SOUTHALL: A Brief History

Southall  during the 17th century

The proximity of London has always been an important factor in many as pects of the development of Southall. The Chesemans, for example, would never have stayed at Southall if it had not been within fairly easy reach of Westminster, Windsor and Hampton Court. The important road passing through Northcote made that hamlet increasingly dominant as we approach modern times and as communications assumed more and more importance. The other road of real significance was the one leading to Brentford: the cheapest and quickest commercial transport routes were still navigable rivers, and Brentford is, of course, on the Thames.

On the southern border of the Precinct now stood the great house at Osterley which had rivalled and now eclipsed Dormans Well. The house and its history fall outside the general scope of this sketch, but eventually its occupants became the most important landowners in Southall. On the south-western side lay Cranford and its (lately demolished) manor, but its owners never had much to do with Southall. Gradually links with Hayes became more informal, and ties with other surrounding villages – Greenford, Hanwell and Heston – were never anything else.

One of our earliest maps dates from 1610. This was John Speed’s map of the county showing towns and villages, hills, rivers and some of the bigger estates – both Dormans Wells and Osterley Park are shown. But it does not tell us much about the relative size or location of villages. Later maps on larger scales are generally much more informative.

In 1612 Francis Awsiter had a gallery erected in Norwood church at his own expense. Such galleries were frequently used to house the church orchestra and choir, and it was not until organs began to come into general use in the 18th century that the orchestras were disbanded. The gallery at Norwood was taken down during the extensive restorations of 1862, but the plaque commemorating the donor can still be seen in the church. He died on 10th March , 1624 followed two or three years later by his widow, Frances, daughter of Lawrence Horseman. in his will18 he left 30/- to pay for a sermon on Good Fridays, 5/- for the clerk to toll the bell before it, and 2/- for him to clean the gallery, and an additional 20/- to be distributed among the poor after the sermon. An inscription in the church suggests that he was a puritan. His doggerel epitaph:

‘His soul ascended is,
His body here remaynes;
The churche enjoyes his costs,
The parish had his paynes’,

although no great shakes as poetry, perhaps had the effect of reminding later worshipers that he had spent money in erecting the gallery. His son Richard succeeded him as lord of the manor.