SOUTHALL: A Brief History

On 11th May, 1548 Robert Cheseman’s will was proved and the manor passed into the posession of his daughter Anne and his son-in-law Francis Chamberlayne. We know very little about Chamberlayne except that he was for a time governor of the island of Guernsey, so the connection with the court was still maintained during the religious and political complexities of the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I. Francis’ father, Leonard, had also been governor of Guernsey, and his grandfather, Sir Edward, was one of Henry VIII’s spies watching Queen Katherine of Aragon at the time of her death at Kimbolton. Some of the main events of the tragedy surrounding the short reign of Lady Jane Grey took place not far away at Syon House, and Lady Jane’s sister was for a long time held virtually a prisoner at Osterley. This new house built by Sir Thomas Gresham overshadowed Dormans Well in splendour and has had the fortune to survive until the present day. During Queen Elizabeth I’s stay there villagers from Heston and Norwood created disturbances by pulling up Gresham’s new fence as a protest against what they considered were infringements of their common rights on his estate.

In 1578, two years before his death, Francis Chamberlayne sold the manors of Southall and Norwood and the house at Dormans Well to Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre of the South, whose father (mentioned earlier) had taken part in a poaching expedition in the course of which a game-keeper had been killed. Although Dacre himself had not been directly involved in the murder and had been miles away at that time, he was nevertheless hanged at Tyburn for complicity, and his lands and title were forfeit. In the first year of her reign (1558) Queen Elizabeth restored them and his son Gregory was created 10th Baron.

On 25th September, 1594 the ‘crack-brained’ (as Camden called him) Lord Dacre died and left his property to his wife. She was the daughter of Sir Robert Sackville, Queen Elizabeth’s Treasurer of the Exchequer. During her widowhood she lived at Chelsea leaving Dormans Well in charge of a certain Mr. Bowle, later members of whose family from time to time reappear in the precinct records. The footbridge across the Brent near Hanwell church was until recently called Bowles Bridge and presumably commemorates them.

Lady Dacre did not long survive her husband but died on 15th May, 1595. Her will15. provides that four trustees should take care of her estate. Dormans Well was to go to Lord Darce’s sister’s husband, Sampson Leonard, but there is no evidence that he ever took up residence. In default of issue the title was in 1604 granted to Margaret Leonard who thus became Baroness Dacre in her own right, but the title became extinct on her death.