Links to places in Middlesex associated with Jane Austen



THIS county is bounded on the north by Hertfordshire ; on the west by Buckinghamshire; on the south by Surrey and a corner of Kent; and on the east by Essex. On three sides it has the natural limits of rivers, the Thames on the south, the Coin on the west, and the Lea on the east. Its general figure is quadrangular, but rendered very irregular on the southern side by the windings of the Thames; and on the northern, by a hook-like projection into Hertfordshire, In size it is one of the least of the counties, measuring at the utmost only about twenty-three miles from east to west, and eighteen from north to south. Its area in square miles is reckoned at 97. It is divided into six hundreds, exclusive of the divisions contained in the cities of London and Westminster, and the Tower hamlets.

That part of Middlesex which borders on London is naturally a district of little fertility, its general soil being a lean gravel; though, by means of the vicinity of the metropolis, many parts are converted into beds of manure, clothed with almost perpetual verdure. The more distant parts have a good deal of strong land, applicable to most purposes of husbandry; and the Thames is bordered by a continued line of rich meadows. There are still several extensive tracts of uncultivated heath in this county; as that of Hounslow in the south-western part, and Finchley-common to the north of London, which last is now in great part enclosed. The land in tillage is supposed to be about one-fifth of the whole; and an equal proportion is occupied by nurseries, gardens, and pleasure grounds. The greater share of the county is in meadow and pasturage. The supply of London with milk is an object to which the greater part of the land in its immediate vicinity is devoted. The number of cows kept for that purpose within the county of Middlesex is reckoned at 7,00o; and those in Surrey and Kent make an addition of about 1,300. The production of hay for the London market is the principal object of the farmers at a more remote distance.

A considerable quantity of ground is cut up for the making of bricks round London, the great material of which its build.ings are composed, and which yields large profits to the owners. Of other economical objects followed in this county, may be mentioned the feeding of house-lambs, as a luxury in the winter-months. These are usually the product of Dorsetshire ewes, which are made to produce their lambs about Michaelmas. The cultivation of willows on the banks of the Thames, from Fulham to Staines, for the use of the basket-makers, is another article of considerable profit.

Besides the boundary rivers already noticed, the Brent may be mentioned, which, rising near Barnet, runs in a winding course quite across the county, and enters the Thames at Brentford. The Grand Junction Canal, which has been traced through several counties, at length reaches the metropolis in Middlesex. Having entered the county with the Coln, it passes Uxbridge, and approaching Brentford, pushes a line to enter the Thames at that town. At a later period, it has sent off another line, which, leaving Brcntfbrd to the south, conducts the canal as far as Paddington, where it touches upon the western extremity of London.

A further prolongation of the same canal is now in progress under the name of the Regent’s, which will carry it round to fall into the Thames below Limehouse.

A canal for the purpose of supplying the metropolis with water, under the name of the New River, was long since undertaken frem Amwell, near Ware, and was brought by a vary winding course from a distance of forty miles to a height above London. The author of this plan was Sir Hugh Middleton, who brought it to a conclusion in 1613.

Text: England Described etc (1818) by John Atkin M.D.

Map: Cary’s Traveller’s Companion or a Delineation of the Turnpike Roads of England and Wales etc.,(1812) by John Cary.