A History of London, Vol. II

Loftie, W. J.


CHAPTER XV: Middlesex


CHAPTER XV: Middlesex





WE know very little about the origin and first settlement of the Middle Saxons, though their name in itself tells us something. It shows us that the tribe which occupied the land between the river Brent and the walls of London was distinct from that which settled itself beyond the Lea. What its original name was we know not. Its situation, after the arrival of the tribe, between Essex and Wessex, the East Saxons and the West Saxons, caused it to assume the new appellation of the Middle Saxons. Beyond this meagre fact, for the Middle Saxons are not named in the Chronicle of the Conquest, we only know that they were very few in number, a mere handful, in a backward state as regards civilisation, chiefly settled along the line of the old Roman roads, and the banks of the Thames, their villages half hidden by the great forest which spread over all the hills from Hampstead to St. Albans. In name, at least, we have still the North Haw and the South Haw: we have still the Highgate and the Southgate, and the Hatch by the Coln: we recognise the oak in Acton and the ash in Ashford, and the thorn in Elthorn. Hounslow and Willesden are in the woods,


but there are cleared farms at Harmond's Worth and Isleworth and Hanworth, and open fields at Enfield and Hadley and Finchley. Of the people we learn very little from the local names. The Saxon marks are very sparingly represented. When the "ing" does occur it is generally followed by "ton " or " don," town or down, as in and , in and , in and . Fields and fords and homes and greens are numerous, but Ealing, Yeading, and Charing are alone among the Middle Saxon family names. The population must have been extremely small, even down to the time of the Norman Conquest. If we may judge by the size of the parishes, it is clear that inhabitants were few and far between.

The county was divided, at the time of the Domesday Survey, into six hundreds. Of these the smallest were along the river, namely, and . But , which extended round the west, north, and east sides of , was of great size, as were , , and . We may therefore safely conclude that the population was greater by the river bank, and less to the north and north-west of the city, where the holdings were altogether inland. In modern lists of the hundreds of Middlesex has no place. was an ancient division, formed when the suburbs became populous, with the three other districts of , , and the Tower. The last-named, now the Tower Hamlets, comprised simply the great parish of , whose very size shows us how few were the inhabitants when parochial boundaries were fixed. The whole number of the tenants-in-chief in in was only twenty-four, and the greater part of the county, in which the king had not a single


manor,[1]  was in the hands of the church, the bishop and canons of St. Paul's, the abbeys of Westminster and Barking, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, being the chief landowners.

If we go further and compare the condition of places near the river with places more inland, we find that in and there were exactly the same number of people, namely, 114; but is five times the size of . Where the manors and parishes, for the manors and parishes are nearly always conterminous, are very large, we are justified in assuming that the local population was small. Such places as , , , and , with a vast area, had little churches and little churchyards, but fed flocks of pigs of enormous size under the beeches and oaks of the adjoining woods. Harrow and Enfield are recorded to have had pannage each for 2000 hogs, 500 were fed at , and 400 at . When Fitzstephen writes, in the reign of Henry II., of the

immense forest

and the

densely-wooded thickets

" of Middlesex, he uses no exaggeration: and it is told us of Leofric, abbot of St. Albans towards the close of the tenth century, that he caused the trees to be cut away for a distance of thirty feet on each side of the road from that they should not conceal robbers.

The suppression of the monasteries, which had so great an effect in the city, made little difference to the scattered inhabitants of the country. The priory of had great estates, but the knights probably had little contact with their farmers at or , except to receive their rents. The abbot of the Holy Trinity at Rouen built himself such a barn at as would enable him to store his tithes for several


years at a time.[2]  The archbishop seldom visited Harrow, and his mansion at Headstone was often or generally let. [3]  The villagers of were little benefited by their land being held from the hospital of St. Giles.[4]  There is not an old castle within the boundaries of the county, if we except a part of the Tower of London. There is not a single manor house of the thirteenth, fourteenth, or even the fifteenth century. The clerical and monastic landlords were mainly absentees, and the change of the dissolution was chiefly felt in an immediate extension of the suburbs near the city, and the transformation of the distant and unvisited farms of canons and abbots into the villas of wealthy aldermen. The king, too, acquired in Hampton Court a palace beyond the bounds of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and a few great noblemen came by degrees to form parks and build mansions, like Syon House, or Chiswick, or Canons. The nobility of Middlesex was, however, at first confined to the neighbourhood of . The Russells have had Covent Garden since , and are therefore the oldest landowners in the county. The Cecils come next, with their estates in the Strand, and after them the Howards, who inherited Arundel House and the surrounding land adjoining the Outer Temple from the Arundels in . But these examples are taken from families who remain in the male line. The Newdegates trace a female descent from Roger de Bacheworth in , whose estate at is still in their possession. Bordeston, or Boston House has


belonged to the Clitherows for two centuries, and they are therefore, outside the suburbs, the oldest of Middlesex families.[5] 

The greatest overflow of the city population took place into the hundred of . This hundred, the origin of whose name, Oswulf's Town, has long been forgotten, was very early divided into , , or , and the Tower Hamlets, which last comprises simply the old parish of . Most of the , such as Wapping, now St. George's-in-the-East, , , , and , have become separated parishes. Few remains of the green country have survived among them. is not yet entirely built over. Finsbury-park is a remnant of the ancient hunting-ground of the bishop in Hornsey. Further west there is more open country, and in and , and , there are still thorny hedges and shady lanes in abundance. But the division of Holborn is covered with houses, except where such artificial breathing spaces as the Regent's Park have been preserved. Many attempts were made to restrict the growth of suburbs. Three decrees at least were issued forbidding building in the reign of queen Elizabeth; and her successors, down to , made proclamations to the same effect but without avail.

The first exodus from the city was due to the desire of the aristocracy to find sites for large houses. A survey of the successive migrations of fashion would afford us a complete history of the suburbs. The Belgravias of one age became in turn the St. Giles's of another. A hundred


years ago Soho began to decline; learned rather than fashionable people occupied its decaying palaces. Less than thirty years ago the nomads of good society moved out to . Thirty years hence, what will be like ? Yet there is nothing capricious in this constant ebb and flow. Four hundred years ago the Strand became fashionable, and it was only in our own day that Northumberland House, the last of the long row of river-side mansions, was removed. The change began with Essex House and Arundel House, and went steadily on, but Somerset House still represents an ancient nobleman's residence. The beautiful gateway at the foot of Buckingham Street, designed by and executed by Nicholas Stone, still tells of the existence of York Place, where was born. Within a very few years two immense districts of new houses have sprung up in Belgravia and Bayswater. Fifty years ago, or less, the Five Fields extended from to , and hardly a house was to be seen from to . Portland Place and the terraces surrounding the Regent's Park, with all the streets between Portman Square and Langham Place, formed the refuge of the movable fashion. A centre which may be placed, according to Sydney Smith, in Grosvenor Square, existed then and exists still. A tract which was published anonymously in affords some curious information on the alterations then going forward, and shows us how rapidly the town, and many other things with it, have grown since that time.[6]  The writer, for instance, remarks with wonder upon the clumsy semaphore erected in on the top of the Admiralty, upon

the illuminating power of smoke of coal,

and upon the speedy conveyance between


Dover and Calais

by means of a kettle of boiling water.

But the interest of the tract lies in the opinions of the writer on questions, long since solved, of projeted improvement, such as the removal of the Exchequer from Palace Yard and of the stables which abutted on Whitehall Chapel. The

ground lately occupied as the King's Mews is to be converted into a large square,

and he suggests that in its centre should be placed an exact imitation of the Parthenon. Of old Buckingham House,[7]  which has since been replaced by the overgrown lath and plaster palace of our own day, he says, "when the foreign princes visited this country in the year , one of them, who had received from us very large sums of money for the prosecution of the revolutionary war, reproached us very contemptuously with the meanness of our royal palaces; it was observed in answer that 'our magnificence was to be seen in our subsidies, not in our palaces. "

This delightful old anecdote, of what would now be called the real type, undoubtedly points to a feature of scenery impossible to be overlooked. There is no French or German town whose suburbs have the mean appearance of the outskirts of . Not our palaces only, but all our streets have the same aspect of genteel poverty, neat ugliness, so to speak, which is caused in great part by the smallness of each particular tenement, the meanness of the materials, and a thoroughly English dislike of show unaccompanied by comfort, which, combined with the inclemency of the climate, make each family anxious, if adornment is thought of at all, to put it within, not without the house.

Great palaces rapidly disappear before rows of small villas; and the neighbourhood of undergoes, in


regular stages, three transformations. The open country is first enclosed in great parks, like those of Gunnersbury, or Stanwell, or Cranford. Next it is broken up into villas like those at Twickenham, or on the site of Belsize Park, or the sides of Highgate Hill. Lastly, it becomes streets and lanes, such as we have seen springing up in our own day at Kensington Gore, at Paddington, and in hundreds of other places.

The park and palace stage in Middlesex was preceded by the ecclesiastical. A large proportion of the Middlesex manors belonged before the dissolution to the church. St. Paul's, with its bishop, its dean, and its canons,[8]  owned Fulham, Hornsey, Hampstead, Willesden, St. Pancras, Bloomsbury, Holborn, Islington, and the great lordship, as it was called, of Stepney. The abbot of Abingdon had Kensington; the abbot of Westminster, Paddington, Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, half of Chelsea, besides the great parish of St. Margaret's, which originally extended from near Kensington Church to Ludgate in one direction and from Kilburn to the Thames in another. Tyburn belonged to Barking Abbey and Lylleston to Clerkenwell Priory.

In outlying places the influence of the church was not so strong, even though the land belonged in general to religious houses, regular or secular. Thus the archbishop had Harrow and the abbey of St. Albans, Stanmore, but there were no great monasteries among the lonely villages of the great Middlesex forest, and it made, no doubt, little difference to the farmer at Harefield whether his rent was paid to the prior of St. John or to Master Robert Tyrwhit. The inhabitants of Feltham knew little of the hospital of St. Giles, except that it received the tithes of their corn. The Templars


and Hospitallers were probably no better or worse as landlords to Cranford than the Astons and the Berkeleys. It was not until the new lords of the land went out to live on their estates that the change was felt, and a fresh era began for the London suburbs.

In a very few cases the laity obtained property in Middlesex before the dissolution of the monasteries. The manor of Enfield, for instance, has descended from Geoffrey Mandeville to its present owner without going through the hands of any ecclesiastical proprietor. Mandeville's heiress married another Geoffrey, the son of Piers, and a prominent citizen of London.[9]  Enfield went to him and his descendants till Maud Fitz Piers, otherwise Mandeville, married one of the many Humphrey de Bohuns who were successively earls of Hereford. This was early in the thirteenth century, and Enfield continued to belong to the Bohuns till the end of the fourteenth, when it went, with other great estates, to Henry of Bolingbroke, with his wife, Mary, the mother of Henry V. It was then annexed by act of parliament to the duchy of Lancaster, and now belongs to the queen. Lysons[10]  observes of the Newdegates of Harefield that their estate has descended by intermarriages, with the exception of a temporary alienation, in regular succession through the families of Bacheworth, Swanland, and Newdegate since the year , when by the verdict of a jury it appeared that Roger de Bacheworth and his ancestors had held it from time immemorial. It is curious to remark that this old family is not mentioned in Domesday. The estate was held under a lord, and was reckoned part of the honour of Clare, and so came, like Enfield, to the duchy of Lancaster, and it was only in that Sir Roger Newdegate obtained a release,


under the great seal of the duchy, from the payment of an annual quit rent of 22s.[11] 

