A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY.
There were 15 people mentioned in Cranford in 1086, most of whom were described as villeins. (fn. 1) In 1547 there were 60 communicants in the parish, (fn. 2) and c. 1723 there were 26 families. (fn. 3) In 1801 there was a population of 212, which rose fairly steadily to 557 in 1871. The figures then fall until 1901 and thenceforward climb steadily until they reach 765 in 1931. There are no separate figures available after 1931 but the population of the ecclesiastical parish in 1951 had risen sharply to 6,046. (fn. 4) This increase was due to industrialization near by and the development of London dormitory areas.
In 1086 the eight villeins each held 1 virgate and two cottars held 2 acres. There were also three slaves. (fn. 5) By the 14th and 15th centuries, in addition to two manorial estates, there are traces of about 120 acres of freehold property, (fn. 6) which by 1628 had increased to about 400 acres. (fn. 7) After the Reformation there were no big landowners in the village apart from the lords of the manor, and after 1619 the manors were held by a single family. In 1820 the Berkeley family held 519 acres; no one else in the village held more than 26 acres. (fn. 8) In 1628, soon after Lady Berkeley bought the manors, (fn. 9) the tenants disputed the fines for admittance to copyhold property, and the Court of Chancery fixed 6s. 8d. for each house, 3s. 4d. for each cottage, and 2s. 6d. for every acre, as the scale it considered reasonable. (fn. 10) A few members of higher classes can be traced in the village; Admiral Holburne is mentioned in 1767 (fn. 11) and c. 1775 (fn. 12) and Sir Thomas Bell in 1820. (fn. 13) In the main, however, the village seems to have been a small, agricultural community.
During the Middle Ages little is known of the agricultural organization. In 1086 the villagers had 2 ploughs and there was 1 in demesne. The land was reckoned to support 3 ploughs, (fn. 14) but in 1220 there were only 2 ploughs in the village. (fn. 15) In 1539 the obligation to clear trees and scrub was included in a lease of the manor. (fn. 16) During the 17th century an Old Field is mentioned (fn. 17) which probably lay in the north-west corner of the parish. This land, the first to be inclosed, may represent a comparatively early cultivated area in Cranford.
The arable probably all lay in the open fields. In the 17th century four fields are mentioned by name: Old, North, West, and Twinton fields. (fn. 18) In 1559 the customary rotation seems to have been spring crops, wheat, and fallow, (fn. 19) but the later rotation in the area consisted of wheat, peas or beans, and fallow. (fn. 20) In the 17th century the manor courts were making regulations for grazing and staking. (fn. 21) In 1638 (fn. 22) and 1670 (fn. 23) the dates in September on which the common fields were severally to be opened to sheep according to the character of the tillage were laid down, and in 1678 the sheep were stinted at 20 for each house, 10 for each cottage, and 5 for every 2 acres. Cattle were only allowed on the 'greenways'. (fn. 24)
There are very few references to pasture and meadow; most of the pasture was probably on the common, which formed an edge of Hounslow Heath. In 1299 the Templars were granted common of pasture on the heath in the manor of Isleworth by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall. (fn. 25) There is no evidence that these rights were practised after the Middle Ages although in 1815 the village protested to the inclosure commissioners of Isleworth manor against the loss of them. (fn. 26) By the early 19th century the village had over 70 acres of common within its own boundaries, (fn. 27) but probably by the late 18th century it was used to support the few sheep, cows, or pigs owned by the villagers. Pigs were also kept, (fn. 28) presumably on the common, but there is no record of stinting.
Inclosures are first mentioned in the 17th century when they mainly consisted of land in Twinton Field, and others were made farther west. (fn. 29) These inclosed lands were held, in the 19th century at least, by the Berkeleys, and the inclosures had probably been carried out by them. By 1820 the inclosed land amounted to practically half the parish, a figure which includes the park, and almost all the meadow land. (fn. 30)
In 1820 the open fields and common, amounting together to 378 acres, were inclosed. (fn. 31) As well after the inclosure as before the Berkeley family maintained their territorial preponderance, and by 1838 there were no other landowners owning more than 20 acres. The major holdings belonged to two tenant farmers of the Berkeleys. In 1826 there were three farmers (fn. 32) and in 1851 there were four, (fn. 33) but from 1866 to 1937 there were only two, (fn. 34) at Park farm, and Lower Park farm. (fn. 35) Park farm was acquired in the late 19th century by George Taylor, who raised a herd of shorthorn cattle there which acquired a wide reputation for its deep-milking qualities. After his death in 1912 the sale of the herd attracted buyers from all over the country. (fn. 36) Another development of the later 19th century was market-gardening. In 1899 there was much fruit grown in the parish, with strawberries and other soft fruits grown under apple and pear trees. One grower in the parish had 45 acres of fruit and flowers, including 7 acres of strawberries, and two others, with respectively 20 acres and 30 acres of flowers, are mentioned. At this date it was said that 'The price and rent of land in the parish, which is quite out of the route of suburban dwellings, are unaccountably high, and labour is dear'. (fn. 37) In 1922 there were eight market-gardeners. (fn. 38) Park farm was still being cultivated in 1958, and there were still some market-gardens in the parish, though less land was by then available. After the Berkeley estate had been broken up in the 1930's the Air Ministry acquired 178 acres of the parish east of the Crane for the extension of Heston airfield, but the airfield was abandoned after the Second World War and most of the land has now been sold. (fn. 39)
There have been virtually no industries in the village, and even a mill is mentioned only once or twice. (fn. 40) During the 19th century there were one or two light industries, (fn. 41) but these were very short-lived. The growth of population since 1931 has been predominantly residential and in 1958 the parish was principally a dormitory area both for London and for the industrial areas of Hayes and of Heston and Isleworth. (fn. 42)
By 1886 a workingmen's club had been started, in addition to a cricket club and a choral society. There was also a coffee tavern in the village. These seem to have been due to the efforts of W. H. E. R. Jervis, (fn. 43) rector 1881-8. The cricket club, at any rate, continued until the early 20th century. (fn. 44) Before 1910 there was said to have been a parish reading-room (fn. 45) and in 1937 a branch borough library was opened in a former shop on the Bath Road, moving into permanent buildings there in 1957. (fn. 46) The Cranford Social Centre was founded in 1944 and in 1945 became the Cranford Community Association. This was intended to maintain the communal life and interests that were created during the war years. (fn. 47)