THE BUNNY PARK
Bunny Park in Hanwell (off the Uxbridge Road) is a great way to spend 2-3 hours. It has 2 swing parks,a maze, animal enclosures (including monkey/ snake/ spider house and lots of open space. It also has a Tea room which is very reasonably priced & has garden seating opposite one of the swing parks. There is also lots of free parking.
Explore Ealing Green
This is the more southerly of Ealing’s two remaining Greens, and is a relic of the old village that once straddled St Mary’s Road between the Uxbridge Road (now the Broadway) and St Mary’s Church about a mile to the south. It’s a long thin Green with a number of lovely old chestnut trees, though several more were lost in the so-called Great Storm of October 1987.
On its western side are a number of beautiful brick houses of the 18th and early 19th century – if I had the money this is probably where I would choose to live in Ealing! These include the 18th century St. Mary's, the 19th century pair formed by Pine Cottage and Thorpe Lodge, and a group of around 1800 formed by St. Aidan and the neighbouring terrace of Morgan House, Wrexham Lodge and the Willow House.
From time to time the Green hosts events such as a French Farmers’ or Continental Food Market. At its northern end is the entrance to Pitzhanger Manor, and beyond it to Walpole Park (see separate tips). Across the road from here is a large Irish pub, The Grove, in case you’re in need of liquid refreshment, and there are several others in the very near vicinity. To the south lie the Ealing Film Studios, again the subject of another tip.
Ealing’s main Town Hall is a classic example of Victorian Gothic architecture. It is a Grade II listed building that dates back to 1887 when Ealing was fast becoming the “Queen of the Suburbs”, and has a 1930s extension. In recent years the local council has outgrown the premises, and most departments are located in the modern Perceval House just next-door, but council and committee meetings are still held here, and it is a popular venue for weddings, with several characterful rooms. But there’s no need to get married to see inside, as other local events also take place here, including concerts, photography exhibitions and meetings of local societies.
Like most Victorian town halls, this building is a statement. It says, “Ealing is a strong, growing place with important, influential residents”. It was designed in 1888 by Charles Jones, the town surveyor who left his mark all over Victorian Ealing (you can see his name on a commemorative plaque in Walpole Park, marling the purchase of that park by the council). One room was named the Victoria Hall, in honour of Queen Victoria who had celebrated her Golden Jubilee the previous year. That room was designated for the use of local clubs and societies, and is still available to them today. The Town Hall was opened on 15th December 1888 by the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.
As seen from the street, it has changed very little over the years (the 1930s extension is thankfully hidden behind it) and its prominence on the Broadway is a good reminder of Ealing’s glory days as the Victorian “Queen of the Suburbs”.
- Historical Travel
St Mary’s Church
There has been a church on this site in South Ealing since medieval times, although the current building is anything but medieval! That older church was ruined beyond repair by Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War, and later pulled down (in the late 1720’s). In its place a simple Georgian church was erected, and consecrated in 1740, and this forms the core of the present church. However, with a rapidly growing population during the Victorian development of Ealing as a popular London suburb, the small Georgian church soon became (or was considered) inadequate, and plans were drawn up for something rather larger and grander. The old church was greatly enlarged and totally redecorated in the taste of that time – altogether grander and richer than the simplicity of Georgian taste. The new designs were by the architect S.S. Teulon and were completed in 1866 when the bishop of that time commented that that “St Mary's had been transformed from a Georgian monstrosity into a Constantinopolitan basilica”. As an admirer of Georgian architecture I think I would have to have taken issue with the good bishop! Certainly there is no doubt that the early 18th century worshippers would fail to recognise their old church in this new guise.
Today the church is a Grade II listed building, and considered to be one of the best surviving works of Teulon. It is a dominant landmark in South Ealing, visible from the M4 motorway a mile to the south, and very useful when giving directions around the area. It is also a thriving parish church, with lots of community activity.
Christ the Saviour, Ealing
The church was dedicated by the bishop of London in 1852 and hence the name. Sir Gilbert Scott designed the church and funded by Rosa Lewis, a local resident and daughter of a Liverpudlian merchant. This listed church, at the time, was modified including a new sacristy and additions of the rood screen, the chapel screens, statues of Saints and interior decoration. The church was reunited with another parish church that was destroyed in World War II and in 1951 and this became "Christ of Saviour".
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Pitzhanger Manor & Walpole Park
Since I studied about John Soane, an architect in the 19th Century, in one my humanities modules I always wanted to visit Pitzhanger Manor House. I had already visited his house (Sir John Soane's Museum) in central London so I thought it would be nice to make a trip out to Ealing to visit his former villa.
