Middlesex in England and Wales
|• 1801/1881||734 km2 (181,320 acres)|
|• 1911||601.8 km2 (148,701 acres)|
|• 1961||601.7 km2 (148,691 acres)|
|• 1889||Metropolitan parishes to County of London|
|• 1801||11 inhabitants per hectare (4.5/acre)|
|• 1881||40 inhabitants per hectare (16.1/acre)|
|• 1911||19 inhabitants per hectare (7.6/acre)|
|• Preceded by||Kingdom of Essex|
|• Origin||Middle Saxons|
|• Created||Early Middle Ages|
|Status||Ceremonial county (until 1965)|
Administrative county (1889–1965)
|Chapman code||MDX[note 1]|
|Government||Middlesex Quarter Sessions (until 1889)[note 2]|
Within The Metropolis:
Metropolitan Board of Works (1855–1889)
Middlesex County Council (1889–1965)
|• HQ||see text|
|• Type||Hundreds (ancient)|
Middlesex (//; abbreviation: Middx) is an historic county in southeast England. Its area is now almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official administrative unit until 1965. The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and includes the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, is the second smallest by area of England's historic counties, after Rutland.
The City of London was a county corporate from the 12th century and was able to exert political control over Middlesex. Westminster Abbey dominated most of the early financial, judicial and ecclesiastical aspects of the county. As London expanded into rural Middlesex, the Corporation of London resisted attempts to expand the city boundaries into the county, which posed problems for the administration of local government and justice. In the 18th and 19th centuries the population density was especially high in the southeast of the county, including the East End and West End of London. From 1855 the southeast was administered, with sections of Kent and Surrey, as part of the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works. When county councils were introduced in England in 1889 about 20% of the area of the historic county of Middlesex, along with a third of its population, was incorporated into the new administrative county of London and the remainder incorporated into the administrative county of Middlesex, governed by the Middlesex County Council that met regularly at the Middlesex Guildhall in Westminster. The City of London, and Middlesex, became separate counties for other purposes and Middlesex regained the right to appoint its own sheriff, lost in 1199.
In the interwar years suburban London expanded further, with improvement and expansion of public transport, and the setting up of new industries. After the Second World War, the populations of the administrative county of London and of inner Middlesex were in steady decline, with high population growth continuing in the outer parts of Middlesex. After a Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London, almost all of the area of the historic county of Middlesex was incorporated into Greater London in 1965, with the rest included in neighbouring administrative counties.
The name means territory of the middle Saxons and refers to the tribal origin of its inhabitants. The word is formed from the Old English, 'middel' and 'Seaxe' (cf. Essex, Sussex and Wessex). In 704, it is recorded as Middleseaxon in an Anglo-Saxon chronicle, written in Latin, about land at Twickenham. The Latin text reads: "in prouincia quæ nuncupatur Middelseaxan Haec".
The Saxons derived their name from seax, a kind of knife for which they were known. The seax has a lasting symbolic impact in the English counties of Essex and Middlesex, both of which feature three seaxes in their ceremonial emblem. Their names, along with those of Sussex and Wessex, contain a remnant of the word "Saxon".
There were settlements in the area of Middlesex that can be traced back thousands of years before the creation of a county. Middlesex was formerly part of the Kingdom of Essex It was recorded in the Domesday Book as being divided into the six hundreds of Edmonton, Elthorne, Gore, Hounslow (Isleworth in all later records), Ossulstone and Spelthorne. The City of London has been self-governing since the thirteenth century and became a county in its own right, a county corporate.[note 3] Middlesex also included Westminster, which also had a high degree of autonomy. Of the six hundreds, Ossulstone contained the districts closest to the City of London. During the 17th century it was divided into four divisions, which, along with the Liberty of Westminster, largely took over the administrative functions of the hundred. The divisions were named Finsbury, Holborn, Kensington and Tower. The county had parliamentary representation from the 13th century. The title Earl of Middlesex was created twice, in 1622 and 1677, but became extinct in 1843.
The economy of the county was dependent on the City of London from early times and was primarily agricultural. A variety of goods were provided for the City, including crops such as grain and hay, livestock and building materials. Recreation at day trip destinations such as Hackney, Islington, Highgate and Twickenham, as well as coaching, inn-keeping and sale of goods and services at daily[clarification needed] shops and stalls to the considerable passing trade provided much local employment and also formed part of the early economy. However, during the 18th century the inner parishes of Middlesex became suburbs of the City and were increasingly urbanised. The Middlesex volume of John Norden's Speculum Britanniae (a chorography) of 1593 summarises:
This is plentifully stored, as it seemeth beautiful, with many fair and comely buildings, especially of the merchants of London, who have planted their houses of recreation not in the meanest places, which also they have cunningly contrived, curiously beautified with divers[e] devices, neatly decked with rare inventions, environed with orchards of sundry, delicate fruits, gardens with delectable walks, arbours, alleys and a great variety of pleasing dainties: all of which seem to be beautiful ornaments unto this country.
Similarly Thomas Cox wrote in 1794:
We may call it almost all London, being chiefly inhabited by the citizens, who fill the towns in it with their country houses, to which they often resort that they may breathe a little sweet air, free from the fogs and smoke of the City.
