1843
  • Leonard Woolf, husband of Virginia Woolf grew up in Putney.

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Links to sculpture and sculptors

Sir Jacob Epstein was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery on 24th August 1959.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska had a studio in Putney in the last year of his life after moving from 454a Fulham Road. Sydney Schiff went to visit Gaudier there in 1914 to purchase the 'Dancer' which was later presented to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Gaudier-Brzeska was killed in France in June 1915.

Alan Thornhill lived and worked in Putney for many years and his studio still remains. The sculpture Load was presented to Putney on Fools Day and occupies a permanent position near the south west end of Putney Bridge on Lower Richmond Road. The referenced film, launched at Appledore and Chichester Film Festivals in 2008 documents these celebrations and the acquisition of 8 further large works which as of July 2008 will form a permanent new riverside Putney Sculpture Trail in London's Borough of Wandsworth, to be unveiled in September 2008.

Nearest places





East Sheen




Putney is serviced by mainline trains from Waterloo Station and London Underground from both East Putney and Putney Bridge. Services to Waterloo are every 5 to 10 minutes making it a popular location for young professionals commuting into central London.

Train journey times are between 14 and 19 minutes depending on the number of stops and time of day. Trains are especially crowded at peak times (especially in the morning rush hour between 7.45am and 9am, where in some cases the train is full before all passengers can board). The last train from Waterloo to Putney is at 00.18 hrs.

Putney is frequented by bus routes 14, 22, 39, 74, 85, 93, 220, 265, 270, 337, 424, 430 and 485 and nightbuses N22, N10, N14 and N93. The N14 transports revellers from the West End every 5-10 minutes, with a journey time of approximately 45 minutes.

Nearest tube stations

  • East Putney tube station
  • Putney Bridge tube station

Nearest railway station

  • Putney railway station

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