Friday, June 18, 2021

Turnham Green


This is the 53rd station I have visited on the District Line. This line is coloured green on the tube map and serves more stations (60) than any other Underground line. It starts at Upminster in the east and terminates at Ealing Broadway in the west. At Earl's Court it splits into a number of branches. One runs to Wimbledon in SW London another short branch to Kensington  (Olympia). The main route continues west from Earl's Court to Turnham Green which is where I am today. From here the line divides again into two western branches, to Richmond and Ealing Broadway.

Turnham Green opened in January 1869 and is served by the District and the Piccadilly lines although the Piccadilly line only stops here at the beginning and end of the day.





Beneath the railway bridge outside the station is the very impressive Timeline made up of 16 enormous maps of the area dating from 1592 to today.  The images are of the same loop of the River Thames and are on both sides of the road. A huge party was held in 2018 when The Timeline was officially  unveiled.


A local group named 'Abundance London' decided to try and improve the 'ugly eyesore' that was the road under the railway bridge. It was funded by local residents, businesses and two councils.

Across the road from the station is Turnham Green. It was here in 1642 that Parliamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell and Royalists confronted one another in one of the first battles of the English Civil War. War broke out in August 1642 when there was a struggle between King Charles I and his Westminster Parliament over who should control the army needed to crush the Irish insurrection. Strained relations between the King and Parliament, over the constitution, taxation and control of the army came to a head when the King tried to arrest five Members of Parliament. Parliament began recruiting soldiers in July and by August the Civil War in England had begun. Everyone thought it would be over quickly, but between 1642 and 1646, about a quarter of Englishmen became soldiers and one in twenty-five of the population died.

Parliamentarians and Royalists confronted one another at Brentford and Turnham Green. On 13th November 1642, 24,000 parliamentarians had formed up on the open land here facing a royalist army half that size. The numbers involved made this the third largest battle on British soil. 
 As a result of these battles early in the Civil War, King Charles I was prevented from capturing London and ending the war. The struggle went on until 1646 but the royalists were never able to attack London again. Charles I was executed in 1649. The monarchy was restored in 1660 when the son of Charles I returned to England and took to the throne as Charles II.

Facing the Green and attached to the wall of the railway viaduct is another piece of artwork. It is called 'Stay at home' and is the work of students from Chiswick School. During lockdown, schools in England remained open to allow students of vulnerable or key worker families to attend.
'The mural is an expression of the students' fear and frustration about the 'stay at home' policy brought in by the government and health advisors.... The houses. all stacked on top of each other are slightly different, suggesting the students' experience of the housing they live in, mostly faceless estates or multiple occupancy buildings. At the window of each of the houses is the silhouette of a single figure quietly looking out at us...'
Abundance London

I crossed back over the road to the station and turned right onto Bath Road. On the left hand side is the church of St Michael and All Angels. It is a beautiful Arts and Crafts church designed by the Victorian architect Norman Shaw as the centrepiece of the Bedford Park conservation area. It does not have the look of a conventional church with its white balcony and windows protruding from the roof.


It is just as striking from the inside.
This is the entrance to the parish hall at the side of the church which was added a few years later.







Across the road from the church is the Tabard Inn, also designed by Norman Shaw.  Distinctive tiled gables overhang the road. The upper floor of the pub is a small theatre and when built it also included the Bedford Park Stores.
The church, the Tabard Inn and stores were built at the convergence of the three main roads to be at the centre of the Bedford Park development and the centre of the community.


I had to visit this area twice. On my first visit I didn't venture in to the Bedford Park estate as walking round residential streets doesn't usually throw up anything of interest to the reader. However, once home I read a little more about Bedford Park and couldn't understand how one estate could have 356 Grade II listed buildings. I realised then I would have to return and investigate further. Bedford Park was planned as a self contained community to include the necessary community buildings - church, inn, shops and school. Jonathan Carr (1845-1915) came up with the idea of using land around his father-in-law's home of Bedford House, which was situated close to the recently opened Turnham Green station. Carr bought up land from Bedford House as well as neighbouring houses and decided to preserve the trees growing in their grounds. His idea was to promote a healthy place to live within easy commuting distance of the City of London. He was inspired by the aesthetic movement of the 1870s and wanted to create the ideal place for the artistically minded middle classes. 


The white fencing contrasts well with the locally sourced red brick.

Some had the Dutch/Flemish style of curved gables.

Carr was inspired by William Morris who once said '.... suppose people lived in little communities among gardens and fields, so that they could be in the country in five minutes.' A number of the houses were built with artist's studios and an early survey of just 168 residents found that 40 were artists, 16 were architects or engineers and nine were musicians or actors. So from the beginning the suburb attracted a particular type of resident.


After some of the finest houses were demolished, the Bedford Park Society was founded in 1963 with Sir John Betjeman, an English poet and writer as its first patron, to protect the area. In 1967 356 houses were listed Grade II, protecting their historic features internally and externally for future generations.

I was so glad that I returned to the area as walking around this quiet estate was a real joy. It is dominated by large mature trees and greenery making it unlike other estates I have encountered on my walks. The houses are individually designed yet have a conformity enhanced by the use of red brick and white windows and woodwork. I was also staggered by the number of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar and Porsche cars that lived in the driveways.








This is the school with a beautiful Victorian post box outside.




On my second visit to the area, Covid rules had changed and I was allowed to sit outside a cafe and have something to eat. It is more than a year since I have been able to do this whilst on my Underground walks so the sandwich and cup of tea became a quiet celebration for me. I chose the Post Room for this momentous occasion. As the name suggests this used to be the Post Office.
Not all was perfect as unfortunately I had the camera on the wrong setting, hence the wishy washy look of the photos! 

Inside the Post Room which is a small shop as well as a cafe.






I left the station and Bedford Park via Turnham Green Terrace which took me onto Chiswick High Road.

The first thing I noticed was this statue of Hogarth unveiled in October 2001. William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a great British painter and engraver and is probably one of this area's most famous residents. By all accounts the statue was a very welcome addition to the High Street. Hogarth used his art work to draw attention to the issues he cared about - poverty, political corruption, drunkenness and cruelty to animals. Hogarth owned several pug dogs. hence. a statue of a dog at his side was included despite the extra expense.


Not far from the statue is this pub, the Pack Horse and Talbot. From 1689 to 1811 it was just called 'The Pack Horse'. A trader's token (used instead of coins) dating to 1669 has been found which had the words 'Ye Pack Hors in Turnam Greene' written on it. The name is apparently derived from the talbot, a type of dog used in heraldry as a companion/guardian of the packhorse driver. The pub was rebuilt in the 1920s.


Originally opened as a hall for music and dancing the Cinema Royal on Chiswick High Road opened as a cinema in May 1912. It's popular name was The Cave due to its narrow opening and a flashing stalagmite outside. It closed as a cinema in 1933 and other than being utilised for parachute storage during WW2 it remained closed for the next twenty years. It reopened in the 1950s selling Victorian furniture. In the 70s it almost became a supermarket but  instead was bought by two local antique dealers to become a well known antiques emporium known as The Old Cinema.


On the other side of the High Street is this building which used to be the Chiswick tram depot that opened in 1883/4. At that time the trams were horse drawn and the building had stables for 170 horses. It was taken over by London United Tramways Company in 1884 and then by London County Council in 1922. It was rebuilt for electrification of trams in 1899 and that is the building we can see today.  The building continued as a tram depot until 1935. After that trams were withdrawn and trolley buses took over. By 1966 it was used as a garage for the airport coaches that London transport ran for British European Airways that later became British Airways. It became a bus garage in 1980, closed in 1996 and then reopened in 1999. It is now operated by London United RATP, a bus company offering services under contract to Transport for London. The building is now known as Stamford Brook Bus Garage
Next to the bus garage on Chiswick High Road is the Power House that was originally part of an enormous power station built in 1901 to power the first stretch of tramway in West London. It is now home to the  Metropolis studios, an independently run recording complex..  The building had been empty for nearly seventy years before the enormous structure was discovered by the Metropolis group. Inside it had a main hallway measuring 50m long, 20m wide and 25m high. It meant that the new studios project could be fitted inside the structure of the existing building.  It took three years to design the studios which were opened in 1989. Many musical legends have used these studios including The Rolling Stones, Queen, Elton John, Justin  Bieber and Lady Gaga. 

I could not go beyond the gates and photograph this splendid building. All I could get was this tantalising glimpse from the driveway.







This used to be the police station but as with many of the  High Street police stations, it is now a pub and restaurant.
Another large pub on Chiswick High Road is the George IV. This has been licensed premises since at least 1771 and was rebuilt in 1931. It had changed its name from the Boston Arms in the 1820s. It would have been a coaching stage in the beginning on this main route in and out of London. It is known that it was here that you could buy tickets for stage coaches and from 1838 there was an omnibus service to the City from the pub. It was refurbished again in 2002 when a storeroom was converted into a function room where live comedy shows and jazz nights are held. 






There are a number of large and impressive buildings on this road. This is the old Chiswick fire station, built in 1891. This building is now a restaurant. A new station was built elsewhere in 1965.


I left Chiswick High Road down one of the many residential roads which link the High Road with the Great West Road as I wanted to find Chiswick House and gardens.












