Updated: Jan 13
Jane Andrews, Chair of Friends of Crofton & Sparrow Woods has a strong interest in local history. Here is her article about the curios boundary markers in the woods that you may have seen on your walks but have wondered what they refer to!
“In 1672 Ann Oliver of Isleworth left her estates in Orpington to benefit the Isleworth Charity School for educating poor children. Ann Oliver was of Huguenot descent (French Protestants – about 45,000 escaped
Catholic France and settled in England in the 16th Century). Ann was born in Isleworth and later married Peter Oliver – then a famous miniaturist portrait painter who was known to keep copies of all his paintings. After Peter died, Charles II visited Ann because the Royal art collection had been depleted under Cromwell. He liked a number of the copies and offered her £1000 or £300 a year for life. She took the allowance.
Much to her disgust she later heard that he had given most of the miniatures to his mistresses. Some years later she told friends that she would not have sold them to him had she known how he would dispose of them. The story got to the king’s ears, and he stopped the allowance immediately and ‘never again renewed it’. Ann was one of the early investors in local children’s education, and a keen supporter of the original Charity School at Isleworth. The Governors of the charity kept on managing and taking income from Ann’s Orpington estate right through to the late nineteenth century, when they started selling the land for housing development. Their lands were large – and included a small part of the southeast end of our own woods.
There are two Isleworth Blue School land markers remaining in the woods – and a third in a private garden.”
Volunteer Invitation: Crofton and Sparrow Woods Work Group meets weekly. All welcome. Meet local people and improve our local woods for wildlife, plants and people. Suitable for adults of all ages and levels of ability. Bringing light into overgrown areas, path clearance, litter picking and habitat improvement. For more information contact: email@example.com or 07968 269008.