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Ealing Town Hall front.jpg
Ealing Town Hall on Ealing Broadway
Grid reference: TQ175805
Location: 51°30’40"N, 0°18’21"W
Post town: London
Postcode: W5, W13
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Ealing
Ealing Central and Acton

Ealing is a town in Middlesex, deep within the metropolitan conurbation. To the east stands Acton, to the west Hanwell and to the north-west Greenford, and to the south is Brentford.

Until the urban expansion of London in the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, Ealing was a rural village within Ealing parish. Improvement in communications with London, culminating with the opening of the railway station in 1838, shifted the local economy to market garden supply and eventually to suburban development. By 1902 Ealing had become known as the "Queen of the Suburbs" due to its greenery, and because it was halfway between city and country.[1][2]

As part of the growth of the metropolis in the 20th century, Ealing significantly expanded and increased in population. A municipal borough was created in May 1901. The town is now a significant commercial and retail centre with a developed night-time economy. Ealing has the characteristics of both leafy suburban and inner-city development. The Pitshanger neighbourhood and some others retain the lower density, greenery and architecture of suburban villages.[3] AT its heart is Ealing Broadway and its eponymous shopping centre.

The population of Ealing (including its Northfields area) was 85,014 at the 2011 census.


The Saxon name for Ealing was recorded around 700 as Gillingas, the name of a small local tribe or clan. Etymologists suggest that the Gillingas were Jutes from the 'Gylling næs' headland in Jutland.[4] Their name may likewise be preserved in the place-names of Gillingham in the Jutish kingdom of Kent and perhaps Gillingham in Dorset.

The name has been recorded in differing forms over the centuries, as Illing in 1130; Gilling in 1243; and Ylling in 1254; until 'Ealing' became the standard spelling in the 19th century.[5] The name Gillingas would usually be attributed to mean 'sons of Gilla'[6] but such an origin or founding myth is disputed.[7][8]


Archaeology has found Neanderthal remains here, of the Lower Palaeolithic Age.[9] From the Iron Age, six Carthaginian and pre-Roman bronze coins are known.[10][11]

The Church of Christ the Saviour

The Church of St. Mary's, the parish church's priest for centuries fell to be appointed by the Bishop of London, earliest known to be so in around 1127, when he gave the great tithes to Canon Henry for keeping St. Paul's cathedral school.[12] The church required frequent repair in the 1650s and was so ruinous in about 1675 that services were held elsewhere for several years. Worshippers moved to a wooden tabernacle in 1726 and the steeple fell in 1729, destroying the church, before its rebuilding.[12]

In the 12th century Ealing was amid a forest punctuated with fields and villages which covered most of the county from the southwest to the north of the City of London.

The earliest surviving English census is that for Ealing in January 1599. This list was a tally of all 85 households in Ealing village giving the names of the inhabitants, together with their ages, relationships and occupations.[13]

Settlements were scattered throughout the parish. Many of them were along what is now called St. Mary's Road, near to the church in the centre of the parish. There were also houses at Little Ealing, Ealing Dean, Haven Green, Drayton Green and Castlebar Hill.

The parish of Ealing grew wheat, but also barley and rye, with considerable pasture for cows, draught animals, sheep and recorded poultry keeping. There were five free tenements on Ealing manor in 1423: Absdons in the north, Baldswells at Drayton, Abyndons and Denys at Ealing village, and Sergeaunts at Old Brentford. It is likely that there had once been 32 copyhold tenements, including at least 19 virgates of 20 rateable acres and 9 half virgates. When created the copyhold land amounted to not more than 540 acres, a total increased before 1423 by land at Castlebar Hill.[14]

Ealing had an orchard in 1540 and others in 1577–8 and 1584.[14] Numbers increased, as were orchards often taken out of open fields, by 1616 in Crowchmans field, in 1680–1 in Popes field, and in 1738 in Little North field.[14] Some lay as far north as the centre of the parish. River Long field and adjoining closes at West Ealing contained 1,008 fruit trees in 1767, including 850 apple trees, 63 plum, and 63 cherry.[14]

Ealing demesne in 1318 had a windmill, which was rebuilt in 1363–4. This was destroyed in or before 1409 and may have been repaired by 1431, when it was again broken.[14]

Great Ealing School was founded in 1698 by the Church of St Mary's. This became the "finest private school in England" and had many famous pupils in the 19th century such as William S. Gilbert, composer and impresario, and Henry Newman. As the zone became built-up, the school declined and closed in April 1908.

The earliest maps of just the parish of Ealing survive from the 18th century; John Speed and others having made maps of Middlesex, more than two centuries before.

