The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer

ACTON, a parish in the Kensington division of the hundred of Ossulstone, in the county of Middlesex, 2 miles N.E. of Brentford, and 5¾ W. of London, on the Oxford road.

It is a station on the Hampstead Junction railway. The name, which is composed of the Saxon ac, "oak," and tun, "town," indicates that the neighbourhood formerly abounded in oak timber. There is a tract in the parish from time immemorial called Old Oak Common. In 1642, the Earls of Essex and Warwick had their head-quarters here; and it was at this place, in 1651, that the Lord President, the Council of State, the members of the House of Commons, and the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens of London met Cromwell, to offer him congratulations on the great victory at Worcester. It formerly belonged to Bartholomew Priory.

The village consists chiefly of one long street. The houses are mostly of great antiquity, but the place is cleanly and healthy. It is near the Great Western railway, and the Paddington canal passes through the parish. There is a mineral spring on Old Oak Common, but it has lost the repute it once enjoyed.

The living is a rectory* in the diocese of London, value £968, in the patronage of the bishop, who is also lord of the manor. The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, is partly in the early English and partly in the perpendicular style, and has lately undergone great alterations at a cost of £3,000. It contains two brasses, and the tombs of Ladies Conway and Southwell. The Independent chapel was erected in 1815. Some private buildings are used as a chapel by the Roman Catholics.

At East Acton are some almshouses, founded and endowed by the Goldsmiths' Company, for twelve men and twelve women. There is a Lancasterian school. Baxter, Sir Matthew Hale, Bishop Lloyd, one of the seven bishops imprisoned by James II., and Thicknesse, the traveller, have been residents at this place.

The village stands on rising ground, and contains many gentlemen's seats, the most picturesque of which is Berrymead Priory, the former seat of the Savilles and Evelyns. A fair is held on the 24th August.

[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]