Harlington: Introduction

Pages 258-261

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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Harlington (fn. 1) lies about twelve miles west of Hyde Park Corner, north of London Airport. The old parish was roughly diamond-shaped, covering some three miles from north to south, and only about a mile from east to west at its widest point in the centre. A narrow strip ran eastwards from this widest point to the River Crane, which thus for a very short distance formed the only part of the boundary to be marked by a natural feature. (fn. 2) The earliest indication of the course of the boundaries is given in a 9thcentury charter in which land at Botwell in Hayes was said to be bounded on the west by 'Hygeredington' and 'Lullinges' tree. (fn. 3) The first of these must be Harlington, the second has not been identified. (fn. 4) The boundary between Hayes and Harlington, which may thus have been defined by the date of this charter, was later marked by North Hyde Road and Dawley Road, but Dawley Road may not have followed the boundary before the 18th century. (fn. 5) The boundaries of the parish seem to have coincided with those of the two manors of Harlington and Dawley. (fn. 6) In the south the extent of the parish over Hounslow Heath may not have been defined before the 16th century. (fn. 7)

The parish was reckoned to contain 1,384 acres in 1649 and 1,420 in 1692: (fn. 8) both these figures appear to exclude common-land. Between 1866 and 1934 it was estimated at 1,465 acres. (fn. 9) In 1930 the whole parish was joined to Hayes urban district, which was renamed Hayes and Harlington. (fn. 10) In 1934 all the part of Cranford parish lying west of the Crane (368 a.) was added to Harlington, and so were 16 acres of East Bedfont parish. (fn. 11) This article deals with Harlington as it was before the changes were made.

The parish is flat, rising from over 75 feet above sea-level in the south to about 125 feet in the north. (fn. 12) The soil is brick-earth except for a strip of gravel running south-east from the junction of Dawley Road and Pinkwell Lane. Gravel also lies under the brick-earth. (fn. 13) Pinkwell and Bedwell are presumed to have taken their names from springs, and a succession of ditches running from near Pinkwell to the Crane past a former moat or moats at Dawley Manor Farm and nearby (fn. 14) may follow the line of an old stream.

Harlington is sometimes said to lie to the north of the Great West Road, but the main road which crosses the south of the parish is not the modern by pass of that name but the Bath Road, which probably dates from the early Middle Ages. Until comparatively recent times the village was little concerned with the Bath Road, which was turnpiked in 1727, and its own principal track (the High Street and Dawley Road) ran at right angles from the Bath Road towards Uxbridge. Part of Dawley Road was probably diverted in 1708 (fn. 15) and was being diverted again in 1959. North Hyde Road led out of Dawley Road from the Uxbridge direction towards Heston, and a lesser track (Station Road) went from the village northwards to Hayes. Other tracks led east and west across the fields to neighbouring villages. (fn. 16)

The church was probably on its present site at the north end of the High Street by the 11th century, (fn. 17) and the manor-house may have stood on the north side of Cherry Lane by the now vanished Berry Green. (fn. 18) This green appears to have been the site of the medieval pound, (fn. 19) but later the centre of the village shifted southwards. Dawley Manor Farm, across the road, was the only building north of Cherry Lane by 1821, and the pound and the parish lock-up stood in the 19th century by the pond at what is now Manor Parade. (fn. 20) Cottages then recently built on the waste are referred to in 1657. (fn. 21) They presumably stood on Hounslow Heath, either in the village street south of the pond (at Manor Parade), or at West End, where there was a small settlement by 1754. (fn. 22) The 'Coach and Horses' on the Bath Road at Harlington Corner was opened about 1760. (fn. 23) It and a 17th-century almshouse were the only buildings on the main road in 1821. (fn. 24) The 'Coach and Horses' is still in its original brick and weather-board building. The 'White Hart' is an older inn, (fn. 25) but its present building dates only from 1810. (fn. 26) None of the other present-day inn-signs dates from before the 19th century. (fn. 27) Several private houses, however, survive from the old village. Both Dawley Manor Farm and the Dower House (fn. 28) contain timber-framed work of the 16th century and were substantially enlarged in the 17th century and after. Dawley Manor Farm has 16th-century timber-framed barns; in 1959 they were partly roofless. Similar barns at Church Farm were demolished recently. (fn. 29) Church Farm itself is a T-shaped timber-framed house with a small staircase wing in one of the internal angles, and a brick front added in the 18th century. The house in Manor Parade formerly called the Cedars and now divided into three dwellings is a timber-framed structure of five bays dating from the 17th century or earlier, to which an 18th-century brick front has been added. (fn. 30) Immediately to the south of it is the Lilacs, which also contains some early timber-framing, but is largely a brick house of c. 1800. Further up the High Street, the building occupied in 1959 by F. Devetta Ltd. (opposite the old National School) and the house to the north of it are both of 18th-century brickwork. The latter probably contains an earlier timber-framed structure. There are also a few late18th- and early-19th-century buildings in the High Street, though some have been demolished recently. At West End, Elder Farm (no. 130-2, West End Lane) is a timber-framed house of the 17th century or earlier, with a brick front added in 1752. (fn. 31) The building of the 'Pheasant' dates probably from the 18th century.