In 1803 Sir John Sinclair, president of the Board of Agriculture, spoke of the need to cultivate the substantial Finchley Common and Hounslow Heath (perhaps prophetic of the Dig for Victory campaign of World War II) and fellow Board member Middleton estimated that one tenth of the county, 17,000 acres (6,900 ha), was uncultivated common, capable of improvement. However William Cobbett, in casual travel writing in 1822, said that "A more ugly country between Egham (Surrey) and Kensington would with great difficulty be found in England. Flat as a pancake, and until you come to Hammersmith, the soil is a nasty, stony dirt upon a bed of gravel. Hounslow Heath which is only a little worse than the general run, is a sample of all that is bad in soil and villainous in look. Yet this is now enclosed, and what they call 'cultivated'. Here is a fresh robbery of villages, hamlets, and farm and labourers' buildings and abodes." Thomas Babington wrote in 1843, "An acre in Middlesex is worth a principality in Utopia" which contrasts neatly with its agricultural description.
The building of radial railway lines from 1839 caused a fundamental shift away from agricultural supply for London towards large scale house building. Tottenham, Edmonton and Enfield in the north developed first as working-class residential suburbs with easy access to central London. The line to Windsor through Middlesex was completed in 1848, and the railway to Potters Bar in 1850; and the Metropolitan and District Railways started a series of extensions into the county in 1878. Closer to London, the districts of Acton, Willesden, Ealing and Hornsey came within reach of the tram and bus networks, providing cheap transport to central London.
After World War I, the availability of labour and proximity to London made areas such as Hayes and Park Royal ideal locations for the developing new industries. New jobs attracted more people to the county and the population continued to rise, reaching a peak in 1951.
By the 19th century, the East End of London had expanded to the eastern boundary with Essex, and the Tower division had reached a population of over a million. When the railways were built, the north western suburbs of London steadily spread over large parts of the county. The areas closest to London were served by the Metropolitan Police from 1829, and from 1840 the entire county was included in the Metropolitan Police District. Local government in the county was unaffected by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and civic works continued to be the responsibility of the individual parish vestries or ad hoc improvement commissioners. In 1855, the parishes of the densely populated area in the south east, but excluding the City of London, came within the responsibility of the Metropolitan Board of Works. Despite this innovation, the system was described by commentators at the time as one "in chaos". In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888, the metropolitan area of approximately 30,000 acres (120 km2) became part of the administrative county of London. The Act also provided that the part of Middlesex in the administrative county of London should be "severed from [Middlesex], and form a separate county for all non-administrative purposes".
The part of the County of London that had been transferred from Middlesex was divided in 1900 into 18 metropolitan boroughs, which were merged in 1965 to form seven of the present-day inner London boroughs:
Middlesex outside the metropolitan area remained largely rural until the middle of the 19th century and so the special boards of local government for various metropolitan areas were late in developing. Other than the Cities of London and Westminster, there were no ancient boroughs. The importance of the hundred courts declined, and such local administration as there was divided between "county business" conducted by the justices of the peace meeting in quarter sessions, and the local matters dealt with by parish vestries. As the suburbs of London spread into the area, unplanned development and outbreaks of cholera forced the creation of local boards and poor law unions to help govern most areas; in a few cases parishes appointed improvement commissioners. In rural areas, parishes began to be grouped for different administrative purposes. From 1875 these local bodies were designated as urban or rural sanitary districts.
Following the Local Government Act 1888, the remaining county came under the control of Middlesex County Council except for the parish of Monken Hadley, which became part of Hertfordshire. The area of responsibility of the Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex was reduced accordingly. Middlesex did not contain any county boroughs, so the county and administrative county (the area of county council control) were identical.
The Local Government Act 1894 divided the administrative county into four rural districts and thirty-one urban districts, based on existing sanitary districts. One urban district, South Hornsey, was an exclave of Middlesex within the County of London until 1900, when it was transferred to the latter county. The rural districts were Hendon, South Mimms, Staines and Uxbridge. Because of increasing urbanisation these had all been abolished by 1934. Urban districts had been created, merged, and many had gained the status of municipal borough by 1965. The districts as at the 1961 census were:
After 1889 the growth of London continued, and the county became almost entirely filled by suburbs of London, with a big rise in population density. This process was accelerated by the Metro-land developments, which covered a large part of the county. The expanding urbanisation had, however, been foretold in 1771 by Tobias Smollett in The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, in which it is said:
Pimlico and Knightsbridge are almost joined to Chelsea and Kensington, and, if this infatuation continues for half a century, then, I suppose, the whole county of Middlesex will be covered in brick.
Public transport in the county, including the extensive network of trams, buses and the London Underground came under control of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 and a New Works Programme was developed to further enhance services during the 1930s. Partly because of its proximity to the capital, the county had a major role during the Second World War. The county was subject to aerial bombardment and contained various military establishments, such as RAF Uxbridge and RAF Heston, which were involved in the Battle of Britain.
