Monday, September 21, 2015

Open City & Open House, London #1 Ealing Common Walk

One of the guides on the 'mic'
Every year there's an event called Open City run in London - it's about broadly speaking our environment and seems to be getting more and more popular.

Their are a number of threads that run through the scheme, there's public buildings that are opened up, individual properties and walks.

The newest part of Ealing Common
On Saturday we took part in a walk organised by the Ealing Common Society, a group formed a few years back to fight plans to lose the Common to  a six lane highway, fortunately they won the battle but remain as lobbyists to ensure that the green space is maintained and valued.

The walk started at the newest part of Ealing Common, a small-ish piece of land bartered in a deal with the London Mayor that allowed land to be freed up to accommodate new rail bridges in Ealing.

The tour was incredibly well managed with a group who were obviously knowledgeable and able to handle microphone duties in explaining the history.
The former Dairy farm

Ealing Common was in days gone by in the countryside and as you'd imagine an area of common rural land where animals would graze.

The first revelation was that until as recently as 1950 a farm (Hanger Hill dairy) was run in the vicinity and fresh milk from it sold in Ealing's town centre .
 [In fact there's more about the Farm and the tour outlined here. ]

As  transport links improved and the urban population grew along with regular train services the urbanisation  began to have an effect and commuters and a  burgeoning middle class began to establish itself around the common - Gothic Victorian 'Villas' were built along with other amenities including churches.

The plaque on the vicarage to multiple winner Dorothea

The group at St Matthew's Church - Red Basilica

After the farm we moved down to a church which reflects Ealing today - the church is used by both local worshippers and an Indian Christian group, it was for some time used also by the polish community and has the current longest serving  Church of England vicar (50 years in post) - it also has been home to one of Britain's greatest tennis players (Dorothea Lambert Chambers a 7 times winner of the Wimbledon ladies singles).

Not Churchill but a crossing

The walk along the common included several buildings of interest including the enigmatically named 'Churchill Crossing' minimal Churchill connections but used for TV drama 'externals'  that included William and Mary.

Also near the common was a WW II intelligence (secret)  facility.

There are some fine houses on the common including what was once the home of a key figure in Ealing Film History Sir Michael Balcon (rather interestingly the Grandfather of actor Daniel Day-Lewis)  
A birthday work for 100 years

The tour ended at the All Saints Church in Elm Avenue- the church looks older than it is being built at the start of the 20th century (1905)but it's history goes back to the only assassination (so far) of a British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval - quite a story here too.

Spencer Perceval Well preserved

One of the most interesting artefacts we saw in the church was the Death mask of Spencer Perceval made at the time of his death.

Really enjoyed this walk in History 
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