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Chiswick is a district of west London, England. Most of it is in the London Borough of Hounslow. Other parts of the W4 postcodearea, including Chiswick Park tube station, Acton Green, and much of Bedford Park are in the London Borough of Ealing. It contains Hogarth's House, the former residence of the 18th-century English artist William Hogarth; Chiswick House, a neo-Palladian villa regarded as one of the finest in England; and Fuller's Brewery, London's largest and oldest brewery. It occupies a meander of the River Thames used for competitive and recreational rowing, with several rowing clubs on the river bank. The finishing post for the Boat Race is just downstream of Chiswick Bridge.
Chiswick was historically the ancient parish of St Nicholas in the county of Middlesex, with an agrarian and fishing economy beside the river centred on Church Street. Having good communications with London from an early time, Chiswick became a popular country retreat, and as part of the suburban growth of London in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the population significantly expanded. It became the Municipal Borough of Brentford and Chiswick in 1932 and has formed part of Greater London since 1965, when it was merged into the London Borough of Hounslow. Sublocalities include Bedford Park, Grove Park, the Glebe Estate, Strand-on-the-Green and those with named tube stations, Turnham Green and Gunnersbury, within its three full-sized wards of the United Kingdom.
On a border, the Chiswick or Great West Road Roundabout is the start of the North Circular Road (A406), South Circular Road (A205) with the eponymous road flying over this. West of Chiswick's Hogarth Roundabout, the Great West Road from central London converts to the M4motorway, providing a second mode of transport connection to Heathrow Airport and the M4 corridor. The Great Chertsey Road (A316) runs south-west from the Hogarth Roundabout, becoming the M3 motorway.
Historic figures who lived in Chiswick include the poets Alexander Pope and W. B. Yeats, the Italian revolutionary Ugo Foscolo, the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and the novelist E. M. Forster.
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Chiswick was first recorded c.1000 as the Old English Ceswican meaning "Cheese Farm"; the riverside area of Duke's Meadows is thought to have supported an annual cheese fair up until the 18th century.
Chiswick grew up as a village around St Nicholas Church from c. 1181 on Church Street, its inhabitants practising farming, fishing and other riverside trades including a ferry, important as there were no bridges between London Bridge and Kingston throughout the Middle Ages. The area included three other small settlements, the fishing village of Strand-on-the-Green, Little Sutton and Turnham Green on the west road out of London.
A decisive skirmish took place on Turnham Green early in the English Civil War. In November 1642, royalist forces under Prince Rupert, marching from Oxford to retake London, were halted by a larger parliamentarian force under the Earl of Essex. The royalists retreated and never again threatened the capital.
In 1864, John Isaac Thornycroft, founder of the John I. Thornycroft & Company shipbuilding company, established a yard at Church Wharf at the west end of Chiswick Mall. The shipyard built the first naval destroyer, HMS Daring of the Daring class, in 1893. To cater for the increasing size of warships, Thornycroft moved its shipyard to Southampton in 1909.
In 1822, the Royal Horticultural Society leased 33 acres (13.4 ha) of land in the area south of the High Road between what are now Sutton Court Road and Duke’s Avenue. This site was used for its fruit tree collection and its first school of horticulture, and housed its first flower shows. The area was reduced to 10 acres (4.0 ha) in the 1870s, and the lease was terminated when the Society’s garden at Wisley, Surrey, was set up in 1904. Some of the original pear trees still grow in the gardens of houses built on the site.
The population of Chiswick grew almost tenfold during the 19th century, reaching 29,809 in 1901, and the area is a mixture of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian housing. Suburban building began in Gunnersbury in the 1860s and in Bedford Park, on the borders of Chiswick and Acton, in 1875.
During the Second World War, Chiswick was bombed repeatedly, with both incendiary and high explosive bombs. Falling anti-aircraft shells and shrapnel also caused damage. The first V-2 rocket to hit London fell on Chiswick on 8 September 1944, killing three people, injuring 22 others and causing extensive damage to surrounding trees and buildings. Six houses were demolished by the rocket and many more suffered damage. There is a memorial where the rocket fell on Staveley Road, and a War Memorial at the east end of Turnham Green.
