. One of the smallest counties - only 22 miles long by 14 in breadth and not more than about 90 square miles - but having the City of London (as well as Westminster ) it is easily the most important and richest.
. It also takes in the greatest river in the country. The Thames starts its 215-mile journey from the Cotswolds and empties just beyond Middlesex between Kent and Essex, it waters the southern border with Surrey while the river Colne forms the western boundary with Buckinghamshire, and the River Lea divides the county from Essex in the east.
. Mainly flat, especially near the Thames , but higher ground lies to the north with the so-called northern heights reaching to 400 feet at Highgate. Fertile meadows and gardens have always been a feature of this county.
. The scenery is most appealing around the Colne Valley in the west while Harrow- on-the-Hill provides a notable viewpoint with the likes of Wembley Stadium and the ever-changing high rises along the Great West Road and Western Avenue .
Origin of name: From the Old English meaning the territory of the Middle Saxons (between Essex , Wessex and Sussex ).
Name first recorded: 704 as Middleseaxan.
BRENTFORD important strategic position made it the centre of military and transport activity. Boston Manor house given by Elizabeth 1 to the Earl of Leicester. Brentford was never a seat of administration but the centre of polling in the county.
ACTON A one-time 18th-century spa town which went through a regeneration of the town centre in the 1990s. it saw Civil War activity.
BLACKWALL The most easterly village of Middlesex . From here the Virginia Settlers under Captain John Smith set sail in 1606 to found the first permanent colony in America ..
BUSHY AND HAMPTON COURT PARK Bushy has a superb avenue of horse chestnut trees with sheep and deer. Hampton Court Park is adjacent to Cardinal Wolsey's Palace. The southern part is now a golf course but most well-known is its world- famous maze.
CAMDEN TOWN Populous town which Charles Dickens, who lived there as a boy, described in Dombey and Son as "frowsy fields, and cow-houses, and dunghills and dust-heaps". The one-time HQ for TVAM with its infamous Egg Cup house is now the studios for VH I and MTV Europe .
CHARING CROSS Area known as the mapmaker's final destination as from here all mileage to and from London is arrived at. Originally a tiny hamlet called Charing, Edward 1's wife Eleanor rested here on her way to Westminster Abbey. Where her coffin rested the king ordered a cross to be built.
CHISWICK The place to live if you're a beer-drinking media person! Fuller's brewery is based in the town as are many BBC workers. Chiswick House is an exceptional villa based on Palladio's Villa Rotunda in Vicenza . The Beatles shot some of Help! here. Hogarth's House, the artist's country retreat, is just round the corner.
CLERKENWELL Was the centre for the Justices of the Peace.
COLNBROOK: A village half in Buckinghamshire and half in Middlesex, called Ridsworth locally. The first ever Cox's Orange Pippin Apple was grown in Middlesex in 1845, at the hamlet of Poyle.
CRANFORD A Domesday village once called 'the prettiest village in Middlesex'. It now has one of the only two surviving cages in Middlesex which housed offenders overnight before their appearance in front of the magistrate. Cranford Park is a popular but somewhat desecrated beauty spot.
EDGWARE One of Middlesex's most important market towns with the first settlement on Brockley Hill just north of the modern town centre. The Romans named this settlement Suftoniocoe on Wading Street , it was in AD978 that Edgware was first mentioned. Henry 11 confirmed a gift of land to the Priory of St Bartholomew's and then King John ordered that the Countess of Salisbury could keep the manor of Edgware on the death of the Earl.
EDMONTON An important Middlesex town and parish and centre of the Edmonton Hundred, an ancient division of Middlesex. The Bell was once a popular resort and it was here that John Gilpin by William Cowper took his wife on their wedding anniversary: 'Tomorrow is our wedding day. And we will then repair, Unto the Bell at Edmonton , All in a chaise and pair." Charles and Mary Lamb lived at Bay Cottage, Church Street . John Keats served his apprenticeship to Thomas Hammond the surgeon also in Church Street .
FULHAM A fashionable Thameside town with Fulham Palace the one-time residence of the Bishops of London until 1973. The football club has attracted many famous names like Jimmy Hill and Tommy Trinder and just to rub it in Chelsea FC home at Stamford Bridge is actually in Fulham!
GOLDERS GREEN Theatrical town famous for its Hippodrome theatre and the Anna Pavlova Russian Ballet Festival at ivy House, its cemetery has seen Sir Henry irving, WS Gilbert, Tommy Handley, George Bernard Shaw, Kathleen Ferrier and TS Eliot pass on to a greater life.
HACKNEY Once the resort Londoners went to for fresh air, hence the name Hackney carriage after the trip by horse and cart from London to Hackney, in 1664 Pepys wrote in his diary on June 11th "with my wife only to take ayre, it being very warm and pleasant. . . thence to Hackney. There light and played at shuffleboard, eat cream and good cherries; and so with good refreshment home." Now said to be one of Britain 's poorest boroughs.
HAMPSTEAD A Middlesex town set in what remains of the Great Middlesex Forest that has always housed the movers and shapers of society along with the great and the good. Queen Boudicca is said to have been buried on Hampstead Hill which is one of the highest points of the County, it is first mentioned by King Edgar in a charter of the 1 Oth century and in the late 17th century Middlesex parliamentary elections were held on the heath, it still retains its separateness from the rest of the relentless metropolitan sprawl.
HANWORTH A small market gardening town with a manor and house Henry Vlll used as a hunting lodge. He gave it to his second wife Anne Boleyn. The house was destroyed by fire in 1797. The food grown in the town farm was sold by William Whiteley at his store in Bayswater. Hanworth Airport opened in 1929 and played host to the Graf Zeppelin in 1932 before it closed in 1946.
HARROW Notable Middlesex town and borough famousfor its school. First mentioned in a document of AD767 notifying a grant of land from King Offa of Mercia to the Bishop of St Albans . The Hill is a well known Middlesexlandmark with the spire of the church of St Mary 's soaringskywards and seen for many miles. Henry Vlll used the King's Head pub as a hunting lodge and King Charles 1 watered his horses on the Hill before surrendering to the Scottish Army. The School was founded by John Lyon in 1572.
HEADSTONE A small village but with the only surviving moated manor house in Middlesex, it is said to go back to the 14th century, it now hosts the Harrow Show every year and is being groomed to become the Middlesex County museum.
HENDON A borough which was at the heart of aviation development. Hendon Aerodrome, opened in 1911, was world-famous. Along the western edge of the town motor car and other manufacturing industries developed. Is the centre of the Middlesex nee Metropolitan Police training college.
HIGHGATE A genteel village where it is said Dick Whittington heard the message pealed out by Bow Bells: 'Turn again Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor of London '.
HOUNSLOW important Middlesex town and now borough. First mentioned as the place the Barons arranged a celebration after signing the Magna Carta at Runnymede . The heath has always been the haunt of highwaymen and soldiers on manoeuvres. Gibbets once lined the Bath Road to Staines .
KENSAL GREEN Small village well known for its cemetery. My own father's shop on the Harrow Road was where bodies were laid out ready for their trip to a greater life. Myth has it that King George V departed via my father's counter.
MILL HILL Well-to-do northern Middlesex town, home to three Lord Mayors of the City of London . At Highwood House lived Sir Stamford Raffles and Celia Fiennes the original 'fine lady on a white horse' from nursery rhyme times. Mill Hill School is one of the finest schools in the country.
MILLWALL One of the most easterly towns in Middlesex so named due to the windmills that stood on the marsh wall on the isle of Dogs. Brunei built and launched his Great Eastern from here in 1859. Millwall dock was closed in 1980. Now more famous for its football club which is situated over the River Thames in Kent and home to the many national newspapers which moved from Fleet Street to the isle of Dogs in recent times. Newest landmark is the enormous Canary Wharf .
NEASDEN Home to the most spectacular Hindu temple in the western world and the favourite haunt of readers of satirical publication Private Eye.
PARK ROYAL Long before Stoneleigh in Warwickshire this area of Middlesex was prepared to be the permanent showground of the Royal Agricultural Society but was unsuccessful, it is now said to be the biggest storage estate in Britain .
PERIVALE Famous for the stunning example of Art Deco in the Hoover building adjacent the A40, said to be Queen Elizabeth 11's favourite building.
PICCADILLY Famous street of Westminster . Named after a successful tailor in the Strand had made a fortune out of stiff collars called 'picadils' invested his money in the lands to the north of what is now Piccadilly Circus famous for its statue of Eros, the god of love.
PINNER A popular Middlesex village granted a charter in 1336 by Henry ill to John, Archbishop of Canterbury to hold a weekly market and two fairs a year, one of which is still held on the first Wednesday following Whitsun.
POPLAR Originally a fishing village in east Middlesex where the sails were made for Henry Vlll's ship, Henri Grace Dieu. One of the centres of socialism with Poplar councillors being imprisoned in the 1921 rates dispute leading to the equalization between richer and poorer boroughs, in World War 11 around half of the town was damaged in the Blitz.
ROXETH Hamlet near Harrow . Due to the name South Harrow being given to the station without thought or sensitivity to the local area, much of the current village's identity has been smothered. A careless error considering the site of the ancient moated manor is said to be where King Stephen stayed during the war with Matilda. Remember in futurewhere you read South Harrow , read also Roxeth.
ST PANCRAS Middlesex town and one-time borough named after its church of the saint who, according to legend, was martyred by Diocletian when only 14. The old church has a Saxon altar dating from 600 AD and a chancel which was rebuilt in 1350. Famous for its station with its 55-ton ribs that spanned 240 feet and 100 feet above the rails said to be one of the wonders of the Victorian engineering world.
ST PAUL 'S CATHEDRAL: With its world-famous dome its outline is as instantly recognizable as Big Ben. This is the fourth cathedral to be built on the site where there was once a Roman Temple dedicated to Diana. SOHO A cosmopolitan district with its own unique flavour, funny to think it was a farming and hunting area; So-ho was once a familiar ancient hunting cry. Charles 11's illegimate son, the Duke of Monmouth, lived here along with Anna Clerke, a lewd woman who was bound over to keep the peace, in the permissive '60s the Soho Society was formed to keep a check on the expansion of sex and corruption..
STAINES The Roman Pontes, Staines guarded the River Thames en route to London as it the present day guardian of Middlesex when crossing from Surrey . A pleasant and important Middlesex market town with a cosy 1950s feel but with much modern shopping. The London Stone which rests in Staines has since 1285 marked the limit of the City of London authority over the River Thames. The largest Linoleum works in the world was situated here.
Thames , Brent, Crane, Lea and Colne.
Highest point: High Road, Bushey Heath at 504 feet.
. May: Chelsea Flower Show.
. July: British Rose Festival Hampton Court
. April: The University Boat Race alongside the Middlesex and Surrey banks of the Thames
. August Bank Holiday: Notting Hill Carnival, a vibrant Caribbean celebration.
. 1st Wednesday after Whitsun: Pinner Fair.
. August: Harrow Show.
. September. Barnet Fair.
. May: Middlesex Rugby Sevens at Twickenham.
. Mid-June: The Fleadh Music Festival at Finsbury Park has a Celtic ring to it.
. Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, was born at Grantham.
. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was born at Epworth.
. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson came from Somersby.
. Sir Isaac Newton formed the first local scientific society at Spalding and was born in Woolsthorpe.
. Daniel Lambert the heaviest man in the country died at Stamford weighing 739 pounds!
The County of Middlesex 's local government needs a lot of under- standing! The County is administered mostly by large unitary Boroughs: Brent, Camden , Ealing, Enfield , Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey, Harrow , Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, City of Westminster . Richmond -upon- Thames is shared with Surrey and Barnet shared with Hertfordshire. Spelthorne and South Mimms with Potters Bar are the only parts of Middlesex under a two-tier structure - Surrey County and Spelthorne Borough Councils for the former and Herts County and Hertsmere District Councils for the latter. The Middlesex village of Poyle and Ridsworth, the Colnbrook side of Middlesex are under the unitary district council of Slough . The City of London is geographically in the County of Middlesex but has always administered itself through its own Corporation of elected Aldermen and Lord Mayor.
