I really enjoyed my trip out to Chiswick House and Gardens. If I'd been better prepared I would have combined it with a visit to Hogarth's House or a walk along the river, but the house and gardens have plenty to occupy you for a few hours. I was particularly interested in the house because it has been recently restored and it is one of the great examples of English Palladium architecture. Having spent a few days in the Veneto exploring Palladio's sixteenth century originals it's always fun to see how long his ideas tool to take hold in England and to follow neo-Palladianism here.
As you can see I approached the house through the beautiful formal gardens.It really was a glorious day! As you can see the classical theme is followed through into the urns in the grounds.
There were also a number of Egyptian style sphinx-like statues in the garden which have now been brought indoors for their conservation.
The house was built by the cultured and literary figure Lord Burlington who also built the Burlington Arcade and Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) on Piccadilly. He worked closely with William Kent who painted a number of the ceilings here and the painted staircase at Kensington Palace. I was very sorry to have missed last year's exhibit on Kent's career as an architect and designer at the Victoria and Albert. You can find further details here. This is a portrait of William Kent by William Aikman from the National Portrait Gallery.
The house we see today is what remains of the original structure. It was built as an entertainment space that was supplemental to an existing home and it isn't particularly large. Several additional wings were added and have since been removed. English Heritage undertook an extensive restoration, the house had experience more than a century of decline and had been used as government offices and a mental institution at various times. They have restored the building and begun to refurnish the interior which now includes quite a number of paintings on loan. The entrance includes an excellent audio guide which I highly recommend.
Here plans for the house are laid out on a desk in the study...
The house was designed to look out onto the lake and gardens and a classical form was maintained throughout. Completed in 1729, this was an entertainment pavilion for Lord Burlington who hosted artistic figures such as Alexander Pope and Handel as well as society figures such as Georgina, the infamous Duchess of Devonshire. Lord Burlington also displayed his pictures and kept his library in the house. The reception rooms are on the 'piano nobile' or first floor and the are arranged around a central domed room
More of the classical influence in the gardens.
The house is a delight from several angles and it is well worth walking right around it.
The gardens are extensive and well used by local families.
There is a beautiful glass conservatory which is open daily.I didn't give the gardens enough time on this trip but I look forward to returning on a day when the walled kitchen garden is open.
TIP: It takes the better part of half an hour to walk from the to the house through the suburban streets of desirable Chiswick. Turnham Green on the District Line is the nearest Underground station. Just before you get to the house you have to cross a major road via an subway so look out for that. As always I used the City Mapper app which gets me all over the city with no problems. Here's a delightful doorway I passed along the way.
Chiswick House is an Art Fund property, entrance and the audio guide are free to National Art Pass holders.
Boston Manor is another house you can visit in this area though I must admit I hadn't heard of it. Now it's on the list, probably for another trip!