The Twickenham Museum
Timeline : 1600 - 1700

The Army on Hounslow Heath
Summer 1686

a plan of the military camp on Hounslow Heath

The existence of a standing army in England was a by-product of the Civil War. The Restoration of 1660 saw the retention of a few regiments. But when James II came to the throne in 1685, he set about enlarging the force. Annual manoeuvres were held on Hounslow Heath, which some thought were intended to overawe London.

Twickenham burial registers account for several deaths in the camp on the Heath in 1686 including one "shot by a felon unknown", and Joseph Ashe was buried on 1st August 1686 after being killed at the camp. A military hospital also seems to have been established on the Heath; which may have been the origin of the modern name "Hospital Bridge Road". Lord John Belasyse, living nearby leased some land to the King to enable the hospital to be provided.

In 1687, the army enacted a mock siege and assault on Breda. A contemporary sketch of that "action" exists.

Further reading:

R S Cobbett , Memorials of Twickenham, 1872, p63
Victoria County History of Middlesex Vol.3, page 91, sketch of the mock siege of Breda
Corelli Barnett, Britain and her Army 1509-1970, 1974.

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