THURLOW, Edward, 1st Baron Thurlow 1731-1806. Lawyer and politician. Born in Norfolk, he was expelled from King’s School, Canterbury and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge for being insolent and insubordinate. He was called to the bar in 1753 and entered Parliament as a loyal supporter of Lord North. He became Solicitor General and Attorney General and won George III’s favour by upholding the latter’s American policy. In 1778 he became Lord Chancellor and while retaining office under the Rockingham administration opposed all its measures. He was forced to retire but was restored by Pitt and presided over the trial of Warren Hastings (see Shawe, Richard). He was vulgar, arrogant, profane and immoral, but ‘no man’ said Fox ‘was so wise as Thurlow looked’.

He bought over a thousand acres of land to create an estate centred on Knight’s Hill stretching from Herne Hill almost to Streatham. In 1792, he commissioned Henry Holland to build him a large mansion on what is now the corner of Thurlow Park Road and Elmcourt Road, and near the cottage where he had installed his mistress. During the building he is said to have lived at or near The Green Man, Dulwich Common and a section of the road between was later named after him. The house took three years to build, was three times over budget and Thurlow vowed never to enter it. He did finally take up residence and entertained the Prince of Wales there. However, no buyer could be found for it after his death, and the house was demolished in 1810. 

Jill Alexander