There was a hamlet at Dawley in the Middle Ages. (fn. 32) It probably disappeared during the 16th century and its site is not known, though it may have been by the junction of Dawley Road and North Hyde Road. Dawley House, the manor house of Dawley, which is described below, (fn. 33) stood a little to the north of this junction. It was demolished about 1772 though parts of its outbuildings were formed into a smaller house which survived until recently. There was a farmstead at Pinkwell (i.e. near the corner of Pinkwell Lane and Carnarvon Drive) in 1821. This was the only isolated farm-house in the parish. The site was occupied in 1754, (fn. 34) and a group of buildings remained there until it was overtaken by suburban development. (fn. 35)

In the Middle Ages, the open fields lay to either side of the village street, though there were no doubt small closes immediately around the cottages. The whole area between Cherry Lane and West End formed Sipson Field. (fn. 36) The land north of Cherry Lane around Pinkwell was at least partly inclosed by 1611 (fn. 37) and was entirely so by 1754: (fn. 38) West Field, which is mentioned in 1612, may have lain in this area or have been another name for Sipson Field. (fn. 39) On either side of Dawley Road south of its junction with North Hyde Road lay North Field, which had been a good deal diminished by piecemeal inclosure before 1821. The common meadow lay beside the water-course running east from Dawley Manor Farm between North Field and East Field. On this side of the village the open fields (East Field and Old Field) reached as far south as the Bath Road, though they had been diminished by 1821. South of the Bath Road lay the common, which on the west of the High Street stretched as far north as West End Lane and the village pond. (fn. 40) It formed part of the north fringe of Hounslow Heath, which stretched away south of the Bath Road down to Twickenham and Hampton. (fn. 41) To the north of the village and beyond North Field, Dawley probably had open fields in the Middle Ages, though there was some woodland there, and most if not all of the area had been inclosed by the end of the 16th century. It was inclosed in a park belonging to Dawley House about a hundred years later but reverted to farmland at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 42)

When the remaining open fields and common were inclosed in 1821 there were only 73 houses in the parish. (fn. 43) This number was more than doubled within the next twenty years, notably by the building of small cottages on the former heathland at West End and at the south of the village street and of a few larger houses along the Bath Road. (fn. 44) Among these was Harlington Lodge, on the south side, which had one of the earliest of the many orchards, mostly of cherries, which were so notable a feature of the parish in the 19th century. (fn. 45) The main line of the Great Western Railway was constructed across the former Dawley Park in the 1830's, but Hayes and Harlington Station (just outside the parish) was not opened until 1864. (fn. 46) Before then the people of Harlington had a daily omnibus and a weekly carrier to London, unless they used the stations at West Drayton or Southall. (fn. 47) The Grand Junction Canal also ran across the Dawley land: it had been constructed in the 1790's and from the mid-19th century provided transport for the brickworks at Dawley. (fn. 48) Brick-digging, followed by gravel-working, has lowered much land in the north part of the parish by several feet. More cottages went up in the village and at Dawley during the middle and later years of the century, many of them for brick-workers. (fn. 49) The cottage hospital in Sipson Road was built in 1884. (fn. 50) By 1901 there were some 350 houses in the parish, (fn. 51) but the shape of the village remained more or less unchanged until the early years of this century when building began around Station Road. (fn. 52) Factories appeared soon afterwards in Dawley Road and North Hyde Road, as an extension of the industrial area by the railway and canal at Botwell. (fn. 53) A gas-holder was erected about 1938 north of the canal and another has since been added. (fn. 54) During the 1930's houses, for the most part semi-detached, began to go up near the factories, both south of North Hyde Road and between the railway and Pinkwell Lane. (fn. 55) A hundred council flats erected in 1956-8 are among the recent buildings in the first of these districts. The second district has continued to grow particularly fast since the Second World War. Between 1947 and 1952, 324 council houses were erected there, and in 1953-5 100 council flats. (fn. 56) There is now a shopping centre, with a public-house named, in allusion to E.M.I. Ltd., the 'Music Box'. There was some building between the two wars at West End, where 78 council houses were provided by Staines rural district council before 1930. (fn. 57)

