The Bedfont Peacocks, Middlesex
The village of Bedfont in Middlesex is not the kind of place you'd purposefully go and visit. Lying in the shadow of Heathrow airport, it's one of many suburbs you pass through in a hurry to catch your plane. But tucked away on the village green lies the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, which boasts a very impressive display of topiary.
Either side of the church gate are two towering yew trees that have been shaped to form two peacocks and an arch. These birds sit on top of a pile of leafy pillows which in turn rest on a topiary inscription: 1704 and 1990. The whole structure towers over the path to the church and at night it is floodlit magnificently.
The church itself dates from 1150 but it is thought that the trees were first cut into peacocks in 1704. Several periods of dilapidation and restoration followed with the most recent restoration being in 1990, remedying the neglect of the post-war years.
Such is the presence of these mighty birds in the village, that they are represented on the local district council crest and Bedfont Green F.C. are known affectionately as "The Peacocks". In 1827 Thomas Hood published a lengthy poem about them called "The Two Peacocks of Bedfont":
Each Sabbath morning, at the hour of prayer, Behold two maidens, up the quiet green Shining, far distant, in the summer air That flaunts their dewy robes and breathes between Their downy plumes,--sailing as if they were Two far-off ships,--until they brush between The churchyard's humble walls, and watch and wait On either side of the wide open'd gate ….
Worth missing a plane for.