Although there is evidence that Hounslow has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, the town and borough’s name is thought to originate in the Anglo-Saxon word for “hunting ground”. The town itself was officially founded in 1211, having grown up around what is now the Holy Trinity Priory and the Great Western Road, which was laid down by the Romans.
As the first stop out of, or last stop before, London the town has historically served as a stop along the road for weary travellers and many of the original structures in Hounslow were inns, alehouses and coach houses. When the Great Western Railway line and Great Western Road were both built to pass through Hounslow, the town began to flourish as a commuter town.
Hounslow owes much of its modern development to its agricultural land being bought up to house the City’s growing workforce who flock to London to take advantage of the plentiful jobs to be found through London classified ads.
Isleworth started life as a Romano-British settlement, thought to have once been named Gislheresuuyrth, meaning Gislhere’s Settlement, but is referred to in the Domesday Book as Gistelesworde.
Isleworth’s history after Domesday owes much to the British Royal Family, particularly Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I, as its main manor buildings were entitled to various Royal cousins and other members of the landed gentry. Possession of the manor was then passed to the Percy family and has remained so for the past 400 years.
This association with the nobles led many aristocrats and other society high flyers to settle in the town, which is responsible for many of the manors and large houses in Isleworth. Outwith its royal and noble associations, Isleworth was historically home to a large number of orchards during the 18th and 19th centuries and the fruit from these supplied London’s markets.
Once known as Hestune in Saxon times, Heston originally belonged to the parish of Isleworth (Gistleworde at the time) before being adopted by Henry III.
The town was granted then first to the Earl of Cornwall by Henry and then later to Sir Thomas Gresham by Elizabeth I. It’s said that after sampling some bread made from Heston’s wheat, Elizabeth insisted all her bread be made from Heston wheat.
Heston is centered around St Leonard’s Church, the tower of which is one of the oldest surviving structures in the town having been built in the 14th century. Heston is remarkable as the resting place of two notable figures: Sir Joseph Banks, a famed naturalist, and Private Frederick John White, the last man to be flogged to death.