Discover Hounslow

Map of HounslowThe modern Borough comprises twelve communities with individual identities, characteristics and histories. Two of these are towns; most were once villages in rural Middlesex.

The County of Middlesex was abolished in 1965, when Greater London came into being; but it has not been forgotten and interest continues to be shown in its history and its local history.

 

Click on the links below for information on:

Bedfont

Brentford

Chiswick

Cranford

Feltham

Hanworth

Heston

Hounslow

Isleworth

Osterley

Bedfont

Bedfont postcard by JotterBedfont’s place-name comes from Bede-funt and means a spring or fountain bubbling out of a hollow (or bed). The centre of the village is Bedfont Green, crossed by the Staines Road, with St. Mary the Virgin Church on its north side. The church is the oldest in the Borough with a Norman chancel arch and doorway and wall paintings dating from c.1250.

Bedfont St Marys ChurchPates Manor, behind the church, is the oldest house in the Borough with one wing c. 1496. Fawns Manor, on the south side of the Green, has been converted into flats and dates from the 16thcentury. Burlington House, the David Henry Waring Home and Bennett’s Farm are all 18th century buildings.

Two man-made rivers flow past Bedfont. The Duke of Northumberland’s River provided power for the gunpowder mills at Baber Bridge. The Longford River was excavated in the 17th century to feed the fountains and ornamental ponds in Bushy Park and Hampton Court Park.

Brentford

Brentford Postcard by JotterBrentford is an old market town. It is often referred to as “the County Town of Middlesex”, because this town was the place where the Middlesex County Parliamentary Elections were held during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The River Brent meets the River Thames here and a Roman Road forded the River Brent near Brentford Bridge. The Celtic river-name means sacred water. Brentford’s Market is first recorded in 1306 and was formerly held in the Market Place in front of the Magistrates Court. A purpose-built market complex was made on the site of the Fountain Leisure Centre in 1893. In 1974 the market and its fountain were re-located to the Western International Market site close to the M4 motorway at North Hyde, near Heston.

Brentford bridge from Dock branch railway bridge 1907The Grand Junction Canal was built between 1794 and 1805.  It links the River Thames, at Brentford, with the canal network of the English Midlands, at Braunston, in Northamptonshire. The canal brought industry to Brentford but it now carries more pleasure boats than freight.

Brentford Dock closed in 1964 and was redeveloped as a desirable riverside housing estate in the late 1970’s. Recent high quality residential development along Brentford’s waterfront has brought several decades of decay to an end and is changing the character of this once humble, but also historic town.

  • Boston Manor House, Brentford’s Jacobean jewel in Boston Manor Park, was built in 1623 and houses a collection of historic  paintings of Brentford and Chiswick. It is open for visitors at weekends from April to October.
  • Gunnersbury Park House is a former Rothschild mansion in Gunnersbury Park. It houses a museum for the Boroughs of Hounslow and Ealing.

Brentford Market at Kew Bridge in 1892Popular landmarks on Brentford’s High Street include:

  • Kew Bridge Steam Museum (a preserved Victorian mains water supply pumping station)
  • The Musical Museum of mechanised pianos and organs.
  • Waterman’s Arts Centre

Chiswick

Chiswick MallThis densely populated London suburb was once a riverside village. Its place-name was first recorded around 1000AD and means cheese or dairy farm.

St. Nicolas’ parish church stands in Church Street and has a 15th century tower of Kentish ragstone. Tombs in the churchyard mark the burials of William Hogarth, the father of English painting and William Kent, the architect and landscape designer. Some fine old houses still stand in Church Street and in Chiswick Mall, along the riverside.

  • Chiswick House was built between 1727 and 1729 for the Third Earl of Burlington and stands in extensive landscaped grounds.
  • Hogarth’s House was built around 1700 and is entered from a pleasant walled garden. It houses a fine display of Hogarth’s life and work.

Bedford Park Bath Road looking eastTurnham Green and Back Common are remnants of the extensive common land that was once found in the northern part of the parish of Chiswick. From the 18th century onwards the High Road became built up with inns and large houses. Today the High Road is a busy shopping street with many cafes, restaurants and several 19th century public houses. Christ Church on Turnham Green (built in 1843) and Chiswick Town Hall (built in 1901) are fine public buildings. Voysey’s 1902 works building in Barley Mow Passage, built for the Sanderson’s wallpaper factory, is also a well-known local architectural treasure.

Suburban building began in Bedford Park, on the borders of Chiswick and Acton, in the mid-1870’s. Here, J.T. Carr, Norman Shaw and E.W. Godwin created England’s first garden suburb. Bedford Park became a conservation area in 1970 and its interests are watched over by the Bedford Park Society, who organise a festival each June.