The house and gardens were created between 1725 and 1738 by William Kent, an architect and designer and the Earl of Burlington. 












They experimented with a natural style of gardening that was to spread world wide. Influenced by their travels on the Grand Tour they rejected  the showy style fashionable in England for the simpler, symmetrical design based on the classical architectural of Italy.









They wanted to create a more natural looking landscape and so began the English Landscape Movement which went on to influence gardens from Blenheim Palace to New York's Central Park.






















Kent believed that surroundings should be inspired by nature and complement architecture. He often created streams or lakes connected to nature.
The Earl of Burlington designed the house in 1775. It is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in England. (Palladianism is characterised by classical forms, symmetry and strict proportions. It was developed by the 16th century venetian architect Andrea Palladio.)

When the Earl of Burlington died in 1753, the estate was passed onto the Dukes of Devonshire by marriage. From the 1860s onwards, the Devonshires let the house and gradually moved its historic contents to their main residence at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The house was rented by Edward Prince of Wales and hosted his mother Queen Victoria and other members of the royal family as well as guests from around the world. I would have liked to look around the house but due to Covid restrictions it wasn't open to the public. Between the years 1892 to 1928 the Chiswick House became a mental institution. In 1929 the estate was sold to Middlesex County Council when the gardens and house were opened to the public. Major restoration work in 2010 with money from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has helped to return the villa and the gardens to their original design and layout.

This very different building in the grounds is a cafe designed by Caruso St John and won the RIBA London building of the year in 2011.


I left Chiswick House and gardens to make my way back to the station. I walked down Hogarth Lane. The name is very deceptive. Once surrounded by open fields the lane is now a dual carriageway and the only way to cross is via a subway. So it is a great surprise to come across Hogarth House built in the early 18th century. This 300 year old house originally had three storeys each with two rooms and a central staircase. James Downes, a baker inherited the orchard from his mother in 1713 and built the house in one corner. 

In the 18th century the house was used as a second home by people from Central London like the artist, William Hogarth. Members of his family used the house from 1749 until 1808. As Victorian Chiswick ( see previous post of Stamford Brook for more information on Old Chiswick) became built up, the house went out of fashion and it was let to many different tenants.

In 1900, the house was put up for sale for redevelopment. A preservation campaign by artists and writers could not raise the purchase price but Lieutenant-Colonel Shipway of Grove House in Chiswick bought and restored it, opening it to visitors from 1904. The house survived serious war time damage in 1940 and a fire in 2009. A refurbishment was completed in 2011.
Had it not been for Covid restrictions I would have liked to have had a look round Hogarth's House. That not being possible I made my way back to the station after a tiring but interesting day.

14 comments:

  1. Another unknown making known. Bravo and a very interesting read again.

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  2. On the other side of the world and dreaming of one day seeing London again - I enjoyed following you along your walk.

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  3. The map murals are brilliant. I am sure a lot of time could be spent looking at them.
    It is hard to believe St Michael's is a purpose built church.
    I'm not a huge fan of public statues but I love the Hogarth statue and the dog is a nice extra touch.
    It isn't at all surprising about the number of expensive cars in the area.
    Nice work.

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  4. My goodness … an entire book could be written about the evolution of this area and you very well could be the person to do it. Funny how we’ve always known what’s best for the planet and, therefore, ourselves. The ideal: "... suppose people lived in little communities among gardens and fields, so that they could be in the country in five minutes."

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  5. Thank you for the effort and time to make this post. I feel like I was there in person. So very well done.

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  6. What a fascinating outing, this is the kind of wandering that I love.

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  7. Another outstanding post. I like the little sidelight about English history. English history is very rich and complex and I have yet to get my head around it so I like little snippets like yours.

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  8. That timeline sounds cool, to be able to see the differences between now and then is historically interesting.

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  9. I like the "Stay at Home" art. But not we're free!

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  10. Oops sorry! I've been having problems commenting (again). Really enjoyed this station stop. The naturalized gardens and the residential areas are all lovely. We like having time for walking around "regular" neighborhoods wherever we go, but I don't think any are as interesting as London's. Also enjoyed the history and the poster made by the students. Easy to forget how all the Covid crud was even harder for some kids . I'm glad you had a chance to go back a second time to this area.

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  11. I'm not surprised you were exhausted by the end - good job you got to enjoy the Post Office visit for lunch - exciting how a sandwich out now seems! I like the school kids mural was very telling so of the year.
    I enjoyed my wander with you today
    Wren x

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  12. Another one of London hidden beauties. I like that station building very much with it rounded look made with bricks.The park with the bridge and that painted house are really worth checking out. Perfect guide work again.

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  13. Another great tour. You must have been exhausted at the end of it. Thank goodness you can now take a break for refreshments.

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