One of London’s finest country homes is only a few miles west of central London. Chiswick House was the centre of highly select gatherings of the Earl of Burlington’s family and friends in the 1730’s. And around fifty years later it served the same purpose for the Duke of Devonshire and his sparkling (very ‘modern’) wife the Duchess of Devonshire. (If you’ve watched ‘The Duchess’ with Keira Knightley, you’ll know the story…).
Lord Burlington period
The house was built in 1729 by Lord Burlington and his protégé William Kent – it caused a sensation, drawing on neo-classical designs of the Palladian style.
Today, you can visit the rooms and see paintings and furniture that have remained in situ since the 1750’s. Visit the ‘Tribunal’, ‘Gallery’ and assorted ‘Velvet Rooms’ – chosen to display Burlington’s finest paintings.
Duke of Devonshire period
Lord Burlington died in 1753 and the estate passed by marriage to the Duke of Devonshire. Chiswick House complemented the Duke of Devonshire’s mansion in central London (called Devonshire House and located above the site of Green Park tube station today). The house was home to a vast collection of art and antiquities belonging to the Duke. From the 1860’s Chiswick House was let and some of the valuables were moved to Chatsworth House (the family seat).
Remembering the Devonshire family, the original gates to Chiswick House are located opposite Green Park station today.
William Kent’s gardens are extensive and free to visit. Highlights include the staggeringly beautiful Orange Tree Garden (1727), with a miniature Pantheon and The ‘Exedra’; designed to show off Burlington’s collection of ancient sculptures.
Visit Chiswick House
Chiswick House and gardens came into public ownership in 1929 and today is under the care of English Heritage. See link below for more details:
Visit another historic home, from a century earlier! See link below: