Historian and author John Sheaf
John and his wife, Sharman, moved to Hampton 36 years ago, after returning to the UK from a year in California. They had missed the old English houses and pubs from home, so they were delighted to find a beautiful Grade II listed cottage for sale on Thames Street. With the cottages on either side, it is the oldest building in Hampton and dates back to around 1540 – a busy year at Hampton Court Palace, where King Henry VIII married and divorced Anne of Cleves and then moved on to his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.
The rich history of the house is perfectly suited to its owner. John’s interest in local history began a number of years ago, and has now grown from a hobby to ‘virtually a full-time occupation.’ His wood-beamed living room is lined with shelves full of history books and photo albums, and old photographs cover the walls.
John has written several history books about Hampton and Hampton Hill, including ‘Edwardian Hampton – The story of Hampton and Hampton Hill from 1900 to 1914’. He is an active member of the Borough of Twickenham Local History Society, and a Trustee at the Twickenham Museum where he organises themed exhibitions about Twickenham, Whitton, Teddington and the Hamptons, including Hampton Hill.
John also owns a vast and fascinating collection of old photos, showing the changing face of our local community. Many of them were included in the booklet, published in 2013, to celebrate the 150-year anniversary of St James’s Church.
“The history of our local area is particularly interesting because we’ve always had kings and queens on our doorstep at Hampton Court Palace, the finest Tudor palace in the country,” says John. “And the Hamptons have also benefitted from the spin-off from Twickenham in the 18th Century, when several members of the ‘Literati’ lived there, including Horace Walpole and Alexander Pope.”
To find out lots more about our fascinating local history, don’t miss John’s talk “The History of Hampton Hill” at Hampton Hill Library at 7pm on Thursday 15 May 2014. To book a ticket just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 734 3320.
John Sheaf’s books and other local history books can be ordered through the Borough of Twickenham Local History Society website. All proceeds go to the Society.
You can also visit John’s exhibitions at the Twickenham Museum which can be found at 25 The Embankment, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 3DU. The museum is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11am-3pm, and Sundays from 2-4pm. Entry is free but donations are welcome.