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Directions and historical notes for Beating the Bounds of Hanwell.

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Beating the bounds walk

The Fox, at the turn of the century, was still used as the meeting place for the local hunt, hence its name. The gent’s and ladies are still labelled "Foxes" and "Vixens". Follow the towpath, south, towards Osterley Lock. After 1/2 mile there is a large patch of brambles. Where this finishes is a grassy part at the back and to the left near a tree you will find the first BOUNDARY STONE Continue along the towpath to Osterley Lock.
The loop in the river at the bottom of the weir is the old course of the Brent. The river was drastically straightened (see old map of Hanwell) when it became the canal. On this loop is the site of the original GALLOWS BRIDGE mentioned later. Continue down the towpath towards the motorway and tube line. Just before the motorway bridge. There is a path to the left after The loop of the Brent rejoins the canal leading up through the trees. Turn left onto the pathway.

The tube line is the southern boundary of the parish. THE GALLOWS where highwaymen and thieves were hanged stood between Boston Manor Station and the motorway and would have been clearly visible from the river. Further down the canal is the "new" Gallows Bridge (built to allow the horses that towed the barges to cross the canal). After the footbridge, turn left and walk up the path to Southdown Avenue. Turn right into Southdown Avenue, left into Wellmeadow Road then right onto Boston Road. Cross the road at The pelican crossing by the station. Turn left and then first right into Cawdor Crescent.

THE GOSPEL OAK stood where Boston Manor Station now stands. it is believed that when the parish of St Mary’s Church extended right down to Brentford, church services were held at the half-way point to save those from the south having to walk all the way to the church. Its decayed trunk was removed in 1929. Continue round Cawdor Crescent, turning right into Clitherow Avenue, which crosses Hazlemere Avenue.
Hazlemere Avenue used to be known as Thieves Lane and was used by the villagers of little Ealing to take produce to, or go to work at the large estates at Osterley and Syon. Crossing Boston Lane they walked along Curd Lane (the name of this lane is disputed by some), past the gallows on their left, and across the Brent over Gallows Bridge (which we walked close towards earlier). Returning after dark, they were frequently attacked — hence the name "Thieves Lane". Continue along Clitherow Avenue, until you reach Erlsmere Gardens.
A further stone lies in a private garden between Woodstock Avenue and Clitherow Avenue but this is not normally open to public view. The inscription reads; "1905 C HANWELL PARISH".
This was part of CLITHEROWS FARM owned in 1814 by James Clitherow. The Clitherow Family of Boston Manor House were merchant bankers. They entertained William IV and Queen Adelaide for dinner at Boston Manor House in 1834. At Erlesmere Gardens turn right and first left into Balmoral Gardens.
Balmoral Gardens.

This was the northern boundary of a small Roman Encampment probably from the 1st Roman invasion in 54 BC.

A left and a right at the end of Balmoral Gardens brings us to Midhurst Road. Turn left into Leighton Road. The next BOUNDARY STONE is on the north side of Leighton Road between Seward and Coldershaw Roads . Take a right into Seward Road.


Seward Road. Thomas Seward had a farm here until 1912.

Continue along Seward Road. In the middle of the north side of Oaklands Road between Grosvenor and Coldershaw Roads is the next BOUNDARY STONE.

Boundary Stone in Oaklands Road
Inscription: 1900 PARISH

Continue up Grosvenor Road. Another BOUNDARY STONE can be found in the middle of the north side of Hatfield Road. Turn right into Uxbridge Road.

Boundary Stone in Hatfield Road
Inscription 1914

Uxbridge Road Probably existed as a track as early as Medieval times (1000-1400 AD) but must have been a reasonable road by the 14th century when bridges at Middle Ford (Brent Bridge) are recorded as being in need of repair. As London grew, there was a great demand for food for the rapidly increasing population, and for wool to feed the growing export trade. Thus this road, form London to Oxford, became more important, running parallel to the main London Road which ran through Brentford and out to the west through Hampton Court. The route now takes an excursion outside the boundary in order to cross the railway at Jacob’s Ladder. Cross the Uxbridge Road at The far side of the lights and walk up Eccelston Road and right into Endsleigh Road At the end turn right and immediately left to go over Jacob’s Ladder. Walk across Drayton Green and turn left down Drayton Bridge Road, cross the road at the zebra crossing and walk over the railway bridge.

There is an extant boundary stone immediately behind the close board fence on the south side of Drayton Bridge Road perhaps 10 - 20 m west of the railway bridge. To find it, you need to come in from the end of the private drive to the flats below the bridge embankment and dive into the shrubs!.

