After the Norman Conquest in 1066, London once again became the Capital city of England, which meant that new roads were needed to link London with other parts of the country. The King had closed the old Roman Road to the West Country because it crossed his great hunting park at Windsor. A new road to Bath and Bristol was decided upon, following almost the same route as our modern A4, via Reading, Maidenhead, Slough, Longford and Cranford. In the 13th century, at the junction of this new Bath and Bristol road with the old Roman road from London to Staines, the town of Hounslow began. It was a slow growth: a map of Hounslow 400 years after this shows the town to still only have one street!
.Figures in the East glass window of the Aisle of Hounslow Chapel, undated.
In 1211, the Church of the Holy Trinitarians, originally based in France, founded a base in Hounslow. From here they could attend to their mission of raising money to pay the ransoms of Christian prisoners captured abroad. They travelled up and down the country by foot for their charity – they were forbidden from buying a horse or mule to help them and could only accept one if it was given to them as a gift! They also operated their Friary as a hotel, charging guests money to stay overnight in the Friary’s guest rooms. A third of the money they raised went to supporting the local poor and sick in Hounslow.
A Friar of Hounslow Monastery, from A History of the Urban District of Heston & Isleworth, London: George Gill & Sons, 1928.
Hounslow Chapel, undated.
In 1296, King Edward I granted the monks the right to hold an annual eight-day market and fair which continued until the 19th century, long after the friars left in 1539!