IF YOU BELIEVE in fairy tales then you'll believe in the wicked fable that Middlesex doesn't exist, that it's only a 'postal' county. As this is my home county we're talking about 1 naturally get very incensed about this fallacy it does exist and it is as real as any of the other 85 counties in this book, if not more so. By real I mean it never changes, it's been the same county since it was named 'the land of the Middle Saxons' way back in time. So let's dispel this myth once and for all as we explore this small but full-of-surprises county.
UXBRIDGE The Saxon tribe called the Wixan's gives this Harefield in the northwest border, where I was raised, is major Middlesex town its name although it wasn't until known the world over as the greatest heart hospital in the the end of the 12th century it became a major market town world. Once called 'the Switzerland of Middlesex' as the and centre for the area; by 1600 it was the principal corn air was so pure it still retains its villagey identity with market for west Middlesex and south Bucks. In the Civil green and pond but it's the beautiful church of St Mary 's War Cromwell established a Roundhead garrison here and surrounded by yew in a hidden dell that steals the in 1645 in the Treaty House right on the river Colne an honours. Take the road to Ickenham past the little hamlet of attempt at peace was made, to no avail. Prosperity Newyear's Green through verdant Middlesex meadows continued in the 19th century with the Grand Junction and find the medieval church of St Giles with its unusual Canal and Great Western Railway all adding to the town's wooden spire opposite the original village pump. Not far importance, it is the end of the Metropolitan and away, the important town of Ruislip has St Martins church Piccadilly Lines on the Underground. the last resting place for radio's Mrs Dale, Jessie Matthews. Wood from the Middlesex woods round Ruislip was used
WESTMINSTER The main city of Middlesex and due to for work on the Tower of London, Windsor Castle and Edward the Confessor moving his place of residence from Westminster Palace . Also close to Ruislip is the Polish the city upstream to the Abbey it was destined to became war memorial by RAF Northolt where vanquished the centre of government for the UK . its Abbey is the European nations sent their men to carry on the fight resting place of the powerful and famous of the nation, it against tyranny from Middlesex airfields. Now Prime was here William Caxton rented space in the city where he Ministers and diplomats take off to wage a different kind set up the first printing press in England , it wasn't until war in Europe . 1900 that Westminster became a city. Middlesex Guildhall The A40 takes you towards the historic Middlesex military town of Uxbridge , with its RAF base. During the Battle of Britain fighter squadrons for the hard-fought southeast were controlled from here. The RAF station is still very much at the heart of the town. It is Middlesex CCC's country venue and the centre for the County Show . Farther along there is the domesday village of Hillingdon, where I was born, with its greenclad church of St John the Baptist where my mum and dad were wed and I was christened. Perhaps of more genuine historic interest is nearby Swakeleys, a glorious H-shaped Jacobean mansion built between 1629 and 1638. Samuel Pepys visited Robert Vyner, a Lord Mayor of London , here in 1665. Back on the Shepherds Bush Readjust by Hayes, an early Saxon settlement, lies the lovely church of St Mary 's.
Along with Harefield's it was one of Sir John Betjeman's favourite Middlesex churches and here you can capture the atmosphere of olde wo ride Middlesaxia. Further en route is Southall, still Middlesex's oldest thriving horse market, and now as much a bazaar for rice and spice as Asian immigrants from the 1950s have made it their home. At Hanwell, the, first identity crisis confronts the visitor for postally Middlesex becomes a series of numbers - W7 starts here - but it is no less Middlesex for all its postal digits.
The 'ings' as in Ealing and other Middlesex place names are peculiarly frequent in this little county and mean the 'tribe of; hence Ealing, Gilla's people. Ealing, the first-ever Middlesex borough, is known as the 'Queen of the Suburbs' with its modern shopping malls and evocative town hall. It was here that comic relief first began at the world-famous film studios just off the Broadway, where Sid James, Kenneth Williams et al 'carried on' famously Now it's a centre for the BBC. In fact the BBC dominates this corner of Middlesex. Many of its employees who live in Ealing, Acton and Chiswick are picked up by buses from Uxbridge and spilled out at Shepherd's Bush Green - the end of the line - to pursue their careers in television at the studios on Wood Lane .