At the end of the eastern section of Shakespeare Rd, right against the wooden fence bordering Drayton Bridge Road. Wording on the iron post is:

BOUNDARY 1899 (or 1890)


(Mike Gahan)

Boundary Stone.

This is in a private garden in Park Road. Please respect the privacy of the residents.

Previous occupants of the house salvaged the stone which used to lie at the end of the lane. The owner of the lane was about to throw it away as part of some development.

(Mike Gahan)

Further down Drayton Bridge Road is the site of the present Drayton Manor High School where Park House once stood. The estate covered the whole of the land northwards, over Cuckoo Hill and down to the Ruislip Road. In the early 1800’s it was owned by Sir Archibald MacDonald, Chief Baron of the Exchequer. Benjamin Sharpe bought it in 1848 and it passed to his son, Sir Montague Sharpe in 1883. It was pulled down about 1912. Take the walkway on the right after the bridge into Copley Close.
Copley Close. Sir John Copley, Lord Lyndhurst born 1772, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1830 -4, lived in Hanwell. As we walk along Copley Close we pass Bordars Road.
If you were to walk along Bordars Road and look up Cuckoo Avenue you can see what is left of the Central London District School (Cuckoo Schools) The school was opened in the mid 19th century (1856) to take children from the workhouses of central London and Southwark. The 1,000 children who were settled there, together with members of staff doubled the population of Hanwell overnight. Apart from the reception block, which still remains as a Community Centre, it was pulled down in 1933 to make way for the council to build an estate - the Cuckoo Estate. The most famous of the Cuckoo Schools’ children was Charlie Chaplin.
Mill Hill Field stood further west of the school and was named because of the WINDMILL. built there by the Abbot of Westminster (Richard de Crokesley) about 1250. It was pulled down in 1330, but the name remained for hundreds of years. Leaving Copley Close by the path to Ruislip Road East, turn right and cross Ruisllp Road East cross at the zebra crossing. Before the river take a rough path under the bridge arch. Where the bridge crosses the river is the northeast corner of the Parish. 

Near here is another BOUNDARY STONE located about 1 meter north of the footpath and reads; "xxxxx PARISH 1889" where "xxxxx" has been chiselled out. The path follows close to the road until you are opposite Greenford Avenue.

At this point over the river stood STICKLETON BRIDGE built, it is believed, to enable people from Greenford and Perivale to bring their corn across the Brent to be ground into flour at the mill on Cuckoo Hill. In 1339 there was a petition made to the King’s Court to make the Abbot repair the bridge because the former rector of Perivale and two parishioners had been swept away and drowned. It was moved to its present site in 1652 and is now known as Greenford Bridge.
Looking up Greenford Avenue the road rises to Cuckoo Hill at the top. In the 6~ century, this was the site of a BATTLEFIELD. The battle was between the Romano-British and an invading band of West Saxons. As a result, what is now Grove Avenue became known as Bloody Croft. The Domesday Book shows the hill being covered by woodland, which provided feeding for 50 pigs (i.e. acorns etc.) During the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 (1558-1603) the woods were cut down and cleared for the growing of wheat to be sold in London. Head down to the river and follow it as closely as possibly until Greenford Bridge. The pathway runs on the Hanwell side of the river. Cross the bridge and rejoin the pathway along side the river.
The River Brent has never been a navigable river but through history it has created a difficult to cross boundary. Rising in Mill Hill, North London, it flows close to the North Circular Road through Perivale and Hanwell before flowing into the Thames at Brentford. It has been straightened considerably to reduce the chance of flooding such as that which covered the streets of Perivale in 1901. Continue along the river and you can see how the river has been strengthened to make an island. Cross the river at the first bridge. Halfway over the bridge marks the old boundary. Keep to the path on the left going through the golf course. Follow the path until you reach the small brook and you will find the sixth BOUNDARY STONE to your left. Follow the river closely as possible and eventually you will come to Bowles Bridge.

Bowles Bridge (or Boles or Bulls) is thought to be named after John Bowles who owned Dormers Wells Manor) now Dormers Wells) in the reign of Elizabeth 1. The Romans may have previously used this crossing. A Roman inscribed stone was found in the garden of "The Hemitage" nearby. Crossing Bowles Bridge, turn immediately right into the Bunny Park.

St Mary’s Church is now visible — site of the ORIGINAL SETTLEMENT OF HANWELL VILLAGE. The first record of the church is in the 12th century, although there may have been a church there quite a while before then. It was re-built in 1782 but became too small and the present church was built in 1841 by the famous architect Sir George Gilbert Scott.

