In the July 1 issue of The Times, Hilary Rose wrote that her online house hunting had led her to discover a place called Chiswick in the borough of Hounslow, the mention of which, she said, prompted declarations of horror and peals of laughter from friends. In a thinly veiled request to be sent property particulars, she proceeded to tell readers (presumably assuming Chiswickites don’t read The Times) why she thought W4 could become as civilised – almost – as SW10, making one long-time lover of Chiswick grind her teeth.
Images above: Liz Vercoe; Hilary Rose
An open letter to Hilary Rose by Liz Vercoe
Dear Hilary Rose c/o The Times
We don’t know each other but I thought I’d write to say how excited we in Chiswick are to have such a finger-on-the-societal-pulse person planning to come to live in our little backwater of Hounslow. How on earth did you find us? Great research! Yes I can imagine it took lockdown to really give you the time to sift through the hidden corners of London, even narrowing it down, as you did, to “west of Chelsea…”
In your article in The Times you say you’d like to hear from possible vendors around Devonshire Road. Well, I am sure you are already inundated with offers on The Glebe Estate, from people who instantly recognised that they live in just the sort of “poky little cottage” you wrote that you’re are looking for to replace your high-ceilinged Kensington and Chelsea flat (no window-boxes; no proper living/eating area. Sounds lovely). They will be just thrilled to be described so temptingly. Yes, they have their own roofs, bedrooms upstairs and space outside to grow roses and sip a glass of wine, so meeting all your stated requirements.
It’s a shame your mother thinks you are mad moving here. But I expect she’ll come round, eventually. However, you (or maybe she) seem to sincerely wish you could tow Chiswick down the Thames out of Hounslow (how I would have loved to see your friends’ faces when, “incredulously” you say, you shaped your lips around those syllables Houns-low. Did you do it in faux Sarf Lunnen? LOL) into a more prestigious council.
Back to Kensington and Chelsea, perhaps… now where have I heard that borough mentioned? Oh, yes, Grenfell.
But you are right, you’ll have a lovely time. High Road House has probably been waiting ages for someone to spot its links with Soho House and get a mention in the Thunderer. Apparently a few locals on the way up – David Tennant, Dara O’Brien, Dec and visiting Ant– have pressed their faces to the window, which makes the House thing a possible goer.
But as it’s the availability of healthclubs with 25m swimming pools that are the deciding attraction for you, not boring old things like Chiswick House and Gardens, Hogarth House, or leafy walks beside the river, you’ll also be happy to know Chiswick’s also got several excellent chiropractors to sort out cricks in the neck from people watching.
And to think, no one knew!
Yours in appreciation,
Liz Vercoe, Chiswick resident since 1992.
Liz Vercoe’s career has encompassed trade and consumer journalism both as a writer and editor. She has been an editorial consultant for a number of charities and was deputy editor and acting editor of the Radio Times.