Turnham Green

Turnham Green, Hounslow

The commercial centre of Chiswick since the mid-19th century, straddling Chiswick High Road

Christ Church, by Hidden London

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.

Postal district: W4
Population: 11,448 (2011 census)
Station: District line; limited Piccadilly line service (zones 2 and 3)