Samuel Johnson's summer house

  • Posted on: 22 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

Summer House at Streatham Park by William Clarkson Stanfield
Streatham Park featured a summer house loved by Samuel Johnson, who did much of his writing here.

On Queeney's 16th birthday in 1780, Hester Thrale wrote in Thraliana

It is this day given me by God to see my first born offspring, my dear Hester,—sixteen Years old— virtuous in Heart, prudent in Behaviour, pleasing in Person, & accomplished in Knowledge……

We always have a Dance on her Birthday for the Servants, and they shall have it this Year too—in spite of past Sorrows. Mr Johnson's Birthday is the next day to hers, & we keep them together, &. fill the Summer House with Food, Fiddles &c, today being Sunday, the Balls must be tomorrow & Tuesday. Sure nothing will ever happen that will keep me from rejoycing on the 17: & 18: of September, the Birthdays of my Daughter & my Friend.,—.

Summer House at Streatham Park by George Frederick Prosser

The summer house was moved to Ashgrove in Knockholt, Kent in 1826 by Susannah Arabella Thrale, who died on 5 November 1858 aged 88 and was buried in Knockholt Church. In 1962 it was bought in a tumbledown condition by Mr. W.H. Wells who presented it to London County Council1.

After restoration, the summer house was relocated to Kenwood House in 1968.

Summer House relocation - The Times 25 Sept 1968

The summer house was destroyed by fire sometime after 1984.

A similar copy of the summerhouse has since been rebuilt by a Johnson enthusiast.

  • 1. Source: The Times newspaper 5 May 1984