Middlesex arguably never, and certainly not since 1789, had a single, established county town. The City of London could be regarded as its county town for most purposes and provided different locations for the various, mostly judicial, county purposes. The County Assizes for Middlesex were held at the Old Bailey in the City of London. Until 1889, the High Sheriff of Middlesex was chosen by the City of London Corporation. The sessions house for the Middlesex Quarter Sessions was at Clerkenwell Green from the early 18th century. The quarter sessions at the former Middlesex Sessions House performed most of the limited administration on a county level until the creation of the Middlesex County Council in 1889. New Brentford was first promulgated as the county town in 1789, on the basis that it was where elections of Knights of the Shire (or Members of Parliament) were held from 1701. Thus a traveller's and historian's London regional summary of 1795 states that (New) Brentford was "considered as the county-town; but there is no town-hall or other public building". Middlesex County Council took over at the Guildhall in Westminster, which became the Middlesex Guildhall. In the same year, this location was placed into the new County of London, and was thus outside the council's area of jurisdiction.
Coats of arms were attributed by the mediaeval heralds to the Kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. That assigned to the Kingdom of the Middle and East Saxons depicted three "seaxes" or short notched swords on a red background. The seaxe was a weapon carried by Anglo-Saxon warriors, and the term "Saxon" may be derived from the word. These arms became associated with the two counties that approximated to the kingdom: Middlesex and Essex. County authorities, militia and volunteer regiments associated with both counties used the attributed arms.
In 1910, it was noted that the county councils of Essex and Middlesex and the Sheriff's Office of the County of London were all using the same arms. Middlesex County Council decided to apply for a formal grant of arms from the College of Arms, with the addition of an heraldic "difference" to the attributed arms. Colonel Otley Parry, a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex and author of a book on military badges, was asked to devise an addition to the shield. The chosen addition was a "Saxon Crown", derived from the portrait of King Athelstan on a silver penny of his reign, stated to be the earliest form of crown associated with any English sovereign. The grant of arms was made by letters patent dated 7 November 1910.
|The arms of the Middlesex County Council were blazoned:|
Gules, three seaxes fessewise points to the sinister proper, pomels and hilts and in the centre chief point a Saxon crown or.
The undifferenced arms of the Kingdom were eventually granted to Essex County Council in 1932. Seaxes were also used in the insignia of many of the boroughs and urban districts in the county, while the Saxon crown came to be a common heraldic charge in English civic arms. On the creation of the Greater London Council in 1965 a Saxon crown was introduced in its coat of arms. Seaxes appear in the arms of several London borough councils and of Spelthorne Borough Council.
The population of inner London (then the County of London) had been in decline as more residents moved into the outer suburbs since its creation in 1889, and this continued after the Second World War. In contrast, the population of the administrative county of Middlesex had increased steadily during that period. From 1951 to 1961 the population of the inner districts of the county started to fall, and the population grew only in eight of the suburban outer districts. According to the 1961 census, Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, Hendon, Heston & Isleworth, Tottenham, Wembley, Willesden and Twickenham had each reached a population greater than 100,000, which would normally have entitled each of them to seek county borough status. If this status were to be granted to all those boroughs it would mean that the population of the administrative county of Middlesex would be reduced by over half, to just under one million.
Evidence submitted to the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London included a recommendation to divide Middlesex into two administrative counties of North Middlesex and West Middlesex. However, the commission instead proposed abolition of the county and merging of the boroughs and districts. This was enacted by Parliament as the London Government Act 1963, which came into force on 1 April 1965.
The Act abolished the administrative counties of Middlesex and London. The Administration of Justice Act 1964 abolished the Middlesex magistracy and lieutenancy, and altered the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court. In April 1965, nearly all of the area of the historic county of Middlesex became part of Greater London, under the control of the Greater London Council, and formed the new outer London boroughs of Barnet (part only), Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames (part only). The remaining areas were Potters Bar Urban District, which became part of the administrative county of Hertfordshire, and Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District and Staines Urban District, which became part of the administrative county of Surrey. Following the changes, local acts of Parliament relating to Middlesex were henceforth to apply to the entirety of the nine "North West London Boroughs". In 1974, the three urban districts that had been transferred to Hertfordshire and Surrey were abolished and became the districts of Hertsmere (part only) and Spelthorne respectively. In 1995 the village of Poyle was transferred from Spelthorne to the Berkshire borough of Slough. Additionally, since 1965 the Greater London boundary to the west and north has been subject to several small changes.
On its creation in 1965, Greater London was divided into five Commission Areas for justice; that named "Middlesex" consisted of the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow. This was abolished on 1 July 2003.
The county lies within the London Basin and the most significant feature is the River Thames, which forms the southern boundary. The River Lea and the River Colne form natural boundaries to the east and west. The entire south west boundary of Middlesex follows a gently descending meander of the Thames without hills. In many places "Middlesex bank" is more accurate than "north bank" — for instance at Teddington the river flows north-westward, so the left (Middlesex) bank is the south-west bank.[note 4] In the north, the boundary runs along a WSW/ENE aligned ridge of hills broken by Barnet or 'Dollis' valleys. (South of the boundary, these feed into the Welsh Harp Lake or Brent Reservoir which becomes the River Brent).[note 5] This forms a long protrusion of Hertfordshire into the county. The county was once thickly wooded, with much of it covered by the ancient Forest of Middlesex. The highest point is the High Road by Bushey Heath at 502 feet (153 m).