Nearly all the land in the parish south of the Bath Road was requisitioned by the Air Ministry during the Second World War for the airfield at Heathrow. Hatton Road was closed to the public from 1945 and the area afterwards became part of London Airport, which was opened for civil aviation in 1946. (fn. 58) Since 1950 virtually all the remaining land south of the Bath Road has belonged to the airport. (fn. 59) There were formerly several houses along Hatton Road, and these have been demolished, (fn. 60) but a number remain in the Bath Road and are still occupied, including the 'Crown' and the police station. In 1959 two large hotels were being built for the airport on the north side of the road. The greyhound-racing track beside the 'Coach and Horses' was to close when one of these was completed, but the inn itself was apparently to be preserved. (fn. 61) Until the late 1950's the village street remained very little affected by modern developments elsewhere, and gardens and orchards still surrounded the houses and cottages. A municipal caravan site in Victoria Lane was opened in 1957 and had 95 caravans in 1959. (fn. 62) Within the last few years before 1959 a number of houses in the High Street were demolished and new ones began to go up. Some of these were set in new side roads and a number were in terraces standing back from the High Street, thus widening it and altering its appearance a good deal.

Much land remains as market-gardens behind the houses on either side of the main road, though the old orchards and the hedgerow trees that once shaded the lanes (fn. 63) have been cut down. There are also a few playing-fields and recreation grounds, some allotments, and the urban district council's cemetery in Cherry Lane, which was opened in 1936. (fn. 64) North of the canal there is also open land, some of which is used as market-gardens.

The inhabitants of Harlington complained of the hardship they suffered in billeting parliamentary soldiers in 1642-3. (fn. 65) Henry Bennet, son of Sir John Bennet of Dawley and secretary of state to Charles II, took the title of Arlington from Harlington. (fn. 66) The dropping of the 'H' is traditionally attributed to a clerical error in the patent but does not seem to be discussed by any contemporary. Only once before this, in 1514, has the name of the village been found spelt without an 'H'. (fn. 67) In 1729 the parish clerk, John Saxy, published an engraving of a yew tree in the churchyard which he declared in the accompanying verses

'. . . yields to Arlington a fame Much louder than its earldom's name.' (fn. 68)

The tree was then perhaps as much as two or three hundred years old (fn. 69) and was very large. Then and until 1825 it was cut in topiary work and the annual clipping was said to have been a village festivity. (fn. 70) It survived into this century but collapsed in 1958. (fn. 71) Part of the trunk is still standing and is alive. The lords of the manor and two rectors have included one or two persons of eminence. (fn. 72) One of the members of the de Salis family who are buried in the church led his regiment in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. (fn. 73) A novel called Herdington Rectory, later reissued as Sylvia's Romance, was published in 1875. The author, Marion Andrews, was probably the wife or relative of a former rector. (fn. 74) The setting of the story is taken from Harlington and a number of the characters bear names connected with the history of the village.


