Saturday, 24 August 2013

Syon Park and House

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland - by Caneletto
We used to lived just down the road from the Duke of Northumberland's Alnwick castle, which most famously took the starring role of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. Not so familiar is Syon Park and House, the London home of the Dukes of Northumberland for over 400 years. Having said that it has featured in numerous films, and TV historical dramas - The Madness of King George, The Wings of the Dove, Emma, The Avengers, Gosford Park, Love in a Cold Climate, to name but a few. It sits in its own parkland literally across the River Thames from Kew Gardens, and when visiting it is hard to believe that it is barely 10 miles from central London.
Syon House
When we left Strawberry Hill ( previous post) we travelled on to Syon House. No interior photographs were allowed in the house, these are via their website.
The 1st Duke and Duchess were determined to make their mark on Syon Park and instructed Robert Adam, the Scottish Architect to completely redesign the interior of the house. Adams refurbished the house in the Neo-classical style, and it is said that at Syon the Adam style was actually initiated. The house is feted as Adam's earliest English masterpiece.
The Great Hall was based on a Roman Basilica - Adam's aim was to create a palace of Græco-Roman splendour to welcome the Duke's guests.
Opposite the entrance door to the Great Hall is another doorway leading out into an enclosed courtyard.
Leading from the Great Hall, the Ante Room is in great contrast. Decorated in a rich riot of coloured marble and statues of gilded gods supported on antique green marble coloumns which look down on the scagliola floor.
The ceiling of the Red Drawing Room has 239 medallions painted by Cipriani. The room also houses a very rare survival, an Adam designed carpet, signed and dated by the maker Thomas Moore in 1769. Crimson silk from Spitalfields makes a rich backdrop. The silk probably having been made by the Huguenots who fled from France at the end of the 17th century into the 18th century. It is possible to just make out a Sir Peter Lely painting of King Charles l and his second son, the Duke of York.
King Henry Vlll - by Hans Holbein the Younger
There is a rather gory story about King Henry Vlll connected with Syon House. In 1547, the King's coffin was brought to Syon on its way to Windsor for burial. It burst open during the night and in the morning dogs were found licking up the remains!!! This was regarded as a divine judgement for the King's desecration of Syon Abbey.
Adam's genius is revealed in this 136ft Long Gallery. Its original Jacobean wood panelling was replaced by delicate plasterwork and "finished in a style to afford variety and amusement" especially for the ladies. From the eleven windows there is a wonderful view over the last tidal water-meadow on the river Thames.

The 200 acres of parkland were designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown over 20 years from 1750. There are 40 acres of gardens and an ornamental lake. However, the crowning glory of the gardens is the Great Conservatory. The 3rd Duke commissioned Charles Fowler to build it in 1826, the first of its kind to be built out of gunmetal, Bath stone and glass. This conservatory inspired Joseph Paxton in his designs for the Crystal Palace.

57 comments:

  1. When I lived in London, a very good friend of mine lived next to Syon Park. I never visited Syon House ! I always find there isn't the same urgency to do things when you actually live somewhere and it is a shame. Thanks for the beautiful post !

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    1. I know how you feel, I have done exactly the same myself. Sometimes it is can be because of other commitments and finance plays its part too.
      I regret that we did not do more exploring when we lived in Scotland, but my husband was a Research Student, and we lived on my income. Not much spare cash at the time, but I am now trying to make amends.

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  2. Quite magnificent, the conservatory too.

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    1. The conservatory is incredibly beautiful and in wonderful condition.
      I have just noticed the first two avatar comments on this post - a 'silver bunny' and a'rusty duck', how lovely is that.

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  3. How beautiful. The colours are so lovely, would be excellent to see in person. Maybe one day :)

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    1. Hope that you do have the chance - as you say one day.

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  4. Beautiful richly decorated interiors and gorgeous gardens. Your photos of the Conservatory both from outside and inside are excellent. I enjoyed your post on Strawberry Hill very much too. So many beautiful and historic places to visit in England.

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    1. I think that since I have been doing this blog it has brought home to me how many historic places there are here. I can only skim the surface. Glad you enjoyed Strawberry Hill too.

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  5. Your wonderful photos make me regret that I never visited Syon House when I lived in London. I lived just along the Thames, too! The Conservatory is fabulous. I would also love to see Alnwick; it has long been on my list of places to visit.

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    1. We were quite fortunate to live in Northumberland when our sons were growing up - it is a great county for wide open spaces, deserted beaches and forests, so ideal for young boys to explore.
      We had a place in London at one stage, and I didn't visit then either - had to travel up from Gloucestershire to see Syon House and Strawberry Hill - I should have done them when I lived nearer.

