Heston and Isleworth: Parks

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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'Heston and Isleworth: Parks', 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. 96-97. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol3/pp96-97 [accessed 19 April 2024]


Richard, Earl of Cornwall, made a park at Isleworth before 1264, when a crowd from London broke down the pale and felled trees and did other damage in the manor. (fn. 1) The park was later repaired and may have contained the hundred acres of wood that lay in Isleworth manor in 1300. (fn. 2) Richard of Cornwall also made a warren, which the Hundred Rolls of 1275 imply was near Hounslow, perhaps on the heath, but later the warren seems to have been part of the park: it covered 133 acres in the mid14th-century. (fn. 3) Pasture in the park and warren was sometimes sold to the tenants in the 14th century, but in 1384, for instance, it was consumed by the wild beasts and mares of the lord. (fn. 4) In 1415 Henry V founded Syon Abbey in his warren in the parish of Twickenham. The area he granted to the monastery was bounded on the east by the Thames, and on the south by a ditch newly dug for the purpose, but on the west by the old ditch which had presumably bounded the park. (fn. 5) Few buildings were probably erected by the abbey since it soon moved to a better situation north of Isleworth, and the old site seems to have once more become a warren. In 1463 the abbess's warren next to the old monastery was leased to William Yorke, and in 1483 his widow held it. Later the warren was kept in hand by the abbey or leased with Isleworth manor. (fn. 6) Henry VII built his new palace of Richmond across the river in 1501, (fn. 7) and between then and 1506 he added the Isleworth warren, which Syon granted him in exchange for property elsewhere, to the park at Richmond. (fn. 8) In 1517 it was alleged that this resulted in the inclosure of 80 acres of arable in Twickenham, (fn. 9) but it is clear that most of the new park had been inside the abbey's warren. Since the park later extended northwards into Isleworth parish, it is likely that what additions were made to it at this time were mostly on that side. (fn. 10) Two meadows (about 20 a.) on the Twickenham side were also inclosed in the park though they remained Syon's property until the Dissolution. (fn. 11) In 1573 the park contained 87 acres of rough pasture and brush, and two lodges. (fn. 12) It was then about to be leased to Edward Bacon, possibly the brother of Francis Bacon, (fn. 13) who later lived there and held the estate himself. (fn. 14) Elizabeth I may have visited Twickenham Park, as it was now generally called, in 1592 or 1593. (fn. 15) A later tenant was Lucy, Countess of Bedford (d. 1627), the patron of John Donne. (fn. 16) The Park was granted with Richmond to Henrietta Maria in 1629 and was sold to Sir William Russell in 1632. (fn. 17) It had continued to be leased meanwhile, but in 1640 the freehold and lease came together into the hands of Sir Thomas Nott. (fn. 18) The estate remained in the possession of persons of rank throughout the 18th century, coming in the end to Lord Frederick Cavendish (d. 1803). (fn. 19) He was said to have made improvements both to the house and grounds, though opinions seem to have differed about the amount of alterations to the house. According to one writer of 1797 it was substantially Elizabethan, though one front had been rebuilt, and most of the rooms were very small. Another, in 1795, said that it contained several handsome apartments and a noble staircase. (fn. 20) The estate was sold in lots in 1805 and the house was afterwards demolished. (fn. 21) It had stood exactly on the boundary of the parishes of Isleworth and Twickenham. (fn. 22)

