Churches, Statues, Stately Homes and An Ice House

Gillian Clegg highlights some of Chiswick's amazing attractions and their history

Local History Related Links

Historical Homes, Eminent Establishments and Renowned Residents

From Tommy Cooper to William Butler Yeats - Gillian Clegg On Some of Chiswick's Most Noted Residents

What's in a name? - Gillian Clegg On Derivations of Chiswick's Street Names

The History of Chiswick

The Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society


This article has been reproduced with kind the permission of Open Chiswick - a project of the Thames Strategy – Kew to Chelsea’s Chiswick Heritage Working Party. Their aim is to further reveal Chiswick's compelling natural, social and built environment – thus re-weaving its past and current heritage.

Open Chiswick runs for the entire month of September in 2007 and includes activities for all the family. Details can be found on

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The arrival of the railways saw an explosion of new housing developments in London's suburbs. Bedford Park was one such development, but it was one of the most innovative since, unlike most others, its houses were designed by well-known architects; its layout was informal and leafy and its public buildings and activities generated a strong sense of community. The red-brick avant garde architecture made a refreshing change from Gothic and stucco, and its semi-rural feel led to Bedford Park being acknowledged as the prototype of later garden suburbs.

Bedford Park was developed by Jonathan Carr, a woollen merchant turned property speculator, as affordable housing for middle class people with a taste for art and interior decoration. The site's location was determined by its proximity to Turnham Green Station (opened in 1869), and by family ties - Carr's father-in-law lived in Bedford House, South Parade. In 1875 Carr bought land belonging to his father-in-law and land nearby.

Carr's first architect was EW Godwin, the lover of actress Ellen Terry and an architect with good aesthetic credentials, but the houses built to his two designs came in for criticism and in 1877 Carr replaced him with the distinguished R Norman Shaw who is the architect really responsible for the character of Bedford Park. Shaw was succeeded by his assistant E J May in 1880. Other architects involved were the firm of Coe and Robinson, William Wilson and local resident Maurice B.Adams.
Carr's vision for Bedford Park was the creation of a self-contained community. He commissioned public buildings such as St Michael and All Angels Church, the Bedford Park Club, the Chiswick School of Art and the Tabard Inn. Bedford Park also had its own stores, schools, its own magazine (for just over a year), a voluntary fire brigade and a Vigilance Committee which negotiated matters with the local councils. A lively little community, with an air of `cozy comfort' grew up in Bedford Park with social life centred on the Bedford Park Club. The estate became noted for its free-thinking, `Bohemian' inhabitants who were said to go around in carpet slippers and be partial to fancy dress balls.

By the middle of the 20th century the Bedford Park houses were becoming dilapidated, some had been unsuitably altered or converted into flats. Several important properties had been demolished and in an effort to prevent more houses disappearing and to preserve the character of the area the Bedford Park Society was formed in 1963. This achieved a statutory listing for 356 of the houses in 1967, following the first Bedford Park Festival, and the declaration of Bedford Park as a conservation area by Ealing and Hounslow Councils in 1969/70.
For more details of the history of Bedford Park consult

Burlington Lane
W4 2RP
020 8994 2677

Open: 1st April-30th September Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm
Chiswick House Grounds open all day from 8am to dusk.

History : Chiswick House is one of the earliest and most important neo-Palladian villas in England. It was designed by its owner, the 3rd Earl of Burlington, with advice from his friend and protégé, William Kent, and built between 1726 and 1729. Burlington, known as `the architect earl’ ,was influenced by the buildings of Classical Rome and the drawings of Andrea Palladio and Inigo Jones. The villa, though, was not intended as house to live in but as an adjunct to the larger Jacobean Chiswick House that stood next door. Burlington left no record of his intentions in building the villa perhaps it was just somewhere to display his paintings and sculpture and to entertain company – a temple of the arts. The ground floor is devoid of much decoration and connected to the upper floor only by narrow spiral staircases. Burlington had his library here, also probably offices and there may have been some bedrooms. Guests would have entered the villa by the outside staircase leading to the upper floor with its splendid octagon-domed hall, long gallery and six lavishly-decorated rooms of different geometric shapes.

In the grounds, Burlington and Kent attempted to create the type of garden that would have been found in ancient Rome – lots of greenery and water, interspersed with statues and architecture. The elegant stone bridge replaced a wooden bridge in 1774 and the conservatory and Italian Garden were constructed after 1812 when the 6th Duke of Devonshire acquired Moreton Hall , the house next door.

