Riverside House and Cottage (or Riverside Corner)

 (Most photos can be enlarged by clicking on them)


This big house which has a commanding view of the river seems to have been built (or remodelled) on the site of a much older one in the mid-1860s, although it has undergone changes since then and in about 1930 was subdivided into flats. At the same time Riverside Corner first appeared in the documents as a separately named house, but the 1899 and 1876 maps (see below) show that there had been a building with a similar footprint on the site previously. (The present researcher remains puzzled by the very odd appearance of Riverside Cottage, with its chimney stack on the facade and horizontal concrete bands; presumably the chimney’s position is the result of conversion from a previous cottage or workshop.)

From about the mid 1700s a maltster’s and corn merchant’s business occupied the houses, cottages and workshops on this site, with a main dwelling house identifiable back to about 1780.

The de Paravicini family owned the whole property from the 1860s to 1920 and are likely to have rebuilt the main house and perhaps Riverside Corner as well. They were part of the network of rich and highly influential families in the village at that time and included another successful sportsman, Percy John de Paravicini. The great cricketer Capt. Frederick Pelham Warner, MBE, known as Plum, lived here in the late 1920s after he had retired from playing.The actress Billie Whitelaw bought Riverside Corner in the 1960s, describing it as her ‘little house by the river’ and drawn to Datchet by her friend Donald Pleasance who then lived at the Willows on the opposite corner of Queens Road.

Late nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Kelly’s Directory, a forerunner of  the modern telephone directory, gives three flats in Riverside House from 1931, the first year in which Riverside Corner is also listed. In 1970 it was called Dolphin Cottage. Kelly’s was not published every year and this is only a representative ‘snapshot’ of occupants.

Kelly’s year Riverside House, whole or 3 flats Riverside Corner
1970 A.C. Walker / B.H. Ohm / Buckland Geoffrey Hyde
1950 A.C. Walker / Miss Gordon / J.P. Furlong Mrs F.M. Walker
1947 A.C. Walker / Miss Gordon / J.P. Furlong H.Thompson
1939 Keith Harris only none listed
1932 Eric Croom Johnson, flat 3 (only listing) Mrs Heseltine
1931 (no occupant listed) Mrs Heseltine
1924 -1928 Capt Pelham Warner (whole house)
1895 – 1915 Percy John & Lady Marcia de Paravicini
1883-1887 Mrs de Paravicini

 The de Paravicini Family

James Prior de Paravicini arrived in the village in 1864 with his wife Valentina Antoinette (nee Morice) and their three small sons. They had all been born in London: Henry Farquhar in 1859, Percy John in 1862 and Prior Frederick in 1864. Their father was a stockbroker, one of the many in the financial or legal business who settled in the village from about 1860 to the end of the century. At first, since little building land was available in Datchet before the late 1870s, these rich men tended to buy large older houses in the village and remodel them to modern requirements. Valentina’s parents (John Morice and Marie Valentina O’Neill) had met and married in Portugal, which accounts for the exotic family names. James Prior died in 1872 in London (Riverside was, typically for the time, just the family’s country residence) but Valentina lived on at Riverside until 1890 and was buried in the churchyard here. The three sons were:

1) James’ eldest son, Henry (Harry) Farquar de Paravicini married Alice Elizabeth Vane and in 1880 had one son (Percy Chandos Farquhar de Paravicini) but in 1913 was married again to Lady Eva Cholmondeley, daughter of Lady Susan Caroline Cholmondeley of Leigh House in Datchet. Harry and Eva built the house called Inniscrone in Queens Road for themselves, listed in Kelly’s in 1915. (The present researcher who now lives in Hove is intrigued to find that H.F. de P lived in First Avenue, Hove at the end of his life and was buried in Hove cemetery in 1942)

