There are few places in London where the joys of suburbia are more apparent than Ealing - so much so that it was dubbed ‘Queen of the suburbs’ in the 1800s, and the name has stuck ever since. Once a retreat for wealthy Londoners looking for some respite from the hubbub of the city, this Victorian idyll has grown to become a coveted area with a real sense of community spirit.
Ealing has always been popular with families due to the range of excellent schools, green spaces of Walpole Park and Ealing Common and abundance of large family homes, but in recent years its professionals who have really started to take notice of the area, largely due to the speedy commute into London via one of Ealing's four tube stations. With Crossrail scheduled to arrive in 2018 and various modern developments springing up with young City workers in mind, this trend is only set to continue.
Aside from suburban bliss, Ealing developed a reputation for live music and a thriving creative scene over the years. Rock heritage is particularly strong here, being home to schools and colleges where members of The Who, Queen and the Rolling Stones studied in their formative years, the jazz club where Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood met Brian Jones in 1962, and even the founder of the Marshall amplified ran a shop here (frequented by Jimi Hendrix, no less) for many years. The film industry is also a key aspect of Ealing life, with Ealing Studios boasting the title of the world's oldest continually working film studios in the world. With blockbusters such as Notting Hill, The Imitation Game and even Downton Abbey filmed here, it's not unusual to spot a movie star in the local pub.
Ealing's creative history continues into the present with a series of popular festivals every summer in Walpole Park, including a Jazz Festival, Comedy Festival, and even a Beer Festival which will soon be celebrating its 30th anniversary. The food scene is also as diverse as you'll find in Central London, with excellent Iranian, Caribbean and Greek restaurants to be found in and around the area.
On a map
Ealing is located in the Borough of Ealing in West London. It sits to the west of Shepherd’s Bush and north of Chiswick, and covers the postcodes W5 and W13.
History of Ealing London
Ealing was first mentioned in around 700AD, when it was known as ‘Gillingas’ by its Saxon inhabitants, although archeological evidence suggests that there has been some form of settlement here since the Iron Age. During the 1100s the settlements in Ealing were spread out amid a large forest, and many modern roads in the area are named after these early settlements.
But it wasn’t until as late as the 1800s that Ealing really began to attract attention. As roads through the area were improved and central London became increasingly clogged with people and industry, wealthy Londoners began to see the open fields of Ealing as an attractive prospect and started building houses here to entertain friends and escape from Central London. Some early inhabitants included the Duke of Kent and prime minister Spencer Perceval.
During the Victorian period various rail stations opened in Ealing, increasing its popularity as transport to and from London became significantly easier. Public parks were also created out of the rapidly disappearing countryside, and it wasn’t long before Ealing became the thriving town we see today.
Transport from Ealing London
The transport connections that made Ealing popular back in the 1800s are even more convenient nowadays, with four tube stations - Ealing Broadway, North Ealing, South Ealing and Ealing Common - across the area and covering the Central, Piccadilly and District Lines. A journey from Ealing Broadway to Bond Street takes only 22 minutes, while Ealing Common to Piccadilly Circus takes around 31 minutes.
Ealing also benefits from National Rail services at Ealing Broadway, with direct trains to destinations including Heathrow, Oxford, London Paddington and Reading. There are plenty of day and night buses serving the area too.
In addition, Crossrail is scheduled to arrive in Ealing in 2018, making a journey to the City or Canary Wharf a speedy 15 minutes long.
Cost of living in Ealing London
Ealing offers a wide range of housing options, including some of the nicest family homes in London situated on wide, leafy streets. In terms of architecture, Victorian, Edwardian and even mock-Tudor properties can be found, as well as a number of modern developments which have begun springing up in recent years. Many of the Victorian terraces have been converted into flats, meaning there’s a good amount of rental accommodation available.
Rental prices in Ealing are reasonably low, with the area being cheaper on average than neighbouring Acton and Gunnersbury. As of May 2016, the average rental price for a two bedroom property in Ealing is around £2000 per month, although similar properties can be found starting at £1300 per month.
Restaurants in Ealing London
A tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it establishment on St Mary’s Road, the renowned Santa Maria is home to some of the best Neapolitan pizzas in London. Cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven and topped with everything from wild broccoli to rare breed Yorkshire sausage, it’s the ultimate place to indulge in your carby pizza cravings.
Address: 15 St Mary's Rd, London W5 5RA
Phone:020 8579 1462
One of Ealing’s finest establishments (and a favoured date spot for residents), the award-winning Charlotte’s Place serves up a high-end Modern European menu in a sleek modern dining room by Ealing Common. Choose from dishes including confit sea bream, slow cooked lamb dumb and free range pork belly, or go all out with a five course tasting menu - complete with paired wines.
Address: 16 St Matthew's Rd, London W5 3JT
Phone:020 8567 7541
This historic pub and microbrewery on Ealing Road has everything you could want from a cosy local pub, including open fires in the winter, taxidermy on the walls and a large walled garden for those long summer evenings. Meanwhile the food menu is packed with gourmet gastro favourites such as Cornish mussels, rare beef steaks and stick toffee pudding, making it perfect for a delicious dinner too.
Address: 222 S Ealing Rd, Ealing W5 4RL
Phone:020 8758 1879
Shops in Ealing London
This practical shopping centre is perfect for residents pressed for time, with over 80 shops including Marks & Spencer, Boots, Argos and H&M. There’s also a good selection of restaurants and cafes such as Patisserie Valerie and Wagamama if you need to replenish your shopping energy.
Address: Ealing Broadway, London W5 5JY
Phone:020 8567 3453
A local stalwart for almost 20 years, the independent Pitshanger Bookshop on Pitshanger Lane is the local’s choice for finding a page-turning new read. Run by friendly, knowledgable staff and filled with a wide selection of different genres, it’s practically impossible to leave here without a stack of new paperbacks just waiting to be read.
Address: 141 Pitshanger Ln, London W5 1RH
Phone:020 8991 8131
Come Saturday morning, the normally subdued Leeland Road is transformed into a feast for the senses with a well-stocked farmers market filled with products and produce. Treat yourself to foodstuffs such as fragrant cheeses from the Bath Soft Cheese Company, a selection of crustaceans from the Hand Picked Shellfish Company, or even a squirrel from Ixhill Farm!
Address: Leeland Rd, London W13 9HH
Phone:020 7833 0338
Things to do in Ealing London
This historic cricket club has been in use since the 1870s, but it’s worth a visit even if you’re not a fan of this traditional game - they hold a popular themed fireworks display every November which sees locals flock to the fields for a glimpse. Come down early to enjoy the mulled wine and food stalls before all the action!
Address: Corfton Rd, London W5 2HS
Phone: 020 8997 1858
Ealing has become renowned for its brilliant summer festivals, which run every year from June until August in Walpole Park. There are individual festivals dedicated to celebrating everything from Jazz and Blues to the wonders of beer, so keep your eyes peeled on the online announcements and book yourself a ticket ASAP.
Address: Walpole Park, Ealing, London, W5
Founded in 1929, The Questors Theatre is one of the larges amateur theatres in the whole of Europe, and manages to put on a staggering 15-20 productions every year. Make a night of it and finish up your evening with a post-performance drink at the lively Grapevine Bar afterwards.
Address: 12 Mattock Ln, London W5 5BQ
Phone: 020 8567 0011
Main image credit: Karen Bryan