Osterley Park

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Osterley House
Osterley Park House, London-25June2009-rc.jpg
Coordinates51°29′21.75″N 00°21′07.14″W / 51.4893750°N 0.3519833°W / 51.4893750; -0.3519833Coordinates: 51°29′21.75″N 00°21′07.14″W / 51.4893750°N 0.3519833°W / 51.4893750; -0.3519833
AreaLondon Borough of Hounslow
ArchitectRobert Adam
OwnerNational Trust
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameOsterley House
Designated21 May 1973
Reference no.1080308
Osterley Park is located in London Borough of Hounslow
Osterley Park
Location of Osterley House in London Borough of Hounslow

Osterley Park and House is a Georgian country estate in west London,[1] that lays across the London boroughs of Ealing and Houslow.[2][3] Originally dating from the 1570s, the estate contains a number of Grade I and II listed buildings, with the park listed as Grade II*.[4] The main house was remodelled by Robert Adam between 1761 and 1765,[3] with the National Trust, taking charge of Osterley in 1991. The house and park are open to visitors.



The original building on this site was a manor house built in the 1570s for banker Sir Thomas Gresham, who purchased the manor of Osterley in 1562.[5] The "faire and stately brick house" was completed in 1576. It is known that Queen Elizabeth visited.[6] The stable block from this period remains at Osterley Park. Gresham was so wealthy he also bought the neighbouring Manor of Boston in 1572.

Child and Adam[edit]

A design for one of the walls of the Estruscan dressing room at Osterley Park by Robert Adam.

Two hundred years later the manor house was falling into disrepair, when, as the result of a mortgage default, it came into the ownership of Sir Francis Child, the founder of Child's Bank. In 1761 Sir Francis's grandsons, Francis and Robert, employed Scottish architect Robert Adam, who was just emerging as one of the most fashionable architects in Britain, to remodel the house. When Francis died in 1763, the project was taken up by his brother and heir Robert Child, for whom the interiors were created.

The house is of red brick with white stone details and is approximately square, with turrets in the four corners. Adam's design, which incorporates some of the earlier structure, is highly unusual, and differs greatly in style from the original construction. One side is left almost open and is spanned by an Ionic pedimented screen which is approached by a broad flight of steps and leads to a central courtyard, which is at piano nobile level.

Adam's neoclassical interiors are among his most notable sequences of rooms. Horace Walpole described the drawing room as "worthy of Eve before the fall."[citation needed] The rooms are characterised by elaborate but restrained plasterwork, rich, highly varied colour schemes, and a degree of coordination between decor and furnishings unusual in English neoclassical interiors. Notable rooms include the entrance hall, which has large semi-circular alcoves at each end, and the Etruscan dressing room, which Adam said was inspired by the Etruscan vases in Sir William Hamilton's collection, illustrations of which had recently been published. Adam also designed some of the furniture, including the opulent domed state bed, still in the house.

Osterley Park from the air
Garden House

After Child[edit]

Robert Child's only daughter, Sarah Anne Child, married John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland in 1782. When Child died two months later, his will placed his vast holdings, including Osterley, in trust for any second-to-be born grandchild. This proved to be Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, who was born in 1785.

Lady Sarah Fane married George Villiers in 1804, and having children, the estate passed into the Villiers family. In 1819, George changed the family surname to Child-Villiers.

Child's passing of his holdings to Lady Sarah Fane bypassed any dealing with John Fane, his son-in-law. Such a right to dealings would have arisen if he had given his daughter more than a life interest, under the then still live doctrine of coverture. This was because Fane eloped with his daughter, Sarah, to Gretna Green on the basis of lack of bride's father's consent which was expected for such an aristocrat, as Child desired a non-noble pairing with someone willing to take and ensure continuation of his own surname.[7]

Home Guard Training Establishment[edit]

The grounds of Osterley Park were used for the training of the first members of the Local Defence Volunteers (forerunners of the Home Guard) when the 9th Earl, a friend of publisher Sir Edward Hulton, allowed writer and military journalist Captain Tom Wintringham to establish the first Home Guard training school (which Hulton sponsored) at the park in May/June 1940, teaching the theory and practice of modern mechanical warfare, guerilla warfare techniques and using the estate workers' homes, then scheduled for demolition, to teach street fighting techniques.[8] Painter Roland Penrose taught camouflaging here, an extension of work he had developed with the paintbrush in avant-garde paintings to protect the modesty of his lover, Elizabeth 'Lee' Miller (married to Aziz E. Bey).[9] Maj. Wilfred Vernon taught the art of mixing home-made explosives, and his explosives store can still be seen at the rear of the house, while Canadian Bert "Yank" Levy, who had served under Wintringham in the Spanish Civil War taught knife fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Despite winning world fame in newsreels and newspaper articles around the world (particularly in the US), the school was disapproved of by the War Office and Winston Churchill, and was taken over in September 1940. Closed in 1941, its staff and courses were reallocated to other newly opened War Office-approved Home Guard schools.[8]

Postwar history[edit]

George Child Villiers, 9th Earl of Jersey, opened Osterley to the public in 1939 after having received many requests to see its historic interior.[10] The Earl justified his decision by saying that it was "sufficient answer that he did not live in it and that many others wished to see it" – 12,000 people visited the house in its first month of opening.[10] A series of exhibitions of artworks by living artists were staged by the Earl in the top-floor rooms to contrast with the 18th-century interiors on the ground floor.[10] Though it never came to fruition, the Earl planned to create an arboretum in the grounds.[10]

After the Second World War, the Earl approached Middlesex County Council who had shown interest in buying the estate, but eventually decided to give the house and its park to the National Trust.[10] The furniture was sold to the Victoria & Albert Museum.[10] The 9th Earl moved to the island of Jersey in 1947, taking many pictures from Osterley's collection with him.[10] Some were destroyed in a warehouse fire on the island soon after.[10] The Earl assisted the Ministry of Works and V&A in their restoration of the house to its present late 18th-century state.[10]

The National Trust took charge of Osterley in 1991. The house enjoys loans and gifts from Lord Jersey including items of silver, porcelain, furniture and miniatures.[10] The trust commissioned portraits of Lord Jersey and his wife by Howard J. Morgan – which hang upstairs.[10] In 2014 a ten-year loan to Osterley of portraits of the Child family was arranged by William Villiers, 10th Earl of Jersey, the present Earl.[11] Portraits included in 2014 loan include Allan Ramsay's portrait of Francis Child (1758), and George Romney's portrait of Francis's brother, Robert.[11]

The house and small formal gardens are open to the public. They account for 30,000 paying visitors per year. Many hundreds of thousands of visitors walk the footpaths and enjoy the woodland of the surrounding park at no cost per year.[12] The park is the site of a weekly 5k Parkrun.[13]

The house saw its latest restoration from 2018 to 2021. This repaired structural deterioration and discolouring of the external brickwork.

In popular culture[edit]

Hercules stands in the entrance hall


  • The house featured in several ITC series in the 1960s and 70s, including an episode of The Saint entitled "The Angel's Eye" starring Roger Moore, and an episode of The Persuaders! called "The Morning After" which also starred Moore, alongside Tony Curtis.
  • Osterley Park was originally proposed as the setting (and location) for the 1973 Doctor Who serial Day of the Daleks. The name was changed to "Auderley" in the finished programme, and was renamed "Austerley" in the novel of the serial. The location eventually used was Dropmore Park in Buckinghamshire.
  • The entrance hall of the house also appeared as a room in an upmarket central London hotel in the denouement of the 2007 ITV adaptation of At Bertram's Hotel.
  • Osterley Park was used as the home of billionaire Sir Peter Maxwell, for the 2006 TV pilot, 'Maxwell: Inside the Empire'.
  • Episodes of ChuckleVision were filmed in Osterley Park.
  • Many of the Horrible Histories episodes were filmed in Osterley House and Gardens.
  • Osterley Park was used as a filming location for the 2020 Amazon Prime adaptation of Alex Rider. The house was portrayed as "Friend Hall".




Video games[edit]

  • Osterley Park House is one of the possible burglary targets in the 1994 game The Clue!.


See also[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]


  1. ^ "Osterley Park and House". National Trust. National Trust. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Osterley Park (Grade II*) (1000287)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Historic England. "Osterley House (Grade I) (1080308)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Historic England - Championing England's heritage | Historic England". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  5. ^ Hardy, John; Tomlin, Maurice (1985). Osterley Park House. London: Victoria and Albert Museum. ISBN 0948107146.
  6. ^ Nichols, John (2014). John Nichols's The progresses and public processions of Queen Elizabeth I (A new of the early modern sources ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom. ISBN 9780199551422.
  7. ^ Greeves, Lydia (2008). Houses of the National Trust : outstanding buildings of Britain. London: National Trust. ISBN 978-1-905400-66-9.: 238 
  8. ^ a b Tom Wintringham (History Learning Site) accessed 29 Jan 2008
  9. ^ Newark, Tim Now you see it... Now You Don't, (March 2007) History Today
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Anthea Palmer (24 August 1998). "Obituary: The Earl of Jersey". The Independent. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b Maev Kennedy (26 February 2014). "Osterley Park welcomes home its family portraits". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Strategis - Osterley". Strategis. Archived from the original on 29 July 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Parkrun - Osterley". Parkrun. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  14. ^ 73 Like27 Dislike0 28 May 2011 by B. Alan Orange (28 May 2011). "The Dark Knight Rises". Movieweb.com. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Where Was Rebecca Filmed? Your Guide To Manderley | Netflix - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  16. ^ Elizabeth, Mary; riotis (22 October 2020). "You Can Visit These Houses From Netflix's "Rebecca"". House Beautiful. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  17. ^ Desowitz, Bill (23 October 2020). "In Netflix Remake 'Rebecca,' Manderley Is the Most Essential Character". IndieWire. Retrieved 6 November 2020.


External links[edit]