Cranford: Introduction

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.

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'Cranford: Introduction', in 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, (London, 1962) pp. 177-179. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]


The village of Cranford lies to the north of the Bath Road, and the lands of the former parish of Cranford surround it on both sides of the River Crane. (fn. 1) The parish covered a rough rectangle of 737 acres, (fn. 2) but on the eastern side it extended slightly farther north and a small leg stretched southwards over the Bath Road. East of the Crane the boundary ran along Hayes Road, down Southall Lane, and across part of Hounslow Heath back to the river south of the Bath Road. West of the Crane it ran along the Bath Road and then turned north through Harlington open fields, and east through those of Southall to the river. When drawing his map in 1754 Rocque extended the boundaries to the Staines Road west of the Crane, and thus included within the parish Hatton, the Bedfont Powder Mills, and part of the Duke of Northumberland's River. (fn. 3) He seems to have been in error, and there is no evidence to suggest that the parish of Cranford ever extended over this area. No changes in the boundaries of the parish are recorded at any time. In 1930 it became part of the urban district of Hayes and Harlington, (fn. 4) but in 1934 all the part lying east of the Crane (361 a.) was transferred to the borough of Heston and Isleworth, and 16 acres in the south-west were transferred to Feltham urban district, leaving 368 acres in Hayes and Harlington. At the same time Cranford ceased to exist altogether as a separate civil parish, being divided between the civil parishes of Heston and Isleworth, East Bedfont, and Harlington. (fn. 5) In 1938 the old parish boundary on the east was still used as the boundary of a parliamentary division.

The parish of Cranford is on the whole flat, and only rises above 100 feet in the north-east and northwest corners. (fn. 6) These raised areas correspond with areas of brick-earth. Most of the soil is Taplow gravel, but brick-earth stretches along the eastern edge of the parish, across sections of the western and north-western boundary, and there is a circular patch of brick-earth in the middle of Cranford Park. A band of alluvium lies along the river until just north of the Bath Road, and above the lakes again follows the river northwards. Here, however, it is surrounded by a belt of London Clay that meets the alluvium just north of the Bath Road. (fn. 7) The soil was generally described as a strong loam on a gravel bed. (fn. 8)

The parish is watered by one river, the Crane, that flows southwards through the centre of it. There was a ford to the north of the church on Watersplash Lane, but the principal crossing was where the bridge later stood on the Bath Road. (fn. 9) The river was widened, probably in the 18th century, on either side of the Church Road to form two ornamental lakes. (fn. 10) By 1820 there were at least four ponds, three of which lay in the village on the edge of the common on the Southall Road. The fourth lay immediately east of the moat. (fn. 11) By 1958 these had all been drained. There was a weir in Cranford in 1239, (fn. 12) but there is no later reference to it. In 1894 there was a weir just north of Cranford Lane, (fn. 13) which was still there in 1958.

The crossing on the Bath Road early necessitated a bridge, and there was one there before 1274, when the vill and the Master of the Temple were held responsible for repairs. (fn. 14) The road was a 'principal highway' in 1593, (fn. 15) and a brick three-arched bridge was built in 1776 (fn. 16) which was rebuilt in 1915. (fn. 17) The lord of the manor was responsible for the upkeep of the bridge (fn. 18) until 1820, when the responsibility passed to the parish under the inclosure award. (fn. 19) In 1699 repairs to the road were undertaken by Cranford and Bedfont (fn. 20) but by the early 18th century the bridge divided two turnpike trusts, the Brentford and the Colnbrook. In 1717 the Bath Road east of the bridge was turnpiked, (fn. 21) and in 1727 the road west of the bridge. (fn. 22) Although the latter stretch was outside the parish, Cranford was later made responsible for repairing half of it on the Harlington side. (fn. 23) Posting-horses were kept at the White Hart Inn, (fn. 24) which remained the post-house at least until 1839, (fn. 25) although it had been burned down and immediately rebuilt in 1837. (fn. 26) Thereafter the 'Berkeley Arms', then standing opposite the 'White Hart', was used as the post-house. (fn. 27)

