West Hall Road, TW9

Place Name

West Hall is at least as old as Kew. Originally part of the extensive manor of Mortlake it was described in medieval documents from 1386 as an estate of some 160 acres. Then in the 15thCentury this substantial property was broken off to create a new subsidiary manor for the area, the manor of East Sheen and West Hall, with a manor house in West Sheen. By the end of the 17thCentury the manor covered at least 300 acres and the Lord of the Manor Thomas Juxon had a large property built. Oddly however, while a number of distinguished families resided in the house, the lords of the manor never did. Among those families was¬†George Bessant who worked extensive market gardens and fruit orchards around North Sheen. The area, which could use the River Thames to transport goods quickly, was well placed to provide fresh produce to the ever expanding city downstream. It was also close enough to fatten up the so-called Welsh Beasties (cattle) before they were sent to market for slaughter. By the early 1800s the estate was in the ownership of the Taylor family and from them it passed to the Leyborne Pophams. The road itself began as as lane to the house and led up to the river “where a small inlet provided a dock where barges could load with asparagus and other local produce for the London markets and unload cargoes of London’s ‘night soil’ (human and horse shit that needed to be cleared to avoid the capital’s roads being clogged up) as manure for the market gardens.” By the 1840s however the railway was bringing in cheaper fruit and vegetables from further away and the profits of the market farmers declined rapidly. Landowners swiftly moved to development to capitalise on the growing demand for housing.

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