The Bizarre And Ancient Tree Peacocks Of Bedfont, Near Heathrow

M@
By M@
The Bizarre And Ancient Tree Peacocks Of Bedfont, Near Heathrow
Two topiary peacocks stand on columns with the dates 1704 and 1990 at the bottom

Bedfont, a small village in the south-west of London, isn't on any tourist's radar. But it contains one of London's most jaw-dropping curiosities.

It's here, outside St Mary's church, that we find the most remarkable trees in London. Two mighty yews have been pruned and trimmed to resemble a pair of perching peacocks.

Each bird is supported by an arboreal column embellished with a date: 1704 and 1990. The earlier date is when the trees were first trained into their curious shapes, while the latter marks a major restoration spearheaded by local resident David Spyer.

The scene in 1893. Image public domain.

Seeing the trees for the first time is one of those genuine gobsmacking moments when you can't quite believe what you're seeing. The topiary peacocks utterly dominate the scene in a way that trees generally don't.

Why the peacocks were first created is a bit of a mystery. Local lore has it that they represent two proud sisters, who spurned the advances of a well-heeled suitor. It's a theory given ballast by the poet Thomas Hood, who penned an ode to the trees in the early 19th century.

The church itself is one of the most historic in London. A rare Norman survivor, it's thought to date back to the mid-12th century. The wooden tower is highly unusual.

A wooden church tower with two topiary peacocks beside

But it's the topiary peacocks that dominate. They may be a long way off the beaten track for most of us, but it's worth the trek if you want to see something truly unique.

You can reach the village via regular buses from Hatton Cross, Hounslow and Feltham.

Last Updated 15 October 2021

Continued below.