Vincent van Gogh walked through Brentford

by Duncan Walker

I wonder what van Gogh thought of Brentford?

When Vincent van Gogh, the Impressionist painter, lived in Isleworth in 1876 he would walk through Syon Park and Brentford to Turnham Green, where he would visit the Congregational Church.

The church was where Thomas Slade-Jones the clergyman preached and it was his house, Holme Court, 158 Twickenham Road, at the junction with Worton Rd, where van Gogh stayed and taught at the school there.

Holme Court
Holmes Court

The Letters

Vincent van Gogh’s letters are on website Vincent van Gogh -The Letters and certain letters describe his walks from Isleworth through Syon Park to Turnham Green and refer to Syon Park.

Letter 92
“I left here early that morning, 4 o’clock, that night it was beautiful in the park here, with the dark avenues of elm trees and the wet road going through them and the grey rainy sky above it all, and there was a thunderstorm in the distance.”

Letter 93
“Then I came to that dark park I already wrote to you about and from there I saw in the distance the lights of Isleworth and the church with the ivy and the cemetery with the weeping willows on the banks of the Thames.”

Letter 96
“It was lovely in the park with the old elm trees in the moonlight and the dew on the grass.”

In his letters he doesn’t mention Brentford, but his route from Isleworth would have taken him past the Brentford Workhouse, through Syon Park and past the great Conservatory, being erected in 1876-77, which he must have noticed.

Brentford workhouse site, 1865.

He then would have walked through Brentford and past our Brentford Dock, which had been opened in 1859.

The Brentford Workhouse, just up the road from him, now the West Middlesex Hospital must have been an imposing building, which is described on this website: workhouses.org.uk

Workhouse from the south-west, 1839.
 

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