The Uxbridge Road takes you through the heart of west Middlesex towards Shepherd's Bush - Entertainment City This colourful one-time hamlet of Middlesex / described by historian Faulkner in 1839 as a 'pleasant village' is now a focal point for recreation. The BBC TV centre is in Wood Lane , the new centre for BBC 2 and Radio is next door at White City where the 1908 stadium once stood. The 1914 Market draws people from all over the world to sample its wares. The Bush Theatre is a major opposite the House of Commons was the centre of county fringe company taking over the tradition of theatre in the administration until 1965. town from the old Shepherd's Bush Empire. At the Bush take a break to savour a Middlesex delicacy at the
WHITECHAPEL A Middlesex village that could be said Goldhawk Road end of the market - pie 'n' eels 'n'mash to have been the first suburb of London , its chapel was floating around in a green parsley sauce with the pie crust built in the 13th century. Being the first place you reached made from eel fat! from the City out on the road to the east it was full of every Think of any of what-you-might-call famous London place aspect of life. Metalwork was its main industry with the names and chances are they are part of Middlesex: Whitechapel Bell Foundry and the Gunmakers Company how about Hammersmith or exclusive Holland Park - with Proof House still going strong. Foreign immigrants have its Jacobean mansion - Netting Hill, Bayswater and Marble settled in scores from 17th century onwards, and this was Arch, the monument which stands where many a seized upon by Sir Oswald Mosley during the war when Middlesex ne'er-do-well was executed at Tyburn? Hyde the Fascists tried to stir up racism, most notoriously at the Park is in Middlesex as well. Move off down Park Lane Battle of Cable Street . past the Duke of Wellington's Apsley House and you can see the rooftops of Buckingham Palace . Pass the monarch's home and carry on to Parliament Square , Westminster , where you will find the Middlesex Guildhall - where the county's government was dispensed until 1965 - opposite the Commons. The coat of arms and sculptures still bedazzle and bring a lump to the throat of all true Middlesaxons.
From Westminster and its fabulous Abbey its all points east - the City and Docklands - still in Middlesex. Following the River Lea, the border with Essex, you pass Channel 4s Big Breakfast canal-side house and another television connection comes with Alexandra Palace where the first BBC broadcast was ever made in 1936, now the centre for many an antique fair. Edgware was settled by the Romans at Brockley Hill and was an important Middlesex town, being the last stopping place on ancient Wading Street for travellers from the city to the north. Nearby Finchley was the haunt of highwaymen and at Hendon the Welsh Harp marks the place where the only truly Middlesex river, the Brent, has its source. Close-by Wembley is both a Middlesex town and landmark famous all over the world for its stadium= built for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924-25. First recorded in 825, it is an ancient Middlesex settlement. Arthur Lucan, known as Old Mother Riley, lived in the town. Look from one of the twin towers of Wembley, the home of English soccer, and you can see over to Hampstead; from the heath itself, one of the last vestiges of the great Middlesex forest, view St Johns Wood and the home of Middlesex cricket at Lord's. Talking of high places, Harrow on the Hill with its world famous school is an imposing sight: here scholars like Byron, Churchill and Sheridan studied by the lake designed by Capability Brown.
