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by Ted Howell
A Regency House and Garden
The house was built into an ancient well-managed agricultural landscape. Pastures, surrounded by belts of mature trees and shrubs to give shelter to livestock, were interspersed with extensive apple orchards. Most of this pre-industrial landscape was wiped away by the late nineteenth century expansion of Southall. Today a vestige can still be seen between Tenterlow Lane and Osterley Park, although now the pastures are mostly playing fields and the orchards have given way to natural thickets and plantations.

The prevalent fashion for larger gardens and landscapes in the Georgian and Regency periods was that of the ‘English Landscape Movement’ as interpreted by Humphrey Repton, the world’s first self-professed landscape gardener. Repton’s designs were to be immortalised in the lay-out British (and American) public parks - extensive lawns with specimen trees and shrubs, sweeping gravel drives and walkways, an enclosing belt of native and exotic trees and the terrace from which this naturalistic landscape was admired. Shrubberies and flower borders were not neglected – beds displaying the most recent introductions from the Americas were laid-out near the house and the whole would be peppered with statuary and garden structures in either the ‘Classic’ or ‘Gothic’ mode.

Smaller properties (less than five acres) were landscaped on a less dramatic scale.

If there was no room for terraces and sweeping drives, the garden could be fashionably laid-out with shrubs, small trees (kept small by regular pruning or ‘pollarding’) and statuary to produce a ‘Picturesque’ composition (Picturesque – the term coined by William Gilpin in the mid eighteenth century to describe landscape views ‘ suitable as the subject of a landscape painter’)

The earliest depiction of Friars lawn is on the 1816 Parish map (drawn up to record land ownership after the Enclosure Award of 1815). The curtilage of the house and surrounding properties are the same as shown on the 1865 OS. Map (approximately one-third of an hectare or just under one acre). Unfortunately no details of the garden are shown on this map as these were of little interest to the auditors and surveyors who drew up the Enclosure Bills.

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