Once upon a time this was a tiny hamlet at the foot of Horsenden Hill. It was inhabited by the 1750s, but the last house was demolished in 1972 and since then whatever was left has disappeared under trees, brambles and ivy. Broken bricks, rusting metal and a small area where tarmac covers an earlier road surface are the only signs that anyone lived here. The satellite map shows a wooded area to the west of Horsenden Lane North which appears to correspond with the lay out of the buildings. A little further south, alongside the lane, there are the remains of a grander house (built in 1896) and its garden. It had a number of names, but it was first known as Rohais House. Even at this time of year you can see some plants that have resisted the scrub, as well as three very tall conifers, one alongside a set of steps that may have risen from the footpath to the house itself or a terrace alongside it.
I felt Boxing Day, traditionally a time of charitable giving, was appropriate to mention this lost community because in 1816 one and a half acres was set aside there to provide fuel for the poor. This probably means that they were allowed to gather wood on that site. By 1830 fourteen cottages had been built here for the poor. The sum of £500 was bequeathed in 1856 by Mrs. Mary Bennett to benefit twelve poor families, including one resident at Brabsden Green. Mrs. Bennett’s grave is in the churchyard of Holy Cross and her charity was eventually combined with that of Edward Betham and several others dating from as far back as 1649.
My thanks to my partner who set out on a cold and muddy trek with me to help to identify the site. I would have missed quite a lot without his sharp eye. I am also grateful to the British History Online website for the information on local charities and the helpful information board provided by the Ealing Council at the site of the original Ballot Box public house, which is further along Horsenden Lane North.
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