The Great West Road, the industrial super highway of Middlesex and Britain, is flanked by imposing buildings adorned with many famous company names which are glimpsed as you speed past on the M4 flyover. This is one of the places where Britain became great. Isleworth is now where Sky Television beams its programmes to the world and the original picturesque village on the Thames is worth a visit and a pint. Osterley is a spacious and tranquil park with a delightful National Trust house. As you approach Hounslow watch out for Dick Turpin as this is where he yelled 'stand-and-deliver' to weary and wary travellers on the Great West Road. Twickenham now beckons to the southwest, said by many to be the birthplace of Middlesex for it was here in 704 that a grant of land was made in Tuiccanham in the provincia of Middelseaxan' - the first time Middlesex was officially given a mention in dispatches. A famous Middlesex destination set on the Thames with some of the most beautiful parks and houses in the County: Marble Hill, York House, Strawberry Hill and Orleans House. Eel Pie island is here and features in Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickkby. Kneller Hall is the Military Music school and of course this Middlesex town is synonymous with the game of Rugby Union the world over. Farther along is Sunbury and the Thames which is at its prettiest here as it reaches up from Hampton Court. Who can resist this palace where so much of our history and heritage has been enacted since Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII came to a bargain for this illustrious building? Adjacent to the palace is dreamy Hampton village and along the Sunbury road is Kempton Park, another major Middlesex and national sporting venue. Soon you're in Shepperton with its quaint village centred around the church of St Nicholas. Head to the famous film studios which are actually in Littleton; many a Hollywood star slips out to the shops at Shepperton. Ashford is close to my heart as it's the place since 1996 I am privileged to represent in my official title as 'The Lord of Ashford, Middlesex'.
Staines pocketed in the southwest of the county close to the Buckinghamshire border is a classic Middlesex market town and its Victorian Town Hall is sumptuous architecture. From Staines you're not far from Heathrow as the planes overhead will vouch: Heathrow, once a tiny hamlet bordering Hounslow Heath and now the first glimpse most overseas visitors have of Britain . . . and this is all still in Middlesex. The little villages of Sipson, Longford and Harmondsworth, with its 14th-century Tithe Barn, continues the tradition of real Middlesexness in the middle of international hustle and bustle. North of here is West Drayton, a brewery town for Middlesex Gold beer. Now hop on the M25 to South Mimms, the most northerlyparish in the county, and see where motorway services rub shoulders with the splendid 13th-century church of St Giles where members of my family are at rest. Then on to Potters Bar, the most northerly town of Middlesex, which started life as a small hamlet, possibly as one of the gates or entrances to Enfield Chase. In 1916 a German Zeppelin struck an oak tree and fell in flames. The Football Association has one of its main offices in the town.
As the name suggests, Middlesex is caught between Essex, Sussex and Wessex - the various Saxon kingdoms. Though never thought to have been a separate kingdom and more likely to have been a part of the kingdom of the East Saxons, the County was much bigger in territory taking in a large part of Hertfordshire, possibly the region below the River Colne. Surrey is said to have derived from old English for a 'South region', possibly of Middlesex. So much British history has been acted out on the stage of Middlesex towns and palaces, so many kings and queens have lived and died in Middlesex in her great houses. Her many Saxon churches are a lasting testament to her past; battles that turned the tide of English power have been fought on Middlesex earth. An obelisk to mark the Battle of Barnet in 1471 in the War , ' of the Roses stands in the pretty hamlet of Hadley Green. The decisive battle was actually fought in South Mimms at Gladmore Heath. Barnet itself stands at the crossroads of history. Half in Middlesex and half in Hertfordshire, it was conferred a charter by King John and is known as Chipping Barnet. Elizabeth I was a regular traveller via the town on her way to Hatfield House and Charles I escaped via Barnet to Oxford the Civil War. Barnet's cattle and horse market was granted by Elizabeth I in 1588 and she founded the Free Grammar School in 1573.
London, of course, oozes history both grand and trivial, but a few choice items are worth recounting. It was known by the Romans as Londinium but also for a brief time, as Augusta. Middlesex and London have always been inseparable. To be a true Londoner you must be born in the City's square mile and the sound of Bow Bells must be heard ringing at your birth - Bow is a parish of east Middlesex. Born without the bells and not in the City and you are from Middlesex, Surrey, Kent or Essex! Some nice historical twists include Brown's Hotel in Dover Street. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt honeymooned here in 1905, King George 11 of Greece was in exile, and in Room 36 Holland declared war on Japan in World War II. Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kipling were among its many patrons. Nearby 17 Bruton Street off Berkeley Square, Mayfair (now demolished) was where Queen Elizabeth II was born. Sheridan, Prime Minister Canning and Norman Hartnell are some of its famous residents.
