Syon House – London’s last great ducal residence

Syon House, near Brentford, is home of the Percys, Dukes of Northumberland.   It sits in a 200 acre estate on the River Thames in Middlesex.

The house we see today was built by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset in 1547, refurbished and enhanced by the Scottish architect Robert Adam in the 1760’s and refaced in Bath stone by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland in the 1840’s.

Syon became the sole London residence of the Percys when Northumberland House in central London was demolished in 1874.   At that time the priceless Stuart period furniture and portraits were moved to Syon.   The house rarely gets too busy and the room guides will explain any aspects of Syon House, its rooms and the history of the Percy family in British nobility.

By train, Syon is a short journey from London’s Waterloo station to Brentford and then a twenty minute walk.

Syon House
The west front of Syon House, refaced with Bath Stone in the 1840’s. Underneath the honey coloured stone is the original brick building, built by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, uncle to young King Edward VI and Protector of the Realm.  The house and estate returned to Crown control shortly after the execution of Somerset.  Queen Elizabeth I granted the lease of Syon to Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland in 1594.
King Henry VIII body exploded
The undercroft of Syon House is all that remains of the early monastery built on the site in 1431 and annexed by King Henry VIII in 1534.  Queen Catherine Howard was detained at Syon before her execution.   King Henry’s body ‘exploded’ (from a build-up of intestinal gases) in this undercroft whilst ‘at rest’ on its way to Windsor (from Westminster).
The Great Hall, designed by Robert Adam
The Great Hall, designed by Robert Adam, based on a Roman Basilica, completed in 1769.
The Ante Room with its marble Ionic columns
The Ante Room with its marble Ionic columns. The statue (centre) is ‘The Dying Gaul’ by Luigi Valadier.



The Dining Room used for occasions of state


Lady Jane Grey
The Print Room, hanging works relating to Syon’s Tudor history along with seventeenth and eighteenth century family portraits. (It was at Syon House that Lady Jane Grey was offered the Crown and began her short reign – owing to the passing of Syon from Edward Seymour to John Dudley, Lady Jane Grey’s father-in-law).  (Upon Dudley’s execution Syon reverted to the Crown)


King Charles I
The Red Drawing Room. This was intended as the Gentlemen’s withdrawing room. The room displays many priceless Stuart portraits – including this one (centre) of King Charles I and his son James (the future King James II).  (During a Plague of London in 1646, three of Charles I’s children were taken to Syon to escape the pestilence)
The Long Gallery, intended as the ladies withdrawing room, along with furniture from with the Adam period (1765-75)
Percy family photographs are featured in The Long Gallery
The internal courtyard of Syon House
The Great Conservatory at Syon Park
The Great Conservatory designed by Charles Fowler and completed in 1827.  It was the centrepiece of the gardens designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (over a twenty year period from 1760).   The technologically advanced glass dome and cupola is said to have inspired Joseph Paxton (designer of the 1851 Crystal Palace)
The design of the Great Conservatory permitted high levels of natural light. It was heated by an advanced system using four miles of piping. The plants grown in the Great Conservatory were often the latest discoveries from the far-reaches of the known world.
The Monastery Barn is the oldest building on the site dating from the fourteenth century Bridgettine Abbey, dissolved in 1534 by King Henry VIII.  Today, it is used for storage by the Syon Park Garden Centre. (The roof and windows are modern).

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