East Bedfont

East Bedfont, Hounslow

A business and residential district situated south of Heathrow airport

Burlington House, East Bedfont-by-Des-Blenkinsopp

Finds of Roman coins indi­cate the pos­si­ble pres­ence of a Roman vil­la, and the Sax­ons built a church here.

The manor of East Bed­font was first record­ed in the eleventh cen­tu­ry and parts of St Mary’s church date from around 1150. In front of the church’s south porch are two ancient yew trees, which were trimmed into the shape of a pair of pea­cocks in 1704 (and restored to their orig­i­nal glo­ry in 1990). Prob­a­bly apoc­ryphal­ly, the top­i­ary is said to rep­re­sent two vain young women, pos­si­bly sis­ters, who used to show off their fin­ery by the church gate, to the irri­ta­tion of hum­bler wor­ship­pers. Thomas Hood wrote a long poem on the sub­ject.

Fac­ing the green to the east of the church, Burling­ton House was built in 1791 for William Reed. Shown in the pho­to above,* this hand­some, five-bay house has since been divid­ed into apart­ments.

Dur­ing the coach­ing era, East Bed­font lay at the mid­point on the sec­ond stage out of Lon­don, between Houn­slow and Staines. In 1826 its inns, of which the Black Dog was the most notable, were described as “respectable and yield­ing good accom­mo­da­tion.”

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St Mary the Vir­gin church and the Bed­font pea­cocks*

Until rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly East Bed­font remained a charm­ing back­wa­ter, with cot­tages and tall trees sur­round­ing the green and pond, and some out­ly­ing tim­ber-framed build­ings that may be 500 years old.

Expan­sion towards Feltham altered the local­i­ty’s char­ac­ter in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry, and the cre­ation of the Bed­font Lakes coun­try park intro­duced an entire­ly new side to the dis­trict in the ear­ly 1990s. For­mer mar­ket gar­dens that had been worked for grav­el and then used as land­fill sites were inten­sive­ly land­scaped, using 70 mil­lion cubic feet of soil to form hills that became the high­est point in the bor­ough. This new ameni­ty opened in 1995, with an accom­pa­ny­ing busi­ness ‘technopark’ on its north­ern edge, which attract­ed cor­po­ra­tions such as IBM, Cis­co Sys­tems and SAP.

East Bedfont’s res­i­den­tial pop­u­la­tion includes a sig­nif­i­cant Indi­an minor­i­ty, though this is small­er than in oth­er parts of the bor­ough. In most oth­er respects, the demo­graph­ic pro­file is remark­ably close to the nation­al aver­age. West Bed­font lies just out­side the Lon­don bound­ary.

Peter Harvey, the landlord of the Black Dog inn, invented a delicious fish sauce, but resisted all offers to buy its recipe. However, when his sister married a London grocer in 1776, Harvey gave them the recipe as a wedding present and the couple set up a company to market the sauce. Crosse and Blackwell acquired the company in 1920 but no longer makes Harvey’s sauce.

Postcode area: Feltham TW14
Population: 12,701 (Hounslow’s Bedfont ward, 2011 census)
Further reading: Andrea Cameron, Feltham, Hanworth and Bedfont: A Pictorial History, Phillimore, 2002
* The picture of Burlington House at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Des Blenkinsopp, and the picture of St Mary the Virgin church is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Graham Newell, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.