Ealing Common

Ealing Common, Ealing

A 40-acre open space in east Ealing, and the electoral ward that surrounds it

The Grange public house

In the Mid­dle Ages Eal­ing Com­mon cov­ered some 70 acres but its extent was reduced as a result of pro­gres­sive encroach­ment. Medieval tracks have been upgrad­ed to become the roads that now frame and tra­verse it.

From 1809 until his assas­si­na­tion in 1812, prime min­is­ter Spencer Perce­val lived at Elm Grove House, at the south-west cor­ner of the com­mon. His son’s wid­ow lat­er sold the Elm Grove estate to the East India Com­pa­ny.

In the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry the mano­r­i­al rights to the com­mon were trans­ferred from the bish­ops of Lon­don to the Eccle­si­as­ti­cal Com­mis­sion­ers. At that time the scrub was most­ly cleared, more trees were plant­ed and the ponds in the south-east cor­ner were drained.

Since that time, the com­mon has served as a ground for pony rides, a meet­ing place for thou­sands of strik­ing work­ers dur­ing the Gen­er­al Strike, wartime allot­ments and – to the present day – as a site for fun­fairs and cir­cus­es.

Shown in the pho­to above, the Grange pub­lic house was built in 1871 on the site of a for­mer beer house called the Crick­eters – a name that indi­cates anoth­er use to which the com­mon was put.

In 1878 the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Water Foun­tains Asso­ci­a­tion installed a drink­ing foun­tain beside the Uxbridge Road. The ameni­ty is locat­ed near the common’s Hang­er Lane bus stop.

Eal­ing Com­mon sta­tion opened in 1879, when hous­ing began to spread from the town in this direc­tion. In 1880 Eal­ing local board (the council’s fore­run­ner) bought the mano­r­i­al rights and assumed man­age­ment of the com­mon. St Matthew’s church and sev­er­al sub­stan­tial detached hous­es were soon built on North Com­mon Road, but the open fields of Ford­hook Farm sur­vived to the east until the end of the cen­tu­ry.

Hidden London: A milepost at the edge of a muddy Ealing Common, seen on a dull day
A mile­post at the edge of Eal­ing Com­mon

Build­ing reached a peak in 1903, when some rel­a­tive­ly new hous­es were demol­ished and replaced by blocks of flats.

Spencer Perceval’s youngest daugh­ter bequeathed mon­ey for All Saints’ church to be built in his mem­o­ry and Leopold de Roth­schild gave the site, where Elm Grove had for­mer­ly stood. The church was com­plet­ed in 1905. In that same year Eal­ing coun­cil enclosed War­wick Dene, at the south-west cor­ner of the com­mon, to cre­ate a fra­grant rest gar­den for the elder­ly and the blind.

Eal­ing Com­mon sta­tion was rebuilt for the arrival of the Pic­cadil­ly line in 1932. The com­mon con­tin­ued to be used for graz­ing and don­key rides until well into the 20th cen­tu­ry but dog-walk­ing is now the prime ani­mal activ­i­ty.

The Eal­ing Com­mon ward has a well-edu­cat­ed pop­u­la­tion and its pro­por­tion of twen­ty-some­things is near­ly twice the nation­al aver­age.

The Who’s Pete Townshend was an Ealing Common resident at the height of the band’s fame in the 1960s.

Postal district: W5
Population: 14,019 (2011 census)
Station: District and Piccadilly lines (zone 3)