SOUTHALL: A Brief History

An Act of Parliament required parish registers to be kept to record baptisms, marriages and burials. Those at Norwood date from 1654. The account books of the Overseers of the Poor and the Churchwardens also date from the same time.

In 1666 Francis Awsiter died (this was the time of the great plague but there need be no connection) to be succeeded by his younger brother Robert, whose second wife was Margaret Awnsham, a member of the most distinguished family in Heston at the time. His first wife Rose, had died five years before this. The Awsiters are a difficult family to follow because of their habit of giving their children names already borne by members of earlier generations, so that there are several different men called Francis, Robert, Richard or John whom we tend to confuse with each other.

John Ogilby published his plan of the road from London to Buckingham in 1675. It gives us a fair idea of the course of the Uxbridge Road at this time, and it is interesting to note that there is little change in the main outline. The kink in the road, for example, still visible near Holy Trinity Church, is quite clearly marked.

The following year (1676) Christopher Merrick presented an account book18 to the churchwardens to list charities and deeds of gift to the precinct. Among others it records his own contributions. He wanted to avoid repetition of a recent case which he had helped to settle: George Finch had left some land for the use of the poor, but no revenue from it had gone to the precinct for some years because a widow called Elizabeth Blundell, perhaps Finch’s daughter though this is not made clear, had been using the land for her own benefit. Proceedings were taken and the land was reclaimed for the poor as the testator had intended.

We have more information about the precinct for this period than at almost any other earlier, or even later, time for there still survives a survey made in 1677 for the lord of the manor of Hayes so that he could assess what money was due to him from other landowners in the parish. This Quit Rent Book16 lists owners of property, the extent of their lands, how they acquired them and even the names of their fields. Robert Awsiter’s house was still called Wrenns: Robert Hampton was living at Dormans Well so presumably the old mansion was still standing; Ruth Child, a widow, opened a house on Southall Green called Romans – this house was perhaps named after a family called Romayne who are mentioned as early as 1503, and it was demolished only fairly recently. It stood opposite the Manor House. Christopher Merrick had built himself a new house at Northcote which he called Shepherds Haw (a haw is the same as close). Later the name was changed to Southall Park. The house itself was burnt down in 1883 and the land later acquired by the Council who have now made it into a public park still bearing the name Southall Park. The foundations of the house were removed in 1922 to make room for the tennis courts.