At Ealing a fair was held on the green in 1822, when William Cobbett chronicled he was diverted by crowds of Cockneys headed there. The fair, of unknown origin, was held from 24 to 26 June until suppressed in 1880.[14]

The manor included Old Brentford and its extensive Thames fisheries, and in 1423 tenants of Ealing manor rented three fisheries in the Thames.[14] In 1257 the king ordered the Bishop whoever it may be from time to time (sede vacante) to provide 8,000-10,000 lampreys and other fish for owning the manor, impliedly per year, which shows the extent of the local catch.[14]

Ealing as a suburb

With the exception of driving animals into London on foot, the transport of heavy goods tended be restricted to those times when the non-metalled roads were passable due to dry weather. However, with the passing of the Toll Road Act, this highway was gravelled and so the old Oxford Road became an increasingly busy and important thoroughfare running from east to west through the centre of the parish. This road was later renamed as Uxbridge Road. The well-to-do of London began to see Ealing as a place to escape from the smoke and smells. In 1800 the architect John Soane bought Payton Place and renamed it Pitzhanger Manor, not to live but just for somewhere green and pleasant, where he could entertain his friends and guests. Soon after (1801) the Duke of Kent bought a house at Castlebar. Soon, more affluent Londoners followed but with the intention of taking up a permanent residence which was conveniently close to London. Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister, made his home at Elm House. Up until that point, Ealing was mostly made up of open countryside and fields where, as in previous centuries, the main occupation was farming.

Old inns and public houses

As London grew in size, more food and materials went in and more finished goods came out. Since dray horses can only haul loads a few miles per day, frequent overnight stops were needed. To satisfy this demand a large number of inns were situated along the Uxbridge Road, where horses could be changed and travellers refresh themselves, prompting its favour by highwaymen. Stops in Ealing included The Feathers, The Bell, The Green Man and The Old Hats.

At one point in history there were two pubs called the Old Hat(s) either side of one of the many toll gates on the Uxbridge Road in West Ealing. Following the removal of the toll gate the more Westernmost pub was renamed The Halfway House.

Perceval House

The expansion of Ealing

As the metropolis developed, the area became predominantly market gardens which required a greater proportion of workers as it was more labour-intensive. In the 1850s, with improved travel (the Great Western Railway and two branches of the Grand Union Canal), villages began to grow into towns and merged into unbroken residential areas. At this time Ealing began to be called the "Queen of the Suburbs".

Mount Castle Tower, an Elizabethan structure which stood at the top of Hanger Hill, was used as a tea-stop in the 19th century. It was demolished to make way for Fox's Reservoir in 1881. This reservoir, with a capacity of three million gallons, was created north of Hill Crest Road, Hanger Hill, in 1888 and a neighbouring reservoir for fifty million gallons was constructed c. 1889. This supply of good water helped to make Ealing more attractive than ever.

Mount Castle Tower was also known as Hanger Hill Tower, and as such it was a vital viewing point for the Anglo-French Survey (1784–1790), which linked the Royal Greenwich Observatory with the Paris Observatory via a chain of trigonometric readings. This survey was led in Britain by General William Roy. Hanger Hill Tower was its northernmost observation point, and from it sightings were made to places such as St Ann's Hill in Chertsey, Banstead, Upper Norwood, and the Greenwich Observatory itself.

Ealing as a modern Victorian suburb

1895 lamp standard. Mount Park Road

The most important changes to Ealing occurred in the 19th century. The building of the Great Western Railway in the 1830s, part of which passed through the centre of Ealing, led to the opening of a railway station on the Broadway in 1879, originally called Haven Green. In the next few decades, much of Ealing was rebuilt, predominantly semi-detached housing designed for the rising middle-class. Gas mains were laid and an electricity generating station was built. Better transport links, including horse buses as well as trains, enabled people to more easily travel to work in London. All this, whilst living in what was still considered to be the countryside. Although much of the countryside was rapidly disappearing during this period of rapid expansion, parts of it were preserved as public parks, such as Lammas Park and Ealing Common. Pitzhanger Manor and the extensive 28-acre grounds on which it stands, was sold to the council in 1901 by Sir Spencer Walpole, which had been bought by his father the Rt. Hon. Spencer Horatio Walpole and thus became Walpole Park.[15]

During the Victorian period, Ealing grew from a village to become a town. This meant that good, well-metalled roads had to be built, and schools and public buildings erected. To protect public health, the newly created Board of Health for Ealing commissioned London's first modern drainage and sewage systems here. Just as importantly, drinking fountains providing wholesome and safe water were erected by public prescription. Ealing Broadway became a major shopping centre. The man responsible for much of all this was Charles Jones, Borough Surveyor from 1863 to 1913. He directed the planting of the horse chestnut trees on Ealing Common and designed Ealing Town Hall, both the present one and the older structure which is now a bank (on the Mall). He even oversaw the purchase of the Walpole estate grounds and its conversion into a leisure garden for the general public to enjoy and promenade around on Sundays.

