This was supposed to be written up yesterday but by the evening I was just too tired! My usual Sunday morning run was postponed until the afternoon due to a) the clocks going forward and b) Mothers Day – I spent the morning at the garden centre with my mum. So I decided that my run (and write up) would take an historical turn, looking at two places with the name Pitshanger (or Pitzhanger) in them. The name Pitshanger was first mentioned in 1493, and possibly means ‘an area of sloped woodland frequented by birds’.
I live in Ealing, west London, and recently the historic Pitzhanger Manor House has re-opened after extensive refurbishment. I have not had time to go in yet, but I’m looking forward to going soon. There is an exhibition of work by Anish Kapoor on there until August.
There has been a house on the site since at least the late 17th century, but the most famous owner was architect Sir John Soane who bought the house in 1800. He demolished most of the house and rebuilt it to his own plans as a classical Georgian villa. It was his country retreat, used for entertaining and housing his big collection of artefacts. These are now in his London house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Soane used to walk regularly to Pitzhanger from Lincoln’s Inn – a distance of about 8 miles.
I have two connections to Pitzhanger – number 1 – my sister was married there in 2006! It is a lovely wedding venue – very classy, just like my sister. And the second connection is that in the 19th century my Crace ancestors were interior designers/decorators who were commissioned by Sir John Soane to decorate some of Pitzhanger Manor (and his house in Lincoln’s Inn). I found a lovely blog that has a potted history of the Crace firm through the 18th and 19th centuries.
After running past Pitzhanger Manor, which is now in central Ealing, I ran to Pitshanger Park, which is about a mile away. I have always been quite intrigued about why it’s called Pitshanger Park, because it’s not that near the Manor House.
Pitshanger Lane is an old road – originally called Pitshanger Road in fact. It ran near to the Pitshanger Manor Farm. So the lands of the manor were extensive two or three hundred years ago. Now most of it has been built over, but the remains of the farmland can be seen in the Park.
There are some old trees in the park, some of which appear to be along old field boundaries. The river Brent runs along the north side of the park. I often run through this park, there is always lots to look at – birds and trees, flowers and people (and dogs)!
The whole run was almost 11 km, and although some was along roads it was lovely to run through two very attractive parks. I do feel lucky to live in a part of London that has so many green spaces.