Geoffrey Mandeville had other estates in Middlesex, and his manor of was held to include that of now called South Mimms, the further history of which is a very typical example of the descent of a manor in lay hands. When we look at a map of Middlesex we observe that the boundary lines of the county on three sides were fixed mainly by the course of three rivers, the Coln, the Thames, and the Lea. But the fourth, or northern boundary, is more irregular. The line leaves the Coln at , and zigzags first in an easterly direction, then north-west, and then turning east again, reaches the valley of the Lea just below Waltham Abbey. This double bend almost surrounds the parishes of Totteridge and two of the three Barnets, but leaves South Mimms within the limits of Middlesex. The irregularity is very interesting. It points to a time when no exact boundary had been drawn through the forest, and it shows how great was the influence of the church in shaping the modern county. It seems probable that Hertfordshire was also inhabited by the small Middle Saxon tribe; but it is impossible now to fix with certainty the date at which the boundary was made. Two things only we know. It must have been after the foundation of St. Albans Abbey, and therefore after the time of the great Offa of Mercia. And it was also after the foundation of Ely. This is plain, because the zigzag line is so drawn as to exclude High Barnet and East Barnet, which belonged to St. Albans, and Totteridge, which was an outlying part of the manor of


Hatfield, which king Edgar[12]  is said to have given to Ely Abbey. This would bring the date to some time in the tenth century, but would not exclude the possibility of a much earlier date, as Hatfield may have belonged to some Hertfordshire owner before it went to Ely. But South Mimms[13]  belonged to the owner of Edmonton, and in the reign of Edward the Confessor this was no other than that Esgar or Ansgar, the Staller, of whom mention has been already made.[14]  William gave the whole manor to Geoffrey, and in after years his descendants made grants in South Mimms to the abbey he had founded at Saffron Walden. From one of the documents relating to these grants, which included the advowson of the church, we find an indication pointing to the time when the two Mimms had not been divided by the boundary of two counties, for part of the endowment of North Mimms, as late as the end of the thirteenth century, lay in the southern division. So far the most northern district of Middlesex was but half cultivated, but half reclaimed from the ancient forest, though the great highway ran from to through it. [15]  Most of the local names refer to the woods


and their gates, the oaks and the beeches, the open commons and chases and hunts. But as public security increased, the richer folk in the city found it pleasant to come out here now and then. Fine houses, more or less fortified, were built, and the wealthy merchant began to forget his merchandise, to marry into the noble and knightly families about him, and, gradually giving up all connection with the city, to become a wealthy country squire, perhaps a nobleman, himself. I have had, in my account of the city, frequent cause to speak of the Frowyks, or Frowykes, or Frowicks, who were so wealthy and powerful in the thirteenth century. One of them was warden during the memorable contest about Walter Hervey's election to the mayoralty at the time of the death of Henry III.[16]  Another was reckoned among the founders of the Guildhall Chapel. The ward of Cheap was at one time called after Henry le Frowyk. Half a century later the Frowyks are seated as squires at Old Fold, within the parish of .[17]  They were not extinct in the male line in , when one of them, Sir Thomas, left his estate in to his daughter, Frideswide, who married Sir Thomas Cheyney, K.G. He was chief justice of the Common Pleas, and resided a little nearer town at Finchley. His cousin, Henry Frowyke, whose daughter and heiress married a Coningsby, was resident at Old Fold. There are descendants of the family among the highest nobility now. Old Fold stood near Hadley Green, where the moated site is still pointed out, now converted into a


kitchen garden. The younger branches again and again returned to seek and find fortunes in the city, and at least one was distinguished as a lawyer. It was from his monument, which has long disappeared from its place in Finchley Church, that Norden copied the affecting little epitaph-

Joan la feme de Thomas Frowicke gets icy

Et le dit Thomas pense de giser avec luy


Another branch of the family was seated at Gunnersbury, a place which has a history of its own. Lysons conjectures that the name is derived from that of Gunyld or Gunnilda, niece of king Canute. If so, Gunnersbury boasts of having belonged to two princesses, for Amelia, the aunt of George III., bought it in , and lived here till her death. The Frowykes were not long seated at Gunnersbury, and the heiress of Sir Henry Frowyke, who died in , carried it to the Spelmans, and it went through various hands before it came to baron Lionel Rothschild, its present owner, who has made the old house, originally built, it is believed, by Webb, the pupil of ,

one of the most sumptuous dwellings in the vicinity of



[18]  But, with the exception of the park and house, all the old manor is gradually but surely being covered with houses, and before long this hamlet of Ealing will have shared the fate of the other suburbs, and become a part of London.

