Hounslow Heath History

Timing: 3 Hours+
Age: Key Stage 2

Available Sites:  Hounslow Heath is recommended but this session can be taught on other sites too
Please note that due to the nature of this session group sizes are limited to only one class at a time.


To demonstrate the key events and people that are linked to Hounslow Heath in the past, through interactive role-play, discussion and exploration of the natural environment.

Activity Description

Highwaymen - Plunkett and Maclaine robbing the Earl of Eglinton on Hounslow Heath in 1750The session will look at four main topics linked to the history of Hounslow Heath.

  1. The Forest of Staines - From ancient Iron Age people to medieval times: The pupils will learn about early settlers on the Heath who used the land to farm crops and graze animals, then how the rights of these commoners were taken away by the crown so that rich barons and kings could use the Heath as a hunting ground. Pupils will learn about how King John I was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, giving back grazing rights to the commoners, lowering taxes and giving men the right to trial by jury if they are accused of a crime.
  2. War – Pupils will learn about how Hounslow Heath has been used as a military training ground for centuries and how the Heath was the site of a weapon factory and gunpowder mill.
  3. Travel – We will discuss how travel has changed over the past 400 years and how Hounslow Heath was an important haunt for famous Highwaymen, who targeted coaches travelling along the bath road.
  4. The Heath as a Nature Reserve – Pupils will learn about how Hounslow Heath is now an important area for protecting wildlife and how there is not much of it left due to the development of buildings, roads and the airport. They will either take part in a minibeast hunt activity or a small nature walk with the ranger.

National Curriculum Links

KS2 History: Local History study

Women's Land Army posterLearning Objectives

Most children will be able to:

  • Recall some of the key events and people associated with Hounslow Heath in the past.
  • Explain the reasons behind some of the events.

Some children will be able to:

  • Understand the chronological order of the events and time periods that are discussed.
  • Link the key events and people to other themes in history that have been studied at school e.g. the Iron age, British Civil War, British kings and queens.

Follow up

  • Explore the lifestyles of people in Iron Age Britain in more detail.
  • Pupils could recreate their own versions of the Magna Carta. Encourage them to come up with promises / laws that they thing kings and queens should make to their people to make the country better.
  • Explore the stories of the famous highwaymen of Hounslow Heath in more detail.
  • Investigate the history of Hounslow Heath even further looking at topics that were not covered by the on-site session (e.g. its use as an airport or landfill site).

Health and Safety

Teachers / leaders should consider the following when you write your risk assessment and during supervision:

  • Children should be dressed appropriately for the weather. Hounslow Heath is a large area with limited shelter so sun hats, suncream and bottled water is advised in hot weather. Warm, waterproof clothing will be required in cooler/wet weather.
  • If you wish, the rangers can paint the children’s faces as characters for parts of the session that involve role-play. Please discuss this with the ranger before your visit.

For more information on Heath and Safety during group visits please see here

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