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  6. What a beautiful post Rosemary.
    The Castle´s are verry greogious,and the rooms are nice too.
    I love the building with the glass roof...amazing.
    Thank you for youre nice words on my blog.

    Have a nice weekend,
    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Dear Inge - so pleased that you enjoyed seeing the beautiful conservatory with is exquisite glass dome. It is surprising to think that it is almost 200 years old.

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  7. Wow, it looks wonderful. I haven't visited for years and your photos make me realise that they have done it up a lot since I was last there. Must pay it another visit. I didn't realise Canaletto had painted Alnwick, what a marvellous picture. I have an idea it doesn't look quite like that any more - am I right?

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    1. I think that Canaletto's painting is rather romanticised - if you put Alnwick Castle into Google Street view it is possible to see a 360º view of the castle.
      Syon Park and House is well worth a visit - they have a wonderful garden centre selling unusual plants which also has an excellent restaurant.

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  8. Such a lovely building and garden! Once again you have a very beautiful post and pictures. Thank you for showing that wonderful place for us! Happy weekend, Rosemary!

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    1. Thank you Satu so pleased that you enjoyed seeing Syon House and its grounds. It is a lovely place to visit and as I mentioned to Jenny (comment above) it has a garden centre selling very unusual plants.

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  9. What a place. This is a not a normal house. Looks like a dream.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. It is the home of a Duke and Duchess.

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  10. What a beautiful house Syon house is Rosemary! I like it's Neo Classical style and the impressive garden. Especially the courtyard appeals to me very much. I like the white theme. The great conservatory is very appealing as well.

    I think I will have to put Syon house and gardens on my list of places to go to, when I visit the UK next year.

    Wishing you a happy Sunday!

    Madelief x

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    1. I think that you would like to see Syon House and the beautiful conservatory. It is best to check the website first as I seem to recall that it is only open 3 days per week. You could combine it with a trip to Kew Gardens across the river. Strawberry Hill my previous post is nearby as is the wonderful Palladian villa Chiswick House.

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  11. I've been here and it's lovely and so full of history which I adore. It was years ago before I took up photography so now I need to go back again. Your photos are stunning Rosemary.
    Patricia x

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    1. Do return Patricia - it is a special oasis so close to London. I don't know whether they had a garden centre last time you visited, but it has a wonderful selection of unusual plants, and a very good restaurant too.

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  12. What an exquisitely beautiful place is Syon House, Rosemary. Does the Duke of Northumberland still live there when in London? The Great Hall particularly appeals to me, as so calming and beautiful, and the Conservatory and park must be amazing too. Thank you for showing it, and I too hope I can see it one day.

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    1. Dear Patricia - it is still the Duke's London home, in fact I seem to recall that the house is only open 3 days a week. He also still lives in Alnwick Castle. It is all very beautiful and well maintained - the conservatory is very special.

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  13. Everything is beautiful in the Hpuse and the gardens in the park. The Duke has an awesome collection of paintings, furniture and art. Then the Conservatory is magnificent! The plants and flowers are just so beautifully blooming. Does the Duke of Northumberland still own this property? Do they still live there? I hope so. Have a wonderful weekend. Pamela

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    1. Dear Pamela - several people have wondered whether he still lives there, and yes, he does. It is such a short journey from London, but I think many people miss out on visiting it because there are so many other places of interest within London itself. It would be possible to combine a trip there with a visit to Kew Gardens just across the river.

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  14. Syron House, so beautiful. Never visited this place but keep it in mind when we are next time in England. The conservatory especially is of an outstanding beauty.

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    1. Hope that you will have the opportunity to visit Syon House, it is very close to London and also Kew Gardens.

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  15. Seeing this so soon after my visit to the Duke's Northumberland home, has been lovely. I grew up in London and knew about Syon House, but never visited. Another place on the must visit list. Jx

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    1. Dear Janice - when I lived in Northumberland I was unaware that Syon House belonged to them. They certainly own two magnificent properties. There is an excellent garden centre at Syon and I suspect it is because of the Duchesses great love of gardens and flowers.

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  16. Dear Rosemary, Thank you for introducing us to yet another beautiful Country estate. I have always admired Robert Adams and his classic designs. Adams had a way of incorporating beauty and splendor in a way that no other architect was capable of designing. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - this post might never have appeared if it had not been for Erika jogging my memory. I visited Strawberry Hill and Syon just before I started blogging so they were both put on the back burner.
      I have known the work of Robert Adam all my life having lived very close to one of his remarkable buildings as a child. Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire was designed inside and out by him even down to bridges, and garden follies within the parklands. I really ought to try and find time to visit the house again.

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  17. I have never been there, Rosemary, though it is very close to us. Must make an appointment and go along!