By 1754 Tently Lane (now Southall Lane and the High Street) ran down its present course, but joined the Bath Road by the Avenue. (fn. 28) Cranford Lane, which had been a greenway to Harlington in 1664, (fn. 29) left the Bath Road immediately west of Cranford Bridge but otherwise ran along the same course as in 1958. Watersplash Lane followed its present line but crossed the river at a less oblique angle. The heath south of the Bath Road was crossed by two lanes, one running near Hatton and the other to the Staines Road. (fn. 30) There were a few small alterations at the inclosure of 1820: Cranford Lane became a private carriage road, (fn. 31) and was taken across the river to meet the High Street which was extended to the Bath Road. The two lanes crossing the common disappeared and Watersplash Lane was slightly altered. (fn. 32)

The church is situated approximately in the centre of the parish, on the west side of the river, and very close to the site of the manor-house. It seems probable that the church was always connected more closely with the manor than with the village. Village settlements grew up in two places: mostly along the Southall Road on the eastern edge of the parish, and also by the main road ford and bridge. This was the pattern in 1754, (fn. 33) and probably long before. Residential development was extremely slow, and until the 20th century building was almost entirely in the Southall Road, or High Street; area. In 1801 there were only 27 houses, (fn. 34) and of these only one or two were still in existence in 1958. The Rectory, now the Old Rectory, was still occupied in 1958, as were the Cedars and Sheepcote House, both late Georgian houses on the High Street.

During the Middle Ages the open fields covered the part of the parish lying to the north and west of the village. North Field lay west of Southall Lane as far as Watersplash Lane; east of the river and south of Church Road lay Twinton, later Quinten, Field; west of the river and north of the Bath Road lay West Field, which merged into Harlington East Field; (fn. 35) Old Field, mentioned frequently in the 17th century, (fn. 36) had vanished by 1820, but probably lay north of West Field, also running into Harlington fields. All that area of the parish lying east of the Crane and south of Cranford Lane formed part of Hounslow Heath, which also stretched up on the east side of the parish as far as the present High Street. There was another small piece of common on the west bank of the river by Cranford Lane. During the 17th century inclosure gradually took place in the north-west corner of the parish and by 1754 all the land there and some in the east of West Field had been inclosed. (fn. 37) Cranford Park had been laid out by 1699. (fn. 38) Elsewhere most of the open fields and common remained until they were inclosed in 1820 under a parliamentary Act. (fn. 39)

During the 19th century after inclosure the village began to grow slowly, increasing from 27 houses in 1801 to 117 in 1901. (fn. 40) This growth began to cover the common round the Avenue and High Street, and on both sides of the Bath Road. Residential building on a large scale began in the 1930's. By 1935 the common south of the Bath Road (fn. 41) had been built over, Berkeley Parade, with its 'châteautype' buildings and little slated turrets described as 'ingenious architectural fun', (fn. 42) and the new 'Berkeley Arms' in similar style, being built in 1932. (fn. 43) Other areas under development were Avenue Crescent and Close, and Firs Drive, although the latter was, strictly speaking, outside the parish. Another area being developed was in the north-west corner. By 1938 the common was completely built up, an estate had grown off the Bath Road in the former West Field area, and the north-west corner was further developed. (fn. 44) By 1958 the Roseville Road area had been completely built up, and the Parkway Road had been built cutting through the former Quinten Field from the Bath Road to join Hayes Road. Parts of the old North and West Fields were still cultivated, Quinten Field was a public park, and Cranford Park also remained open.

