Grayson and his Asparagus
On the south side of West Hall was a small cottage where a gardener named Collins lived and on the south side of the cottage a market gardener named Grayson lived. On one occasion he had speculated so heavily on growing asparagus that he was crippled in his means and had to ask his creditors for time while the crops were growing. They agreed and were all paid in full and Grayson realised a handsome profit and ultimately became a rich man owning much land in the parish.
From Mortlake Rambles by J Eustace Anderson
By 1838 William Grayson occupied 152 acres of land in Mortlake, the largest area of farmland in the parish, the vast majority of which was on its western side, shown on the map by the yellow areas. He also rented a house, offices and a paddock called Brick Farm, which are marked by the arrow on the map. Most of his farm was given over to market gardening. We can say with some certainty that his main crop was asparagus as it was reported in June 1832 that Mr Grayson "the very extraordinary cultivator of asparagus [who] has obtained distinguished honours from the Royal Horticultural Society for repeated exhibitions of this delicious luxury, yesterday presented to the Duchess of Bedford, a bundle of asparagus consisting of 11 heads weighing 29 lbs".
However in 1847 Grayson refused to contribute to the repairs of the open sewer called Black Ditch. One year later on a dark night Anderson reports "Grayson accidently fell into the Black Ditch running beside the Lower Richmond Road and was drowned. Numbers attended his funeral. He was placed in one of his own wagons with the black pall stretched across the top and drawn by his own horses which had large black feathers on their heads. He was buried in the old churchyard on the spot where the old stile stood to Tinderbox Alley".