- Cranford, London
Cranford shown within Greater London
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Cranford has been known as "the prettiest village in Middlesex" for many years and can be found in the north west of the borough, on the eastern side of the River Crane. The name may be an approximation of "Crane Ford" (perhaps owing to the birds which frequent the river running through the village).
Before the Norman Conquest, the village was a small Saxon settlement completely surrounded by Hounslow Heath. The Domesday Book records the Manor of Cranford being given to a Norman baron, William Fitz Ansulf. By the 13th century, the area of Cranford Park and House, the High Street and Bath Road had been given to the Knights Templar as Cranforde St John. The rest, Cranford le Mote, included the manor house and stretched up to the north of the present M4.
The manors were reunited after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and were bought by Sir Thomas Berkeley's widow Elizabeth in 1618. These stayed in the Berkeley family until the house and Cranford Park were sold to Hayes and Harlington Urban District Council in 1932, before being sold again to Middlesex County Council in 1935. The Park was then leased back to Hayes and Harlington Urban District Council who jointly administered it with Heston and Isleworth Borough Council, to whom Cranford had been transferred in 1934.
St Dunstan's church, in the park adjacent to the stable block, dates from the 15th century. The tower and the nave survived a fire in 1710, and the repairs were paid for by Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Berkeley in 1716. The oldest bell in the church was cast in 1338 and is said to have chimed on every occasion of national importance since. One of Cranford's more "colourful" former residents was the MP and writer George Charles Grantley Fitzhardinge Berkeley, known for his violent behaviour.
The family also gave their name to Berkeley Parade, where there are now many shops, which were built on the common on the south of the Bath Road in the 1930s. These still-existing "château-type" buildings with their little slated turrets were described as "ingenious architectural fun" in the journal Architectural Review in 1939.
Cranford also boasts one of only two remaining "lock-ups" in the Metropolitan Police area, which was built in 1838 to hold drunks and vagrants overnight, before finding use as a mortuary for the parish council.
The Cranford Agreement
The area's position directly below the flight path of the northern runway of Heathrow Airport led to a ministerially approved undertaking, the Cranford Agreement, given on 31 July 1952 at a meeting of the Cranford Residents' and District Amenities Association. The agreement stated that, as far as possible, the northern runway would not be used for landings or take-offs to the east. This meant that houses under the flight path would not have to suffer the noise from the take-off of planes leaving the airport, which is considerably louder than that of those landing.
An Air Transport white paper of December 2003 proposed that, since a new runway at Heathrow could not come into operation before some time in the period 2015-2020, consideration should be given to the scope for using the two existing runways more; for example, through mixed-mode operations.
- Elizabeth Carey (1576-1635) - patron of the arts, with links to Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson - bought the estate of Cranford in 1618, and is buried in Cranford parish church, where there is a white marble effigy of her
- Charles Scarborough (1615-1694), royal physician and mathematician, is buried at Cranford; there is a monument to him in the parish church erected by his widow
- Session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (whose credits include records with Dusty Springfield, The Walker Brothers and Serge Gainsbourg's '70s classic Histoire de Melody Nelson) attended Woodfield Secondary School in Cranford
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