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    1. You probably spotted the house across the river from Kew gardens - hope you manage a visit Kate.

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  18. what a tour! thanks forthis, I feel like a royalty now...happy eve+good new week!

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    1. It certainly is a rather stately house, and the grounds are lovely. Nice to hear from you Jana.

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  19. I wish I could live somewhere as pretty as this. I love the fountains. :)

    From: Bea Cupcake

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    1. Who knows what the future might hold for you Bea♥

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  20. The house is perhaps a bit overwhelming, but I love that conservatory. Conservatories can't help but be elegant considering their architecture and function. Too bad so many of them have been lost over time, but I guess that more have survived in England, where they were more in fashion.

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    1. Hello Jim - you are right about the fashion for conservatories, and we are still big on them today, everyone likes to have one attached to their house. I have one myself and we really love sitting in it surrounded by our plants. However, the one at Syon is spectacular with its pool filled with water lilies, and that wonderful breathtaking dome.

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  21. Wonderful Pictures...like it very mutch...greets Erwin

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    1. Thank you Erwin - I am pleased that you enjoyed the post, nice to hear from you.

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  22. I've often seen pictures of the exterior of Syon House, but here you give a great impression of its magnificent interior, Rosemary. I remember seeing a very interesting edition of Time Team in which the team investigated the mediaeval remains of Syon Abbey and their relationship to the present house.

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    1. I didn't see that Time Team programme but did know that they had been doing some archaeology on the Abbey remains. You would never realise that it was so close to London with its extensive grounds and then the river flowing by.

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  23. It looks rather magnificant. It's good that you found some pictures on the net to round of you're blog - I sometimes think that you should be allowed to take pictures but to be honest, it's not really my house and it wouldn't half slow a guided tour down. Another place for my ever growing list of things to see.

    :) Just noticed the Winnie the Pooh quote below.

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    1. Dear Sandy - thank you for your visit and comment. The NT have recently decided to allow photographs in their properties except when the owners are still living there, and the possessions do not belong to the NT which is understandable.
      It is a lovely house and the grounds with the conservatory are well worth a visit. We really are spoilt for choice in Britain.

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  24. Only 10 miles from central London? I'm definitely visiting Syon this October!! Heading for the Great Conservatory first. Just magnificent!! Beautiful photos, Rosemary. I really enjoyed this tour.

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    1. When you see the Great Conservatory you will one want too Loi, it is beautiful, and the dome is perfection, but how do they clean it?

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  25. I have heard about Syon House but never visited there, it looks a wonderful building despite the gory story! The conservatory is breathtaking beautiful.Sarah x

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    1. Yes, the gory story does not leave much to the imagination does it? So many wonderful places to visit, so little time, we can only scratch the surface.

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  26. Dear Rosemary,Syron House is so beautiful!!
    Lovely gardens and park!!Great historical place!
    Wonderful pictures as always!!Thank you for sharing all those informations about the house!!Have a lovely week!!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi - Syon House is in a lovely setting beside the River Thames, a great place to visit. Glad you enjoyed seeing it, and thank you for your visit.

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  27. We attended a wedding reception in a marquee in the grounds some 15 or so years ago. I do miss visits to London these days, but we shall be going down to Kingston to the theatre on Saturday to see a grandson's performance at the Rose. Sadly it will be a flying visit, but would love to return one day to that area of London to see where my 17th century ancestors, the Wests, are buried in Twickenham Church. So much history and beauty, not to mention the draw of River Thames, there for me and other lovers of art, architecture and the stories of London's heritage.

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    1. What a wonderful place to hold a wedding Linda - hope you have a lovely time when you visit at the weekend and see your grandson performing at the Rose.
      You must try and return for a few days sometime with a list of things to do apart from, of course, visiting Twickenham Church. It is a good area, and not necessary to head into London at all - another of my favourite places is Palladian Chiswick House.

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    2. Chiswick House sounds wonderful and it would be a dream to see some Palladian architecture! Yes, looking forward to the weekend and the possibility of one day returning to the area with a visit to Twickenham. An excuse to explore some other interesting churchyards and historical sites as I believe my ancestors have been reinterred elsewhere!

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  28. Hello, rosemary. Differently colored each room has its own splendor and beauty, but I’m so attracted by the Red Drawing Room. Interiors can’t be imagined enough just by seeing the outside, so thank you for inserting the interior photos. Conservatory is so beautiful, looks like a cathedral of nature to me due to the glass dome. You always take my breath away with your photography, rosemary.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - lovely to have you back and do hope that you had an enjoyable break. Thank you for your very kind and generous comment. Syon is a wonderful house, steeped in history. I like your description for the Great Conservatory, it was such a pleasure to wander in, enjoying its ambience and the flowers.

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