We’ve driven past the sign for Chiswick House on the A4 for years and always wondered what it was like. So finally – on August Bank Holiday Monday – we took the turning and went to explore.
Before we’d managed to get near the house, the children spotted the little playground and Matt spotted the gorgeous cafe and the promise of coffee. We therefore stopped immediately and let the children have a run around. They loved clambering on the massive logs under the ancient trees and over the climbing frames which blended into the landscape perfectly.
Recharged with coffee (from the beautiful RIBA award-winning cafe building), we used our English Heritage cards to head into the house for a quick look. It’s a gorgeous 18th century villa, inspired by Italian architectural influences and has been really carefully restored to give a glimpse of the past.
I’d like to have a slower walk around one day without the kids, as they were desperate to get outside and check out the gardens – so we went at quite a pace! The introductory film looked really interesting, but Alex and Sophie wouldn’t sit still! Instead, we whizzed around the beautiful rooms trying to ensure the kids didn’t touch anything! What we did see was spectacular – the ceilings especially were worth a look. Love these snaps of my pair checking them out:
The decoration was so vivid – especially the velvet wallpaper in the rooms upstairs. Not quite what I’d choose, but perfect in the space! I’m so glad there was a panel of the paper that the children could feel as it was so tempting to stroke the walls!
With the house ticked off the list (albeit far too quickly!), we headed out into the huge gardens armed with a walking route from the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust. First stop was the lake and cascade – a three arch waterfall structure designed by William Kent in 1736, who took his inspiration from Italian Renaissance gardens.
The children loved the waterfall and tried to get as close as they could without getting sprayed.
We then wandered along the lake passing the house and a small ionic template.
Of course the children were more interested in the opportunities for climbing trees along the way!
We spent a while on the beautiful classic bridge, which was built by the fifth Duke of Devonshire so he could better enjoy the views of the lake and grounds – and he was right, the views were lovely!
We stopped for a few family poses on the bridge before finding a quite spot for a picnic together.
After lunch, we walked back towards the house, stopping to look at the otherside of the 18th century ionic temple and obelisk.
After the lovely, dense woodland of “The Wilderness” section of the garden, it was a lovely surprise to find the glorious Italian Gardens. The colours were so vivid. Sophie loved searching for bees amongst the flowers.
She was hard to spot running around the purple flowers in her purple dress!
Above the gardens was the huge conservatory which houses the country’s oldest collection of camellias.
The conservatory roof was striking and Sophie and I sat for a while looking at the beautiful blue sky through the dome.
We had one more run around the gardens before heading to the car. I know we’ll be back soon – there are parts of the garden we didn’t make it too, and I’d love to see how the space changes with the seasons. It’s always such a pleasure to find such green places in the capital.