Churchfields was one of the three great fields, which were cultivated in rotation in medieval times. It was eventually purchased by the council and opened as a public park in 1898— "to preserve the hillside and river valley around the church, free of buildings".
The building next to the church is Rectory Cottage (built in 1805) and was the site of the FIRST SCHOOL IN HANWELL — built by the Hobbayne Trust in 1781 to teach poor children reading and writing. By the side was the Ale House, which was run by the Churchwardens and to which they repaired after the church services. The school was blown down in a gale a few years after it was built. A new schoolhouse was constructed but, in 1805 this was struck by lightning and burned down. The Hobbayne Trustees then built a new school in Half Acre Road. Now follow the river to the viaduct.
Bunny Park — formerly Brent Lodge. The house was built about 1782 when the Hanwell Park sold some of its land (at the same time it sold what now is Brent Valley Golf Course, for the building of another large house - The Grove). The last owner was Sir Montague Sharpe and after his death, the house fell into disrepair and was pulled down in 1931 when the council bought it as a public park. Turn right part way up the hill passing underneath the viaduct.
Wharncliffe Viaduct Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed and supervised the erection of the viaduct. As engineer for the Great Western Railway he constructed the 120 miles from London to Bristol. Work on the Viaduct began in 1836 and trains were running from Paddington to Maidenhead by June 1838. The railway used the broad gauge of 7 feet 1/2 inch but was later converted to Stevensons "carriage width" 4 feet 8 1/2 inches. The viaduct gets its name from Lord Wharncliffe who steered the GWR Bill through the House of Lords. His coat of Arms can be seen from the Brent Meadow site. In the 1870’s the viaduct was widened to take 4 lines. Queen Victoria, when on her regular visits to Windsor, would have her train stop on the viaduct in order that she could see the magnificent view of the Brent Valley and St Mary’s Church. Cross the river and follow the path through Brent Meadow.
On the opposite side of the river is Half Acre Road — one of the original strips of land belonging to William Hobbayne. The village cage (for prisoners) and stocks which were erected in 1788 stood on the eastern corner of the Junction with Oxford (Uxbridge) Road, opposite the Hobbayne School and poor houses. On the other side of the main road, a village pump was erected in 1815 to supplement water drawn from the well where St Anne’s School now stands. The cage and stocks were pulled down in 1844 and the stones used to build the west wall of the Parish Church.
Brent Bridge — known as the Middle Ford (the others are Greenford and Brentford). The first mention of the bridge was in 1396 when it was in need of repair. It was repaired or re-built early in the 16th century in stone but in 1675 it was again recorded as being built in brick. In 1762 the turnpike trustees re-built and widened it and from 1815 it became the responsibility of the County. In 1906 it was widened again and re-faced with stone. There was already a toll (money gate) there in the 15th century and, in 1714 it became turnpiked. Brent Meadow by the side was famous for its watercress beds.
The Viaduct Pub formerly The Coach and Horses was originally built in the early 1700’s. It provided overnight shelter for travellers who did not wish to cross the wild highlands, which lay beyond for they were notorious for highwaymen. The building of this inn created quite a change in the little village of Hanwell, for it introduced the need for ostlers, chambermaids, waitresses etc, etc, and a blacksmith’s forge was opened on the corner of Lower Boston Road opposite. In 1880 street lighting was introduced in an attempt to frustrate the footpads who lay in wait for people leaving the pub at closing time. Pass under the Uxbridge Road and continue along the river until you come to a sharp left hand bend.
Billet’s Hart on the opposite bank is now allotments. This land belongs to Hobbayne Trust and used to be common meadow. Cattle coming from the west used to cross the Brent at a shallow point here, and continue up Green Lane (hence the name — a green lane being a cattle track). In this way they avoided paying the toll over the Brent Bridge. The picnic tables are situated on the old boundary on infill used when the river was straightened. A little further along the river joins the canal.
The Grand Union Canal Work was commenced in 1793 by the Grand Junction Canal Company to link Brentford (and the Thames) to Braunston hence Birmingham. The Hanwell "flights" of locks was completed in 1796 and has been designated an ancient monument. It takes approximately 1 to 4 hours to clear the flights during which time 60,000 gallons of water are lost. There was considerable objection to the idea of the canal — that it would become "green mantled pools of stinking water". The problem came but it wasn’t "green". By the 1890’s the population had increased from 800 (1801) to 6000. The River Brent became an open sewer where not even water rats could live. Where the canal meets the river Brent turn left and after passing the Lock and crossing the bridge, take the exit from the canal and make your way to The Fox Public House.

Original source: http://www.ealing-web.com/route_history.htm.