Turnham Green, Hounslow
The commercial centre of Chiswick since the mid-19th century, straddling Chiswick High Road
By 1630 a hamlet separate from the riverside settlement at Chiswick was firmly established around the green, with 60 ratepayers. In 1642 an army of 24,000 Roundheads assembled to prevent Charles I from reaching London; nearly a thousand men died in the ensuing Battle of Turnham Green.
In an infamous incident in 1680, the Earl of Pembroke killed an innocent bystander with a thrust of his rapier while in a drunken rage; Pembroke was temporarily held in the Cock and Half Moon tavern, but his high status effected his release and he escaped punishment. Sir George Barclay and 40 conspirators plotted in vain to assassinate William III upon the green in 1696.
The common was rife with highwaymen and in 1776 a lone gunman robbed the Lord Mayor of London and his retinue. None of this lawlessness deterred several noble families from establishing country retreats here in the 18th century, while the village grew in significance as a coaching halt on the road to Bath.
In 1821 the Horticultural Society of London began to lay out a garden that extended from the south of the green towards Chiswick. The society organised an annual fête that was the forerunner of the modern Chelsea flower show.
Turnham Green gained its church in 1843 and a – somewhat remote – station in 1877. The church’s location is marked with a big pink pin on the map below (just beyond the left edge if you’re viewing on a narrow screen). By the end of the 19th century the substantial villas that had lined Chiswick High Road at discrete intervals were being replaced by a ribbon of terraces with shops at street level, while the hinterland filled with a mix of properties, generally getting smaller the later they were built.
Turnham Green is now very popular with young professionals, many of whom rent their homes privately. One-person households are common and statistics show relatively few families with children, although a stroll down Chiswick High Road may convey a different impression.
John Heath-Stubbs’ poem ‘Turnham Green’ (1968) commemorates the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo, who died here in 1827.
The novelist EM Forster lived at Arlington Park Mansions.