Nearby to Wembley is the tiny hamlet of Preston whichwas the 1908 Olympic Games clay pigeon shoot ground at Uxendon Farm, and, in 1586, Anthony Babbington was sheltered by the Bellamy family after his plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth was discovered. And then there is Enfield and Hampton Court: Enfield is a Middlesex town and borough to the far north of the county. It existed long before the Domesday survey, in fact by Norman times it was already a village of note. Henry VII's minister and speaker of the House of Commons Sir Thomas Lovell lived here with over a 100 servants at Elsyng House; Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I spent much of their childhoods here. In 1815 a small arms factory was opened, hence the Enfield rifle. Enfield became the centre of the electronics industry at Ponders End in 1880 and Brimsdown in 1903. On the main road to Cambridge, Enfield was always an important Middlesex place, so much industry came in the 1920s. John Keats went to school here and Capel Manor has a rose garden to Bill Bossom, creator of the pretty peach and pink Middlesex County rose. Enfield Chase was a very popular hunting ground for royals and nobles and some of it remains as the glorious Trent Park, now home to Middlesex University Also in Enfield, it was reputedly at Whitewebbs House that Guy Fawkes and his cronies conspired to blow up Parliament. Moving south, stop at Chiswick for its exquisite House, a 17th-century villa of distinction, and while you're in town don't forget William Hogarth's house - his 'little country box beside the Thames'. Hampton Court, one of the shining diamonds in Middlesex's crown, displays some of the finest Tudor architecture in Britain. Cardinal Wolsey bought the site in 1514 and presented it to his envious sovereign King Henry VI1I in an attempt to regain favour. The famous zodiac clock was designed in 1540 by Nicholas Oursian. Henry bought five of his six wives to live in the palace, his son King Edward VI spent most of his short life in Hampton Court, and it was here his half-sister Mary received her marriage proposal from Philip of Spain.
Elizabeth I lived here in 1559, and kings and queens all made their mark on the palace until Queen Victoria declared it open to the public. In 1986 a fire swept through the palace destroying the south wing of Fountain Court. It is here (and at the Tower of London, she gets around!) that Queen Anne Boleyn is said to walk in ghostly fashion with 'her head tucked underneath her arm'. For superb country houses Syon House is hard to beat. Since 1594 this has been home to the Percys, the dukes of Northumberland. Originally a Bridgettine monastery founded in 1415 at Twickenham by Henry V, it was moved in 1431 up the Thames to isleworth. Henry VIII took hold of it in the Reformation and imprisoned his fifth wife Catherine Howard here before her execution in 1542. Syon played its part in British history for it was here that Lady Jane Grey was offered the Crown and began her ill-fated nine days' reign. Inigo Jones was asked to make repairs in 1632, and in 1646 Charles I sent his three children to Syon to escape the plague. Charles II visited the House with John Evelyn in the 1660s.
Whitehall lies within the county also. It was at Whitehall Palace that Henry VIII celebrated his marriages to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour and it was where he died in 1547. King Charles was beheaded here and Oliver Cromwell governed Britain from Whitehall Palace and died here in 1658. At the Restoration of Charles II, the
monarchy returned to Whitehall and the last royal event was when William and Mary were offered the British crown before transferring their court to Kensington Palace. Whitehall is now the centre for many ministries of government. Another of the county's famous royal residences of course is Buckingham Palace, commissioned by King George IV to replace Buckingham House in St James's. But he never lived to see its completion by architect John Nash. The first monarch to live there was Queen Victoria. And how about Heston once so famous for its wheat that Queen Elizabeth I had her bread made from Middlesex flour ground here, and it was at Heston airport that Neville Chamberlain landed to wave his paper with the so-called Munich agreement with Hitler. So, though today you might only see the monotony of suburbia remember that just a hundred years ago this was a green and pleasant land and still is, for there are traces in certain places of the old green Middlesex rightly called the 'capital county' bursting with memories and memorials to the history of not just a county but a whole nation too.