Of the five hamlets which made up the ancient parish of Harmondsworth, the names of four are still recognisable today: Harmondsworth Village, Sipson, Longford and Heathrow. The fifth hamlet, Perry Oaks – a farm with a few adjoining cottages – ceased to exist in the early twentieth century.
The parish church of St. Mary’s is a notable historic structure. Its grounds contain the tomb of Richard Cox, famous for producing the first Cox’s apple in the neighbouring parish of Colnbrook in Buckinghamshire. The Harmondsworth Great Barn, a Grade I listed building and English Heritage site, is heralded as hugely significant evidence of medieval architecture and carpentry, as well as proving the centrality of agriculture to the local economy. The other oldest buildings in Harmondsworth are on Summerhouse Lane: The Grange, which was built in 1675, and Harmondsworth Hall, which, though largely reconstructed, has elements dating to the same era.
Unlike several of its neighbouring parishes, Harmondsworth escaped the encroachment of heavy industry in the nineteenth century: unlike Harlington to its east and West Drayton to its north, the parish had no brickfields. Instead, inhabitants of Harmondsworth in the Victorian era benefitted from improvements in transport which enabled them to access London markets. Market gardening dominated in the parish, with Harmondsworth becoming a notable producer of strawberries in London.
Harmondsworth began its transformation when the Colnbrook by-pass was opened in 1929, and its development accelerated further with the opening of Heathrow Airport in 1946. The airport’s construction saw the hamlets of Heathrow and Perry Oaks razed to the ground. More than half of the land of the ancient parish of Harmondsworth is now occupied by Heathrow Airport: the future of the remaining half is jeopardised by the planned construction of a third runway.
St. Mary's, Harmondsworth