Chiswick St Nicholas was an ancient, and later civil, parish in the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex. In 1878 the parish gained a triangle of land in the east which had formed a detached part of Ealing. From 1894 to 1927 the parish formed the Chiswick Urban District. In 1927 it was abolished and its former area was merged with that of Brentford Urban District to form Brentford and Chiswick Urban District. The amalgamated district became a municipal borough in 1932. The borough of Brentford and Chiswick was abolished in 1965, and its former area was transferred to Greater London to form part of the London Borough of Hounslow. With these changes, Chiswick Town Hall is no longer the local government centre but is still used for some council services. There was a Brentford and ChiswickParliament constituency from 1918 to 1974.
Chiswick forms part of the Brentford and Isleworth Parliament constituency. The MP is Ruth Cadbury (Labour), elected at the May 2015 general election replacing Mary Macleod (Conservative). For elections to the London Assembly Chiswick is in the South West constituency, represented since 2000 by Tony Arbour, of the Conservative Party. For elections to Hounslow London Borough Council, Chiswick is represented by three electoral wards: Turnham Green, Chiswick Homefields and Chiswick Riverside. Each ward elects three councillors, who serve four-year terms. For 2010–14, all nine councillors were Conservatives. It was one of 35 major centres identified in the statutory planning document of Greater London, the London Plan of 2008.
Chiswick occupies a meander of the River Thames, 6 miles west of Charing Cross. The district is built up towards the north with more open space in the south, including the grounds of Chiswick House and Duke's Meadows. Chiswick has one main shopping area, the Chiswick High Road, forming a long high street in the north. The river forms the southern boundary with Kew, including North Sheen, Mortlake and Barnes in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It includes the uninhabited island of Chiswick Eyot, joined to the mainland at low tide. In the east Goldhawk Road and British Grove border Hammersmith in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In the north are Bedford Park and South Acton in the London Borough of Ealing, with a boundary partially delineated by the District line. To the west, within Hounslow, are the districts of Gunnersburyand Brentford. Chiswick is in the W4 postcode district of the London post town, which in a tribute to its ancient parish includes Bedford Park and South Acton, mostly within the London Borough of Ealing.
Bedford Park, designed largely by Norman Shaw, was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as the first place "where the relaxed, informal mood of a market town or village was adopted for a complete speculatively built suburb". Some of the most beautiful period mansion blocks in the area, such as Heathfield Court and Arlington Mansions, line the sides of Turnham Green – the site of the Battle of Turnham Green in 1642. Other suburbs of Chiswick include Grove Park (south of the A4, close to Chiswick railway station) and Strand on the Green, a fishing hamlet until the late 18th century. In 1896, Bedford Park was advertised as being in Chiswick, though at that time much of it was in Acton.
Points of Interest
Chiswick House was designed by the Third Earl of Burlington, and built for him, in 1726–29 as an extension to an earlier Jacobean house (subsequently demolished in 1788); it is considered to be among the finest surviving examples of Palladian architecture in Britain, with superb collections of paintings and furniture. Its surrounding grounds are among the most important historical gardens in England and Wales, forming one of the first English landscape gardens.
St Nicholas Church, near the river Thames, has a 15th-century tower, although the remainder of the church was rebuilt by J.L. Pearson in 1882–84. Monuments in the churchyard mark the burial sites of the 18th-century English artist William Hogarth and William Kent, the architect and landscape designer; the churchyard also houses a mausoleum (for Philip James de Loutherbourg) designed by John Soane, and the tomb of Josiah Wedgwood's business partner, Thomas Bentley, designed by Thomas Scheemakers. One of Oliver Cromwell's daughters, Mary Fauconberg, lived at Sutton Court and is buried in the churchyard. Enduring legend has it that the body of Oliver Cromwell was also interred with her, though as the Fauconbergs did not move to Sutton Court until 15 years after his disinterment, it is more likely he was reburied at their home at Newburgh Priory. Private Frederick Hitch VC, hero of Rorke's Drift, is also buried there.