Middlesex (abbreviated Middx) was a former postal county. Counties were an element of postal addressing in routine use until 1996, intended to avoid confusion between post towns, and no longer required for the routing of the mail. The postal county did not match the boundaries of Middlesex because of the presence of the London postal district, which stretched into the county to include Tottenham, Willesden, Hornsey and Chiswick. Addresses in this area included "LONDON" which is the post town but any overlap with the then County of London was coincidental. In 1965 Royal Mail retained the postal county because it would have been too costly to amend addresses covering the bulk of Outer London. Exceptionally, the Potters Bar post town was transferred to Hertfordshire. Geographically the postal county consisted of two unconnected areas, 6 miles (10 km) apart. The first was in and around Enfield and the second, larger area was to the west. This led the retention of 25 Post Towns to this day:
|Postcode area||Post towns|
|EN (part)||ENFIELD; POTTERS BAR (until 1965)|
|HA||EDGWARE, HARROW, NORTHWOOD, PINNER, RUISLIP, STANMORE, WEMBLEY|
|TW (part)||ASHFORD, BRENTFORD, FELTHAM, HAMPTON, HOUNSLOW†, ISLEWORTH, SHEPPERTON, STAINES, SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, TEDDINGTON, TWICKENHAM†|
|UB||GREENFORD, HAYES, NORTHOLT, SOUTHALL, UXBRIDGE, WEST DRAYTON|
† = postal county was not required
The postal county had many border inconsistencies where its constituent post towns encroached on neighbouring counties, such as the villages of Denham in Buckinghamshire, Wraysbury in Berkshire and Eastbury in Hertfordshire which were respectively in the post towns of Uxbridge, Staines and Northwood and therefore in the postal county of Middlesex. Egham Hythe, Surrey also had postal addresses of Staines, Middlesex. Conversely, Hampton Wick was conveniently placed in Kingston, Surrey with its sorting offices just across the river. Nearby Hampton Court Palace has a postal address of East Molesey, therefore associating it with Surrey.
The Enfield post town in the EN postcode area was in the former postal county. All post towns in the HA postcode area and UB postcode area were in the former postal county. Most of the TW postcode area was in the former postal county.
The Middlesex Flag is included in the Flag Institute's registry of county and regional flags. The flag is a banner of the arms of the former Middlesex County Council, abolished in 1965. Whilst such banners of county arms are legally not generally available for public use, a similar design had been used traditionally as a local badge in Middlesex and neighbouring Essex for centuries. The seax is the symbol of the Saxons and the Saxon crown was added in 1909 to differentiate the arms and flag from those of Essex.
Middlesex Day is celebrated each year on 16 May. This commemorates the role of the 57th West Middlesex regiment in the Battle of Albuera (1811) in the Peninsular War. During the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis, despite his injuries, refused to retire from the battle but remained with the regimental colours, encouraging his men with the words "Die hard 57th, die hard!" as they came under intense pressure from a French attack. The regiment held and the battle was won. The 'Die Hards' subsequently became the West Middlesex’s regimental nickname and the phrase Die Hard entered the language. In 2003, an early day motion in the House of Commons noted the celebration of 16 May, the anniversary of Albuhera, as Middlesex Day.
In 2002 Plantlife ran a County flowers campaign to assign flowers to each of the counties of the United Kingdom. The general public was invited to vote for the bloom they felt most represented their county. The wood anemone was chosen as the flower of Middlesex. The flower was a common site in the Forest of Middlesex. When the suburbs of London swept over Middlesex, many of its woods were bypassed and preserved. The wood anemone still blooms there to this day.
The London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (LAMAS) was founded in 1855 for the study of the archaeology and local history of the City of London and the county of Middlesex. It works in close association with the Museum of London and with the Museum of London Archaeology. It has over 40 affiliated local history societies in Middlesex.
The interests of family historians in Middlesex are supported by two member organisations of the Federation of Family History Societies: The London, Westminster and Middlesex Family History Society and the West Middlesex Family History Society. For genealogical research Middlesex is assigned Chapman code MDX, except for the City of London ("square mile") assigned LND.
Middlesex has a long association with the British Film Industry. Twickenham Studios were established in 1913 and continue into their second century of production. Among the many famous films made at the studios are Alfie, The Italian Job and Blade Runner. Ealing Studios were founded by Will Barker in 1902. Several different companies have owned the studios including the BBC from 1955-1995. Since then new owners have resumed releasing films as "Ealing Studios", a recent example being The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Shepperton Studios were founded when Scottish businessman Norman Loudon purchased Littleton Park in 1931 for use by his new film company, Sound Film Producing & Recording Studios. There have been several owners over the years including British Lions Films and the Boulting Brothers. The current owners are the Pinewood Group. Among the famous films made at the studios are The Third Man, Dr. Strangelove and The Omen. Riverside Studios were opened in 1933 by Triumph Films, converted from a former Victorian iron foundry. The studios were owned by the BBC from 1954 to 1975 and were the base for many famous shows including Quatermass and the Pit, Doctor Who and Top of the Pops. The studios continue as an arts centre with television production facilities. Lime Grove Studios were built by the Gaumont Film Company in 1915 and were the production venue for many films including Rome Express and The Wicked Lady. The studios were owned by the BBC from 1949 to 1991 during which time they were used for many television productions including Nineteen Eighty-Four and Steptoe and Son. They were demolished in 1993. Other prominent former studios in the county include Cricklewood Studios, Gainsborough Pictures, Isleworth Studios, Kew Bridge Studios and Southall Studios.
