Tag Archives: Brentford

Brentford

Church of St Lawrence

St Lawrence Brentford

The church of St Lawrence was first founded at least as long ago as the twelfth century, although the present stone tower dates only to the fifteenth, and the brick nave to the eighteenth, to 1764.  The church was closed down in 1961, when the monuments were removed.  It is currently for sale.

Boston Manor House

Boston Manor was first recorded in the eleventh century, and later, as being owned by the Priory of St Helen Bishopsgate in the City of London, in the twelfth.  The manor  was confiscated by the Crown during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538.  It was later given by Edward I to Edward Seymour, the First Duke of Somerset, and  Lord Protector of England – and taken back again after his execution in 1552.  It  was then given by  Elizabeth I to Robert, Earl of Leicester in 1572, and sold by him to Sir Thomas Gresham, who already owned adjoining Osterley Park,  in 1573.  After Gresham’s death in 1579, the manor  passed to his step-son Sir William Reade, and later  to Sir William’s widow, Lady Mary, in 1621.

Side and front from garden

Drainpipe

It was Lady Mary Reade who built the core of the present house here in 1622-3.  After her death in 1658, it passed to her relative John Goldsmith, and after his death in 1670 it was bought – and considerably extended – by James Clitherow, a wealthy City merchant with interests in the East India Company.   The house then remained in the Clitherow family until it was sold by Colonel John Bourchier Stracey Clitherow to Brentford  Urban District Council in 1923 (the contents, including paintings by Rubens, van Dyck, Kneller, Hogarth and Romney, having been auctioned off the previous year).   It is currently  owned by Hounslow Cultural and Community Services, and open to the public at weekends throughout the spring and summer.

The Drawing Room

Settee and tea trolley, Drawing Room

The Drawing Room retains many original Jacobean features …

Detail of one of elements ceiling panels, Drawing Room

… including an ornate  moulded plaster ceiling and overmantel, probably by Edward Stanyon, and possibly, in part,  to designs by the Flemish painter Marcus Gheeraerts.

Remembering Syon

The Monastery of St Saviour and St Bridget of Syon

Time Team reconstruction of Bridgettine Monastery Church SyonOn  this day (March 3rd) in 1415, the “Monastery of St Saviour and St Bridget of Syon” was founded in Sheen (later, in 1431, moving to a nearby new location between Brentford and Isleworth).  The monastery-cum-nunnery was of the Bridgettine order, the richest and most powerful of  its time, named after its founder, the mystic and later saint Queen Birgitta of Sweden (1303-73).

One of the brothers, Richard Reynolds, was hanged, drawn and quartered in 1535 for challenging King Henry VIII’s  supremacy over the Church; famously encouraging those who suffered alonsgide him by promising them that after their “sharp breakfast” they would have a banquet in heaven.  The monastery itself was dissolved in 1539, by Henry.  Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was confined here while awaiting her execution in 1542.  Five years later, in 1547, the coffin containing Henry’s body was accommodated overnight here on route from Westminster to Windsor.  According to one colourful account, the decomposing body burst open during the night, and in the morning dogs were discovered lapping up the liquid that had seeped from the coffin!

Syon House

Syon House was built on the site of the monastery by Edward Seymour, the First Duke of Somerset (and Lord  Protector), sometime between 1547-1552.    After Seymour’s execution in 1552, it came to be owned by John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland, and it was here that his daughter-in-law Lady Jane Grey was offered the crown at the beginning of her short  and ill-fated reign.  After Dudley’s execution in 1553, it reverted to the monarch.  In 1594, the then Queen, Elizabeth I, granted the house to Henry Percy, the Ninth Earl of Northumberland, and it has remained in his family from that time to this.  In the late eighteenth century, Hugh Percy, the First Duke of Northumberland, commissioned Robert Adam to redesign the interior, and Capability Brown to landscape the gardens, thereby creating “one of the finest villas in Europe”.

The fourteenth-century  “Monastery Barn”  and seventeenth-century “Ninth Earl’s Arch” still stand in the grounds of the house.

Archaeological Excavations

Time Team reconstruction of Bridgettine Monastery Church Syon

Time Team reconstruction of Bridgettine Monastery Church Syon

Google Earth visualisation of Kings College Cambridge (for comparison)

Google Earth visualisation of Kings College Cambridge (for comparison)

In 2003, a  “Time Team” archaeological excavation in the grounds of the house unearthed the remains of the Bridgettine monastery church – which was evidently approximately twice as large as the broadly contemporary King’s College Chapel in Cambridge!

A number of burials were later unearthed within the church by a team from Birkbeck University of London. Surviving written records, including a “mortilage”, have enabled the buried individuals to be identified.  One was the order’s last recorded librarian, Thomas Betson, who died in 1517. Betson’s library catalogue shows that at one time the monastery possessed nearly 1750 books, many of them the only copies in Britain, but almost all now lost.  His notebook includes a herbal, that is to say, a list of healing plants, and a list of remedies.

Remembering Syon

March 3rd –  On  this day in 1415, the “Monastery of St Saviour and St Bridget of Syon” was founded in Sheen (later, in 1431, moving to a nearby new location between Brentford and Isleworth).  The monastery was of the Bridgettine order, the  richest and most powerful of  its time, named after its founder, the mystic and later saint Queen Birgitta of Sweden (1303-73).  One of the brothers from the monastery, Richard Reynolds, was hanged, drawn and quartered in 1535 for challenging King Henry VIII’s  supremacy over the Church; and the monastery itself was dissolved either in 1534 or in 1539 (sources differ), by Henry.  Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was confined here while awaiting her execution in 1542.  Five years later, in 1547, the coffin containing Henry’s body was accommodated overnight here on route from Westminster to Windsor.  According to one colourful account, the decomposing body burst open during the night, and in the morning dogs were discovered lapping up the liquid that had seeped from the coffin!

Syon House was built on the site of the monastery by Edward Seymour, the First Duke of Somerset (and Lord  Protector), sometime between 1547-1552.

In 2003, a “Time Team” archaeological excavation in the grounds of the house unearthed the remains of the Bridgettine monastery church – which was evidently approximately twice as large as the broadly contemporary King’s College Chapel in Cambridge!

Time Team reconstruction of Bridgettine monastery church, Syon

Time Team reconstruction of Bridgettine monastery church, Syon

Google Earth visualisation of King's College Chapel, Cambridge

Google Earth visualisation of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge