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Painted tole tray

An unusual painted tole tray of political interest relating to the Enclosures – Pontypool or Birmingham, circa 1801.

Bearing the inscription: “A witness for Theophilus Haddock of his abhorrence to robbing the poor by enclosures – Bedfont, 10th of the 3rd month 1801, on which day the Duke of Northumberland, the Bishop of London, the Governor’s of Christ’s Hospital etc. Withdrew their signatures from a petition which they had signed for the enclosures, to heir perpetual honour on being informed of the great evil the poor would sustain from it” Says Theophilus “I hope Parliament will oust it or yonder poor must starve”.

32 1/2 ins by 25 ins

Bedfont is at the western edge of the London Borough of Hounslow, straddling the main road from Hounslow to Staines.

The parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin is situated overlooking Bedfont Green, formerly the heart of the Middlesex village of East Bedfont. It is probably the oldest surviving building in the London Borough of Hounslow.

The yew trees outside the south door of St Mary’s church are thought to have been first cut into the shape of peacocks in 1704, and restored in 1865. They were neglected between 1940 and 1990 but are now once again restored. Various tales relate to the "Bedfont Peacocks", and local legend has it that there were two haughty sisters who lived in the parish and they were the inspiration for first cutting these topiary birds.

Thomas Hood ((1799-1845) wrote a long poem (The Two Peacocks of Bedfont) celebrating this landmark topiary. This poem was first published in the London Magazine of October 1822.

Ref. HW85

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