After Burlington’s death Chiswick house was inherited by his daughter who married the 4th Duke of Devonshire and the house remained in the family of the dukes of Devonshire until 1929. The 5th Duke and his charismatic wife, Georgiana, made the house a centre of Whig society and it was at Chiswick House that Charles James Fox died in 1806 while Foreign Secretary. The Duke demolished the Jacobean house in 1788 and added two wings to the villa. These contained kitchens and living accommodation, so transforming Chiswick House into a proper country mansion. When The 6th Duke of Devonshire inherited the house in 1811 he bought more land, re-routed Burlington Lane further away from his property and constructed Duke’s Avenue as a private road to his mansion. Known as `the bachelor Duke’ he laid on lavish entertainments, attended by many distinguished visitors. These were no doubt enlivened by the presence of the Duke’s large menagerie of exotic animals which included giraffes, elephants, kangaroos and emus. After his death, the house was inherited by his sister and then let out to tenants, including the future King Edward VII and to the Tuke family who ran a mental home at Chiswick House. In 1929 it was acquired by Middlesex County Council. The grounds were opened to the public and the house was given a ten-year restoration (the two wings were demolished). It opened to the public in 1958 and is now in the care of English Heritage with the London Borough of Hounslow responsible for the grounds (management of the house and grounds will be transferred to the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust once Phase I of the regeneration project is completed).

Church Street
W4 2PJ
Open: all day on Sunday; occasionally on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Guided tours on London Open House weekend (15/16 September)

History : The tower of St Nicholas Church, which was built in the 15th century, is the oldest structure in Chiswick. The Church as seen today though dates only to the late 19th century. A church is known to have been on this site since 1181 and had been dedicated to St Nicholas by 1548. The church was enlarged, repaired and altered many times over the centuries and in the 18th century was noted for its splendid hammer beam roof, described as one of the finest in England. Between 1882 and 1884 St Nicholas’s was completely rebuilt to a design by ecclesiastical architect John L Pearson. The many burial vaults under the church were concreted over but some of the memorials were preserved, including the fine memorial to Thomas Chaloner. People buried in the vaults are said to include Barbara Villiers, mistress of Charles II, architect William Kent and Lady Fauconberg and her sister, daughters of Oliver Cromwell. There is a theory too that Cromwell himself is buried in this vault.

The graveyard was Chiswick’s only burial ground until the 1930s. It was closed in 1854 but re-opened in 1871 when the Duke of Devonshire gave the parish more land. Additional land was acquired in 1887 to form Chiswick Old Cemetery.

Well known Chiswick residents buried in the graveyard are William Hogarth, Henry Joy, Charge of the Light Brigade Trumpeter, Frederick Hitch of Rorke’s Drift fame and Charles Tilston Bright who laid the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic. There are fine tombs to two non-Chiswick residents, painters JM Whistler and Philip de Loutherbourgh.

566 Chiswick High Road
W4 5YA (opposite Gunnersbury Station)

History: Work began in 2000 on this large business complex, set in 34 acres of landscaped grounds. It was designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership and developed by Stanhope plc. It won a Civic Trust Award in 2002. It was built on the site of the London General Omnibus Company’s large overhaul works. This opened in 1921 and employed 3,500 people. It closed in 1928.

Corney Reach

Chiswick Pier is run by the Chiswick Pier Trust, a registered charity dedicated to putting people in touch with the River Thames. The Trust operates the moorings at the Pier and organises events for the public and for Trust members. Membership costs £5 a year.

History: The public Chiswick Pier was officially opened in 1997 after the housing development at Corney Reach was built. Corney Reach, was originally the grounds of a large house called Corney House where Queen Elizabeth I was entertained in 1602 by the Russell family, the earls of Bedford. The house, rebuilt in the 18th century, was demolished in 1832 and the land was later used for industrial purposes. Between 1864 and 1909 Thornycroft and Co built torpedo boats and other large ships here and the local sewage works was built in Pumping Station Road in 1879 (closed 1936).

Heathfield Terrace
W4 4JN

History: In 1874 Chiswick parish vestry, which previously met in the church, pubs, decided to build its own vestry hall. This was completed in 1876 and contained meeting rooms, assembly rooms and government offices. It became a centre of social life with balls, concerts, lectures and political meetings. In 1900 work began to enlarge the building and it was re-opened as the town hall for the newly-formed Chiswick Urban District Council in 1901. After the formation of the London Borough of Hounslow in 1965, local government transferred to Hounslow and the town Hall is now hired out for meetings and film shoots, although it does still contains some government offices.

020 8995 7381

History : The only Anglican church in Chiswick was St Nicholas until Christ Church was built. Proposals to build a new church on Turnham Green were put forward in 1841 when the population of Chiswick had reached nearly 6,000 of whom at least 3,000 lived in Turnham Green which was nearly a mile away from St Nicholas. Money was raised by public subscription and the foundation stone laid in September 1841. Christ Church was designed in the Early English style by George Gilbert Scott (later to design the Midland Hotel above St Pancras station ) and WBMoffatt. It was consecrated on 27 July 1843.

Off A316 (from Dan Mason Drive or from Stavelely Road; from `Recreation Ground Approch gates in Edensor Road for pedestrians)

Open : every day. Farmers Market every Sunday am.

History : This large area of open space now occupied by playing fields and sports clubs was once meadowland belonging to the Duke of Devonshire. The fact that this `lung for London’ has been preserved as such is something of a miracle. In 1902 it was intended to be the location for a model village called Burlingwick, in 1914 the site of a large gasworks and in 1926 the place for a large electricity generating station. None of these schemes came to fruition and in 1923 Chiswick Urban District Council acquired the land from the Duke of Devonshire. The Council designated the land for public use, laying out a riverside promenade, a children’s playground and installing a bandstand. Unfortunately, Dukes Meadows became sadly neglected over the years, the bandstand went out of use, the playground and promenade became sad and forlorn. A volunteer group, The Friends of Dukes Meadows, formed in 1998 (now called the Dukes Meadows Trust) is working with Hounslow Council and The Community Initiatives Partnership to restore Dukes Meadows to something like its former glory, by clearing litter, planting trees and painting buildings. A new Children’s Play area was opened in August 2006.

Chiswick Lane South , W4

Shop Open : Monday to Friday 10-6; Saturday 10-4
Brewery Tours : Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday at 11am/12pm/1pm/2pm
Places must be booked in advance. Email or telephone 020 8996 2175.
No children under 14. Cost £6 per person (£4.50 for people under 18).
The tour takes two hours and incorporates the brewing process from the arrival of the raw materials to the packaging on the beer and ends with a tasting session.

History : Brewing has been taking place on this site since at least 1701 when it belonged to Thomas Mawson. He sold the brewery to a Chiswick family called Thompson in 1782. John Fuller joined the firm in 1829, providing a much-needed injection of capital. In 1845 his son acquired the brewery and, along with Henry Smith of Romford brewers Ind Smith, Smith’s son Henry and son-in-law John Turner, formed Fuller Smith & Turner. Descendants of these families still run the brewery today. The company owns over 363 pubs and its beers have won CAMRA’s Beer of the Year Award many times.

The wisteria which clads the brewery’s walls is the oldest wisteria plant in England. The first wisteria was brought to Kew Gardens from China in 1816 and a cutting was given to Fuller, Smith & Turner since it supplied beer to Kew. The Kew plant perished while the Griffin Brewery plant flourished.

Entrance opposite Chiswick Park Station
: every day. Triangle Kids Club for 7-11 year-olds every Thursday
Events: 12 August, 2-5pm Treemendous Fun - Turn a keyring on the polelathe’ weave a basket from local rushes and withys; learn fascinating treelore.
20 August, 2 -5pm Treasure on the Triangle – a nature treasure trail for children of all ages.
31 August, 7.30pm Bat Walk
17 September, 2-4.30pm Fungal Foray – a guided walk investigating the natural history of mushrooms, fungi and moulds.

History:This piece of land, with a large amount of flora and fauna was hemmed in by railway lines in the 19th century. In the 1980s it was threatened with development but, due to a large public protest, it was bought by London Borough of Hounslow in 1984 and designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1987. It is managed by the Chiswick Wildlife Group which is affiliated to the London Wildlife Trust and is run by volunteers

Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London W4 2QN
020 8994 6757
Tuesday to Friday 1pm-5pm (1pm-4pm November to March)
1pm-6pm Saturday and Sunday (1pm-5pm November to March)
Closed on Mondays and all of January

History : William Hogarth was 52 years old and already an established artist in 1749 when he purchased a second home in Chiswick. Hogarth and his wife spent the greater part of each summer here in what he affectionately described as `his little country box’. Hogarth made several modifications to the house which had been built around 1715 . The walled garden contained an avenue of filbert (hazelnut) trees, where Hogarth played ninepins, and an outbuilding which he used as a studio. The garden still contains the mulberry tree from the fruit of which Jane Hogarth made tarts for visiting children. The house passed through several later owners, becoming increasingly derelict. In 1901 it was purchased by Lt Col Robert Shipway who lived in nearby Grove House. Shipway restored it, furnished it with replica 18th century furniture and prints by Hogarth, and opened it as a Hogarth museum in 1904. In 1909 he conveyed it in trust to Middlesex County Council and it was transferred to the London Borough of Hounslow in 1965.

Chiswick High Road , by Barclays Bank
: This statue of Hogarth and his pug dog was unveiled in 2001 and was funded by local people under the auspices of the Chiswick Traders Association to celebrate the Millenium. The sculptor was Jim Mathieson.

Grove Park Terrace
: the strange little semi-circular structure which can be seen in Grove Park Terrace is all that remains of an ice house – a building used for storing ice and for keeping food cool in the days before refrigeration. It was originally a hollow brick dome covering a circular underground chamber. This ice house probably belonged to the large mansion called Sutton Court (demolished c 1900).

The Avenue
Bedford Park

Open : daily to devotees and visitors from 9am to 9pm
History: In the 1990s the premises of the former Bedford Park Club were taken over by the London Buddhist Vihara which had been in Heathfield Gardens since 1926. It was the first Buddhist monastery outside Asia .

247 Chiswick High Road
W4 4PU
020 8994 2877

History: By the 1840s Catholics were worshipping in a small chapel in Windmill Place, Turnham Green. In 1864 a `pretty little, red-tiled church' dedicated to St Mary was built on the corner of Duke's Avenue and Chiswick High Road. This soon became too small for the growing population of Catholics in Chiswick and was demolished in 1885. It was replaced by the present Italianate-style church dedicated to Our Lady of Grace and St Edward (the dedication to St Edward was added in 1903). The building was designed by a partnership called Kelly and Birchall and opened in 1886. The tower, although included in the original plan, was not erected until 1930. It was put up as a memorial to the dead of World War I and designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, grandson of the architect of Christ Church. The church was damaged by a bomb in World War II, but reopened once it had been made safe.

57 Harvard Road

History : The most attractive addition to the Chiswick skyline in recent years is the blue and gold dome visible to drivers on the M4 motorway. It belongs to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral which was opened in 1998 and is the only `purpose-built' Russian Orthodox church in the UK.

Elmwood Road, W4 3DZ
020 8994 3173

History: The red-brick church of St Michael in Elmwood Road was financed by the sale of St Michael, Burleigh Street off the Strand (the Strand Palace Hotel was built on the site). It was designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Caroë and Passmore and consecrated in 1909. It replaced a temporary corrugated iron church which was used as the church hall until a new church hall was built and opened in 1998.

Bath Road
020 8994 1380

History : The church was designed by R Norman Shaw and built in 1876 (consecrated 1880) as the parish church for a separate parish incorporating the new Bedford Park estate. The north aisle (held over for want of funds) wasn't completed until 1887 and was designed by Maurice B Adams who was also responsible for the church hall in the same year, the font and pulpit and, in 1909 for the Gothic chapel of All Souls. Like most of Bedford Park, the architecture of the church is mainly in the Queen Anne revival style and St Michaels was one of the few attempts to adapt this style to an ecclesiastical building. The architect G E Street described the new church as `very novel and not very ecclesiastical'. From the outset St Michael and All Angels has been a church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition and in its early years, when there were deep divisions within the Church of England, encountered much hostility for its `Popish and Pagan mummeries'. The Church Hall was completely refurbished between 1999 and 2001 .

Grove Park Road, W4 3SB
020 8987 0312

History: The Gothic-style stone church of St Paul was designed by H Currey. It was erected by the Duke of Devonshire in 1872 to serve the population of the new Grove Park estate .

Barley Mow Passage
W4 4PN

: This is the only industrial building to have been designed by the Arts and Crafts architect, CFA Voysey. It was completed in 1902-3 as a new factory for wallpaper company Sanderson & Sons when it was described as a `model factory with a feeling of airiness and spaciousness’. It is now offices

Stavelely Road
: Open-air memorial to the three Chiswick people who died (and all V2 victims) when the first V2 rocket to land in England during World War II exploded in Stavelely Road on 8th September 1944.

Hounslow Heritage Guides
conduct regular walks around Chiswick. These are the dates for 2007: 26 August (Chiswick and Hammersmith), 30 September Chiswick and Hammersmith), 28 October (Chiswick Village). Meet at the steps of St Nicholas Church, 2.30pm (£2 per person)

Written by Gillian Clegg and reproduced with kind the permission of Open Chiswick.

August 8, 2007