John Soane purchased Pitzhanger Manor House in the 19th Century with the intention to build his "dream" home. He and his team redesigned and renovated the whole house which promoted his unique architectural style with the use of colour, space and lighting. This was completed in 1804 and Soane used the house as a weekend retreat and for entertaining guests. He had his large collection of items including his fragmants and architectural drawings (which can be seen at Sir John Soane museum). Subsequently the house was sold to Ealing District Council at the beginning of the 20th Century where it had become a library but today it has been recreated to its former glory.
It's worth visiting the grounds of the house which were once Soane's ornamental gardens and parklands. The gardens and parklands are now part of Walpole Park and now on the Register of Historic Park and Gardens. Unfortunately, it was raining when I visited so I didn't feel I gave the gardens justice.
Pitzhanger Gallery is attached to the house and is West London's largest public art gallery. The gallery usually houses contemporary collections and art work from local artists.
Both the house and gallery are free to look round.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Visit Pitzhanger Manor
Pitzhanger Manor is easily the grandest of the old houses that still remain in Ealing from its pre London suburb days. It was originally the home of the architect John Soane. He demolished the original manor house on this site and set about building his own home, which he saw as a sort of portrait or advertisement for his own idiosyncratic architectural style with its stripped classical detail, radical colour schemes and inventive use of space and light. Soane used Pitzhanger Manor as a weekend retreat and a place of entertainment, and as a home for his collection of paintings, books, architectural drawings and fragments, which can now be seen at Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields in central London (near Holborn tube).
In 1810 Soane sold the house and it passed through a succession of owners, with remarkably little alteration. In 1843 it became home to the daughters of Britain's only assassinated Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, and in 1899 was sold by the then owner, Spencer Horatio Walpole (three times Home Secretary), to Ealing District Council for £40,000, with the proviso that the last of the Perceval sisters, Frederika, should be allowed to remain there until her death. When she died in 1900 the house was extended to become a Public Library, with a Reading Room on its south side and a Lending Library on the north. This northern extension was demolished and replaced by a larger library building in 1940. At the same time Soane's ornamental gardens and parkland, including his bridge, entrance arch and lodge, became Walpole Park, opening to the public in 1901 and still a favourite green space for Ealing’s residents today – see other tip.
The library moved to the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre in 1985, and the 1940s extension is now an art gallery, with a programme of contemporary art exhibitions – the website below has information about current ones.
Meanwhile the interiors of the main part of the house are being restored to the style of décor that they would have had during Sir John Soane’s time (some are already done, others remain to be worked on. It is intended that the rooms will then be furnished with items similar to those acquired by the Soanes.
The house and gallery are open Tuesday to Friday 1.00-5.00pm, Saturday 11.00am-5.00pm, and on Sundays in summer only.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Outside the train station you can see a lot of shopping malls, restaurants and cafes but if you walk a bit further inside the picture changes to some roads with rows of Victorian houses. I’ve been told that these houses are one of the most expensive in the Greater London area.
Most of the houses were built after the Great Western Railway company decided to open a railway station at Ealing Broadway so the city started to grow around, it was then when the Victorians called it Queen of the Suburbs. You can notice some big ones, obviously villas that converted into flats although we wonder if some of them include 2-3 different flats inside.
Some other side streets are also nice with rows of trees making it look like a postcard but unfortunately the numerous cars will spoil the picture (pic 4)
Although we didn’t know much about them it seems that a lot of films were produced at Ealing Studios, but it was back in time, during the 50s so I’m sure even some Londoners maybe wont recall them except maybe some famous ones like The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), Passport To Pimlico(1949) etc
Our local friends remember a lot of comedies that were produced here but we didn’t really know any of them. The studios opened back in 1931 which means they are the oldest continuously film studios in the world (that still operate). BBC bought the studios and used it for numerous TV productions for about 2 decades
We didn’t go inside (I don’t even know if this is possible but there was no sign outside that they are open to the public) so on a lovely Saturday morning we just took a picture from outside...
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Walpole park is a beautiful park where people go for picnic, playing football, jogging etc It used to be the gardens of Pitzhanger Manor but it’s open to the public since 1901.
We spend some time watching many squirrels passing by. There is also a lovely pond and a cute children’s play area but most of the park are spacious green areas where people play football. We loved the paths that are lined with trees, by the way the trees inside the park are a combination of many generations of planting with only 6 trees that predate Soane, 10 trees from early 19th century, 36 trees from 1843-1901 and 218 trees from 1901-1950. They plan new tree planting while at the same time some old ones will be replaced because they are at the end of their natural life.