  • 1. This article was written in 1959.
  • 2. See O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xiv. 12, 16; xv. 9, 13; xix. 4; xx. 1, 5 (1st and later edns.).
  • 3. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, i. p. 556.
  • 4. The initial 'L' of Lullinges is clear in the original (see B.M. Facsimiles of ancient charters, ii, no. 20), otherwise an identification with Dawley might be possible.
  • 5. See p. 265.
  • 6. See pp. 261, 263.
  • 7. See pp. 94-95.
  • 8. M.R.O., Acc. 249/1253; Acc. 446/EM 45.
  • 9. O.S. Bk. of Reference to plan of Harlington (1866); Census, 1931 (pt. 1).
  • 10. Census, 1931 (pt. 1).
  • 11. Ibid. (pt. 2).
  • 12. O.S. Maps 1/25,000 TQ 07, TQ 08.
  • 13. Geol. Survey Map, sheet 269 (drift).
  • 14. See p. 263.
  • 15. See p. 265.
  • 16. Rocque, Map of Mdx. (1754); M.R.O., Harlington Incl. Award and map.
  • 17. See p. 272.
  • 18. See p. 263. For Berry Green, see M.R.O., Acc. 446/M 130 (presentments, 1629); Acc. 530/11 (presentments, 1593); Harlington Incl. Award.
  • 19. M.R.O., Acc. 530/11 (1593).
  • 20. O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xx. 1 (1st edn.). The pound was demolished in 1893: King's Uxbridge Gazette Almanac, 1894. For the name of Manor Parade, see p. 263.
  • 21. M.R.O., Cal. Mdx. Sess. Bks. 1656-64, 9.
  • 22. Rocque, Map of Mdx. (1754).
  • 23. M.R.O., L. V. 6/75; 8/9; it is not marked by Rocque, op. cit.
  • 24. M.R.O., Harlington Incl. Award; for the almshouse, see p. 269.
  • 25. M.R.O., L. V. 6/83, 84.
  • 26. Date on building.
  • 27. M.R.O. L.V. 30; Harlington Incl. Award.
  • 28. The name of the Dower Ho. seems to be derived from an erroneous impression that it was once a dowerhouse of the de Salis family. It belonged to the Philp family in the 19th cent.: M.R.O., Harlington Incl. Award and ex inf. occupier, Dower House.
  • 29. See Hist. Mon. Com. Mdx. 59-60. Of the older buildings mentioned in this paragraph only the Dower House, Dawley Manor Farm, and the barns there and at Church Farm are described by Hist. Mon. Com.
  • 30. Early timbers are said to be exposed in the house at the south end.
  • 31. Date on chimney on west front.
  • 32. For the evidence for this, and its disappearance, see p. 267.
  • 33. See p. 265.
  • 34. Rocque, Map of Mdx. (1754); see also below for inclosures round about.
  • 35. O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xiv. 16 (1st and later edns.).
  • 36. M.R.O., Harlington Incl. Award.
  • 37. M.R.O., Acc. 446/ED 244; cf. ibid./245-7, 265-6.
  • 38. Rocque, op. cit.
  • 39. M.R.O., Acc. 446/ED. 245; for early references, see Acc. 530/11 (1547, 1565).
  • 40. M.R.O., Harlington Incl. Award.
  • 41. For Hounslow Heath as a whole, see pp. 94-96.
  • 42. See pp. 267; 265.
  • 43. Census, 1821.
  • 44. Census, 1831, 1841; M.R.O., Harlington Tithe Award map.
  • 45. See p. 268 and, e.g. Thorne, Handbook to environs of Lond. (1876), i. 317.
  • 46. Peacock, G. W. Suburban Services, 45.
  • 47. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1845, 1855, 1870).
  • 48. See p. 268.
  • 49. Census, 1861; O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xiv. 12; xv. 9, 13; xix. 4; xx. 1 (1st and 2nd edns.).
  • 50. Date on building; see also p. 269.
  • 51. Census, 1901.
  • 52. O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xv. 13; note the house called Townsend, dated 1910, north of Dawley Manor Farm.
  • 53. See p. 268.
  • 54. Local information.
  • 55. O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xv. 13 (revised edn.); Hayes and Harlington: Official Guide (1937), 32.
  • 56. Ex inf. Hayes and Harlington U.D.C.
  • 57. O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xix. 4 (revised edn.); ex inf. Hayes and Harlington U.D.C.
  • 58. Ex inf. Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation; The Times, 2 Jan. 1946, p. 4.
  • 59. Ex inf. Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.
  • 60. See O.S. Maps 1/2,500 Mdx. xx. 1, 5 (revised edn.)
  • 61. Ex inf. Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.
  • 62. Ex inf. Hayes and Harlington U.D.C.
  • 63. See Thorne, Handbk. to environs of Lond. i. 317.
  • 64. Ex inf. Hayes and Harlington U.D.C.
  • 65. S.P. 16/497, no. 120. Sir John Bennet's estate was not sequestered: Cal. Cttee. for Compounding, p. 3259.
  • 66. See D.N.B. ii. 230-3; see Cal. S.P. Dom. 1664-5, 246; Clarendon (Hist. of Gt. Rebellion and Life (1843 edn.), 1133) wrongly says he owned the estate: see p. 262.
  • 67. M.R.O., Acc. 530/10.
  • 68. B.M. Maps, K 29. 16. b, reproduced in H. Wilson, (800 years of Harlington ch.)
  • 69. E. W. Swanton, Yew Trees of Eng. 11.
  • 70. Walford, Gter. Lond. i. 200-1; for another annual village event, see p. 275.
  • 71. Swanton, op. cit.
  • 72. See pp. 263 ; 271-72.
  • 73. Monumental inscription in church.
  • 74. See p. 272.