‘You can pass through Hounslow today and not notice the Heath, reduced as it is to just over 200 acres, roughly a third of the size of the Square Mile of the City of London. But in the 17th century it was a vast and dangerous waste on the western edge of London spanning over 6,000 acres. ‘Time was when the heath seemed illimitable, stretching north and south across the old Bath Road far out towards the horizon,’ Bell tells us. To head west out of London towards Bath and Bristol meant a hazardous journey across this land that was so infested with highwaymen and footpads it was dubbed the most dangerous place in Britain.
– This Other London, p.2