2) James second son, Percy John Marcus de Paravicini, married Lady Eva’s sister, Lady Marcia Charlotte Sophia Cholmondeley, in 1891 and they had three sons (Percy Gerald, John Marcus and Charles Prior Evelyn). Percy John himself had a notable career in both cricket and football from his days at Eton and as an Old Etonian, and also playing cricket for Middlesex and Cambridge University. His Old Etonian football team was part of the last ‘all amateur’ FA cup final in 1882 and the following year was selected for all three England international matches. Outside sport he was a J.P. for Buckinghamshire, commanded the Datchet Volunteer Platoon during the First World War, and was a long-standing Chairman of the Trustees of the village’s Working Men’s Club. He was decorated with the order Commander, Royal Victorian Order,  which recognises distinguished personal service to the order’s Sovereign, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms or any members of her family. Percy’s obituary in Wisden states that, Few men personally more popular have ever been seen in the cricket field. Percy John died at Pangbourne in 1921 and has a memorial in the church at Datchet which describes him as living in the village 1864-1920 and as the Vicar’s Churchwarden for many years. One of his three sons, Major Marcus John who died in France in 1917, is also commemorated there. It could well have been Percy John’s cricketing career that brought ‘Plum’ to live in Riverside House by 1924, closely following Percy John’s death.

3) James’s third son, Prior Frederick de Paravicini, seems not to have married but was living in Montagu Road in the late 1890s.

Censuses for Riverside 1901-1871

In 1901 only the families of a gardener and coachman were present as caretakers.

year name status relationship age occupation where born
1891 Prior Fredk de Paravicini head 33 own means London
Percy J de P brother 28 own means London
+ 4 female servants & one male, housekeeper, cook, maids, groom
1881 Valentina de Paravicini widow head 60 income from shares Mddx
Prior Fredk de P son 23 London
+ 3 female servants, housekeeper, cook, maid, living in main house
plus 3 subsidiary dwellings on site, occupied by a retired servant, a gardener & a coachman
1871 James Prior de Paravicini married head 58 member Stock Exchange Exeter
Valentina de P wife 56 City London
Prior Frederick son 15 scholar London
Percy John de P son 8 London
Frank de P nephew 28 student Oxford Wymondham
+ 4 female & 2 male servants, cook, maids, groom, errand boy

The property: surveys and maps

Two Bucks County surveys, made for rating purposes, provide the names of both owner and occupier:

year property owner occupier value
1866 house & premises, Thameside J.P.de Paravicini self £85
house & sheds, Back Street J.P.de Paravicini George Littlewood £13
house & sheds, Back Street J.P.de Paravicini John Stone £6
1857 house etc Edward Mason self £75
two cottages Edward Mason G Littlewood, Martha Cox £10, £5


 Earlier 19th century: Mason, Cooper and West families

 Censuses for the Riverside properties 1861, 1851, 1841 

year & dwelling name relationship age occupation where born
1861 / main Edward Mason head 60 retired coal merchant Windsor
Louisa Mason sister 64 fundholder Windsor
Maria Mason sister 62 fundholder Windsor
Susan Mason niece 28 Windsor
+ two female servants
1861 / lesser  next house uninhabited
1851 / main James W West head 57 gentleman London
Martha West wife 54 gentleman’s wife London
Mary West daughter 23 London
Henry West son 15 London
+ three female servants
1851 / lesser George Cooper head 57 coal & corn merchant Windsor
Eliza Cooper wife 37 Wiltshire
Minnie Cooper daughter 9 scholar Datchet
(illegible) Cooper daughter 5 Datchet
George Cooper son 8 scholar Datchet
William Cooper son 2 Datchet
+ three female & one male servant (gardener)
1841 / main unoccupied, late Deschamps
1841 / lesser George Cooper no info 1841 45 (approx) maltster no info 1841
Eliza Cooper 25
William Cooper 14
+ two female & one male servant

These three censuses distinguish two (rather than three) separate dwellings in the same ownership but different occupation.

1861, main house: The Mason family were clearly from Windsor and nothing more is known about them or their presence in Datchet. 1861, lesser house: The premises formerly occupied by Cooper’s merchant’s business were empty in 1861 and when J.P de Paravicini bought the whole corner property a couple of years later it became entirely residential.


1851, main house: The West family were of some wealth and status, demonstrated by their memorials in the parish church. After the death of his wife Martha in 1860, James contributed a beautiful window to the new church building, as so many rich families were doing at that time.It is in the south aisle, just past the south door where the font then stood, and depicts the Baptism of Jesus and the Last Supper. Above it is this quatrefoil showing Jesus allowing the children to come to Him. Window by Lavers & Barraud, 1865. The family’s ledger stone grave is on the N side of the churchyard: Martha 1797-1860; son James died 1844, age 21;  father James died Windsor 1876 age 84.