Middlesex also has a long association with television and radio broadcasting. The BBC's headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Marylebone. The first radio broadcast from the building was made on 15 March 1932. It remains a major centre for radio broadcasting and for television news broadcasting. The adjacent Wogan House is also extensively used by BBC Radio. Alexandra Palace was used by the BBC for the world's first public broadcasts of (then) "high-definition" television. The BBC Television Service officially launched on 2 November 1936. "Ally Pally" housed two studios, various scenery stores, make-up areas, dressing rooms, offices, and the transmitter itself. Alexandra Palace was the home base of BBC TV until the early 1950s when the majority of production moved into the newly acquired Lime Grove Studios. In 1960 the BBC opened its new headquarters at Television Centre in White City. This remained its headquarters until 2013 since when the Centre has been redeveloped into apartments, offices and a smaller television production facility. Independent Television News (ITN) has its headquarters and main studios on Gray's Inn Road. Sky UK has its corporate headquarters in Isleworth. Channel 4 has its headquarters in Westminster. Channel 5 is based in the City of London.
"Theatreland", central London's main theatre district, contains approximately forty venues. The works staged are predominantly musicals, classic and modern straight plays, and comedy performances. Along with New York City's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. There are many other important theatres and concert halls in Middlesex. Regent's Park Open Air Theatre is located in Queen Mary's Gardens. It was founded in 1932 and has been the inspiration for other open-air theatres around the world. Sadler's Wells Theatre in Clerkenwell is renowned as one of the world's leading dance venues. The present-day theatre is the sixth on the site since 1683. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is widely regarded as one of the greatest opera houses in the world. The Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden has a diverse artistic policy that includes new writing, contemporary reappraisals of European classics, British and American drama and small-scale musical theatre. The Barbican Centre is a performing arts centre in the City of London and the largest of its kind in Europe. The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall on the northern edge of South Kensington and is one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings.
The Hackney Empire, built in 1901 as a music hall, is a Grade II listed building in which Charlie Chaplin, WC Fields, Stanley Holloway, Stan Laurel and Marie Lloyd have all performed. The Roundhouse is a performing arts and concert venue situated in a Grade II listed former railway engine shed in Chalk Farm. The Union Chapel, near Highbury Fields, is a working church and live entertainment venue. Built in the late 19th century in the Gothic revival style, the church is Grade I-listed. The Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, first opened in 1888, takes pride in its original, "groundbreaking" productions. The Hammersmith Apollo, a famous venue for music, comedy and entertainment, was designed by Robert Cromie in the Art Deco style. It became a Grade II listed building in 1990. The Bush Theatre in Shepherd's Bush was established in 1972 and strives to create a space which nurtures and develops new artists and their work. The Millfield Theatre was opened in 1988 in the grounds of Millfield House in Edmonton. It plays host to comedy, musical, drama, dance, children's and music shows throughout the year. The Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford includes a theatre and a cinema. The Questors Theatre (renamed the Judi Dench Playhouse in 2014) in Ealing is home of The Questors, a large theatre company which hosts a season of around twenty productions a year. The Beck Theatre is a 600-seat community theatre in Hayes, opened in 1977.
A multitude of festivals, parades and events take place throughout the county each year.
The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, run every July, is the largest flower show in the world. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a garden show held for five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It is the most famous flower and landscape gardens show in the United Kingdom.
The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event that has taken place since 1966 on the streets of the Notting Hill over the August bank holiday. It is led by members of the British West Indian community, and attracts around one million people annually, making it one of the world's largest street festivals. Eid in the Square is an annual Muslim festival held the first Saturday after the Islamic religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr at Trafalgar Square. Pride in London is an LGBT pride festival and parade held each summer. It is one of the longest running in the country and attracts an estimated one million visitors. The Potters Bar Carnival is held annually in early June with stalls, fairground rides, live music and the carnival procession,
The Lord Mayor's Show is centred on a street parade which in its modern form is a light-hearted combination of traditional British pageantry and elements of carnival. It is one of the best-known annual events in London as well as one of the longest-established, dating back to the 16th century. London's New Year's Day Parade is the biggest New Year's Day street event of its kind, attracting around a million spectators. Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed each June by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday.
The Proms, founded in 1895, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall. Hampton Court Palace Festival is an annual musical event held over 18 days in June. The Festival is known for presenting artists across the music genres and continues a tradition of entertainment first introduced by monarchs and nobility in the 16th and 17th century. Staines-Upon-Thames Day is held annually with a music festival in the Memorial Gardens and a duck race on the Thames. The London Jazz Festival is held every November.
