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Reprinted from " The Middlesex County Times May 5th 1928.

Not far from Boston Manor District Railway Station, just within the boundary of the Parish of Hanwell, there stands an old and withered oak.

Today it bears no foliage:

Apparently it is dead, but for centuries it has stood there, a convenient landmark between the boundaries of the parishes of Hanwell and Brentford. It is, however something more than a boundary mark; it is one of the two Gospel Oaks in Greater London whose identity survived until the present time The other is at Gospel Oak, Hampstead. In olden times there was a Gospel Oak in many, if not all, the parishes, for beneath these trees was carried out one of those customs which the Christian Church inherited and adapted from pagan times. At the festival of Amborvallia the Romans would make a procession of their fields and invoke the blessing of Ceres, the Goddess of Corn, on their crops. Quite early in the Christian era this custom was adapted by the Church, and on one of the Rogation days. In latter times on Rogation Sunday, the Sunday before Ascension Day, the clergy and people of the parish would make a round of the parish for the dual purpose of calling upon the Divine blessing for the crops and to “preserve in all classes of the community a correct knowledge of due respect for the bounds of the parochial and private property.” Beneath a suitable oak tree on the bounds of the parish the procession would halt and the rector or curate, would hold a short, service of thanksgiving and invocation for God's blessing.

The fields in which the Gospel Oak stood at Hanwell and those adjoining it, fell out of cultivation several years before the war but were turned into allotments during the war. In 1917, the custom of holding a service beneath the Gospel Oak was revived with most of the clergy and ministers of the Hanwell churches taking part in the service and procession in that year. In the following year the Rev. J. Brown Logie conducted a service beneath the oak on Rogation Sunday but since then the custom again been allowed to lapse. In view of the fact that these fields will probably be built over in the course of few years the Ealing Town Council has agreed to affix a plaque to the railings which border the road, to commemorate the fact that this was the spot at which the old custom, was carried out.

Image and content provided by Barry Cole, 2003.