Queen of the Suburbs

Apartments and clubhouse in 1930s-built Ealing Village

In 1901, Ealing Urban District was incorporated as a municipal borough, Walpole Park was opened and the first electric trams ran along the Uxbridge Road. As part of its permit to operate, the electric tram company was required to incorporate the latest in modern street lighting into its overhead catenary supply, along the Ealing section of the Uxbridge Road. A municipally-built generating station near Clayponds Avenue supplied power to more street lighting that ran northwards, up and along Mount Park Road and the surrounding streets.

It was of this area centred around Mount Park Road that Nikolaus Pevsner remarks as ”epitomising Ealing's reputation as 'Queen of the Suburbs'..”[16] In a very short time, Ealing had become a modern and fashionable country town, free of the grime, soot and smells of industrialised London, and yet only minutes away from it by modern transport.[17] The Borough Surveyor, Charles Jones, first re-used the term in the preface of his book Ealing from Village to Corporate Town of 1902, already used for Surbiton and Richmond, stressing his view that it was already recognised as of having such an identity.[18][19][20] The fairly ornate, many-roomed houses set in "sylvan beauty and floriculture" (civic trees and gardens) stood out to Jones. Mount Park Road and side roads keep much of the original character. Some neighbourhoods have resisted conversions into bed-sits, unlike many of the other original London suburbs.[21]

In the 1900s and 1910s, the Brentham Garden Suburb was built. During the interwar period several garden estates, said to be one of the best examples of classic suburbia in mock Tudor style, were built near Hanger Lane.[22] Hanger Hill Garden Village adjoining is likewise a conservation area. In the 1930s Ealing Village's mid-rise, green-setting apartment blocks were built, which today have gated grounds.

Cavalier House, development from the 2000s

With the amalgamation of the surrounding municipal boroughs in 1965, Ealing Town Hall became the administrative centre for a new, expanded council. Today, this also includes its offices at Perceval House just next to it. Later in 1984, the Ealing Broadway Centre was completed which includes a shopping centre and a town square.

Ealing Studios

The preserved facade of the Walpole Picture Theatre

Ealing is best known for its film studios, which are the oldest in the world and are known especially for the Ealing comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets, Passport to Pimlico, The Ladykillers and The Lavender Hill Mob. The studios were taken over by the BBC in 1955, with one consequence being that Ealing locations appeared in television programmes including Doctor Who (notably within an iconic 1970 sequence in which deadly shop mannequins menaced local residents) to Monty Python's Flying Circus. Most recently, these studios have again been used for making films, including Notting Hill and The Importance of Being Earnest. St Trinian's, a 2007 remake of the classic film, was produced by Ealing Studios; some locations in Ealing can be seen in this film.

Most recently, Ealing Studios was the set for the famous Downton Abbey historical television series, of which the below stairs and servant's hall were filmed there. On 16 March 2015, the workplace received a visit from the Duchess of Cambridge to observe current productions, as well as meet the cast and crew of the series stated.[23]

Ealing has a theatre on Mattock Lane, The Questors Theatre.


The ancient parish church of Ealing is St Mary's, in St Mary's Road.

There are over fifteen churches in Ealing.[24]

Ealing also has two well-established synagogues, The Ealing United Synagogue (Orthodox),[25] which celebrated its 90th anniversary in November 2009, and the Ealing Liberal Synagogue,[26] now in its 67th year.


  • Cricket: Ealing Cricket Club,[27]
  • Professional football:
    • Brentford Football Club
    • Queens Park Rangers
    • Ealing Town Football Club
  • Gaelic games:
    • St Joseph's GAA
    • Tir Chonaill GAA
  • Rugby: Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club
  • Running: Ealing, Southall & Middlesex AC,[28] founded in 1920


The 19th Ealing Beer Festival in Walpole Park
  • The Jazz Festival is held in Walpole Park.
  • A Beer Festival is held each year; it was started and organized by the Campaign for Real Ale and originally held in the Ealing Town Hall, but has since transferred to Walpole Park.[29]
  • Blues Festival[30]
  • Comedy Festival,[30]
  • Global Festival,[30]
  • Jazz Festival.[30]
  • Opera in the Park,[30]


  • Radio:
    • Westside 89.6FM, a community station, from studios based in neighbouring Hanwell
    • Blast Radio; the student station for the University of West London based at Ealing Studios
  • News/websites:
    • Ealing Today (digital)[31]
    • Ealing.News, an independent community site[32]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ealing)