By the way every july the park hosts the Ealing Jazz festival that must be great (and almost free!) with hundreds of people going there and enjoy the events (there are also theatrical plays, opera etc)
The park opens daily at 7.30am and closed from 17.30 to 22.00 depending on the season so check times to ensure you exit the park before it is locked.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Great War Memorial
In front of the Pitzhanger Manor (it is actually a gateway to the house grounds) you can see the Great War Memorial.
It was erected in 1921 as a memorial for the men and women of Ealing that died in the Western Front during WWI. Memorials like this were erected all over the world after the useless loss of so many people…
The two walls of the memorial host more than 1000 names carved in stone while the inscription read: “In Proud and Grateful Memory of the men of this borough who laid down their lives in the Great War of 1914-1918”
- Historical Travel
This building was once the house of the English architect John Soane(1753-1837) that had built a lot of buildings in Neo-Classical style (the most famous among them is the Bank of England).
Soane owned the building at the beginning of 19th century when he demolished the existing building and made several changes on different style and he stayed there for 10 years. I was expecting to see a museum because he had a big collection of books and paintings but at the door they told me that his collection can be seen at John Soane’s museum in London.
The Pitzhanger Manor became a public library at the beginning of 20th century when also the gardens of the house opened to the public (see next tip for Walpole Park). A larger library building was added in 1940 and in our days it houses an art gallery(pics 2-3-4-5) and that was the reason we visited the building anyway.
On spring 2011 there was an enhibition called “Under the Radar ” with paintings by Serban Savu. He focuses on usual daily moments of anonymous people during the post-socialist era in Romania, workers at job, women bathing, men fishing etc
It’s open daily 13.00-17.00 (on Saturdays from 11.00am) and there’s no entrance fee.
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Go to a spa – Life Spa
Ealing has a spa, albeit not (from the outside) a very glamorous one! Located in South Ealing, and sharing its site with a Sainsbury supermarket and Shell petrol station, you would be forgiven for assuming that this was unlikely to deliver the restful spa experience you’re looking for. But once inside it is surprisingly successful in its attempt to create the appropriate atmosphere. Windowless treatment rooms are caverns of warmth. Scented candles, Far Eastern looking fabrics and gentle music welcome you and set the tone for a relaxing treatment. Shower facilities are also well thought-out, with plenty of space, thick white towels and lovely products. After your treatment you can enjoy a complimentary cup of herbal tea in a room set aside for winding down, although this is a little small if several customers are using it at once.
I have been here several times as it is just at the end of our road and their gift vouchers are a great answer to the “what would you like for your birthday?” question. My favourite treatment is a ginger and lime salt scrub, which is a perfect preparation for summer. But all the usual spa offerings are available such as facials, massage, body wraps, tanning etc. Prices aren’t low, but represent good value compared with elsewhere, perhaps reflecting the slightly odd location.
- Spa and Resort
Walpole Picture House
The Odeon cinema is currently closed for a major refurbishment. The building has been totally demolished apart from the frontage and a modern multiplex will be built in its place.
Meanwhile you could check out this little remnant of the first cinema in Ealing, the Forum, which opened in 1934 and later changed its name to the Walpole Picture House. This was demolished in 1981, but its entrance arch survives on the side of the first house in Mattock Lane, just south of the Broadway and the present-day Odeon.
The architect was John Stanley Beard and the classical style of the frontage was a reaction to the modernistic style often associated with Odeon cinemas of the period. The first film ever shown here was appropriately one made at the nearby Ealing Film Studios – “Love, Life & Laughter” starring Gracie Fields.
There are apparently plans to incorporate this facade into the design of the new multiplex now being built on the Odeon’s site – I’m not sure how that will work but it seems a great idea if they can manage it.
- Arts and Culture
Pitzhanger Manor House
After lunch and a walk through Walpole Park - a visit was made to the Manor House. What can I say to you other than there is the house itself and the gallery. The history of the house is fairly interesting -
The Bank of England's architect and surveyor, John Soane, purchased the house in 1800. His plan was to create his "dream" house which was then later used as a "suitable" home for his sons. Much work was done, demolition then rebuilding the superstructure - the work was completed by 1804. He used this as his weekend retreat and a place of entertainment. It was also the location for his growning collection of art, drawings and his library. Thecolelction as it later became is now situated in the Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields London.
In 1901 the house was sold to Ealing Council, it was extended and in 1940 they created the public leanding library. The library is now the PM gallery.
NOTE: You are permitted to take photographs inside the house, but you have to sign a declaration that you will not use the images for commercial purposes.