Camden Fringe is a comedy festival taking place over four weeks in the summer as an alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe. Ealing Summer Festivals brings together events taking place throughout June and July including the Greenford and Acton carnivals, Ealing Comedy Festival, Ealing Blues Festival and Ealing Jazz Festival. 
The Middlesex Food Festival is held over two days in August in Sunbury-on-Thames. It is described as a thoroughly extravagant foodie sensual assault.
Middlesex has many world-renowned museums and art galleries.
The British Museum in Bloomsbury was established in 1753. It houses collections of over 13 million objects representing the cultures of the world, ancient and modern. The British Library in St Pancras is the largest national library in the world. It is estimated to contain 150–200 million items from many countries. There are three major museums in South Kensington. The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, as well as sculpture, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. The Natural History Museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. The museum is a centre of research specialising in taxonomy, identification and conservation. The Science Museum was founded in 1857 and holds a collection of over 300,000 items, including such famous items as Stephenson's Rocket, Puffing Billy and the first jet engine. The Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall comprises the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic underground complex that housed a British government command centre throughout the Second World War, and the Churchill Museum.
The RAF Museum, located on the former Hendon Aerodrome, shows the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force. The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden seeks to conserve and explain the transport heritage of London. The Freud Museum in Hampstead is dedicated to Sigmund Freud, located in the house where Freud lived with his family during the last year of his life. The Jewish Museum London in Camden Town is a museum of British Jewish life, history and identity. The Museum of London documents the history of London from prehistoric to modern times and is located on the London Wall. The Museum of London Docklands in Limehouse tells the history of London's River Thames and the growth of London Docklands.
The Musical Museum in Brentford contains a significant collection of self-playing musical instruments and one of the world's largest collections of historic musical rolls. Bently Priory Museum at Stanmore includes the original office of Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, preserved with its original furniture along with other Battle of Britain artefacts. London Motorcycle Museum in Greenford displays a range of over 150 classic and British motorcycles. The Arsenal Football Club Museum in Holloway is dedicated to the history of the club. The Battle of Britain Bunker is an underground operations room at RAF Uxbridge, formerly used by No. 11 Group Fighter Command during the Second World War. The Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner is dedicated to showcasing the work of the world-renowned artist, illustrator, humorist and social commentator William Heath Robinson.
The Hampstead Museum is located in Burgh House in Hamsptead. The Twickenham museum's area of interest is the history of Teddington, Twickenham, Whitton and the Hamptons. Amongst other aspects of the Hackney area, the Hackney Museum explores the history of immigration. Harrow Museum is located in the grounds of Headstone Manor and tells the story of Harrow through its collections, exhibitions and buildings, detailing the significance of the historical site in which it is set as well as the people and wider area. Islington Museum covers various themes on local and social history.
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square was founded in 1824 and houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. It is among the most visited art museums in the world. Adjoining it is the National Portrait Gallery which houses a collection of portraits of historically important and famous British people. Tate Britain on Millbank houses a substantial collection of the art of the United Kingdom since Tudor times, and in particular has large holdings of the works of J. M. W. Turner, who bequeathed all his own collection to the nation. The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea was opened by Charles Saatchi in 1985 in order to exhibit his collection to the public. The Wallace Collection, housed at Hertford House in Manchester Square, comprises an extensive collection of fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with important holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms and armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings. The Serpentine Galleries in Hyde Park contain exhibitions, architecture, education and public programmes which attract up to 1.2 million visitors a year. Camden Arts Centre is a contemporary art gallery which hosts exhibitions and educational outreach projects. The Whitechapel Gallery in Aldgate exhibits the work of contemporary artists, as well as organising retrospective exhibitions and shows that are of interest to the local community. The Ben Uri Gallery in St John's Wood features the work and lives of émigré artists. Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham includes artwork, personal effects and photographs of the explorer Richard Francis Burton.
There are very many building of historic interest in Middlesex.
Forty Hall is a manor house of the 1620s in Forty Hill. Within the grounds is the site of the former Tudor Elsyng Palace. Manor Farm in Ruislip is a medieval farm complex, with a main old barn dating from the 13th century and a farm house from the 16th. Nearby are the remains of a motte-and-bailey castle believed to date from shortly after the Norman conquest of England. Bruce Castle is a Grade I listed 16th-century manor house in Tottenham. It is one of the oldest surviving English brick houses.
Osterley Park in Hanwell is a large park and mansion, Osterley House. It is operated by the National Trust. Boston Manor in Hanwell is an English Jacobean manor house built in 1622. Strawberry Hill House is a Gothic Revival villa that was built in Twickenham by Horace Walpole from 1749 onward. Marble Hill House is a Palladian villa built between 1724 and 1729 in Twickenham. Syon House and its 200-acre (80 hectare) park, Syon Park, in Isleworth, is the Duke of Northumberland's family residence. Syon House's exterior was erected in 1547 while under the ownership of the 1st Duke of Somerset. Syon's current interior was designed by Robert Adam in 1762 under the commission of the 1st Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Hampton Court Palace is a royal palace at Hampton. Building of the palace began in 1515 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. In 1529, as Wolsey fell from favour, the cardinal gave the palace to the King Henry VIII to check his disgrace. Chiswick House, a Neo-Palladian villa, was built and designed by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), and completed in 1729.