Among the other great houses built during this stage in the history of , Stanwell claims more than a passing notice. The manor had belonged to the Windsors almost from the Conquest. In an evil hour for lord Windsor, Henry VIII. took a fancy to it. He had entertained the king handsomely, and the king returned his hospitality by coveting his house. In vain lord


Windsor pleaded that it had been the seat of his ancestors for many centuries: he begged the king not to take it from him. He tremblingly hoped his highness was not in earnest. Henry sternly referred him to the attorney-general, who showed him the deed of exchange already made out, and Bordesley Abbey, in Worcestershire, was substituted for the ancient inheritance of the Windsors. The baron's Christmas fare was all laid in, his furniture prepared, his hall warmed, before he left, for he said before he left that the king should not at his coming find it

The strangest part of the story, perhaps, is that Henry never does seem to have come to Stanwell. He probably, as Lysons suggests, only wanted to get rid of some monastic property by exchange, and had lord Windsor pointed out to him as a likely person on whom to try the experiment. There was probably a disinclination to buy lands of which the church had been despoiled, and we have all heard of the curse which for generations was supposed to attach to owners of estates which had belonged to religious fraternities. But the subsequent history of Stanwell showed that lay property was just as subject to vicissitudes under the Tudors and Stuarts. In James I. gave it to Sir Thomas Knyvet, and here the lady Mary, the king's daughter, died in .[19]  Knyvet made a curious will. He bequeathed Stanwell to his grandnephew, John Cary, and his grandniece, Elizabeth Leigh, and the family, to prevent the partition of the estate, obtained a decree from the Court of


Chancery, delaying it, that the cousins might marry and unite their respective moieties. But Mistress Elizabeth Leigh, when she came to an age to choose a husband, chose, not John Cary, but Humphrey Tracy, who joined in a family arrangement by which the division was again postponed, and Stanwell became the property of Cary. Undeterred by the failure of his grand uncle to prescribe the marriages of his relatives, John Cary left Stanwell to his own grandniece, Elizabeth Willoughby, on condition that within three years after his death she should marry lord Guildford. In default it was to go to lord Falkland. But Elizabeth Willoughby, like her cousin, Elizabeth Leigh, had a mind of her own in such a matter as her marriage, and refused either to marry lord Guildford or to give up Stanwell. She preferred James Bertie,[20]  and the case went up to the House of Lords, who decreed her a life interest in Stanwell. She lived till , when the estate went to lord Falkland, but he sold it within a few years, and it afterwards passed into the possession of a great West Indian family, named Gibbons, to whose representative it now belongs. In this case, therefore, we have within the space of a century and a half no fewer than six different families successively in possession of a single estate. It is a curious fact that every family owning land in the county since the suppression of the monasteries, bought it or inherited it by a female line.

The Clitherows of , near , are usually accounted the oldest of Middlesex families. was originally called Bordeston, and belonged to the priory of St. Helens. One of the last prioresses leased it to a near relation.[21]  But it came at last to the crown, and


was among the estates of the protector Somerset at his attainder. It next belonged to Elizabeth's favourite, Leicester, and was bought from him by the great Sir Thomas Gresham.[22]  Although it was not until that James Clitherow bought it, yet Lysons remarked in the last century that

this family is to be mentioned as one of the very few who have been resident upon the same estate for more than a century.

Thorne, quoting this sentence from Lysons, added:

another century has passed and Boston House is still the residence of a Clitherow.

Two other families also, namely, the Woods of Littleton and the Taylors of Staines have held their respective estates for upwards of two centuries.[23] 

Perhaps the oldest inhabited house in England is in Middlesex. Yet the seeker for ancient architecture will be disappointed at Fulham. Like so many other ecclesiastical residences all over the country, it is at once new and old. The law of dilapidations destroys equally in a vicarage and an episcopal manor house the remains and appearance of antiquity. There is a gate in the garden which bears the arms of bishop Fitz James, who was appointed to the see by Henry VII. Very nearly as ancient is Hampton Court. The manor belonged at the suppression to the knights of St. John, but had been for some years in the hands of cardinal Wolsey, who had obtained a lease from the lord prior in . This


lease, which was for ninety-nine years at 50£. a year, and a payment of 21£. to a chaplain, was all he had as security when he commenced the sumptuous pile of which a considerable part is still standing.[24] 

Wolsey became a cardinal in the year he acquired Hampton Court, and he speedily made the house worthy of his exalted dignity. Stow mentions it as exciting much envy "-envy shared by a personage who was not to be baulked of anything he desired. Wolsey was accustomed to watch the movements of Henry's mind. He was equal to the occasion, and when the king asked him why he had built so costly a house, unlike lord Windsor at Stanwell, he promptly replied,

To show how noble a palace a subject may offer to his sovereign.

It is possible that as he had by this time enjoyed it for eleven years he was tired of it. He certainly knew the king too well to be able to fancy he would refuse the gift. Henry showed no mock modesty or hesitation in accepting it; he assigned to the cardinal instead a right to use the not very distant Richmond when he pleased. Henry was at Hampton when he heard of the fate of his discarded minister, and here queen Anne Boleyn presided

at superb banquetings, with masques, interludes, and sports.

Here Surrey fell in love with the fair Geraldine:-

Hampton me taught to wish her first for mine.

Henry employed much of his time in field sports in the neighbouring parks; and as he grew old he augmented the estate by one of the most monstrous appropriations attempted by any English sovereign since the days of William the Norman. An Act was passed in


creating an to include in one royal hunting-ground not merely the adjacent Middlesex manors but also nine manors on the Surrey side of the Thames. The whole territory, of which Nonsuch was the southern lodge, was surrounded by a wooden paling and stocked with deer, churches and houses were pulled down, villages depopulated, farms given up to wood, meadows and pastures covered with game. An order passed the Privy Council in the next reign by which an apology was tendered to outraged public opinion, and the Honour

His Highness,

it was said,

waxed heavy with sickness, age, and corpulence of body, and might not travel so readily abroad, but was constrained to seek to have his game and pleasure ready and at hand.

It is curious to remark that, in spite of anything done under Edward VI. to mitigate the severity of the Act, it has never been formally repealed, and the Honour of Hampton is still a Royal Chase, controlled by a steward, the lieutenant and keeper of Hampton Court.

