Chiswick: Introduction

Pages 50-51

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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Chiswick (fn. 1) parish lies in a large loop of the Thames 10 km. west of Hyde Park Corner. It is known chiefly for Chiswick House, near its centre, and for 18th- and 19th-century buildings at Chiswick village, hereafter referred to as Old Chiswick, and Strand-on-the-Green, respectively at the eastern and western ends of the loop. The greater part of the boundary follows the Thames. The eastern boundary with Hammersmith ran from the eastern end of Chiswick Eyot northward along the line of the present British Grove and part of Goldhawk Road to Stamford Brook Road. Thence the northern boundary, mainly with Acton, ran west-south-west across Stamford Brook common, to follow the course of a Roman road between Acton Green common and the Back (later Chiswick) common. West of Turnham Green the line of the Roman road and the former boundary are followed by Chiswick High Road through Gunnersbury, a district mainly in Ealing but later with its railway station and other public buildings in Chiswick. (fn. 2) Farther west, at Old Brentford in Ealing parish, the boundary turned south-west, away from the road, to meet the river at Kew bridge.

The parish contained 1,216 a. in 1871 (fn. 3) and 1,245 a. in 1881, after the addition in 1878 of a detached part of Ealing, both figures apparently excluding the tidal foreshore. (fn. 4) The detached part of Ealing formed a triangle of 29 a. called Stamford Brook grounds projecting from Chiswick's northern boundary near the east end; built over as part of Bedford Park, it is included in the present account along with that suburb's parts in Acton. The Chiswick U.D.C. Act, 1911, (fn. 5) transferred to Chiswick a small but populous area around the Star and Garter at Old Brentford, making Chiswick High Road the boundary as far as the approach to Kew bridge. In 1932 the northern boundary with Acton was adjusted to coincide with the Metropolitan District railway line, which runs more nearly east and west than the former boundary. (fn. 6) Chiswick, which had a local board of health from 1883 and became a U.D. in 1894, formed part of Brentford and Chiswick U.D. (later M.B.) from 1927 and contained 1,276 a. of the borough's 2,332 a. in 1951. From 1965, when Brentford and Chiswick joined Heston and Isleworth M.B. and Feltham U.D., Chiswick has formed the eastern extremity of Hounslow L.B.

Flood plain gravel covers nearly all the peninsular part of the parish, bordering the river at Old Chiswick along Chiswick Mall and at Strandon-the-Green. A belt of alluvium, nowhere more than 200 m. wide, curves around the southern and south-eastern part of the loop. Brickearth covers the northern half of the parish, except where a tongue of gravel stretches north to Gunnersbury. From the Hammersmith end of Chiswick High Road, the edge of the brickearth extends south-westward to the bottom of Chiswick Lane and thence westward to the approach to Kew bridge. (fn. 7)

The land is generally flat, lying c. 6 m. above sea level but rising slightly higher in the northwest corner, along parts of Chiswick High Road, and north and west of the parish church. (fn. 8) High tide levels threatened most of the parish by 1972, when the Thames Barrier and Flood Prevention Act was passed, (fn. 9) and in 1976 ordinary tides had a high water mark of 13-14 ft., a level represented by the lowest stretches of Chiswick Mall and of the riverside path at Strand-on-the-Green. (fn. 10) Chiswick Eyot, opposite Chiswick Mall, is the most easterly of the islands in the Thames, (fn. 11) the nearest ones being Oliver's Island, facing Strand-on-the-Green, and Brentford Ait. (fn. 12) Containing 3¼ a. c. 1900, Chiswick Eyot later suffered such erosion that by 1948 its eastern tip had disappeared. Silting up of the backwater allowed it to be reached on foot at low tide (fn. 13) and in 1949 the island could be covered by a high tide. In 1978 it was to be preserved by Hounslow L.B. (fn. 14)

Bollo or Bollar brook enters the parish from Acton, west of Turnham Green, passing under the high road and, by a course no longer visible, into the grounds of Chiswick House. (fn. 15) Thither a stream also flows from a former lake near Sydney House, at the western end of the parish, through another lake at Little Sutton. From the 18th century the streams have fed a long ornamental water, created for Chiswick House and drained south-eastward by a conduit to the Thames along the present line of Promenade Approach Road. A stream ran eastward from Acton Green along the Chiswick side of the boundary towards the western branch of Stamford brook, which for a short distance formed the boundary with Hammersmith. (fn. 16)


  • 1. The article was written in 1979. Any references to later events are dated. The help of Mrs. K. Judges, Mr. T. A. Greeves, and Mr. J. Wisdom in commenting on parts of the article is gratefully acknowledged.
  • 2. O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XVI, SW., XXI. NW. (1873 and later edns.).
  • 3. Para. based on Census, 1881-1951.
  • 4. Estimated at 94 a. out of 1, 314 a. in 1846: M.R.O., TA/ CHI (copy also in Chiswick libr.).
  • 5. 1 & 2 Geo. V, c. 112 (Local); Chiswick libr., NC/I/lxxxvi.
  • 6. Chiswick libr., NC/III/lxxxviii C.
  • 7. Geol. Surv. Map 1", drift, sheet 270 (1951 edn.).
  • 8. O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XXI. NW. (1873 and later edns.); J. Wisdom, 'Making of a West Lond. Suburb; Housing in Chiswick, 1861-1914' (Leicester Univ. M.A. thesis, 1976, TS. in Chiswick libr.), 26.
  • 9. G.L.C. leaflets in Chiswick libr.
  • 10. Wisdom, 'W. Lond. Suburb', 21, 24.
  • 11. Thorne, Environs, 105.
  • 12. O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XXI. NW. (1873 and later edns.).
  • 13. The Times, 10 Jan. 1948.
  • 14. Brentford and Chiswick Times, 4 Mar., 29 Apr. 1949; 1 Dec. 1978.
  • 15. Rep. on Bridges in Mdx. 191.
  • 16. Wisdom, 'W. Lond. Suburb', 25; O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XVI. SW., XXI. NW. (1873 edn.).