Chiswick's Roman Catholic church, Our Lady of Grace and St Edward (the Confessor) in the Diocese of Westminster, lies on the corner of Dukes Avenue and the High Road. It is a red brick building; the parish was founded in 1848, a school began c. 1855, and a church was opened by Cardinal Wiseman on the present site in 1864. It was replaced by the present building in 1886, opened by Cardinal Manning. The heavy debts incurred were paid off and the church consecrated in 1904. The square tower was added after the First World War by Canon Egan as a war memorial.
The church of St. Michael, Sutton Court was designed by W. D. Caroe in 1908–1909. It is a red brick building on Elmwood road, in Tudor style. St Paul's Church, Grove Park is a Gothic style stone building designed by H. Currey. It was built largely at the Duke of Devonshire's expense in 1872.
St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park was initially a temporary iron building from 1876 on Chiswick High Road facing Chiswick Lane. The current building's foundation stone was laid in 1879 and consecrated in 1880. It was designed, along with much of Bedford Park, by Norman Shaw, and was called "a very lovely church" by John Betjeman. It is an Anglo-Catholic church, and was attacked on the day it was consecrated for "Popish and Pagan mummeries" by the brewer Henry Smith, churchwarden of St Nicholas, Chiswick.
Christchurch, Turnham Green is an early Victorian Gothic building of flint with stone dressings. The main part of the building, by George Gilbert Scott and W. B. Moffat, is from 1843; the chancel and northeast chapel were added in 1887 by J. Brooks.
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral was built on Harvard Road in 1998, with a blue and gold dome.
Public Houses and Theatres
There are several historic public houses in Chiswick, some of them listed buildings, including the Mawson Arms, the George and Devonshire, the Old Packhorse and The Tabard in Bath Road near Turnham Green station. The Tabard is known for its William Morris interior and its Norman Shaw exterior; it was built in 1880. Three more pubs are in Strand-on-the-Green, fronting on to the Thames river path.
Chiswick had two well-known theatres in the 20th century. The Chiswick Empire (1912 to 1959) was at 414 Chiswick High Road. It had 2,140 seats, and staged music hall entertainment, plays, reviews, opera, ballet and an annual Christmas pantomime. The Q Theatre (1924 to 1959) was a small theatre opposite Kew Bridge station. It staged the first works of Terence Rattigan and William Douglas-Home, and many of its plays went on to the West End.
The 96-seat Tabard Theatre (1985) in Bath Road, upstairs from the Tabard pub but a separate business, is known for new writing and experimental work.
The Sanderson Factory in Barley Mow Passage, now known as Voysey House, was designed by the architect Charles Voysey in 1902. It is built in white glazed brick, with Staffordshire blue bricks (now painted black) forming horizontal bands, the plinth, and surrounds for door and window openings, and dressings in Portland stone. It was originally a wallpaper printing works, now used as office space. It is a Grade II* listed building. It faces the main factory building and was once joined to it by a bridge across the road. It was Voysey's only industrial building, and is considered an "important Arts and Crafts factory building".
Chiswick is home to the Arts Educational Schools in Bath Road.
Duke's Meadows stands on land formerly owned by the Duke of Devonshire. In the 1920s, it was purchased by the local council, who developed it as a recreational centre. A promenade and bandstand were built, and the meadows are still used for sport with a rugby club, football pitches, hockey club, several rowing clubs and a golf club. In recent years a local conservation charity, the Dukes Meadows Trust has undertaken extensive restoration work, which saw a long term project of a children's water play area opened in August 2006
The novel Vanity Fair (1847/8) by William Makepeace Thackeray opens at Miss Pinkerton's Academy for Young Ladies in Chiswick Mall. Louis N. Parker's play Pomander Walk (1915) has the imagined setting of "a retired crescent of five very small, old-fashioned houses near Chiswick, on the river-bank. ... They are exactly alike: miniature copies of Queen Anne mansions"
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