|St Mary-the-Virgin Churchyard, Bedfont||Hounslow|
Bedfont is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 and St Mary's church dates from the C12th, with various later extensions to the building. Overlooking Bedfont Green, the church's small churchyard has a low brick wall at the front, with a higher wall to the rear. Either side of the path to the church door are two ancient yew trees, famous for their peacock topiary. They were originally created in 1704 and for centuries were the pride of the village, apparently created to shame two haughty spinsters of the parish. The practice of churchyard topiary, popular in the C18th, later lapsed, but the peacocks were later restored in 1990.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
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Bedfont was part of the Hundred of Spelthorne and the Manor was held by Walter Fitzother. The medieval church of St Mary the Virgin has a chancel and nave dating from the mid C12th, and wall paintings of the late C13th. The chancel was extended to the east in the C15th, and the north transept dates from 1829. A west extension to the nave and the south porch with adjoining tower, replacing an earlier free-standing south tower, were built in 1865. The meeting hall was built in 1954.
The church is famous for the two yew trees in the churchyard, which are referred to as the 'yew trees into peacocks shorn' in a poem by George Colman the Elder, a friend of the actor-manager David Garrick. They were also the subject of Thomas Hood's poem 'The Two Peacocks of Bedfont'. The local legend is that 'two over-bearing damsels . . dismissed a suitor with such contempt that in revenge he had the trees trimmed to typify them as two proud and haughty peacocks' and they were for two centuries the pride of the village. For a time they were not maintained but they were recreated in 1990, having the dates '1704 - 1990'. The small churchyard has a low brick wall at the front, restored in the mid/late C20th, with railings and wooden gate. Rose standards and bedding plants line the path to the church door between the two ancient yew trees, and to the rear the churchyard has an old, higher brick wall in which there is a small opening. An extension to the burial ground (q.v.) was established in Bedfont Road in c.1850 when the churchyard no longer had space for burials.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p413/4; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Sir Clifford Radcliffe 'Middlesex', Evan Brothers Ltd, (c.1950); Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, 'Topiary on a Gargantuan Scale: the Clipped 'Yew-trees' at four ancient London churchyards' in The London Gardener, vol. 11, 2005/6, pp70-86