There should be a law passed declaring that all historic houses and gardens must be visited at the end of sunny days, and as near to twilight as possible. There is a magic in dappling sun as it beams lazily through tree boughs that can’t quite be put into words. Especially in the beautiful Chiswick House and Gardens grounds.
Chiswick House is a magnificent neo-Palladian villa set in beautiful historic gardens in west London. The house and grounds were created by two Georgian trendsetters, the architect and designer William Kent and his friend and patron Lord Burlington, the third Earl. Influenced by their travels on the Grand Tour, they rejected the showy, Baroque style, fashionable in England, in favour of a simpler, symmetrical design based on the classical architecture of Italy. They championed the work of the Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio and Chiswick House was one of the earliest English examples of what is called “neo-Palladian” style.
We only ever seem to visit near dusk; both intentionally and accidentally, and it makes such a difference when exploring the grounds. One almost expects to see young Victorian ladies appear, wearing demure bustles, talking soft gossip and holding a parasol over their shoulders. (Or perhaps I’ve been reading too many Jane Austin novels and watching too much Doctor Who.)
Dogs appear, chasing sticks, shadows and balls around the grassy knolls, woofing excitingly to their human pack/owners, placing their paws on daisy speckled rolling lawns.
Lovers sit on the park benches, alternating between being deep in conversation and checking their social media channels.
Families picnic on the shoulder of the man-made lake, their kids whizzing around the paths, tumbling over one another in their excitement.
Blossoms unfurl quietly to an explosion of colour, aided by local bees buzzing from between buds.
Stone hewn sphinxes guard priceless art.
Teacups tinkle in the extremely modern cafe tucked just around the corner of a leafy part of the garden.
Topiary animals threaten to stampede, but never quite leaf their guard points. (Sorry not sorry.)
Local fowl flock to their snoozing spots.
Random blog-addicted Kiwis sometimes lurk around corners, camera in hand, hoping to catch just a little of that Chiswick House beauty.
Surrounding the Chiswick House beautiful villa, there are 65 acres of gardens, from classical vistas to ponds, fountains and an 18th-century wilderness that needs to be explored. The first time we visited years ago, was when Geocaching was all the rage, and I try to sneak us back there (often for the events – including the annual Chinese lantern festival) as often as possible.
Do you have a favourite historic house & gardens?
< Pin for later London adventures >