History

The Mill Hill Park Conservation Area in Acton, London W3 covers an early garden suburb, the Mill Hill Park Estate, laid out in the 1870s by two famous father-and-son builders, both called William Willett.  These 1869 and 1873 plans prepared for the sale of land for the development of the Estate show proposals for buildings, grounds and roads.

The Willetts’ high-quality, desirable mansions can also be seen in Chelsea and Mayfair. Apart from being a builder of beautiful houses, the younger William Willett is now more famous for promoting the Daylight Savings Act, which created British Summer Time.

Signs of life and residency on the piece of land where Mill Hill Park now lies have been traced by Museum of London archaeologists back through medieval, Saxon and Roman times through the Bronze Age to the prehistoric era.  The History of Mill Hill Park covers developments in the area from the Bronze Age to the present time.  (See the item below on the ancient Roman bowl found in Avenue Gardens.)

The old Mill Hill Tavern

Still there... the very large house - small castle, some say - at the 'dog leg' corner at the eastern end of Avenue Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long gone …. the billiard hall on Gunnersbury Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient Roman bowl found in Mill Hill Park

In 1981, excavations were carried out in Avenue Gardens, in the front garden of where number 51 Avenue Gardens was later built, and an almost complete, very finely decorated Roman bowl, dating from between 100 and 125 AD, was discovered – by far the most exciting archaeological ‘find’ ever made in the Mill Hill Park area.

It’s a fairly small but splendid object, in shiny red pottery (known as Samian ware or ‘terra sigillata’) with fascinating designs on it, depicting:   the god Jupiter, seated and  holding a thunderbolt; a lion being ridden or teased by a small ‘cupid’; and a figure of Victory wearing voluminous drapery and holding a wreath. Experts can tell that it was imported from Gaul (France), and was made at a place now called Les-Martres-de-Veyre in central France. As some of the other pottery made there at the same time, and in exactly the same style, is actually signed by the potter: they even know his name: Donnaucus.

After almost 40 years at the Museum of London, where it was only occasionally displayed, it is now on view at Gunnersbury Park Museum (on loan from the Museum of London), in the ‘People and Place’ Gallery on the ground floor. We are fortunate that this wonderful Roman artefact can now be seen and admired, free of charge, within walking distance of the very site where it was dug up, and where it once graced the home of a local resident, nearly 2,000 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last days of the Mill Hill Pub

The Mill Hill Pub (formerly known as the Mill Hill Tavern) ceased trading in June 2013 after 153 years.  The photos below were taken a few days before it closed.  Ray Batchelor, MHPRA committee member,  has written a speculative early history of the Mill Hill Tavern.