Newest Review: ... that's just the main area. Islweorth beacame a part of Hounslow in the post-war years, but many people say 'Isleworth' as nearby areas... more
Isleworth, Greater London
Member Name: Huomenna
Advantages: good transport links, property fair price for area, fascinating history, interesting attractions
Disadvantages: under heathrow flight path, much of history has been lost
Now I shall write something different from a camera review which may be a relief to some of you. Isleworth is a suggestion that I made over a month ago and why did I suggest it? It's my home town.
Isleworth is a town located along the banks of the river Thames, the county of Middlesex, Greater London.
The town has existed for a great many hundreds of years and is actually Saxon in origin. Of course the town has expanded a great deal since then and the original settlement area - that which is next to the river, is now known as Old Isleworth.
Throughout it's existance, like many places in this country, Isleworth has undergone a number of different spellings and pronounciations of its name - on some of the old maps you might come across it is known as 'Istleworth' which is something I still affectionately call it from time to time.
Up until the 20th century Isleworth was very much an agricultural town and had a great number of orchards - in fact my old road 'Amhurst Gardens' used to be an orchard until the houses were built on it in the 1930's. Unfortunately this is a similar story the whole town over and what green spaces there were have continued to diminish - I remember as a child (and saying this makes me feel old) that there used to be a huge field opposite my primary school where there would be a carboot sale every weekend, it's now a council estate, and the same story (minus the carboot sale) behind my own road.
If you want more on the history of Isleworth, then you can find a very useful wikipedia page on it - I haven't gone too indepth here because it would make the review far too long.
What is there to see and do in Isleworth?
I was going to say not much, but now that I think about it there are quite a few things of interest (although it shouldn't take you more than a day to exhaust all that Isleworth has to offer).
An absolutely stunning example of a stately home and grounds. You can walk around some of the grounds for free (people often come to walk their dogs here) and a long driveway leads you past the house and towards an expansive garden centre which sells all the usual garden bits and bobs, gifts, an aquatic section and there's the 'refectory cafe'.
Also on site is a reptile centre which I haven't been to since I was a child - I remember it being quite small but interesting with a number of snakes, frogs, piranahs etc. The London butterfly house used to be situated next to it which was a great place to visit but unfortunately this was demolished a few years ago.
The house itself requires payment to get in (it's not a national trust property), as do the extensive and very beautiful gardens - payment details can be found on their website: www.syonpark.co.uk I would certainly recommend visiting during their enchanted woodland event - this is when they light up the gardens and create little scenes to be viewed at night, it's stunning and they actively encourage photography.
This area of the town has retained much of the charm that the rest of Isleworth has lost in recent years. Situated by the river this section of Isleworth is dominated by beautiful old architecture and a lovely pub (the only nice pub in Isleworth despite there being quite a number of pubs overall) called the 'London Apprentice' which has gardens over looking the river. There is also All Saints church - half of the building is quite modern (and in my eyes ugly) however there is a lovely old church tower with a clock at the top. The whole church was beautiful until some school boys burnt the majority of it down in 1943 (who says children are worse now than they were?)
Silver Hall park:
There was once a grand house on this site (surprisingly enough named Silver Hall) but unfortunately, like so many of the great houses that once stood in Isleworth, it has long since been demolished. In it's place stands Silver Hall park. As a park it is relatively small but has a couple of lawns, some beautiful old trees, a childrens play area and most interesting of all there is a brick mound. Why is this so interesting? Because it is all that remains of the house - it used to be their 'fridge' and has managed to stand the test of time by staying largely intact. When I was young you used to be able to go inside it, however since then a gate has been put across the entrance. There is an information board in the park which tells you all about its history.
Modern day Isleworth has a few things to offer, albeit not much of interest. There is West Middlesex hospital which has been greately explanded over the years but still has a poor repuation (one which is entirely deserved as my nan died after a heart attack there when the doctors and nurses failed to notice her dentures had slipped down her throat thus starving her brain of oxygen), it may be of interest to some that this is also the place where the actor who played Father Ted, died after a heart attack.
Further to the hospital there are a small selection of shops scattered across the town (there's no real main shopping area) which includes a few cafes, newagents and a uniform shop in the South Street area and more newsagents, a post office and Barclay's bank on London Road (a good half mile walk from each other).
As far as transportation is concerned this is actually quite good - there are regular trains to London Waterloo (takes just shy of half an hour, would be quicker but only slow trains pass through Isleworth) and a large number of buses which go into central London, Hounslow, Brentford, Hammersmith, Richmond etc. The buses tend to be very regular and there is even a night bus service.
Overall I'd say Isleworth is a mixed bag - the town has a fascinating history, although unfortunately so much of what made it beautiful has long since been lost. As a tourist attraction I'd say only visit if you are near anyway - it's not worth making a special trip from a long distance and you'd probably end up disappointed, however if you are quite close by it could make an interesting day out provided that you are interested in Stately Homes and the like!
From the perspective of somewhere to live it also has it's pros and cons - property is slightly more expensive than in Hounslow, but it's a nicer place to live and it has good transport links into the city. The town has gone 'down hill' in recent years and unfortunately this seems to have started when the council estates were constructed - there has certainly been a greater level of crime with more car and house break in's. Furthermore I would not live here if you like a quiet life - Isleworth is directly under Heathrow's flight path and planes go over heard literally every couple of minutes. Depending on what part of Isleworth you are in, you may also be subject to the very regular sound of ambulance sirens as they rush their way to and from the hospital. All this makes Isleworth sound like a terrible place to live, but it isn't - many of the residents are easy to get along with and there are some good local schools. I spent about 11 years of my life here and wasn't in a hurry to leave and it wouldn't bother me to move back. If you have enough money though and are interested in the area, I would suggest buying a property in Old Isleworth (much more expensive than the rest of town).
Summary: see review