2 Willow Road is part of a terrace of three houses in Hampstead designed by architect Ernő Goldfinger and completed in 1939. It was one of the first Modernist buildings acquired by the National Trust. Burgh House in Hampstead was constructed in 1704. It has the world's largest archive and collection of Helen Allingham's work and houses the Hampstead Museum. Fenton House is a 17th-century merchant's house in Hampstead which belongs to the National Trust. It is a detached house with a walled garden which features a sunken garden, an orchard and a kitchen garden. Kensington Palace is a royal residence set in Kensington Gardens. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century. Middlesex Sessions House is a large building on Clerkenwell Green, built in 1780 as the seat of the Middlesex Quarter Sessions. It was built with imperial grandeur in its proportions and decoration, designed by Thomas Rogers.
Buckingham Palace in Westminster is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, who constructed three wings around a central courtyard. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East Front, which contains the well-known balcony. The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Old Palace, a medieval building-complex, was destroyed by fire in 1834. The current New Palace was designed by the architect Charles Barry in the Gothic Revival style.
The Middlesex Guildhall stands on the corner of Parliament Square in Westminster. The current building was built between 1912 and 1913, designed by J. S. Gibson, in what Pevsner called an "art nouveau gothic" style. It is the home of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Somerset House is a large Neoclassical building situated on the south side of the Strand, overlooking the River Thames. The Georgian building, which was built on the site of a Tudor palace belonging to the Duke of Somerset, was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1776. The Tower of London is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. There were several phases of expansion, mainly in the 12th and 13th centuries. The general layout established by the late 13th century remains.
St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral which sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Westminster Abbey is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Westminster Cathedral is the mother church of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the largest Catholic church in England and Wales and the seat of the Archbishop of Westminster. Designed by John Francis Bentley in neo-Byzantine style. John Betjeman called it "a masterpiece in striped brick and stone" and said that it shows that "the good craftsman has no need of steel or concrete". Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City, built in 1701, is the oldest synagogue in the United Kingdom in continuous use. The Temple Church is a church in the City of London, built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. It was consecrated on 10 February 1185 by Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem.
Many famous writers have been born and lived in Middlesex. Ben Jonson, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy, was born in Westminster in 1572. Edmund Spenser, poet and author of The Faerie Queene, was born in East Smithfield in 1599. John Milton, best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost, was born in Cheapside in 1608. Sir John Suckling was an English poet and a prominent figure among those renowned for careless gaiety and wit, the accomplishments of a Cavalier poet. He was born at Whitton in 1609. Samuel Pepys, famous diarist, was born in the City in 1633.
Daniel Defoe, most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, was born in the City in 1660. Colley Cibber, actor-manager, playwright and Poet Laureate was born in Bloomsbury in 1671. His colourful memoir Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber (1740) describes his life in a personal, anecdotal and rambling style. Alexander Pope is regarded as the greatest English poet of his age. He was born in London in 1688. He moved to a villa in Twickenham in 1719 where he created a famous underground grotto which survives to this day. He died at Twickenham in 1744 and is buried there. Horace Walpole was an English writer, art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician. He was born in London in 1717. He had Strawberry Hill House built in Twickenham. John Walker, lexicographer, was born in Colney Hatch in 1732. His famous Rhyming Dictionary was first published in 1775. Laurence H. Dawson, in his Preface to the ‘Revised and Enlarged edition’ early in the twentieth century, noted that it "has been for over one hundred and fifty years a standard work of reference and has been a friend in need for generations of poets and rhymesters from Byron downwards."
William Blake was born in Soho in 1757. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Mary Wollstonecraft was born in Spitalfields in 1759. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggested that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagined a social order founded on reason. She died in Somers Town 11 days after giving birth to her second daughter who would become Mary Shelley, an accomplished writer and the author of Frankenstein. Lord Byron, regarded as one of the greatest English poets, was born in London in 1788. John Keats, Romantic poet, was born in Moorgate in 1795. Ode to a Nightingale was composed in Hampstead.
The novelist Elizabeth Gaskell was born in Chelsea in 1810. Among Gaskell's best known novels are Cranford (1851–53), North and South (1854–55), and Wives and Daughters (1865). Anthony Trollope was born in Marylebone in 1815. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire. Matthew Arnold, born in Laleham in 1822, is sometimes sometimes called the third great Victorian poet, along with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. He is buried at All Saints’ Church in Laleham. Wilkie Collins, best known for The Woman in White and The Moonstone, was born in Marylebone in 1824. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. Christina Rossetti was born in Fitzrovia in 1830 and is famous for writing "Goblin Market" and "Remember". She also wrote the words of two well known Christmas carols : "In the Bleak Midwinter", and "Love Came Down at Christmas".
Beatrix Potter, best known for her children's books featuring animals, such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was born West Brompton in 1866 and lived there until her marriage in 1913. A. A. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. He was born in Kilburn in 1882 and spent his childhood there. Virginia Woolf, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors, was born at 22 Hyde Park Gate in South Kensington in 1882. Her best-known works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando: A Biography (1928).
