Coombe, Kingston upon Thames
A verdant residential locality situated north of New Malden, with golf courses in most directions and Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common just beyond
There is evidence of a Bronze Age camp at Coombe Warren. The Romans also settled here and Coombe is mentioned in Domesday Book.
Coombe provided a well for Hampton Court in the 16th century; the connecting pipeline still exists and the conduit room on Coombe Lane West is opened for public viewing from time to time.
In the mid-19th century Coombe became popular with fashionable London society as a semi-rural retreat and numerous substantial houses were built.
John Galsworthy’s father was responsible for developing much of Coombe Hill and the writer turned to his birthplace as a setting for his Forsyte novels.
Cedar Court, on Coombe Hill, was originally built in 1485 on the banks of the River Colne at Colchester, Essex. It was transplanted here in 1912 when William Thornton-Smith, a wealthy antiquarian, fulfilled his dream of placing a genuine Tudor property on a recently acquired plot next to Coombe Hill golf course.
Unexpectedly, Coombe has one of London’s most remarkable 20th-century houses: E Maxwell Fry’s international modernist flourish, Miramonte, in Warren Rise. Built in 1937 and deservedly grade II listed, it is an L-shaped composition of glass and whitewashed concrete in horizontal bands, with a sun terrace on the flat roof. A cuboid outbuilding provides a garage with a flat above for the chauffeur.
Miramonte was restored and extended a few years ago, despite conservationists’ objections to the alteration of the original plan.
Woodlands Avenue has a group of Sunspan houses by the Canadian architect Wells Coates.
In the late 20th century Coombe became one of the fastest growing parts of the borough, with developers willing to pay highly for any plot of land with planning permission. Galsworthy’s Coombe Leigh has been demolished and its grounds are occupied by a recently built group of large houses set in landscaped gardens behind a gated entrance. Another Galsworthy building, Coombe Ridge, is now a preparatory school.
The Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba lived for a while at Coombe House, on Beverley Lane.
Postcode areas: Kingston upon Thames, KT2 and New Malden KT3
Population: 20,107 (Coombe Hill and Coombe Vale wards, 2011 census)
Further reading: Sue Lown et al, A Fair and High Locality: Chronicle of Coombe Ridge House and ‘The Manor of Coombe’, PWP Press, 1996