By 1506 Syon Abbey had another park in Isleworth, which lay by the Brent (fn. 23) and was known by the 16th century as Syon Park. (fn. 24) It covered about 100 acres between Syon Lane and the Brent some way north of the London Road. In 1607 a few strips of land which had clearly once been part of an open field lay on its south: (fn. 25) farther north, however, lay other inclosures which may have been medieval assarts from the waste, so that it is difficult to guess what was its state before the abbey inclosed it. (fn. 26) The park continued to form part of the manorial estate after the Dissolution, and was committed to the custody of Sir Francis Knollys in 1560. In 1602 it was leased to the Earl of Northumberland, to whom the freehold was granted with the manor in 1604. (fn. 27) In 1607 there were some small buildings in the park adjoining Syon Lane, which were replaced or altered, probably in the next 30 years, to become a single house called Syon Park. (fn. 28) William Gouge (1578-1653), an eminent puritan minister, may have been one of the lessees of the park and house. (fn. 29) Later they were held by Sir Orlando Gee (1609-1705), who was trustee of Elizabeth Percy, heiress of the last Earl of Northumberland, and a benefactor of Isleworth church. (fn. 30) By the late 18th century the park was used as farm-land and the house, or another on the site, was called Syon Park East Farm or Syon Hill East Farm. It was demolished when the Great West Road was built. (fn. 31)

The parks attached to the great houses of Osterley and Syon are discussed below, along with the houses.


  • 1. Cal. Pat. 1266-72, 285; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 404, 414, &c.; see p. 104.
  • 2. C 133/95, no. 14.
  • 3. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 417; Syon Ho., MS. xiv. 1. a.
  • 4. e.g. S.C. 6/916/11, 21, 18, 19.
  • 5. Dugdale, Mon. vi. 542; Cal. Pat. 1413-16, 358.
  • 6. S.C. 6/1099/5; /916/22, 24, 25; S.C. 6/Hen. VII 1785-6.
  • 7. V.C.H. Surr. iii. 533.
  • 8. Rot. Parl. vi. 527-9; S.C. 6/Hen. VII 1785-6; C 47/7/2/2/13.
  • 9. C 47/7/2/2/13.
  • 10. Cf. L. & P. Hen. VIII, i (2), p. 548 and Glover, Map of Isleworth Hundred.
  • 11. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII 2160, 6090; L.R. 2/220.
  • 12. E 310/90, f. 29; for appointments of keepers before this, see L. & P. Hen. VIII, iii (1), p. 426 (no. 23); xxi (1), p. 688 (no. 87); Cal. Pat. 1555-7, 229.
  • 13. D.N.B. i. 843.
  • 14. Bacon, Complete Works (ed. Spedding), viii. 371-2; x. 40-44: there are several other accounts of Bacon's connexion with Twickenham Park, for the most part largely conjectural.
  • 15. Nichols, Progresses of Eliz. iii. 190-1.
  • 16. See Poems of John Donne, ed. H. J. C. Grierson, 26.
  • 17. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1629-31, 391; 1631-3, 535.
  • 18. Ibid. 1625-49, 637; Lysons, Environs of Lond. iii. 565, citing deeds; Nott was involved in royalist riots at Twickenham in 1649, for which see p. 158.
  • 19. Lysons, op. cit.
  • 20. Cobbett, Memorials of Twickenham, 232, citing Ironside, Hist. and Antiq. of Twickenham, and Angus, Select Views of Seats (1795). For views of the house, see Glover, Map of Isleworth Hundred; B.M. Maps K. 30.19.q (1784), and Angus, op. cit. (copy of print in M.R.O.).
  • 21. Cobbett (op. cit. 232) and Lysons (Supplement to Environs, 313) differ about the date at which the house was demolished.
  • 22. See Cobbett, op. cit., and Hounslow Libr., Isleworth Vestry Order and Rate Bk. 1654-1712, p. 336.
  • 23. S.C. 6/Hen. VII/1786.
  • 24. e.g. Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 295; see also B.M. Lans. MS. 105, f. 86b.
  • 25. Syon Ho., MS. B. xiii. 1 a.
  • 26. See p. 105.
  • 27. See p. 104.
  • 28. Syon Ho., MSS. B. xiii. 1 a, M. xiii. 3 i, n; Glover, Map of Isleworth Hundred.
  • 29. Syon Ho., MSS. A. xv. 3 g, M. xiii. 3 k, 1; D.N.B. viii. 271-3.
  • 30. Syon Ho., MSS. M. xiii. 3 n, o; see p. 125.
  • 31. See p. 105.