Many historic records fail to distinguish Cowley from Hillingdon. It has never been a particularly large settlement, comprising few buildings and few people.
Nonetheless, some traces of the parish’s history exist. The church of St. Laurence has features dating to the twelfth century, and is notably one of the smallest parish churches in the county of Middlesex. Until the nineteenth century, Cowley consisted only of a few buildings surrounding the church and a few more at Cowley Peachey. The name ‘Cowley Peachey’, however, is relatively new: its former name, ‘Three Houses’, provides further indication that the settlement wasn’t particularly large.
Cowley’s small size is also represented by the fact that, before the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 required all paupers in the borough to report to the workhouse in Hillingdon, Cowley did not have its own workhouse as other
parishes did. Any paupers in Cowley were considered the responsibility of the workhouse in Hillingdon.
Cowley remained largely unaffected by the growth of Uxbridge, and only began to develop at the end of the nineteenth century when new houses were constructed in the parish. Since 1966, the north of the parish has been the site of Brunel University.
St. Laurence, Cowley