1851, lesser house: The Cooper family’s corn and coal merchant’s business had begun as a maltster’s in the early 1800s; it is not known whether they were actually brewing here, but were a branch of Cooper’s in Datchet lane, Windsor, formerly Isherwood’s where brewing had long been carried out. George’s (d.1853) and his wife Eliza’s (d 1852) tombstone is also in the north of the churchyard.

1841, main house: Late Deschamps, so in this year it is the main house which was empty; Deschamps’ also appears is in the Windsor Directory for 1844: as Wm Deschamps esq, Datchet. The tombstone of Fanny Paxton Walsh, who lived at number 6 High Street (next door to the Corden family), describes her as the daughter of William Wentworth Deschamps, which must account for him living here.

1841, lesser house: George Coopermaltster. the Cooper family also appears in the 1830 Windsor Directory: George and William Cooper, merchants, Datchet Lane Windsor & Datchet, when the William must have been George’s father as his son William would be too young.

Back to 1780: Cooper and Sturges families

Land Tax Records, 1832 back to 1780s To go back before the censuses and Rate map, the difficult Land Tax records have to be used. They give no locations and it is only with familiarity that  any sense can be gleaned from the listings. Only years when there was a change are recorded; all others will be the same occupant as previously.

  year owner occupier property
1832 Mrs Cooper J & G Cooper house
G & J Cooper G & J Cooper house
1820 Mrs Cooper Wm Cooper no info
Wm Cooper Wm Cooper no info
1812 Cooper Cooper
Cooper tenements
1804 Sturges Sturges
to 1781 Sturges 5 tenements

The Cooper family clearly made a distinction between the main and the lesser houses, owning and occupying them in a complicated way, but there is no way now of telling which was which. It was probably the death of William Sturges, in 1811 that left the premises available to buy, presumably as an extension to the Datchet Lane business in Windsor. Since he was also a maltster these premises could have been used as such for a very long time past.The term tenements implies multi-occupied houses or cottages, let or sub-let to tenants so it seems that the Coopers undertook refurbishments at least by about 1830. windows_a The Sturges family owned shares in the iron trade in Bradford, where a John Sturges was an ironfounder. William’s 1812 will describes him as a gentleman, although his father William the elder is styled in his will of 1802 as a maltster.The family’s status seems to have been rising, and they were connected, through William the younger’s wife Jane, to the Windsor publisher Charles Knight and to the Earlys and Simons, other wealthy Datchet families. There were five Sturges daughters, only one of whom married, and by the late 1830s they were tenants at Old Bridge House with an income each from the ironfoundry shares. The daughters Jane and Sophia dedicated a window in the church to their parents, but retrospectively because William died in 1811 and Jane in 1835. Like the West’s window it is in the south aisle, close to the choir stalls. Two panels show the Annunciation and the finding of Christ in the Temple by Mary and Joseph. It was also made in 1865 by Lavers and Barraud .

An early image of Riverside House?


Detail from William Oram’s print of the first Datchet Bridge, published 1780

This is a magnified detail of a tiny part of the only known image of the first bridge over the Thames at Datchet; it was published in 1780 but the bridge itself had been rebuilt in 1770 so the actual date of this view is open to doubt, except it must be after 1706 when the bridge was built.This view has the start of the bridge’s structure on left and the wheel of a wagon crossing it at the lower edge. The river shore is where the river garden is now and the house in the right foreground is on the site of Datchet Lodge on the High Street corner. Beyond this house another can be seen, towards the Queens Road corner, and in the far distance is a big house rather similar to Riverside House itself. It is unlike the other two houses, which are just cottages, looking as if it is built in the 18th century classical style. However, it is possible that the mid-distance cottage was in fact the forerunner of Riverside and the one seen behind it was the Willows on the opposite side of Queens Road. The jury is currently out on this one!

Sources and references Censuses 1841-1901 available online or on microfilm at Slough Reference Library 1839 Datchet Parish rating survey, 1857 & 1866 county rate surveys: Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury Land tax Assessments Stoke Hundred 1781-1832, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Aylesbury Kelly’s Street Directories: Slough and Windsor Local Studies Reference Libraries Oram print of first bridge, in public domain, various copies in private hands Sporting careers of Pelham Warner and de Paravicini: Dictionary of National Biography