Hatton Cross – in the west of London just next to Heathrow – has a long and creepy haunted history, says PATSY SORENTI
Hatton Cross is a tiny hamlet, which has been swept into Bedfont parish. In times gone by it provided a convent, an orphanage and a pub for travellers. It also boasted a chapel-of-ease to St. Mary’s, Bedfont. It was a convenient hide out for highwaymen and footpads. Its history is sparse mainly because the place is very small and largely uninhabited. It is today populated by warehouses and hotels serving Heathrow Airport.
1. St Anthony’s Convent (former site)
This is now occupied by Geodis Transport but was once the site of a large orphanage. It was at the height of its operation from 1930s – 1950s and was pulled down in the early 1960s. It was run and managed by the Poor Claire nuns. The nuns by and large, took care of the children in their charge. The site nowadays is haunted by a ghostly nun who appears at the loading bay of Geodis Transport. Many warehousemen have seen her on many occasions.
2. The Green Man pub
Situated opposite the former St Anthony’s site is The Green Man. This is the oldest building in Hatton and has been a hostelry since the Middle Ages. It was a watering hole for local farmers and still retains its olde worlde charm. The ghost here is of a travelling Cavalier, a renegade from the Civil War. He died in the pub and his body was kept inside the fireplace chimney. The ghost has been seen in recent times by the staff, who have reported his presence often. The fireplace is still in existence and people still sit around it in the hope of catching a glimpse of the ghost.
3. Hounslow Urban Farm
This farm is a modern take on a farm, which once existed here. This was Hatton Farm. The ghost of the old farmer has often been seen leaning against the gate.
4. River Crane
The River Crane at Hatton was an excellent escape route for highwaymen fleeing from Hounslow Heath to Cranford, where they could be hidden by accomplices in Cranford Park. The walk is rugged, wooded and very dark, even in the day. The sound of galloping horses’ hooves can be heard whilst walking through the wood, especially in the Autumn. The site of the old gunpowder works is haunted by Matthew Weaving. He was killed along with a colleague following an explosion in 1794. He stands at the blast wall and stares at passers-by and has been seen quite recently.
5. Brazil Mill Wood
This wood is a continuation of the River Crane, and was so named because of the dyers of military uniforms using Brazil nut shells to obtain the correct shade of red. A military presence has been stationed here and on Hounslow Heath since 1643, when Oliver Cromwell stationed his troops here. In 1929, a young woman named Joan was cycling home from her job at a factory nearby when her bicycle hit a stone and plunged into the river. Joan couldn’t swim and was drowned. Her ghost has often been seen crying out for help. When someone tries to rescue her, she simply disappears. Another ghost is that of a young girl of 12 years old, whose body was found on the opposite bank in 1980. She was a local girl who had been attacked and strangled whilst walking back to school one lunchtime. Her ghost was often seen by golfers using the former golf course on Hounslow Heath. A memorial to her was erected some years ago and her spirit is not often seen.
6. Staines Road, Bedfont
A historic house here once enjoyed greater importance but has had mixed uses over the years. It has been a recruitment agency, a shipping company and is now empty and becoming derelict. It is Grade ll listed. It also has a ghost. This might be reason why no company or owner has ever wanted to stay long in the property. Reports of unseen hands around peoples’ throats and a feeling of being strangled all happen here. The feeling of utter despair is all-encompassing. It is reputed that a young woman fleeing a lustful uncle fell from an upper window and passed away. It is the ghost of the uncle, which is said to haunt the place. The house looks very forlorn and is inaccessible.
7. The Duke of Northumberland’s River
The ghost of the Duke of Northumberland has been seen here. He fell off a horse and died whilst out for a ride one dismal day. His ghost has been seen here and at White Bridge, further along the river.
8. Steam Farm (former site)
The last stop on the walk. Steam Farm was an agricultural smallholding. It ceased to be a farm in the early 1960’s when the airport was enjoying greater prominence. It is haunted by a loutish phantom, which shouts ’Get out of it!’