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St. Peter and St. Paul's, Harlington

The first recorded mention of Harlington was in 851 CE, when arrangements for the transfer of a plot of land in Botwell in the neighbouring parish of Hayes mentioned a border with ‘Hygeredington’. In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded the parish as ‘Herdintone’, with the constituent hamlet of ‘Dallega’ – otherwise, Dawley. By the nineteenth century, the parish had also developed another distinct hamlet, West End.

Harlington’s parish church has existed on the site of the present St. Peter and St. Paul’s since the eleventh century. The grounds of the church contain the remains of the iconic Harlington yew tree, thought to be over one thousand years old. The annual clipping of 

the yew tree proved a village festivity for centuries. Some of the parish’s oldest surviving buildings include the White Hart on the High Street, which dates to 1810, and though the precise origins of the Pheasant, another public house in West End, are uncertain, it is thought to date to the 1700s.

In the nineteenth century, brick-makers established themselves in the north of the parish, near present-day Brickfield Lane. However, the rest of Harlington continued to house thousands of fruit trees until the early twentieth century, particularly in Dawley and at the border between Harlington and Sipson.

Notable past residents of Harlington include the Tudor composer William Byrd, who lived in the parish from 1577 to 1592 and gives his name to a local primary school. It is thought that Byrd chose to live in Harlington because, as a devout Catholic who refused to attend the Protestant church, Harlington was sufficiently off-the-beaten-track for him to escape persecution. Henry Bennet, Secretary of State to Charles II and member of the notorious ‘Cabal’ ministry, was awarded the title ‘Earl of Arlington’, his father having been ‘Sir John Bennet of Dawley’. The missing ‘H’ in Bennet’s title is unexplained, but its persistent absence in other historical records suggests that it is quite possibly a result of regional pronunciation.

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