|St Leonard's Churchyard and Heston Cemetery||Hounslow|
There has been a church at Heston since the time of the Norman Conquest, and it was formerly part of the Manor of Isleworth until the separate manor was established in the C13th. The medieval church of St Leonard's was rebuilt in 1866, although the porch is Tudor, and the tower may be C13th. The oak lych-gate dates from c.1450. A stained glass window in the church commemorates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and in the churchyard her childhood nurse is buried. Among other famous people buried here is botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The old churchyard extends to Heston Cemetery, making it one of the largest churchyards in the country.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
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Heston was formerly part of the Manor of Isleworth, the name meaning a bushland settlement. There was a church at Heston at the time of the Norman Conquest, which was then given to the Abbey of St Valeri or Waleric in Picardy. In 1229 the Manor was seized by Henry III and given to Richard, Earl of Cornwall and it was reputedly due to his influence that Heston became a separate parish from Isleworth; there was later rivalry between the two parishes. In 1391 the Manor was transferred to William Wykeham forming part of the endowment for his newly formed Winchester College. It later passed into the hands of the Crown at the Dissolution of the Monasteries and in 1554 Queen Elizabeth I granted the parish to Bishop Grindall. The area became famous for its wheat and Elizabeth I is said to have preferred her bread made of Heston flour. In the C19th Heston became a centre for brick-making and by the 1860s the ground level of the area was constantly shifting as brick earth was removed.
The porch of St Leonard's Church is Tudor and the tower is probably C13th. The church was rebuilt in 1866, at which time Romanesque remains were discovered. In 1863 the Revd Edward Spooner had called a meeting to address the problems of the old church, which had damage by death-watch beetle and was too small for the congregation. Plans were drawn up by a Mr Bellamy and approved by the Bishop of London in 1864. There was an outcry by antiquarians and the issue was raised in Parliament, but the new church was completed in 1866. Some old memorials were retained, including a monument by Robert Adams to Robert Child (d.1782) of Osterley Park (q.v.). A stained glass window above the Lady Chapel altar commemorates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
The oak lych-gate at the entrance to the churchyard dates from c.1450, and is one of the oldest in the country. It was restored in 1974 by 'the generosity of the people of Heston and Braunsfeld, Cologne'; a replica is in Saskatchewan, Canada, created by 2 local members of the church. The area in front of the lych-gate was reconfigured when the church was rebuilt in 1866, and prior to this there was a narrow path from the main road. To the north of this were 2 tithe barns, one used for a school, with vicarage stables and coach house on the south of the path.
Among those buried in the churchyard are Mrs Mary Brock, Queen Victoria's childhood nurse (d.1836), buried under a yew tree near the lych-gate; the eminent English botanist Sir Joseph Banks (d.1820) and his wife, who lived at Spring Grove; Frederick John White, a private in the 7th Queen's Own Hussars who died in 1846 of flogging at Hounslow Barracks, which led to the number of lashings being reduced and then abolished from the British Army in 1881; family tomb of the Hogarths, owners of Heston Hall and much land. The churchyard was known for its roses and there continue to be rose beds in the Garden of Remembrance by the church.
Heston Cemetery forms the churchyard extension adjoining the old churchyard, with numerous tombs set in grass, with trees and shrubs throughout. An unusual feature is the fact that the grave blocks have names rather than the usual numbers or letters, and among these are Long Walk, Short Walk, The Embankment, May Tree Walk and Soldiers Row.
Charles J Ginn, 'Heston Church: A History', 1951; Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p423/4; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Sir Clifford Radcliffe 'Middlesex', Evan Brothers Ltd, (c.1950)