The palace continued for two centuries a favourite residence of our sovereigns. It was the birth-place of Edward VI., and here Jane Seymour, his mother, died. Here three Katharines[25]  and two Annes followed each other as Henry's wives. Here the council was held in Elizabeth's reign which adjudged death to Mary Stuart; and here, under her son, the abortive conference of presbyterians and bishops took place. Charles I. passed some time at Hampton under the restraints imposed by the rebellious parliament, and made the attempt to escape which eventually led to his stricter imprisonment at Carisbrooke. On a dark tempestuous evening in


November, , pretending to be indisposed, he retired early to his chamber, and passing through some vaulted passages reached the gardens, accompanied by three courtiers all in disguise. A private door admitted them to the Thames bank, and a boat which was in readiness conveyed them to the Surrey side. The ill-fated princess Elizabeth was at Hampton Court at the time, and it was in consequence of her complaining that the sentries disturbed her rest that they were removed to a greater distance, and thus greater facility afforded for the king's flight.[26]  A little later Cromwell lived much at Hampton Court, and was there stricken with his mortal fever. A fortnight before his death at his favourite daughter, as she is called in contemporary memoirs, was seized at Hampton Court

of a disease in her inwards, and being taken frantic raved much against the bloody cruelties of her father.

[27]  She died on the 6th August, , and her body was removed with great pomp to Henry VII.'s Chapel at Westminster, where it still lies. Charles II. resided occasionally at Hampton, where he remodelled the gardens, and sauntered in the " parterre which they call Paradise, in which is a pretty banquetting house set over a cave or cellar."[28] 

William III. employed Wren to replace two of Wolsey's courts by a new building, which, although wholly incongruous, is a fine example of his palatial style. The staircases were especially grand. The gardens, newly laid out in a Dutch style, with vistas across the river, are still much as William left them, with a terrace half a mile in length and canal-like ponds. Queen Anne resided


long at Hampton ; and here, in her reign, Pope laid the scene of his 'Rape of the Lock.' For many years past it has boasted of no royal inhabitant. George III. is said to have disliked it.[29]  Queen Victoria has made it a scene of happiness to many of her subjects, for not only are the state rooms with their noble pictures and the gardens open to the public, but the more private apartments are appropriated to the use of those whom the nation looks on as most deserving of a public recognition. Thus it came to pass that in his old age Michael Faraday was able, in the intervals of toil, to exchange the turmoil of a street for these pleasant shades, and here, in , he breathed his last.

When Charles I. came to Hampton his children were not far off at Syon, in the charge of the earl of Northumberland. Syon had been an abbey of the order of St. Bridget,[30]  founded by Henry V., who separated the manor of Isleworth, within which the new house was situated, from the estates of the duchy of Cornwall, and conferred it upon the abbess. The name was a reference to the holy mount, and the number of inmates answered to the thirteen apostles, including St. Paul, and the seventy-two disciples. There were thirteen priests attached, and in the original statutes of St. Bridget all were to live together, but at Syon the sexes were cautiously and carefully separated,

for the avoiding of scandal.

The abbess was ruler over both, and no sister was admitted under the age of eighteen, no brother under twenty-five. The manor of Isleworth included the whole hundred of that name, and the foundation, as time went on, became exceedingly wealthy. In the reign of Henry VIII. fifty-six nuns were in the house,


and as some of them were said to have been implicated with the supporters of the Maid of Kent,[31]  this was one of the first religious houses suppressed. Charges of immodest behaviour were freely made against the priests and nuns by the visitors under , and in the abbey was surrendered into the king's hands, when the clear income was found to be no less than £. 8s. 4 and three fourthd. Pensions were granted to fifty-six sisters and to eighteen brethren. The nuns, however, so far proved the sincerity of their profession that they continued to live together elsewhere until queen Mary reinstated them at Syon, which had been kept in the possession of the crown. At their final suppression in the following reign they migrated in a body to Portugal, carrying with them the abbey keys, as the Arabs of Spain are said to have taken with them to Morocco the keys of their ancient dwellings on the slopes of the Sierras. When, centuries later, a duke of Northumberland was at Lisbon he visited the Bridgettine convent, and the abbess told him that they still retained the keys brought from Syon by their predecessors.

I dare say,

replied the duke;

but we have altered the locks since then.

During the French invasion of Portugal the nuns sought a refuge in England, and lived some time at Peckham. When the war was over the Lisbon house was revived, and in the community returned a second time to England, and took up their abode in .

Meanwhile Syon underwent various vicissitudes. It was, with the neighbouring Osterley, a part of the estate of Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset. On his attainder both reverted to the Crown, and Syon was granted to the duke's rival, Northumberland, Here


the ill-fated lady Jane Dudley received the offer of the throne. At the duke's attainder, for the second or third time Syon went to the Crown; it so remained during the reign of Elizabeth. James I. gave it to Henry Percy, ninth earl of Northumberland, in , and when, in , the heiress of the Percies married the it became a second time the property of a Seymour. Within sixty years, however, it went to a third family, that of Smithson, whose representative, the duke of Northumberland, is its present owner. Though the modern house is mainly that built by the protector Somerset, it has been so often altered and remodelled that nothing is visible of the older building. A century ago, both Syon and Osterley underwent the finishing touches of the accomplished Robert Adam, on whose work dilates with rapture. In our own day the famous lion from Northumberland House at migrated thither, and now looks down on the terraced lawns, with their vistas towards , which appear almost as if they formed part of the domain. The interior of the house is famous for its magnificence and for the costly collections it contains. Columns of , found in the Tiber, and purchased at an enormous price, mosaic tables, a vase of Irish crystal mounted in gold, portraits by Holbein and Reynolds, pictures by Snyders and Landseer, prints, drawings, and books, make it worthy of its owner's rank and wealth.

