A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.
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In 1086 Twyford was held by two canons of St. Paul's: Durand held 2 hides of the king, and Gueri held 2 hides described as a manor 'in the demesne of the canons'. (fn. 1) The estates are presumed to represent East and West Twyford respectively. (fn. 2) In 1102 the canons leased land at Twyford to Ulf and one heir after him. (fn. 3) Reiner held it before 1114 when the canons granted it to Walter of Cranford and his daughter Adelaide for their lives. (fn. 4) About 1183 Pain, son of Henry, and his wife Eileen, daughter of Adelaide's husband Morel, received the estate with warranty against the kin of Morel and Adelaide. (fn. 5) Grants were made at the end of the century to Robert and to Master Roger, sons of Morel. (fn. 6) Robert's widow Catherine quitclaimed her dower in 1200 in exchange for 10s. quitrent to Martin de Capella, who may have been Roger's son, (fn. 7) and in 1219 to Henry de Capella (d. c. 1248), to whom she surrendered the rent in 1225. (fn. 8) The estate descended to Henry's son Bartholomew (d. c. 1258) and Bartholomew's daughter Joan, still a minor in 1274, when rents were received by Sir Frank de Bohun, who had married Bartholomew's widow Nicole. For a time during the 1260s the estate had been seized by Sir Robert de Bruce and then by the servants of Lord Edward. (fn. 9) Sir Frank gave Joan in marriage to John (d. 1284), his son by his first wife. In 1281 the manor was sold by John Kirkby, later treasurer of England and bishop of Ely, to William Paynel, who was related by marriage to the de Bohuns (fn. 10) and may have been a trustee. In 1290 Kirkby died seised of the manor, (fn. 11) which descended to his brother William (d. 1302) and then to his sisters. (fn. 12) In 1304 Joan de Bohun and Mary, widow of Nutus of Florence, challenged the title of the Kirkby sisters, who claimed that John de Bohun had mortgaged the manor to Nutus and his brother Burgensus and that the brothers had sold it to John Kirkby after de Bohun's death. (fn. 13) Since de Bohun was still alive when Kirkby conveyed the manor in 1281, the manor may have been the subject of a trust similar to that which de Bohun made for his Sussex estates. (fn. 14) The manor appears to have been vested in 1313 in Joan de Bohun. (fn. 15)
By 1361 John Pecche, a London fishmonger, had been granted the manor to hold of St. Paul's for rent of a red rose at Midsummer, by Thomas Blondel, probably acting as trustee. Pecche granted a life estate to Sir Robert Aston, who held the manor at Pecche's death in 1380. Pecche's son and heir (fn. 16) Sir William, a London grocer, granted the rent from the manor to John Hadley, also a London grocer, who in 1403 had the wardship of Sir William's son John. (fn. 17) In 1433 Richard son of Adam Bamme, mayor of London, gave West Twyford in exchange to John Philpot (d. by 1439), (fn. 18) whose descendant John Philpot (d. 1485) was succeeded by his son John (d. 1510) (fn. 19) and that John's son Peter. (fn. 20)
Sir Peter Philpot sold the manor in 1540 to John Lyon, a London grocer and future mayor (d. 1564). (fn. 21) West Twyford then passed to John's nephew Richard (d. 1579), then probably to his sons Henry (d. 1591) and John (d. 1631), to John's nephew George (d. 1635), and his son George, (fn. 22) who in 1637 sold it to Robert Moyle. (fn. 23) Moyle (d. 1638) left the manor to his widow Margaret for life. (fn. 24) Margaret and her second husband, Sir Christopher Clapham, apparently occupied the house and estate until the marriage of Moyle's eldest son Walter in 1653. (fn. 25) Walter (d. 1660) similarly left a life interest to his widow Mary, who married Thomas Henslow in 1665. (fn. 26) Walter's son Walter, by will dated 1686, left the manor to his sister Margaret, wife of Edward Bennett, for life, with remainder to his two halfsisters, Henslow's daughters. (fn. 27) The Bennetts sold their interest to Henslow in 1689 and he, as trustee for his daughters, sold the manor in 1692 to Sir Joseph Herne, M.P., a wealthy London merchant (d. 1699). (fn. 28) Sir Joseph was succeeded by his sons Frederick, a bachelor, and Joseph (d. 1723), also an M.P. (fn. 29)
The manor descended through Joseph's daughter Penelope, wife of John Cholmeley, to her grandchildren Sir Montague Cholmeley, Bt., and his sister Penelope, who jointly sold it in 1806 to Thomas Willan, a London stagecoach proprietor. (fn. 30) Willan was succeeded in 1828 by his daughter Isabella Maria (d. 1862) and her husband John Kearsley Douglas, later DouglasWillan (d. 1833). In 1890 their son William Moffat Douglas-Willan sold the house, with 19 a. and the advowson, to William H. Allhusen, who in 1902 sold them to the Roman Catholic Alexian Brothers, the owners in 1981. Some other land was sold in 1897 to form part of the Willesden workhouse infirmary site and some in 1900 to the Royal Agricultural Society, becoming part of the Park Royal estate. Col. Douglas-Willan was still the chief landowner in 1908 but the remaining land was sold for building after the First World War, much of it in 1933 to Guinness Brewery. (fn. 31)
A manor house was mentioned in 1290, (fn. 32) and it may have been occupied by William Anderby, recorded as gentleman of West Twyford in 1430, (fn. 33) and by John Arundel, who had a lease of the estate for at least 20 years from c. 1531. (fn. 34) Sixteenth-century Flemish tiles have been found on the site. (fn. 35) The Lyons and the Moyles lived there, with several of their relations; in 1664 the house was assessed on 20 hearths. (fn. 36) From 1690 the house was leased, (fn. 37) and c. 1715 most of the 'fine old mansion house' was demolished and replaced with farm buildings, part of the great hall apparently surviving. (fn. 38) By 1800 the house, on a moated site, was plain and two-storeyed, a 'typical Georgian refronting of an earlier building'. (fn. 39) From that year the lessee was Thomas Willan, (fn. 40) who on buying the estate in 1806 filled in the moat and built a Gothic seat, which he called Twyford Abbey, to designs by William Atkinson, a pupil of James Wyatt. The main part of the house is square in plan with a tower-like central block of three storeys, octagonal turrets, and embattled parapets. Built of brick faced with cement, the house was set in wooded grounds and was approached from the west. A service wing stood to the east and stables and coach-houses to the north. The Alexian brothers, who use the house as a rest home for the aged, enlarged it in 1905, 1914, and 1966 and much altered its appearance in 1935, when the parapets were removed, and in 1951 and 1959-62. In 1973 the brothers were refused permission to demolish the house. (fn. 41)