Richard Barham Middleton, remembered mostly for his short ghost stories, in particular The Ghost Ship, was born in Staines in 1882. Neville Shute, author of On the Beach and A Town Like Alice, was born in Ealing in 1899. Lance Sieveking, born in Harrow in 1896, was a pioneer of radio and television drama. He is crediting with writing the first television play "The Man with the Flower in His Mouth" in 1930. Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett was awarded the 1955 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her novel Mother and Son in 1955. Manservant and Maidservant (1947) is also considered one of her best works. She was born in Pinner in 1884. Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984, was born in 1906 in Gospel Oak and grew up in Highgate. He published several poems about Middlesex and suburban life. Many were featured in the televised readings Metroland.
|“||Dear Middlesex, dear vanished country friend,
Your neighbour, London, killed you in the end.
|— Contrasts: Marble Arch to Edgware – A Lament, John Betjeman (1968)|
Stephen Spender, born in Keninsgton in 1909, was an English poet, novelist, and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and the class struggle. Michael Rosen, born 1946 in Harrow, is an English children's novelist, poet, and the author of 140 books. He served as Children's Laureate from June 2007 to June 2009. Peter Ackroyd was born (1949) and raised on a council estate in East Acton. He is noted for his novels about English history and culture. Diran Adebayo was born in Islington in 1968 to Nigerian parents. He is best known for his stylish, inventive tales of London and the lives of African diasporans. Zadie Smith, born Willesden 1975, is a contemporary English novelist. Her debut novel White Teeth immediately became a best-seller and won several awards.
There are 7 rugby union clubs based in Middlesex playing in national leagues (levels 1-4). These are Harlequins, Saracens, London Scottish, Richmond, Ealing Trailfinders, London Irish Wild Geese and Barnes.
Middlesex Rugby is the governing body for rugby union in Middlesex. The union selects players from its 88 affiliated clubs for the Middlesex team in the County Championship. It runs the Middlesex RFU Senior Cup open to the top 8 Middlesex clubs that play between tiers 6-7 of the English rugby union system. It also runs the Middlesex RFU Senior Bowl and the Middlesex RFU Senior Vase for sides from lower down the pyramid. It helps run the Herts/Middlesex 1 (tier 9) and Herts/Middlesex 2 (tier 10) leagues. Middlesex Rugby is also active in promoting youth rugby and women’s rugby in the county.
The Football Association, the governing body of association football in England, is based at Wembley Stadium. The stadium hosts major football matches including home matches of the England national football team, and the FA Cup Final.
There are 19 football clubs based in Middlesex in the top eight tiers of the English football league system (correct for 2018/9 season): Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Barnet, Hampton and Richmond Borough, Wealdstone, Enfield, Haringey Borough, Finchley and Wingate, Harrow Borough, Hayes and Yeading United, Hendon, Ashford Town (Middlesex), Bedfont Sports, Hanwell Town, and Northwood.
The Middlesex County Football Association regulates and promotes football in the county. The Middlesex F.A. organises many cup competitions, the most prestigious being the Middlesex Senior Cup (founded in 1889) and the Middlesex Senior Charity Cup (founded in 1901).
Middlesex County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. The club was founded in 1864 but teams representing the county have played top-class cricket since the early 18th century and the club has always held first-class status. Middlesex have won thirteen County Championship titles (including 2 shared titles), the most recent in 2016.
The Middlesex Cricket Board is the governing body of all recreational cricket in Middlesex.
The Middlesex County Cricket League is the top level competition for all recreational club cricket in the county. The League consists of nine divisions in total. The top division has been designated an ECB Premier League.
Marylebone Cricket Club (the MCC) was founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's Cricket Ground , which it owns, in St John's Wood. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket in England and Wales and, as the sport's legislator, held considerable global influence. Lord's Cricket Ground is also home to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Lord's is widely referred to as the Home of Cricket.
Middlesex Bowling Association has over 80 affiliated clubs throughout the county.
Middlesex County Amateur Swimming Association organises training, competitions and representative county teams in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming.
Middlesex Golf represents all aspects of golf within the county. It has 33 affiliated golf clubs.
Middlesex Tennis, affiliated to the LTA, works to create more opportunities for people in Middlesex to play and compete in tennis at all levels of the game. The Middlesex County Championships are the highlight of Middlesex’s Competition Calendar.
Middlesex County Badminton Association has over 80 affiliated clubs and organises men's, ladies' and mixed leagues.
Middlesex Squash & Racketball Association is responsible for organising and promoting squash in Middlesex. It was founded in the 1930s and ran the first Middlesex Open Championships in 1937.
Middlesex County Archery Association is the governing body for the sport of archery in the county.
Middlesex Small-Bore Rifle Association brings together small-bore rifle and airgun clubs located within the county, and organises teams to represent the County in competitions.
Middlesex County Chess Association aims to foster chess throughout Middlesex. It has 15 affiliated clubs.
Middlesex County Bridge Association runs the Middlesex Cup and the Middlesex League and enters county teams in national and regional competitions.
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