Few such houses as Syon now remain in Middlesex, but Osterley in some respects runs it close. Both were remodelled by Adam. The older Osterley was the scene of a well-known story. It belonged in the time of Elizabeth to Sir Thomas Gresham.

Her majesty,

says Fuller-himself at a later period rector of Cranford,


not far off-

Her majesty found fault with the court of this house as too great, affirming that it would appear more handsome if divided with a wall in the middle. What doth Sir Thomas, but in the night time sends for workmen to London (money commands all things), who so speedily and silently apply their business that the next morning discovered that court double which the night had left single before.

Fuller adds the opinion of some, with special reference to disputes in the Gresham family, that any house is easier divided than united, and certainly Sir Thomas's was no exception. Osterley went, like Bordeston, of which I have already spoken, to lady Gresham's son by her first marriage, afterwards to Sir Edward Coke, then to a descendant of lady Gresham, the wife of George earl of Desmond, and finally, after several intermediate owners, to Francis Child, the banker.[32]  With the rest of his wealth it ultimately descended to the Jersey family.

Another great Middlesex house has long disappeared. The glory of Canons was of brief duration,[33]  but a blacksmith's shop, hard by at Edgware, is associated still with the name of , who was organist to the duke of Chandos. He had been previously in the service of the earl of Burlington, and may have performed in the beautiful villa at Chiswick, which I have still to describe. At there are tangible memorials of the great musician. Tradition and something more has commemorated William Powell, the harmonious blacksmith. He was parish clerk of Whitchurch, and died in . The humble rail which marked his grave has lately given place to a substantial monument, which bears among the inscriptions a bar of Handel's


immortal air.[34]  Authentic history, and what is often more valuable, contemporary satire, are frequently concerned with Handel and Canons and the village church in which his organ may still be heard. Pope sneered at the duke and the musician alike, and prophesied but too exactly the rapid approach of a time when

deep harvests


bury all his pride had planned, and laughing Ceres reassume the land.

Three years after Pope's death his forebodings were fulfilled. The duke was ruined by the South Sea Bubble,[35]  and the house was sold for the materials in . The grand staircase went to Chesterfield House in , where it still remains. A statue of king George[36]  went to Leicester Square, and disappeared piecemeal in our own day. A new, but smaller and more economical house, was afterwards inhabited by colonel O'Kelly, who owned, besides a famous parrot, a racehorse which from its birth during an eclipse, made the word celebrated as the name of the swiftest horse that ever ran. Eclipse lies buried in the park of Canons. His master is buried in the church of Little Stanmore, or Whitchurch, in which there is still much to remind the visitor of Handel and his magnificent patron the duke.

Without, the church is severely classical. It belies its name by being of red brick. Within, it is not only stately and convenient, but of an unusual design, a design, indeed, which an unprejudiced critic might be tempted to consider more suited to the requirements of modern worship than any adaptation of mediaeval gothic. It consists of a nave without aisles, and a small


chancel raised on three steps with richly carved oak columns to mark the separation. At the other end is a gallery, and behind the altar is the organ, Handel's organ. The most curious feature of Little Stanmore church is the decoration. As Pope scornfully and not quite accurately observes,-

On painted ceilings you devoutly stare,

Where sprawl the saints of Verrio and Laguerre,

Or gilded clouds in fair expansion lie,

And bring all Paradise before your eye.

Verrio had been dead for some years, but Bellucci's name would not fit into the line. There are figures of the evangelists and the apostles, of the cardinal virtues, and the law and gospel. The roof is blue, powdered with gold stars. On the north side is the chapel of the Chandos family, where the unfortunate duke, in Roman armour and a flowing wig, is supported by two of his wives-for he had three-on a magnificent tomb, recently repaired by the duke of Buckingham and Chandos, the heir of what was left of the family wealth.

The villa of another duke in Middlesex has a longer history than Canons. I have had occasion more than once to mention the of Burlington.[37]  The masterpiece of his art was a villa at , which now belongs to his descendant, the duke of Devonshire.

Chiswick is not mentioned in Domesday, but it is probable that a manor in Fulham, said to belong to the canons of St. Paul's, may be identified with it. It was early divided, and the duke of Devonshire has the lease of that part which used to be called Sutton. The other still nominally belongs to St. Paul's, but in it happened


that the stall of Chiswick was filled by Gabriel Goodman, who was dean of Westminster, and he leased it to the chapter of the abbey, who still, I believe, hold it, though the prebendary receives, or should receive, a small rent.[38] 

Chiswick House was for some time the residence of Carr earl of Somerset, the disgraced favourite of James I. He mortgaged it heavily to provide a dowry for his daughter, who married the earl of Bedford, and so became mother of William, lord Russell, beheaded in . The house became the property of the mortgagee, and after various changes it was bought by Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington and Cork. His great grandson was the architect, and lies buried in Chiswick Church beside his friend and assistant, Kent. He pulled down the old house and built the new one, which, with the addition of wings, still stands. His heiress married the fourth duke of Devonshire. Lord Burlington was brought up in a beautiful old house on Campden Hill,[39]  which may have stimulated his very remarkable architectural ability. He alone of modern classical builders seems to me to be worthy of comparison with Wren.[40]  His dormitory at Westminster School is perhaps the only one of his works which has survived intact.[41] Burlington House, in , has been defaced, and Chiswick has been added to, but enough remains to show how beautiful it must have been. The design was


imitated with some directness from one by Palladio. The wits of the time made merry over it. Various jests have been reported, and misreported, to the effect that, while it was too small to live in, it was too large to be hung on a watch chain.[42] 

By a curious coincidence, two very eminent statesmen died in the villa, though they were not owners or even tenants. Charles James Fox [43]  went to stay there for change of air in , and died in a fortnight. Twenty- one years later George Canning came there with his wife for the same reason, and after three weeks also died. Fox's bed-chamber was on the ground floor,

a small but cheerful room,

the walls covered with tapestry, and a portrait of Pope over the door. The bed had chintz curtains, with

a large and flowery pattern of green and red, upon a light ground.

The wooden cornice was painted a light brown and green, and the fringe, tassels, and lining were also green. During the garden-parties for which in the last generation Chiswick was so famous, and at one of which Sir and an elephant assisted, this chamber was used as a refreshment-room. The room in which Canning died is up stairs. Lord Dalling gave an account of it many years ago in a magazine, in which he characterised it as " cheerless." When his essays[44]  were reprinted he altered the word to


Near it was another into which Mrs. Canning was carried after all was over. Her life was at


first despaired of, but she recovered, and, having been created a viscountess, she survived her husband nearly ten years.[45]  Their son was the great Viceroy of India.

The grounds were beautifully laid out by Kent. As an example of successful landscape gardening they are unrivalled. Sir Joseph Paxton was by the late duke in the adjoining grounds of the Royal Horticultural Society, and soon, with such a patron, found means to distinguish himself, but the results of his labours are chiefly to be seen at Chatsworth. [46]  Some of the statues are from the old Arundel collection, others are skilful modern imitations of the antique. One relic of peculiar interest will be eagerly sought out by the visitor. It is the gate which built at , in the grounds which had once belonged to Sir , and afterwards to Lionel Cranfield, earl of Middlesex, and to Henry, duke of Beaufort. The site is now marked by Lawrence Street and other small rows of houses, and is bounded on the west by Beaufort Street, formerly the Lovers' Lane. The house was pulled down by Sir a few years after he bought it, in ; and this gate, which consists of a very simple portico with two doric columns, was given by him to the


architect earl; who, no doubt, highly prized it.[47]  Pope is said to have written some lines on the occasion:-



O gate how cam'st thou here ?



I was brought from


last year,

Battered with wind and weather;

Inigo Jones

put me together,


Hans Sloane

Let me alone,

Burlington brought me hither.


The county has been represented in Parliament from the earliest time, and elections were held on [49]  before , when Brentford became the and so continued till the beginning of the present reign, when polling places were opened at , , , , , , and , as well. Brentford has been the scene of some lively contests, and all the constitutional questions involved in the elections of Wilkes, and afterwards of Burdett, were fought out here. [50] 

It would be but too easy to make a volume about the outlying districts of and their eminent inhabitants. I have said enough to show how interesting the subject might be if properly treated.[51]  There are many


temptations to prolixity. I have endeavoured to take a few typical examples only; but there is scarcely a village in the county without its memories of some one who made himself famous in the great neighbouring city. Sometimes the same eminent person is found in different places, as Lamb at and , Goldsmith at and at the Hyde on the Edgware Road, Pope at and , Dr. Johnson at and at Topham Beauclerk's villa on Muswell Hill. I have said nothing of and , partly because so much has been written already on the subject, and partly because I do not concern myself with mere records of fashion. For similar reasons I have omitted many other places. A connected history of the immediate suburbs is more to my purpose, and it must suffice here merely to recall a few of the great names which otherwise I pass over. We might stand with where he composed his 'Ode to a Nightingale,' though the view from is so changed, especially in the last few years, that little remains to be seen as he saw it. From " Byron's Tomb," as a nameless stone is called in the churchyard of Harrow, we can still look over as fair a vale as any either poet ever saw. It is interesting to visit the room in which queen Anne was born at York House, . At , near Barnet, we may see a house built by the ill-fated admiral Byng, who called it after the ancient seat of his ancestors in Kent. We may trace the footsteps of Monk from his last halting-place at . We may climb , where William Wilberforce lived, and seek at Parson's Green the residence of . And we must beware of spurious imitations. John Gilpin's "Bell at Edmonton" has disappeared, and another Bell since. The house at in which


Bacon died was pulled down in . Whittington's milestone has been moved about to different places, if, indeed, any of it remains. Pope's villa was built in the present century, and is not even on the original site. But more than enough remains. There is , where Harvey discovered the immortal fish sauce. There is Laleham, where Arnold young collegians and prepared himself for the great work of his life. At , near Monken Hadley, the was fought in , on Easter Sunday. Lord Buckhurst, the poet, built a house at . Walter Map, the merry archdeacon of Henry II.'s court, lived at Mapesbury in Willesden. Good queen Adelaide died at Bentley Priory, in Great Stanmore, in . Many of us are better acquainted with foreign countries than with our own. To some of us the environs of Cairo or Naples are more familiar than those of . But, granted health, there is no place in the world which has the same interest for an Englishman as the county of .


[1] See vol. i. chapter iv.

[2] It is described and figured by Mr. Hartshorne in the ' Transactions' of the London and Middlesex Society, iv. 417. It is 192 feet in length by 36 feet 9 inches in width, and 39 feet in height.

[3] There is another immense barn at Headstone, 147 feet 8 inches long by 38 feet 8 inches wide. 'Transactions,' iii. 188.

[4] See below, chapter xxi.

[5] Mr. Shirley found no family in Middlesex to fit the requirements of admission to his list of 'Noble and Gentle Men of England,' all of whom held land before Bosworth. See further on in this chapter.

[6] Short Remarks and Suggestions upon Improvements' (by lord Farnborough), published by Hatchards in Piccadilly, 1826.

[7] Pine's Royal Residences, vol. ii.

[8] For a list of the prebends of St. Paul's see Appendix F.

[9] See above, vol. i. p. 129.

[10] 'Middlesex Parishes,' p. 107.

