Family history of Gwynne House that became Prince Regent Hotel

Richard Puller (1747-1826) was a merchant of London and director of the South Sea Company. He inherited the family home at the top of Snakes Lane, which I think was later demolished and rebuilt as Monkhams. It was Richard Puller who was landscape gardener Humphry Repton’s first client in the Woodford district. Repton made three visits to Woodford and provided drawings for the work he proposed in the autumn of 1790, and so it seems that Repton may have designed the parkland which later became the bulk of the Monkhams estate.

Richard had a sister Louisa Puller who married William (Willem) Blaauw on August 1, 1789. The Blaauws were a wealthy family from Amsterdam, who numbered among their ancestors Willem Blaeu & his sons, famous cartographers in the early 17th century.

Richard Puller, 1747-1826

William, who settled in England in about 1788, was the elder of two brothers. His younger brother Gerrit became Burgomaster of Amsterdam from 1816-23. He visited William and Louisa in London in 1792 and describes a visit to Richard Puller’s house:

1792 – April 7th Saturday – After breakfast I packed & went at 12 to my brother’s & after a long walk with the ladies my brother & I drove to the country in a postchaise at 2 & arrived at 4 at Mr Pullers at Woodford. Had a walk in the Park before dinner & did not go to table before 6 o’cl, that night we had company from the neighbourhood, had a game & nice supper & went to bed.

Mr Puller’s house is very large & beautifully & costly furnished. It is situated on a hill from where one has magnificent views, the park is on the slopes of the hill planted with shrubs, the kitchen gardens are behind the house but cannot be compared with the Dutch ones, the land around is beautiful with high hills all planted & sowed to the top.

William Blaauw was a widower who lived in Queen Anne Gate with his daughter Maria. He and Louisa had three more children. Their only son was William Henry Blaauw of Lower Brook Street, London, who was educated at Eton and Christ Church and became a notable antiquarian. Their daughter Louisa Agnes married Capt. Charles Molloy of the Grenadier Guards. William and Louisa’s youngest daughter was Frances Elizabeth Blaauw who married Frederick Burmester, son of Henry Burmester of Gwynne House, Woodford Bridge.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Louisa Puller, 1753-1842, and in later life as Mrs Blaauw. Her daughter Frances married Frederick Burmester of Gwynne House

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Henry Burmester had purchased Gwynne House (now the Prince Regent Hotel) for £6,000 soon after his marriage, in about 1779. At that time Henry was a corn merchant in the City. In 1785 he and his partner, John Nash, started a company importing ‘Red Port Wine’ which was called Burmester Nash, with Nash based in Portugal. Apparently a relative from Hamburg, Johan Wilhelm Burmester, took over the business there in the 1820s and the company still exists in Portugal under the name of J.W.Burmester & Co. The London firm continued until 1865 by which time it was called Burmester Brothers.

Henry and his wife, Mary, had at least ten children and it seems they used Gwynne House as a country home until they died. As well as the wine business his sons were also involved in banking. Henry’s heir, Frederick Burmester, (Frances’ husband) was a founder director of the Westminster Bank while a younger son, John William, was a director of the London and County Bank, Southwark. This later merged with the Westminster Bank, bringing 200 country branches and the London branches with it.

Henry Burmester died in 1823, Mary died ten years later, and they and several of their children are buried in St.Mary’s churchyard. Their memorial is one of the large table-tombs in front of the church steps. The family coat of arms can clearly be seen on the end facing the church door. In his will Henry Burmester left a total of £350 to be spent in various ways for the poor and for the local National School.

Georgina Green has been involved with local history in Redbridge, Waltham Forest and the Epping Forest area for 40 years and is the author of several local history books. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2021.

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