Few well-known people have lived in Cranford. Thomas Fuller and John Wilkins, F.R.S., both of whom were rectors, are mentioned below. (fn. 45) The Berkeley family, lords of the manor from 1618 to 1932, was a distinguished one, and included another Fellow of the Royal Society, (fn. 46) and a lord high admiral. (fn. 47) A distinguished royal physician, Sir Charles Scarburgh (d. 1694), F.R.S., retired to Cranford where he is buried. (fn. 48) A fourth fellow, Warren de la Rue, of the Guernsey family, built an observatory by Springfield, on the High Street, in 1857 for his 13-inch reflecting telescope. He experimented in solar and lunar photography, but in 1874 gave his telescope to Oxford University and left Cranford. (fn. 49) There is also a tradition that I. K. Brunel lived at the Cedars while the Great Western Railway was under construction. (fn. 50) The story that Mr. Cox of the Cox's Orange Pippin lived at The Firs and grew his famous apple there (fn. 51) appears to be untrue, his orchard in fact being at Colnbrook End in Stanwell. (fn. 52)


  • 1. This article was written in 1958. Any references to a later year are dated.
  • 2. Census, 1913 (pt. 1).
  • 3. Rocque, Map of Mdx. (1754).
  • 4. Census, 1931 (pt. 1).
  • 5. Census, 1931 (pt. 2).
  • 6. O.S. Maps 6" Mdx. xv. SW.; xx. NW. (3rd edn).
  • 7. Geol. Survey Map, sheet 269 (drift).
  • 8. P. Foot, Gen. View of Agric. of Mdx. 10.
  • 9. Rocque, op. cit.
  • 10. T.L.M.A.S. xiv. 110-11; the lakes are not expressly mentioned, but this date seems probable.
  • 11. M.R.O., Cranford Incl. Award.
  • 12. C.P. 25(1)/146/12/182.
  • 13. O.S. Map 6" Mdx. xx. NW. (2nd edn.).
  • 14. J.I. 1/540, m. 14.
  • 15. Norden, Spec. Brit. pt. 1, Mdx. p. 17.
  • 16. Rep. of Cttee. of Magistrates on Public Bridges in Mdx. (1826), 227.
  • 17. Inscription on bridge.
  • 18. Rep. on Public Bridges, 34, 299.
  • 19. Ibid. 227; M.R.O., Cranford Incl. Award.
  • 20. Par. Rec., Reg. 1564-1749.
  • 21. Act for repairing road from Counters Bridge etc., 3 Geo. I, c. 14.
  • 22. Act for repairing road from Cranford Bridge to Maidenhead Bridge, 13 Geo. I, c. 31.
  • 23. M.R.O., S.R. 5424, 1 Dec. 1873.
  • 24. Hist. MSS. Com. Fortescue, vii. 239, 336.
  • 25. Pigot, Lond. Dir. (1839).
  • 26. Robson, Dir. Mdx. (1838).
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1845 and later edns.).
  • 28. Rocque, Map of Mdx. (1754).
  • 29. M.R.O., Acc. 530/7, 1 July 1664.
  • 30. Rocque, op. cit.
  • 31. Rep. on Public Bridges, 227.
  • 32. M.R.O., Cranford Incl. Award.
  • 33. Rocque, op. cit.
  • 34. Census, 1801.
  • 35. M.R.O., Cranford Incl. Award.
  • 36. M.R.O., Acc. 530/2, 3, 6.
  • 37. Rocque, op. cit.
  • 38. M.R.O., Acc. 530/bundle 24.
  • 39. M.R.O., Cranford Incl. Award.
  • 40. Census, 1801-1901.
  • 41. O.S. Maps 6" Mdx. xv. SW.; xx. NW. (1st and later edns.).
  • 42. Archit. Review, Jan.-June 1939, p. 230.
  • 43. Mdx. Chron. 12 Mar. 1932.
  • 44. O.S. Maps. 6".
  • 45. See p. 185.
  • 46. George, Earl of Berkeley (d. 1698): D.N.B.
  • 47. James, Earl of Berkeley (d. 1736): D.N.B.
  • 48. D.N.B.
  • 49. Ibid.
  • 50. Hounslow Libr., press-cuttings (G. E. Bate, 'Mdx. Miscellany', 1943, no. 61).
  • 51. G. S. Maxwell, Highwaymen's Heath.
  • 52. See p. 52.