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Around 1640 Edmund Cooke built a large house close to the centre of the village. This was later bought by the court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller who pulled it down and in 1709 erected his own larger house. This in turn was considerably modified by later owners and was eventually acquired by the state in 1847 for use as a teacher training college and is now home to the Royal Military.
School of Music
At the centre of the original village, about 200 m from Kneller Hall is the White Hart, an inn dating back at least to the mid-17th century and possibly much earlier. Records relating to this inn seem to suggest that Whitton had an importance that was not well recorded, or that travellers passed through it in considerable numbers. A document of 1685 shows that it provided three beds, and stabling for ten horses; numbers which did not seem to fit with Whitton’s apparent status as a sleepy rural hamlet with only a few dozen inhabitants.
At the northern end of Whitton was Whitton Park, the estate of the third Duke of Argyll, which he established in 1722 on land that had been enclosed some years earlier from Hounslow Heath. The Duke was an enthusiastic gardener and he imported large numbers of exotic species of plants and trees for his estate; he had professional advice from the Scottish gardener James Lee (1715—1795). After the Duke’s death his nephew, the third Earl of Bute, moved many of these, including mature trees, to the Princess of Wales’ new garden at Kew. This later became Kew Gardens and some of the Duke’s trees can still be seen there to this day.
Whitton was renowned as a ‘market garden’, known for its roses, narcissi, lilies of the valley and for its apple, plum and pear orchards. Indeed, until the 1920s the village was still separated from the surrounding towns by open fields and much of the earlier character of the old village was retained well into the 1940s. However, in little more than a decade all that changed.
The coming of the railways in 1850 started to prompt more development with the area initially served by Hounslow & Whitton railway station (later renamed Hounslow railway station) built by London and South Western Railway and opened on 1 February 1850.
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