Historical information

When the newly married William and Anna Maria Greenlaw acquired the property in 1862, an existing house known as Studley Villa stood on the land. John Hodgson probably built the latter soon after he bought three portions of land here in 1853. The Greenlaws changed the name of the residence to Villa Alba in about 1870 and in 1882-84 rebuilt the house to create the present mansion. After William Greenlaw’s death in 1895, John Ballinger rented the house until 1914. The lease then passed to Samuel and Esther Fripp, who went on to purchase the property in 1918 after Anna Maria Greenlaw’s death in 1918.


This rare textile is associated with the most significant period of Villa Alba's history and is an example of the colonial aspirations of its citizens in the boom years of the 1880s before the crash that engulfed the owner.

Physical description

Small white damask tablecloth or napkin embroidered with the crest of William Greenlaw, the owner of Villa Alba in Walmer Street, Kew. The embroidery of the crest and borders of garlands are completed in multicoloured silk thread.

Inscriptions & markings

Greenlaw crest - griffin holding thistle in beak over initials WG