At the age of eight he was taken in charge by an elder brother of his father, Howard Hastings, who held a post in the customs. After spending two years at a private, school at Newington Butts, he was moved to Westminster, where among his contemporaries occur the names of Lord Thurlow and Lord Shelburne, Sir Elijah Impey, and the poets Cowper and Churchill.
The poet William Cowper was born in the rectory in 1731.
It contains a monument to William Cowper, who came to live here in 1796, and the Congregational chapel stands on the site of the house where the poet spent his last days.
The character of true monarchy is well defined in the well-known lines of Cowper (Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk): " I am monarch of all I survey, My right there is none to dispute."
Sherard Cowper Coles patented a process in which, working with a high current density, a lead anode is used, and powdered zinc is kept suspended in the solution to maintain the proportion of zinc in the electrolyte, and so to guard against the gradual acidification of the bath.