  1. "The Queen of the Suburbs". 8 September 2000. https://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and-home/the-queen-of-the-suburbs-701430.html. 
  2. "Was Ealing the 'Queen of the Suburbs'? - Ealing News Extra". 30 October 2015. http://ealingnewsextra.co.uk/history/was-ealing-the-queen-of-the-suburbs/. 
  3. "Ealing- 'The Queen of the Suburbs'". http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/youngreporter/10054404.Ealing___The_Queen_of_the_Suburbs_/. 
  4. Neidorf, Leonard: 'The Dating of Widsith and the Study of Germanic Antiquity': (Neophilologus, January 2013)
  5. Ekwall, Eilert, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 4th edition, 1960. ISBN 0198691033
  6. Room, Adrian: "Dictionary of Place-Names in the British Isles", Bloomsbury, 1988
  7. Brewer's Britain & Ireland: The History, Culture, Folklore and Etymology of 7500 Places in These Islands. Ayto, John; Crofton, Ian. Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006
  8. Ingram, James Henry (1823). The Saxon chronicle, with an English Translation and Notes, Critical and Explanatory. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, Paternoster-Row.
  9. {VCH|1|pp=11-21|Archaeology: The Lower Palaeolithic Age}}
  10. Middlesex: Ashford and Ealing (Carthage coins); Edmonton (Seleucid (2), Rhegium, Bithynia coins
  11. A History of the County of Middlesex - Volume 1 pp 50-64: Archaeology: The Iron Age (Victoria County History)
  12. 12.0 12.1 A History of the County of Middlesex - Volume 7 pp 150-153: Ealing and Brentford: Churches, Ealing (Victoria County History)
  13. The National Archives (piece E 163/24/35); transcribed and printed by K J Allison for Ealing Historical Society in 1961
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 A History of the County of Middlesex - Volume 7 pp 131-144: Ealing and Brentford: Economic history (Victoria County History)
  15. Neaves, Cyrill (1971). A history of Greater Ealing. United Kingdom: S. R. Publishers. pp. 65, 66. ISBN 978-0-85409-679-4. 
  16. Pevsner N B L (1991). The buildings of England, London 3: North-West. ISBN 0-300-09652-6
  17. Peter Hounsell (2005) The Ealing Book. Queen of the suburbs. Page 87. Historical Publications. ISBN 1-905286-03-1
  18. "Was Ealing the 'Queen of the Suburbs'?" (in en-GB). 30 October 2015. https://ealingnewsextra.co.uk/history/was-ealing-the-queen-of-the-suburbs/. 
  19. White, John Foster. "Ealing Queen Of The Suburbs". https://www.ealingcivicsociety.org/downloads/EalingQueenofthesuburbswalk1986v2.pdf. 
  20. Street Trees in Britain: A History, Mark Johnston and Windgather Press, Oxbow Books (Oxford, UK & Havertown, PA & Melita Press, Malta), 2017
  21. John Foster White (1986) Ealing: Queen of the suburbs walk. Ealing Civic Society (2009 Ed). Accessed 7 November 2010
  22. "Hanger Hill - Hidden London". http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/hanger-hill/. 
  23. The Duchess of Cambridge visits the set of Downton Abbey at Ealing Studios. Accessed 7 February 2021
  24. St Mary's Church: Churches in Ealing
  25. EalingsSynagogue.com
  26. EalingLiberalsSynagogue.or.uk
  27. "Ealing Cricket Club". Pitchero. http://www.ealingcc.co.uk/. 
  28. "Ealing Southall & Middlesex Athletics Club". https://www.esm.org.uk/. 
  29. West Middlesex CAMRA Ealing Beer Festival.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 Ealing Council. Ealing Summer. Accessed 2010-05-23
  31. "Ealing's Local Web site". http://www.ealingtoday.co.uk/. 
  32. "EALING.NEWS - The Voice of our 7 Towns". http://www.Ealing.news/. 
  • Oates, Jonathan (31 July 2006). Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Ealing (paperback). Barnsley, South Yorkshire UK: Wharncliffe Books. ISBN 978-1-84563-012-6. 
  • Hounsell, Peter (1991). Ealing and Hanwell Past (Hardback). London UK: Historical Publications Ltd. ISBN 978-0-948667-13-8. 
  • Neaves, Cyrill (1971). A history of Greater Ealing. United Kingdom: S. R. Publishers. ISBN 978-0-85409-679-4. 
  • McEwan, Kate (1983). Ealing Walkabout (Paperback). Cheshire: Pulse Publications. ISBN 978-0-9508895-0-4. 
  • Essen, Richard (1996). Britain in Old Photographs: Ealing & Northfields. Gloucestershire: Alan Smith Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-0-7509-1176-4.