[11] Hoc manerium tenuit Goda comitissa T.R.E. 'Domesday Book.' Lysons goes on to say that this is the only instance of such remote possession in the county of Middlesex. In so speaking he may have overlooked Enfield.

[12] The earliest mention of Hatfield in the ' Codex Diplomaticus' is in a charter of queen AElfgifu, 1012.

[13] The meaning of the name escapes me. It may be personal. If so who was Mim? North Mimms is called in Domesday Mimmine. The surnames Minshew and Minshull-Mins-wood or hough-are not uncommon.

[14] i. 74.

[15] The ancient high waie to high Bernet, says Norden, as quoted by Mr. Cass in his paper on South Mimms, published by the London and Middlesex Society, from Porte-pool, now Grayes Inne, as also from Clerkenwell, was through a lane on the east of Pancras Church, called Longwich Lane, from thence, leaving Highgate on the west, it passed through Tallingdon Lane, and so to Crouch Ende, and thence through a Parke called Harnsey Great Parke to Muswill Hill, to Coanie Hatch, Fryarne Barnet, and so to Whetstone, which is now the common highway to High Bernet. This was, of course, before a road was made over Highgate Hill.

[16] See above, vol. i. chapters v. and vi., and Aungier's 'French Chron.' II. 13.

[17] See pedigree and very full account, with a view of the Frowyke Chantry in South Mimms Church, in Mr. Cass's paper already mentioned. Their arms with twelve quarterings are there engraved.

[18] Thorne, ' Environs,' i. 160.

[19] See some remarks on the date of her death in Chester's 'Westminster Abbey Registers' ; on her tomb and in the register it is December ; but Col. Chester shows that it should be September. He is wrong, however, in speaking of her lying a corpse in the palace, during some court festivities. She died in a private house, Stanwell.

[20] Second son of the first earl of Abingdon, and father of Willoughby Bertie, third earl.

[21] See vol. i. chapter x.

[22] Lysons, i. 29. It went to Gresham's stepson, Reade; thence to lady Reade's second husband, Spencer; he left a widow who bought up the reversions of the Reade heirs, and left Boston to her cousin Gouldsmith, whose trustees sold it on his death. Here, therefore, are seven families before 1670 : Seymour, Dudley, Gresham, Reade, Spencer, Gouldsmith and Clitherow, besides the crown.

[23] Richard Taylor bought Staines from Sir William Drake in 1678. Thomas Wood was owner of the advowson of Littleton in 1673; but neither Lysons nor Thorne succeeded in tracing the family further back. The Woods bought the manor only a hundred years ago.

[24] The accounts of Hampton Court in Lysons and Thorne are very full. There is also a prettily illustrated little volume devoted to it by Jesse.

[25] Katharine Howard haunts the passage to the chapel. Law, 'Pictures at Hampton Court,' p. 266.

[26] Jesse's 'Court of England,' ii. 49.

[27] Heath, quoted by Jesse, ii. 377.

[28] Evelyn's 'Diary,' 9th June, 1662.

[29] See Law's ' Pictures at Hampton Court,' p. 102.

[30] Aungier's 'History of Syon and Isleworth.'

[31] See vol. i. chapter x.

[32] See vol. i. chapter xiii.

[33] Thorne, i. 72.

[34] It is said to have been traced to an old German melody, but Handel made it his own.

[35] Vol. i. chapter xiii.

[36] There is some uncertainty which king George was represented.

[37] Vol. i. chapter xii., and vol. ii. chapter xxi.

[38] In 1845, it was reported worth annually 39£ 2s. 6d. See Falkner, 'Brentford, Ealing and Chiswick,' a book on which too much dependence must not be placed.

[39] See below, chapter xxi.

[40] See above, vol. i. chapter xii.

[41] One fears to call attention to the existence of anything worth admiring or preserving in the scholastic precincts. The design is believed to have been founded on a drawing by Inigo Jones.

[42] This epigram, which may be found in Walpole's 'Anecdotes of Painting,' is attributed, with others, to lord Hervey. By Lysons it is assigned to lady Hervey.

[43] These notes are quoted by Faulkner from lady Chatterton's ' Home Sketches and Foreign Recollections,' published in 1841. In lord Stanhope's 'Miscellanies,' Second Series, p. 79, the question whether the two statesmen died in the same room, as commonly reported, and asserted by Thorne, i. 110, is set at rest by a letter from the late duke of Devonshire.

[44] 'Historical Characters,' ii. 402.

[45] The duke's note is as follows:- Chiswick, March 18, 1854. My dear Lady Newburgh, Canning died in a room upstairs. I had a great foreboding when he came here, and would not allow of his living in the room below, where Fox had died. The other room above has been very much altered, and furnished differently since. I am not surprised at Lord Mahon wanting to know; it was a sad and curious coincidence. Ever yours, &c., Devonshire. Lady Chatterton says:- The housekeeper showed us a room downstairs, where he read prayers to the family each Sunday.

[46] It is said, on the authority of local gossip, that the sums spent by Paxton at Chatsworth would have ruined the duke had not lady Paxton developed financial powers of a remarkable character.

[47] Lord Burlington had already assisted Kent in publishing some of Inigo Jones's designs.

[48] Faulkner, p. 434.

[49] Strange to say neither Park in his 'Perambulation of Hampstead ' nor Howitt in his 'Northern Heights,' gives any account of the Middlesex elections. A list of members elected at Brentford will be found in Faulkner's ' Ealing,' p. 38.

[50] See vol i. chapter xiv.

[51] Students may be referred to Lysons, whose five volumes of 'Environs ' are models of topographical accuracy, and to Thorne's 'Handbook,' filled with pleasant gossip. Of the shrievalty of Middlesex I have given some account in vol. i. chapter iv.