Samuel Butler

Hudibras verse (1660)

A satire of the Cromwellians, illustrated by William Hogarth.

Part II Canto3 line 995

And though you overcame the bear,
The dogs beat you at Brentford fair;
Where sturdy butchers broke your noddle,
And handled you like a fop-doodle.

F. Cole

Printed for F. Cole [etc.], 1661. song

Terrible news from Brainford, or, A perfect and true relation of one Thompson, a waterman, and two more of that function being drinking in excess at Brainsford, at the house of one Mrs. Phillpots, Thursday night, September 12 … : to the tune of Chievy chase.


Robert Copland

Jyl of Breyntfords Testament (1871, play)

At Brentford, on the west of London,
Nygh to a place that called is Syon,
There dwelt a widow of a homly sort,
Honest in sbustance, & full of sport;
Dally she cowd, with pastim & Jestes,
Among her neyghbours and her gestes;
She kept an Inne, of ryght good lodgyng,
For all estates that thyder was comyng.

With that she groned as panged with pain
griping her bely with her hands twain
And lift vp her buttok somwhat a wry
and like a handgun, she let a fart fly


William Cowper

The Task. Book i. The Sofa. Line 77.

United yet divided, twain at once:
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne.

Thomas Dekker and John Webster

Westward Ho (play, 1607) – the characters are sent on a trip to Brentford

“I doubt that old hag Gillian of Brainford has bewitched me.”

Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton

The Roaring Girl (1611)

Act II scene iii

Many mentions in this scene including,

Mistress Gallipot: And that in sinful Brainford they would commit


Th’ art admirably suited for the Three Pigeons at Brainford


thou shalt take thy husband casting out his net to catch fresh salmon at Brainford

In the Glossary states:

Brainford: Brentford, eight miles upstream of Cheapside, was a place of resort for the citizenry and had numerous prostitutes.

Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Chapter 42

I might a-took warning by Arthur, but I didn’t; and I won’t pretend I was partick’ler – for where ‘ud be the good on it, dear boy and comrade? So I begun wi’ Compeyson, and a poor tool I was in his hands. Arthur lived at the top of Compeyson’s house (over nigh Brentford it was), and Compeyson kept a careful account agen him for board and lodging, in case he should ever get better to work it out.

Hard Times

Book 1 Sowing, Chapter 3 A Loophole

The same Signor Jupe was to ‘enliven the varied performances at frequent intervals with his chaste Shaksperean quips and retorts.’ Lastly, he was to wind them up by appearing in his favourite character of Mr. William Button, of Tooley Street, in ‘the highly novel and laughable hippo- comedietta of The Tailor’s Journey to Brentford.’

This character was the first circus clown act.

Philip Astley created what is considered the first circus in England in 1768. He also created the first circus clown act called Billy Buttons, or the Tailor’s Ride To Brentford. The topical act was based on a popular tale of a tailor, an inept equestrian, trying to ride a horse to Brentford to vote in an election. Astley impersonated the tailor attempting to ride the horse. First he had tremendous difficulty mounting correctly, and then when he finally succeeded the horse started off so fast that he fell off. As the circus grew and Astley hired other clowns, he required them to learn Billy Buttons. It soon became a traditional part of every circus for 100 years. Variations of the routine with somebody coming out of the audience to attempt to ride a horse are still being performed in modern circuses.

Oliver Twist

Chapter 21

As they passed the different mile-stones, Oliver wondered, more and more, where his companion meant to take him. Kensington, Hammersmith, Chiswick, Kew Bridge, Brentford, were all passed; and yet they went on as steadily as if they had only just begun their journey. At length, they came to a public-house called the Coach and Horses; a little way beyond which, another road appeared to run off. And here, the cart stopped.

Our Mutual Friend (1864-5)

Old Betty Higden, lived in Brentford where she cared for foster children.

that agreeable town

“At length, tidings were received by the Reverend Frank of a charming orphan to be found at Brentford. One of the deceased parents (late his parishioners) had a poor widowed grandmother in that agreeable town, and she, Mrs Betty Higden, had carried off the orphan with maternal care, but could not afford to keep him.”

The abode of Mrs Betty Higden was not easy to find, lying in such complicated back settlements of muddy Brentford that they left their equipage at the sign of the Three Magpies, and went in search of it on foot. After many inquiries and defeats, there was pointed out to them in a lane, a very small cottage residence, with a board across the open doorway,…

The Uncommercial Traveller

Chapter 10 Shy Neighbours

“But, the family I have been best acquainted with, since the removal from this trying sphere of a Chinese circle at Brentford, reside in the densest part of Bethnal-green.”

Oliver Goldsmith

She Stoops to Conquer play, 1773

Hastings and Marlow turn up at the Three Pigeons Alehouse. Tony Lumpkin, inheritor to an estate, is there with his goodfellows, drinking away his estate.

Madeleine Henrey/ Mrs Robert Henerey

The King of Brentford

It’s about her father in-law, Rev Thomas Selby Henrey, who was the vicar of St. Georges and has some great descriptions of Brentford.

Extract on Friends of Gunnersbury Park regarding visit to Gunnersbury Park.

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World


At Brentford the Television Corporation’s factory was like a small town.

Chapter 11, p142

On their way back to London they stopped at the Television Corporation’s factory at Brentford. “Do you mind waiting here a moment while I go and telephone?” asked Bernard.The Savage waited and watched. The Main Day-Shift was just going off duty. Crowds of lower-caste workers were queued up in front of the monorail station-seven or eight hundred Gamma, Delta and Epsilon men and women, with not more than a dozen faces and statures between them.


…at the entrance to the Brentford monorail station.

Ben Johnson

The Alchemist, 1612, takes place in the Three Pigeons.

Act V Scene IV

Subtle: Soon at night, my Dolly,
When we are shipp’d, and all our goods aboard,
Eastward for Ratcliff; we will turn our course
To Brainford, westward, if thou sayst the word,
And take our leaves of this o’er-weening rascal,
This peremptory Face.

Subtle: My fine flitter-mouse,
My bird o’ the night! We’ll tickle it at the Pigeons,
When we have all, and may unlock the trunks,..”

Stephen Leather

one of his ends up in Brentford

William Mason 1725-1797

An heroic epistle to Sir William Chambers, Knight, Comptroller General of His Majesty’s works and author of a late Dissertation on oriental gardening : enriched with explanatory notes, chiefly extracted from that elaborate performance (1777)

And o’er the Thames fling one stupendous line
Of marble arches, in a bridge, that cuts
From Richmond Ferry slant to Brentford Butts.
Brentford with London’s charms will we adorn;
Brentford, the bishopric of Parson Horne.
There, at one glance, the royal eye shall meet
Each varied beauty of St James’s Street;
Stout Talbot there shall ply with hackney chair,
And patriot Betty fix her fruit-shop there.
Like distant thunder, now the coach of state
Rolls o’er the bridge, that groans beneath its weight.
The court hath crossed the stream; the sports begin;
Now Noel preaches of rebellion’s sin:
And as the powers of his strong pathos rise,
Lo, brazen tears fall from Sir Fletcher’s eyes.
While skulking round the pews, that babe of grace,
Who ne’er before at sermon showed his face,
See Jemmy Twitcher shambles; stop! stop thief!
He’s stolen the Earl of Denbigh’s handkerchief,

Thomas Middleton

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (play, 1613)


Let’s e’en go to the Checker
At Queenhive and roast the loin of mutton
Till young flood; then send the child to Branford.

Thomas Nashe

Summers Last Will and Testament (play, 1600)

He refers to Gillian of Brentford in his preamble:

What can be made of Summers last will & Testament? Such another thing as Gyllian of Braynford’s will, where she bequeathed a score of farts among’st her friends.

Gillian of Brentford certainly was a character – see Robert Copland

George Peele

Merrie Conceited Jests of George Peele – The Jests of George Peele with Four of His Companions at Brainford (1620)

…my honest George, who is now merry at the three Pigeons in Brainford, with Sack and Sugar, not any wine wanting, the Musicians playing, my host drinking, my hostis dancing with the worshipfull Justice, for so then he was termed, and his mansion house in Kent, who came thither of purpose to be merry with  his men, because he could not so conueniently neare home, by reason of a shrewish wife he had.

… for you must understand, that all that was done at Brainford among us mad Gentlemen, was but a jest, and no otherwise

Samuel Pepys

Pepys’ Diary

17 Jan 1659/60

…it being market day at Brainford.

14 Sep 1665

and I believe he did get his infection that day at Brainford


Robert Rankin

see Robert Rankin’s Guide to Brentford

to discover more about Rankin’s infamous Brentford trilogy comprising 9 novels to date.

Thomas Ravenscroft

Goe no more to Brainford’  (song/round 1609)

Goe no more to Brainford
Unless you love a punk
For that wicked sinful towne
hath made me drunk

Cecil Roberts

And to Bath (1939)

Janet McNamara described Cecil Robert’s book ‘And to Bath’ on the Brentford High Street’ website.

A traffic roundabout will beguile you into taking the wide, speedy concrete track that leads through factory-land and villadom, in varying hues and shapes, for twenty more miles… To our left lies Brenford, hideously symbolised by its gasometers; before us lies the new age of advertisement, symbolised by petrol pumps, garages and factories, framed by night in neon lighting….This stretch of the West Road is the exhibition ground of a new spirit in industrial architecture.

William Shakespeare

Merry Wives of Windsor

Falstaff is disguised as the ‘Fat Woman of Brentford’

Act 4, scene 2


My maid’s aunt, the fat woman of Brentford, has a gown above…

I would my husband would meet him in this shape: he cannot abide the old woman of Brentford; he swears she’s a witch; forbade her my house and hath threatened to beat her.

William Thackeray

The King of Brentford

William Whitehead

Variety – A Tale for married People (poem 1776)

Now nearer town, and all agog,
They know dear London by its fog.
Bridges they cross, through lanes they wind,
Leave Hounslow’s dangerous heath behind,
Through Brentford win a passage free
By roaring, ‘Wilkes and Liberty!’


Three Pigeons Inn

Brentford in the 16th and 17th centuries was a favourite resort of Londoners and its Three Pigeons Inn, (closed in 1916), which was kept for a time by John Lowin, one of the first actors of Shakespeare’s plays, is frequently alluded to by dramatists of the period. According to James Halliwell (biographer of Shakespeare), Shakespeare made notes in the Three Pigeons of local life for The Merry Wives of Windsor,

… and in music

Rev Hammer: The Battle of Brentford

Robb Johnson

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