|Cranford Countryside Park||Hillingdon|
Cranford was once a fine country estate, owned from 1618 to 1918 by the Berkeley family, who made alterations to the house and grounds. Cranford House, their summer seat, was demolished in c.1944 and in the 1950s the remains of the estate became a public park, now called Cranford Countryside Park. Fragments of the former landscape that remain include the early C18th stable block, part of a Ha-Ha, crinkle-crankle wall, walled garden, icehouse and parkland trees.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2011
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
The Manor of Cranford is recorded in the Domesday Survey, and was later divided into two holdings, Cranford St John and Cranford Le Mote to the north. The village of Cranford to the west is in the London Borough of Hounslow. In the C16th the Cranford estate was given to Lord Windsor after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and in 1603 it was owned by Sir Roger Aston, who was buried in St Dunstan's Churchyard (q.v.) nearby, where later owners of Cranford Manor were buried. In 1618 Elizabeth, Lady Berkeley, purchased both Cranford St John and Cranford Le Mote for £7,000, the re-united estate becoming known as Cranford Park. The moated manor house of Cranford Le Mote was demolished in 1780. The Berkeleys held the property until 1918, but after the family left it fell into ruins. In 1932 the house and parkland were sold to Hayes and Harlington UDC, although in 1935 it was resold to MCC who then leased it back to the UDC. During WWII part of the land was used for cultivation as part of the war effort and other war-time uses. After the war the house was demolished, although its cellars and the stable block remained. On 1 May 1949 the park was opened to the public, jointly by Hayes & Harlington UDC and Heston & Isleworth Borough Council, both later becoming part of the new borough of Hillingdon in 1965. The public park has fragmentary remains of the landscaping around Cranford House, as well as woodland, meadow and wetland. The River Crane continues to flow through the park although this was diverted in the 1960s.
The C17th manor house had been added to and virtually rebuilt as a new house in 1722 for the 3rd Earl of Berkeley. It was probably designed by the amateur architect Thomas Coke of Melbourne (1675-1727), who with Royal Gardener Henry Wise (1653-1738) laid out the garden there. The clock on the early C18th stable block is thought to be a gift in 1721 from Hampton Court Palace. In the late C18th the 5th Earl of Berkeley extended the house with additions to the south, and a bridge was designed for him by Charles Beazley (c.1760-1829). What remains of the grounds includes extensive garden walls to the north from the C17th/C18th, now trembling in the shadow of the M4; a pleasure ground south of the stable block containing old holly, multi-stemmed at the base, several yews, and large low-branching oaks, surrounded by the early C18th brick ha-ha, with an impressive lime tree on the south-east corner. A large ice house remains in the main field beyond the ha-ha, probably built by the Berkeleys after 1720. The wider park has relatively little parkland planting although there is an ancient sweet chestnut near the ha-ha and further south is a clump including Wellingtonia. To the west of the lawn is a shrubbery of yew and laurel and an ornamental wood that contains Wellingtonia, beech, hornbeam, massive Cedar, Scots pine, oak, laurel, all within the ha-ha, which on this west side is 7 feet high in places. It extends for some 575 metres. A formalised length of the River Crane runs through the park with the late C18th bridge built for the approach to the house and church.
The park was divided into two parts when the M4 Motorway was built in the 1960s, with a smaller portion of 8 ha. to the north and the larger area of 45ha. to the south. The northern section contains a Northern Meadow, Dog Kennel Covert and Moat House Covert, in the north part of which is the site of the manor house of Cranford-le-Mote. The southern boundary of Moat House Covert is marked to the west with yews at roughly regular intervals along a ditch. It has been suggested by John Harris that the grove projecting south to the house and a moon-shaped pond near the junction of the A4 and Berkeley Avenue may have been designed by Thomas Wright, who was a constant visitor in the 1740s and '50s. When the M4 was built a large orchard, dovecote and an ornamental lake were lost to construction.
Cranford Country Park was managed by LB Hounslow until 2010 and then passed to LB Hillingdon, and has now been renamed Cranford Countryside Park. In 2000 an information centre with displays about the history of the estate was created in a disused toilet building built in the early days of the public park that had become derelict. The park won its first Green Flag Award in 2002, and has continued to do so in successive years. Cranford Park Friends was set up in 2008. The park forms part of the Hillingdon Trail and the London Loop.
H Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, London 1978 p 228-9; Ben Weinreb & Hibberd, London Encyclopaedia (1993 ed), p212, Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 edition); LB Hillingdon, 'Cranford Countryside Park Management Plan 2008-2012'