Strand on the GreenStrand on the Green developed as a fishing community in the Middle Ages. Its place-name means theriverbank settlement near a green place. During the 18th century, larger homes were built for members of King George III’s household including Zoffany, the court painter. The King often stayed at Kew Palace, just across the Thames. Today the fishermen and barge-builders that once lived and worked here have gone. Strand on the Green has a picturesque riverside walk and is popular with visitors who frequent its well-known public houses: The Bell and Crown, The Bulls Head and the City Barge.

Cranford

Cranford House and Church from the AirOnce known as “the prettiest village in Middlesex”, Cranford is now divided by the Parkway (the Hayes By-pass) and by the M4 Motorway. Its place-name first appears in the Domesday Book (1086) and means a ford frequented by herons or cranes. Cranford Park with its mansion was the largest property in the parish. Cranford Park House was a home for the Earls of Berkeley until the First World War. The house was demolished in 1945 and the grounds are now a public park jointly owned by the Boroughs of Hillingdon and Hounslow.

St Dunstans Church LBH postcard Aug 1984St. Dunstan’s Church in Cranford Park is quite picturesque. It has a 15th century tower and contains two fine 17th century monuments.

The village still has some distinguished houses, including Stansfield House, a 17th century listed building. It also has one of the two “cages” or “lock-ups” that survive within the Metropolitan Police district. Built in 1838, the village “lock-up” was used to hold drunks or vagrants overnight.

Feltham

Feltham High Street 1917Before the railway came to Feltham in 1848 the village clustered around St. Dunstan’s Church. Amongst the gravestones in the churchyard is that of William Wynne Ryland (d. 1783), a forger and one of the last criminals to be hanged on the public gallows at Tyburn (now Marble Arch).

Feltham’s Anglo-Saxon place-name means the ‘ham’ or settlement on open, or newly cultivated land (feld).

Feltham Green and PondFeltham’s Green and pond provide a focal point for the High Street. The old Red Lion public house stands beside the green, a fortunate survivor of the redevelopment of the town that occurred in the mid-1960’s. Feltham’s Centre was rebuilt during 2005 and 2006 as a mixed development including flats; a hotel; new shops; a new library and medical centre; and an Asda superstore. Proximity to Heathrow Airport makes Feltham animportant interchange for West London’s bus and rail networks and a hotel chain has taken over and converted one of Feltham’s prominent 1960’s office blocks for use as a hotel.

The town’s Magistrate’s Court was built as a town hall in 1903 when the growing town of Feltham separated from the Rural District of Staines to become an Urban District in its own right. In 1930 the neighbouring villages of Bedfont and Hanworth were incorporated into the Urban District of Feltham.

Hanworth

Hanworth Air Park - Graf Zeppelin visitingThe Royal Manor of Hanworth is named in the Domesday Book (1086) and its Anglo-Saxon place-name means Hana’s homestead enclosure. Tudor Court was once part of Hanworth’s Royal Palace or hunting lodge. Tudor fireplaces from the palace buildings can still be seen. St. George’s Church was rebuilt in 1812 and its spire is a local landmark. The Manor House was burned down in 1797 and was replaced by Hanworth Park House. In 1917 the park was converted into an airfield for Whitehead’s wartime bi-plane factory. The airfield was taken over by a flying club between the two world wars and Hanworth - St Georges Church c 1873Hanworth Park House became its clubhouse. The Graf Zeppelin, Germany’s passenger carrying airship, visited the London Air Park, Hanworth, in 1931 and 1932.

After service as a fighter repair works and wartime aircraft factory during World War II Hanworth’s Air Park closed down in 1946 to avoid air traffic conflicts with the new airport at Heathrow. Feltham District Council purchased the park in 1956. Feltham Airparcs Leisure Centre was built on parkland beside the Uxbridge Road in 1965. After many years service as an old people’s home Hanworth Park House awaits redevelopment as a hotel.

Hanworth - Swan Public Houser c1905Hanworth’s old village centre around Bear Road and Main Street was affected by the construction of the M3 feeder road (Country Way) in the early 1970’s. The Brown Bear public house was demolished and the library was relocated to Mount Corner, opposite the Hanworth Park House icehouse mound, from which a flag was flown throughout the Air Park years.

Heston

Heston ChurchFor centuries a small agricultural village, Heston is now a large residential suburb. The earliest form of the name was recorded around 1125 and means a farm or settlement in a bushy landscape.

The original village clustered around St. Leonard’s Church, which has a fine 14th century stone tower. A memorial tablet in the church commemorates Sir Joseph Banks of Spring Grove House, the celebrated botanist. Private John White is buried in the churchyard. His death, at Hounslow Barracks in 1846 as the result of a punishment flogging, became a national scandal and helped to bring about the reform of Britain’s military disciplinary codes.

Heston - Control Tower 1936The Vicarage and the Rose and Crown public house are late 18th century buildings. The nearby Infants School and the Old George public house are 19th century. It is still possible to walk across fields from Heston Church to Osterley Park.

On the borders of Heston and Cranford remnants of Heston Airport can still be found. Heston aerodrome was operational from 1929 to 1946. In 1938 the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, flew from Heston to Munich for talks with Adolf Hitler and returned to Heston with “peace in our time”.

Hounslow

Hounslow - Holy Trinity Church 1828Hounslow, a town in the geographical centre of the Borough, has existed since the 13th century. Its Anglo-Saxon place-name is found in the Domesday Book and it means the hill, or mound, associated with Hundi (a pagan Anglo-Saxon). The town grew up along both sides of the Great Western Road leading from London to the West Country. In mediaeval times the town’s many inns and the Priory of the Holy Trinity provided travellers with accommodation. Holy Trinity Church was rebuilt in 1963 after a fire in 1943, which destroyed the 1828 church building.Hounslow - High Street and orange tram

Hounslow Library is in the Treaty Centre, a mid-1980’s shopping mall on the south side of the town’s pedestrianised High Street. The Borough of Hounslow’s Civic Centre is on Lampton Road in Hounslow, beside Lampton Park and a little to the north of Hounslow Central '’tube’ Station.

Hounslow - Guard RoomTo the west of the town, Hounslow Heath is a two hundred acre local nature reserve with a golf course and abundant flora and wildlife. This is all that remains of a four thousand acre wilderness, once haunted by notorious highwaymen. The great heath has been a camp for armies. The heath and its rivers have provided waterpower and a safe place to manufacture gunpowder. Its landscape is now dominated by London’s airport and by airport related development.

Isleworth

Isleworth - Church and Riverside the FerryA riverside settlement from prehistoric times, Old Isleworth, between the parish church and Lower Square, was extensively redeveloped in the 1980’s. New offices, homes and a new riverside public house – the Town Wharf, are the legacy of Speyhawk plc’s work. The earliest form of the place-name dates from around 700AD and means Gistel or Gislhere’s homestead enclosure.

Isleworth was an inland port with working riverside wharves until the 1960’s.
All Saints parish church has a 14th century stone tower and a distinctive modern church, built in 1970 to replace an earlier church building, which burnt down in 1943.

Isleworth - Blue School Lower Square c 1920The early 18th century London Apprentice public house is a well-known riverside landmark. Nearby, the Duke of Northumberland’s River (a man-made watercourse) flows under Mill Bridge and into the River Thames.

The architecture of Lower Square dates from many periods. The centrepiece of the square is the castellated Blue School building (1841). This building was converted into modern offices in the 1980’s. The old Northumberland Arms public house (built in 1832) is another Lower Square landmark that has been converted for use as office accommodation.

The Glossop Memorial drinking fountain graces Upper Square, which opens onto South Street. The fountain was erected in 1870 to commemorate the Reverend Henry Glossop, Vicar of Isleworth from 1822 – 1855.

Isleworth InfirmaryIsleworth’s War Memorial stands on Twickenham Road in front of the Roman Catholic Church. It was erected in 1922.

North of the parish church, Park Road leads to the entrance to Syon Park. Syon House and its Park, rebuilt and landscaped by the Adam brothers and ‘Capability’ Brown between 1766 and 1773, is still a home for the Duke of Northumberland – as well as being one of the Borough’s greatest visitor attractions.

Osterley

Osterley houseOsterley’s place-name means sheepfold clearing. This late Victorian and twentieth century suburb lies to the south of Osterley Park and Osterley House – a fine mansion built by Robert Adam for Francis and Robert Child, members of a family of London bankers. The National Trust owns Osterley Park and the House and park are open to the public. Osterley - Hounslow Great West Road postcardOsterley’s first suburban railway station, in Thornbury Road, is now a bookshop. Charles Holden designed the present ‘tube’ station, a listed building on the Great West Road. Osterley’s Piccadilly Line ‘tube’ station opened in 1934.

Wyke Green is a pleasant, grassy common that stands in front of the twin lodges that mark the Osterley Lane entrance to Osterley Park. The Hare and Hounds, a country ‘pub’ standing amidst Osterley’s ‘green belt’, is nearby.

Back to the top...

If you haven't found what you are looking for please visit the following websites: