King George V
George V officially opened the Great West Road on May 30th 1925.
King Henry VIII
Henry VIII died on 28th Jan 1547. His coffin lay for the night in Syon abbey church on its way to Windsor for burial. Whilst there, his coffin burst open and his corpse was mauled by dogs.
Once of the most famous visitors to Brentford is the Native American lady named Pocahontas (c. 1595 – March 21, 1617) who married an Englishman, John Rolfe, and became a celebrity in London in the last year of her life.
Pocahontas and Rolfe lived in Brentford for about six months in a house on the site that is now the Royal Mail sorting office (next to Pets at home). It is assumed that they got to know the 9th Earl of Northumberland’s brother George Percy when he was for a short period governor of Jamestown in 1607. This may have led to the invitation to Brentford. The air to the west of London was thought also have been suggested as good for Pocahontas’ health. Shortly after leaving Brentford she died and was buried at Gravesend.
Pocahontas’ story was brought to life by Disney in 1995.
John Quincy Adams
Born July 11th 1767, the 6th President of the United States of America lived in Brentford for two years. In 1815 he was appointed American Minister in Britain and rented a house from James Clitherow of Boston Manor House. The house, called Little Boston (demolished in the 1920s), was on the corner of what is now The Ride and Windmill Road. Quincy Adams kept a diary of his time in England which contains some interesting snippets about the area, including an account of a day at the Brentford Fair, where he just escaped the attentions of a pickpocket.
Lived at Footprints, Church Walk.
George Manville Fenn
English novelist, journalist, editor and educationalist. He lived at Syon Lodge where he built up a library of 25,000 volumes and took up telescope making.
Lady Jane Grey
Syon was acquired John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. The Duke’s son, Lord Guildford Dudley, had married Lady Jane Grey, great-granddaughter of King Henry VIII, and it was at Syon in 1553 that she was formerly offered the crown by the Duke. She accepted reluctantly, was conveyed to London by river and proclaimed Queen on 10th July 1553. Nine days later, she was displaced by Mary Tudor and the following year she was executed
Born on 2nd February 1650 – Nell Gwyn, mistress of King Charles II. She is reputed to have lived in a house the Butts, now demolished, round about where Brent Rd meets Somerset Rd. King Charles II bought her a pet griffin (allegedly!) which she kept at the house. One day, the story goes, Nell’s pet griffin fell into the River Brent and was washed down to the Thames where it was presumed drowned. The griffin however had managed to clamber ashore on Brentford Eyot (opposite the Waterman’s Art Centre). Some say this is where the tales of the griffin come from.
Born April 26th 1564 – Shakespeare was a regular drinker at the Three Pigeons Inn, Market Square, Brentford (now demolished, on the site of what is now a tile shop)
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Born August 4th 1792, Shelley spent two years at the Syon House Academy before going to Eton. Syon Park House, which housed the academy, was demolished in 1953 and is now where the Royal Mail Sorting Office is located.
Joseph Mallord W. Turner
Born April 23, 1775 – Turner who lived in Brentford for about 12 months when he was ten years old. Because of a family illness he was sent to stay with his uncle, William Marshall, a butcher who had a house and a shop in Market Place, next to the White Horse (Weir) pub. Turner was sent to school in Brentford High Street (more recently the Dewdrop Inn, 125 High Street). It was in Brentford too that Turner received his first artistic commission. A friend of his uncle, John Lees, a foreman at the Brentford Distillery, commissioned Turner to hand-colour a book of topographical engravings for which he paid him 2d each.